Thesis subject: How did the bass change in the orchestral use in 19th, 20th and 21th centuries?
- by Aydın Balpınar, Codarts Rotterdam Classical music, January 2012
Thesis-counselor: Andreas Czifra
“It is not surprising that things have developed as they have. The discovery, in the last century, of the extreme limits of power and subtlety in the effect of the musical tone extended the boundaries of the tonal domain at the disposal of the composer into hitherto undreamed-of distances. New combinations of tones came to be recognized, and new ways of bending a melodic line were discovered. It seemed as if the sun had risen upon a new, iridescent land, into which our musicians-discoverers rushed headlong. Blinded by the immense store of materials never used before, deafened by the fantastic novelty of sound, everyone seized without reflection on whatever he felt he could use. At this point instruction failed. Either it fell into the same frenzy as practice, and devoted itself to flimsy speculation, instead of adapting its systems of teaching to a new material, or it lapsed into inactivity, and what had never been a very strong urge towards novelty turned into a barren clinging to the past. Confidence in inherited methods vanished; they seemed barely adequate now to guide the beginner’s first steps. Whoever wished to make any progress gave himself unreservedly to the New, neither helped nor hindered by theoretical instruction, which had simply become inadequate to the occasion.”
Introduction chapter from the Unterweisung im Tonsatz “the craft of the musical composition” by Paul Hindemith (1937).
As double bass players, the orchestra is almost our highest priority due to the fact that our instrument is still not considered a solo instrument. For this reason we have to be aware of the fact that most of the bass players will play in an orchestra for a time of our lives. From this view was my starting point to go a bit deeper and search for the question “what is our main role in the orchestra?”. In my former school I heard people saying when double basses play you do not hear them but when they do not play you hear the big gap in the music. This fact suprised me and give me a push to go a bit deeper about the subject for what is the main goal of the bass in the orchestra.
The fact that I chose 19th, 20th and 21th centuries was because of the more recent changes in the actual life as well as the music life. The happenings like French revolution or industrial revolution, technolocigal developments and wars had major influences on the music, which is why I was more interested in the period.
More and more I started to play contemporary pieces I realised that the music was changing a lot still and actually was much more different change then before. There is no right or wrong anymore just plain expression. In this sense also double bass is a perfect instrument for the composers to look for due to its large variety of sounds,massive body and still developing shape and playing styles.
As my conclusion to the introduction and beginning to the thesis, my goal is to look for how it happened and what were the facts preparing to these and what will happen in the
General view to musical scene and orchestras before 19th Century
As the time goes by like everything changed, musical scene also had a paralel and also simalar changes like art, literature and so on. However musical scene was more under control of church and usually higher class (Royality, Aristocracy..). Which led to the development of music being much slower up to the 19th centruy than today. The sociological facts like 1789 the French revelution or 1809 Industrial revolution also boosted the clock in a positive way.
Before 17th century church was overruling music and was much more under control and strict due to the facts like composer could not use female voice (women were not allowed to sing in the church) or certain intervals (tritone) which led composers in that period to compose always religious music. It was usually performed in the church or Holy events like easter or christmas… But if we look at the musical scene we could not properly say that there was a musical scene. From the time on with the invention of printing and the translation of the bible by Martin Luther some facts started to change. In daily life this led people to think instead of being afraid of the church, also if effected directly to the literature which led writers to write more books. All these facts give the society to be more independent and self concious dompared to the ages before. In musical scene with composers working under church (Buxtehude,Bach,Telemann…), they started to expand the music from accompaning to story telling with music. These were some new beginnings to the musical world after the suppression of religion.
The Baroque period was more free compared to the medival times maybe but we can not say a total freedom yet neither in music, nor for the public. Limited options for the musicans (missing insturuments or players etc..) were a challenge for the composers to expand their ideas. True modern orchestras started in the late 16th century when composers started writing music for instrumental groups. Which is for the noble people to enjoy and for their amusment. With the combination of theatre, dance, opera etc.. the orchestras began to enlarge and kind of settle. However it would take more then 200 years still to have a orchestra like we have in our days.
