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khroma zones

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John Alexander writes: "khroma zones – seven pieces for double bass and piano – is a colourful collection of small compositions, each depicting some aspect of my mother's life. Also, apropos the overall title, her initials were Mrs DNA. Like me, my dad always enjoyed a pun. My mother thought that we were both daft. She was probably right.

1 yellow duster We had a central strip of hardwaring carpet on our staircase at my childhood home, leaving a stained, polished and exposed square of timber tread each side. One of the daily chores my mother had designated to me was to take a yellow duster from the drawer and dust these little squares, after breakfast and before school. There were 13 treads (26 squares) and I used to carry out this task with speedy gusto, trying to be faster than I had been the previous day.

2 rhode island red There was a long chicken run at the bottom of our garden. The hen house was on the extreme left hand side and in the morning the hens would gradually process down their ribbed ramp to scratch and forage. Mum showed me how to collect the eggs, mix feed, water the birds. As a lad it intrigued me that a hen's quiet clucking and walking rhythms were mostly irregular. It also amused me that a chicken may suddenly run madly about, squawking freely, coming to a halt almost as unexpectedly as it began.

3 a flutter on the grey My mother was never a gambler, but she enjoyed a small each way flutter on annual classic races like the Grand National, Derby or Oaks. She always favoured any grey horse that was running – it clearly stood out from the rest – but her bets rarely won her anything.

4 comfy green settee Mum was a great one for knitting: lots of booties, shawls and coats for babies; cardigans for her or my sister; fair isle tank tops or cable stitch pullovers for my dad and me. But these articles required wool and, in those days, it came in long skeins. My mother and I would sit comfortably on the settee, me with my hands held out in front, thumbs sticking up. She would then place the end loops of the skein over my extended fingers and begin winding in, forming the required ball of wool.

5 floral blue frock Dancing was a joy for my mother when she was younger, and I can remember her and my father sometimes going to dances with friends. Did she wear a floral blue frock to any of them? Well, she had such a dress in her final years, and I imagine her in it, dancing with my dad, she looking happy, he full of fun.

6 pinks with african violets Among the many flowers that she admired, mum particularly loved the mini-carnation-like pink and the deep purple of african violets. The former lined the pathway to the front door; a pot of the latter always sat on the sideboard.

7 black cherry Strings full of fat juicy black cherries were undoubtedly mum's favourite fruit in the summer months. (She also enjoyed a quiet cherry brandy, but that's another story.) When she was dying in hospital, I noticed that my mother hadn't eaten anything for 20 hours or so. I asked if she fancied a yoghurt and went and bought her one. On the lid it said, 'black cherry'. After I had gently fed this to her, she licked her lips, and gratefully smiled. She was 85. It was my 58th birthday. Originally, I wrote this little piece as a piano solo and I performed it at her funeral. It was the progenitor of all the other pieces in this set.

khroma zones was premiered at Wells Cathedral School (Somerset, UK) on 30 September 2007 by David Heyes (double bass) and Mark Cracknell (piano), as part of the 2007 Wells Double B@ss Weekend.


John Alexander was born in West Sussex in 1942 and began to compose at the age of 20. At the time he discovered a fascination for art, literature, dance, architecture and sculpture and these topics, along with mathematics, have continued to have a bearing on his work. He studied composition with Edmund Rubbra at the Guildhall School of Music in London, and later with Jonathan Harvey and Peter Wiegold at the University of Sussex.

John Alexander has never been a prolific composer, but an impressive and growing body of work reflects a rare eye for detail and structure - each work beautifully crafted and reworked until every inflection, detail and nuance is perfect. Probably best described as a miniaturist, he writes in a fluent, independent and strongly personal style with an intense desire to create music which communicates to both performer and audience alike.

In 1999 John Alexander won the 1st BIBF Composition Contest and was invited to be a judge for several BIBF competitions. He was a featured composer at Bass-Fest 2001, was an spnm short-listed composer for three years, and was Composer-in-residence at the 2004 Rotterdam Conservatoire Double Bass Weekend, Bass-Fest 2006 and 2007 Wells Double Bass Weekend. His works have been performed and broadcast throughout the world and he was written an impressive and unique body of work for double bass.


  • 1. yellow duster
  • 2. rhode island red
  • 3. a flutter on the grey
  • 4. comfy green settee
  • 5. floral blue frock
  • 6. pinks with african violets
  • 7. black cherry

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Cat No. RM662
Supplier Code RM662
Price £12.50
ComposerJohn Alexander
CategoryDouble Bass & Piano
PublisherRecital Music
Difficulty level8, Advanced
ISMN 979-0-57045-662-8
EAN-13 9790570456628
Weight 154 grams
Published 21st June 2017
Availability 5 in stock
See also...
RM499  Burlesque
RM526  room for two
RM563  sonata in three movements
RM796  yesterday, today was tomorrow (DOUBLE BASS SOLO)
RM891  micheldever, autumn of 1914 (DOUBLE BASS QUARTET)