Sadie Harrison's Hantu for Double Bass and Piano. Composed 2013 and published 2016. Duration: 8 minutes.
Hantu was written especially for Nick Lum as part of the first prize awarded for his performance in the Wells Double Bass Recital Competition in 2013. The title means ‘ghost’ in Malaysian (Lum is from Kuala Lumpar), with the piece taking its inspiration from the country’s annual Festival of the Hungry Ghosts. The Piano is transformed into a westernised gamelan orchestra with ‘gongs’, ‘kendang drums’, and ‘bamboo flutes’. The music is highly repetitive with rhythm and pitch cycles used to imitate the structure of much gamelan music.
The piece is divided into three main sections. The first and last are dark and menacing, marked ‘a slow procession of spirits’. The central section, entitled ‘The ghost’s dance’ is a quirky, virtuosic interplay between pizz and arco, building to a wild crescendo before a return to the procession which gradually disappears into the night.
The Double Bass is often used in its highest, lyrical register, singing out fragments from a Malaysian melody entitled Anak Indung. This tune is heard over the top of the procession music, an attempt to dispel the evil spirits through the beauty of song.
The piece was kindly commissioned by The Friends of Music at Wells Cathedral School and given its first performance by Nick Lum and Gemma Beeson at Wells Cathedral School on 23 June 2013.