Before the classical period it is hard to call the ensembles truly an orchestra, however during the late baroque period the ensembles look a like today’s orchestras but they were not formed as an orchestra. As we see in Bach the similarities he uses the word “sinfonia” has not the same meaning as we use the word “symphony” today. Nevertheless it is sure its roots are connected.
As the instruments started to develop, this affects the ensembles to grow and play together as accompany (concerto`s) or in unity (suite`s).Composers such as Vivaldi wrote more then 500 Concerto`s to be performed with ensemble (orchestra). Which shows us how is the development through the ages.
The first orchestras derived from the small ensembles around late 16th and 17th centuries and with the development of opera they started to have importance in the musical scene.Composers like Bach used the orchestra aslo for the accompaniment of the big works as B minor Mass or small ensembles like orchestra in his cantatas which performed weekly in church as a part of the services.
Before the 19th century the orchestras were under the control of the richer population like the kings or aristoctaric part of the public. This fact caused that the musicians were also working like the composers paid by their patrons. This led the composers like Haydn and Mozart and many from the Viennese system to compose numerous compositions for various ensembles and orchestras. This period gave the composers to settle some of the forms and improve the use of orchestral sounds and colors. Like Haydn`s symphony no:103 (1794) “Drumroll”, begins with a tremolo from timpani which gives the symphony its name. These facts show that composers were also trying to break the structural stableness with the new ideas. Later in the time those facts help the coming generation composers like Beethoven, Brahms etc. to influence from the structure created before them.
Use of bass in the orchestras
Bass used almost from the formation of the orchestras for the support of the lower register in the music.It is normal register is lower then other string family instruments. This gives the bass it is unique place in the formation of the orchestra.
With the formation of the first orchestras, double bass had an supporting role, a doubling of the lower register with the basso continuo (harpsichord etc.). In the period also the bass was not fully developed and stableized like the conteporaries.Instrument had frets and a larger neck which made hard to play legato or fast passages. Under these circumstances composers in order to have a musical line they preferable wrote only the continuo lines and more stable passages. If you add the disadvantages of the phsycal size (transportaion) and how hard to find a player with the instrument was made composers just to use the instrument as they are made for, accompaniment role.
Composition of the orchestra
In this section you see how the composition of the orchestra expanded throughout the periods. (Source: Wikipedia)
- 2 Flutes
- 2 Oboes
- 2 Clarinets (in C, Bflat, or A)
- 2 Bassoons
- 2 or 4 Horns (in any key)
- 2 Trumpets (in any key)
- 2 Timpani
- 6 Violins I
- 6 Violins II
- 4 Violas
- 3 Violoncellos
- 2 Contrabasses
Early Romantic Orchestra
- 2 Flutes
- 2 Oboes
- (English Horn)
- 2 Clarinets in B-flat, A
- (Bass Clarinet in Bflat, A)
- 2 Bassoons
- 4 Horns in F
- 2 Trumpets in F
- (2 Cornets in B-flat)
- 3 Trombones (2 Tenor, 1 Bass)
- 3 or more Timpani
- Snare Drum
- Bass Drum
- 14 Violins I
- 12 Violins II
- 10 Violas
- 8 Violoncellos
- 6 Double basses
Late Romantic Orchestra
- 3 Flutes
- 3 Oboes
- English Horn
- Clarinet in E-flat
- 3 Clarinets in B-flat, A
- Bass Clarinet
- 3 Bassoons
- 4-8 Horns in F
- 3-4 Trumpets in F, C, Bflat
- 3-4 Trombones (2-3
- Tenor, 1 Bass)
- (Wagner Tubas (2 Tenor, 2 Bass))
- 1-2 Tubas
- 4 or more Timpani
- Snare drum
- Bass drum
- 2 Harps
- 16 Violins I
- 16 Violins II
- 12 Violas
- 10 Violoncellos
- 8 Double basses
- 2 Flutes
- 2 Oboes
- English Horn
- 2 Clarinets in B-flat
- Bass Clarinet
- (or Clarinet in E-flat)
- 2 Bassoons
- 4 Horns in F
- 3 Trumpets in C
- 3 Trombones
- (2 Tenor, 1 Bass)
- Percussion (varies heavily according to composer’s needs.)
