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Rollicking rhymes : viola and double bass duo

by Maria Grenfell (2010)

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The Australian Music Centre's catalogue does not include any recordings or sheet music of this work. This entry is for information purposes only.

It is listed in our catalogue because an event featuring a performance of this work was included in our calendar of Australian music. Details of this performance are listed below.

Work Overview

When Stuart Thomson and Jo St Leon approached me to write a piece for their duo, I was delighted but also a little nervous because the viola and double bass is a rather unusual combination. They asked me for a piece that would help increase the repertoire for that combination, and also for something that would be reasonably accessible to audiences. Meanwhile, my life was very full and busy with two young children, and my 2-year-old daughter was beginning to speak a lot and begin singing nursery rhymes. It occurred to me that nursery rhymes are so embedded into our verbal language as well as our musical language, that it might be fun to write something inspired by that. I also wanted to write the viola and double bass parts as an equal partnership, and the melodic nature of the instruments meant that melody and counterpoint would be inherent in the texture.


Rollicking Rhymes is a whimsical and somewhat off-beat take on two well-known nursery rhymes. The first movement, "Ring-a-roses", takes snippets of the rhyme tune and blends it with a sailor's hornpipe which I previously incorporated into a piece that experimented with utilising bagpipe tunes to varying degrees of recognition. The second movement, "Rockabye", comes from "Rock-a-bye baby" but here in 5/8 with the familiar tune barely recognisable at all. As a bit of fun, the third "rhyme" is inspired by the jaunty antics of a rather famous cartoon rabbit, also reminding us of those manic characters who race around in fits and starts before something implausibly crazy happens to them.

Work Details

Year: 2010

Instrumentation: Viola, double bass.

Duration: 8 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: 1. Ring-a-roses -- 2. Rockabye -- 3. Run, rabbit.

Commission note: Commissioned by Elanee Ensemble.

First performance: by Elanee Ensemble — 10 May 10. The Kilbourn Institute, Hobart, Tasmania

Performances of this work

21 May 2010: at Elanee Ensemble (Banksia Cafe). Featuring Jo St. Leon, Stuart Thomson.

10 May 10: The Kilbourn Institute, Hobart, Tasmania. Featuring Elanee Ensemble.

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