Last month, the Classics a Day team came up with a theme to reflect the reality of social distancing. The challenge was to share solo works for unusual instruments — the kind of instruments best played in social isolation. 

For June, the team is again going with the times. Social bubbles are small groups of people (usually family members) who live together and therefore don’t need to maintain distance from each other. So the challenge is to share examples of classical bubbles. That is, duos for unusual instruments best not shared in public. 


Below are my selections for the fourth and final week of #ClassicalBubble

06/22/20 Vittorio Ghielmi (1968-) Duet for viola da gamba

Viola da gambas first appeared in the mid-15th Century and were used consistently through the 1750s. They were eventually replaced by cellos.

06/23/20 Anon. 14th C. Opening of Heaven’s Gates for pipa duet

Historians place the origin of the pipa over 2,000 years ago. That makes this 14th Century tune a relatively recent addition to the pipa’s repertoire.

06/24/20 PDQ Bach (1807-1742?) Fugue in C minor for Calliope Four Hands

An organ sounds by pushing air through it. A calliope sounds by pushing steam through it. The possibilities of that louder, harsher sound were not lost on PDQ.

06/25/20 John Dowland (1563-1626) – Lute Duet

By the 1500s, lutes had grown from 4 to 10 stringed instruments. That led to music of greater complexity and polyphony.

06/26/20 Nicole Leuchtmann – Bickering Piccolos

The piccolo plays an octave higher than the flute and was usually used sparingly for orchestral color. Recently, composers have been exploring its potential as a solo instrument (or duet in this case).

06/29/20 Anon. 14th C. Viella roue duet for hurdy-gurdy

The hurdy-gurdy was a popular instrument Renaissance court musicians. It could play loudly, ideal for dancing. Two are even louder.

06/30/20 Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) Duet for two recorders in B flat major

Many of Telemann’s works were written to be played with any treble instrument. This duet could be played with violins or transverse flutes.