- Snare Drum
- Tenor drum
- Bass Drum
- Wood block
- 16 Violins I
- 14 Violins II
- 12 Violas
- 10 Violoncellos
- 8 Double basses
Turning point of the century and their effect on the musical scene
After the French Revolution and the collapse of the constitutional monarchy, public became more aware that they are no longer part of the system from the lower class but they are indiviually part of the society. This ideolocigal breaking point eventually start in every aspect of life and helped all branches of society including arts, literature science… Writers like Rousseau, Voltaire helped and acknowleged the society to see the actual side of the revelution.
In musical side with the fall if of the monarchy musicans became more free and started to produce music for the society and more importantly for them selves. An important remark is composers like Haydn, Mozart, Gluck etc… under the patronage they had to write in order to get paid for their patrons. Which made an incredbile amount of composition like Haydn (106), Mozart (41) symphonies. If we look just a bit afterwards composers like Beethoven wrote only 9 (nr. 10 unfinished) symphonies. Basic examples like these shows us that composers had more freedom and time to finish one work in order to rush for pleasure for their patrons.
Less music smay have been written but the music became more complex, parallel to the ideas getting much more deeper (Beethoven symphony no.3) and music started to become an important part of the society like the other branches of art.
Orchestras and musicans becoming professional
After classical period symphonies, the form of the orchestra was not clear but had a major influence on the coming era`s as the Beethoven used a more strict formation like having sections (woodwinds,brass, use of timpani and generally doubling the parts). This gave the classical structure of the orchestra. After composers getting more freelance works they also became more independent in the way of expression through the music. There is a paralel movement with the instruments developments like clarinets new mechanisims or the development in horns. These facts gave the composers to write more freely and for larger orchestras. As the music becoming more complex, it had an effect on the musical parts as we can see on a technical level.
This complexity in the music also challenged the musicians in the orchestra to have high level technique on their instruments.Which is why there are audtions and need for auditions. In auditions musicians has to play repertoire piece from their instruments (concerto mostly) and small excerpts from big symphonies or operas. Auditioning is a fundamental in todays orchestra musicianing for keeping the level high and to improve.
In 17th century after the first modern ensembles (like todays orchestras) born, in France 24 violinist and various wind instruments (the so called “Douze Grand Hautbois”) were brought together to perform operas and light music. There is every reason to believe that the doublebass was part of these larger orchestral forces, as the double bass was then reputed to give depth and vigour to the overall sonority of the larger ensembles of the time. As was the case with the trumpet and the kettle drums, the use of double bass in ordinary concerts was avoided, but the same instruments were sought for the added brillance they conferred to important or solemn performances, being the most powerful voices then available. All three instruments joined in the tuttis where the double bass produced “a very charming effect” says the French musical lexicographer Sebastien de Brossard (1702). (p.22, p3).
The thick and vigorous sound of the double bass, considered so desirable today, proved then to be its greates limitation and restrained its use in the orchestras of the time: “The double bass is used only for the important concerts with many instruments and voices; otherwise, the depth and power of its tones would overwhelm the harmony; but it produces a lovely effect when the number and variety of the other instruments prevent it from becoming too dominant.” (p.23)
In the end of the 17th century, double bass was admitted as a permanent instrument in the european opera orchestras. This gave the composers to use the subterranean tones (down to 16’C) for the expressive possibilities. As we can see in the music of late baroque composers even the bass was used to create the atmosphere more then the function. For an example Marin Marais `s opera Alcyone in one scene composer in order to create the image he is using the higher register of the flutes with the contrast of other instruments making the horror sound of the tossing sea and howling winds.
However the instrument was most of the time silent in the music in order to make only the different figurative effects. The Double bass became more important with the conservative system around the second half of the 18th century with the influences from Germany and Italy. These contributions was also playing an important role in the musical scene for begining of the new “Classical Period”. From the time on the importance of Basso continuo was weakend and and new style string quartet music became more popular and used in many compositions. These facts shows us that the role of the bass will be much more solid and important in the orchestras of the time and future. However the style of continuo weakend as the baroque period but the role of the double bass,cello and harpsichord was more or less the same. They played as accompaniment but this time more the function as leading the orchestra and playing the harmony and supporting the solos.This is why in many period orchestras cello, bass and harpsichord sits together in the orchestras in order to get a unity in the sound like a conductor. Most of the performances composers himself or the conductors were playing the harpsichord.
At the time “Beethovian”orchestras began to appear, conductors became more evident and more important then just playing the harpsichord; they started to go deeper in the music with the musicians in order to play with them. This led to conductors to use the baton when they are conducting. This change maove the double bass in to the sides of the orchestra and playing as a regular orchestral part. However we shouldn’t forget that these years nothing we can say about music was sure and most of the orchestras, conductors and composers were trying to find different styles in the seatings, positions and the effects over the music. From the pictures below it is shown how the different types of orchestras were positioned.
From the orchestra that Handel Found in his arrival to London in 1770, he created to similar numbers of instruments to today’s orchestra. 6 first violins, 5 second violins, 2 violas, 6 cellos and only 1 double bass with 1 harpsichord. Throughout the 18th, 19th and even 20th century there were no strict criteria for the exact seatings and numbers for the instruments.
In different parts of Europe there were different styles and different approach to the sound of the orchestras. For example in the end of the 18th century there were more basses then cellos (1773 orchestra of Naples had 6 double basses for 2 cellos only).
The Austro-German usage were seemingly codified by Quantz. His recommendations were as follows:
- with 4 violins: 1 viola, 1 cello, 1 moderate-size double bass.
- 12 violins require more violas, 3 cellos and another double bass larger than the first.
Modern orchestras usually make use of fewer double basses than cellos, although composers like Rimsky-Korsakov among the others willing to allow the use the same number of instruments of each. This discussion is still remaining unsolved even today, however the real question is whether the double bass part should be limited to that of a background for the other basses or whether, on the contrary, the characteristic tones of the double bass should be advantaged to set of the lower register of the bass part. We learn from Claude Debussy that the double bass section of Serge Koussevitzky`s orchestra in Russia had acquired an unexpected prominence due to its freedom and uninhibited expression of every possible orchestral gradation.
After the war periods the orchestras began to be more professional in the sense that they perform weekly and play through a concert season as a regular basis. Which gave the composers to write more for the orchestra or ensembles in order to get a chance to be performed. However the musical language and expression of the ideas and feelings of the composers not always appriciated by the audiences. Which led the orchestras to perform more and more the music from Classical and Romantic period. This cut in the music led some composers to continue to write in the old style still. However the contamporary music is going much more faster then we think with the development of the technologies in music and adding electronics also in to the music.
Nowadays orchestras are still growing or changing the number of musicians for the requierment of the piece. On the contrary contemporary composers are much more in to new styles and formations of the orchestras. Which gives us more freedom to write for whatever need to be performed. This is why the contemporary music uses insturuments more expressive way which is paralel to the style of the composition. If we look at a general numeber of compositions that composed after WWII, we will see that music becomes less orchestral and more ensemble value even in the big orchestral way.
If we add double bass in to the subject above bass has a large variety of freedom to give to the composers in order to experience different sounds from the instrument.
Technical aspects on the Double Bass with in the changes
Physical changes in the instrument
This is still a big discussion whether the bass is coming from the violin family or the gamba family(some researches shows even connections from guitar family throughout the time. The one thing we are sure is the instrument is still on the development regarding the time is used in music.
The history of the double bass begins approximately the first half of 16th century, based on the violin family.However the term “double bass” was not used often until the end of 18th century. It was called “violone” because of its roots to the instrument family. The first instruments were quite different then the ones from now due to the facts that the proportions of the instrument was never standardized which caused for luthiers to make sizes differ from small cellos to giant sized basses.
Tuning differences and additional strings
Today’s musicans cannot imagine how many phases existed in the tunning of the double bass over the last centuries. This fact sometimes gave the composers and performers great difficulties because some parts written for a different tuning or string number might be more difficult or impossible to play in a totally different setting.
Throughout the time bass had numerous changes in the tuning and string number. One type was called violone and had the exact tuning in fifths like cello but sounds octave below (C G d a). Another example is again the same name “violone” or “Contrabass da gamba” had six strings, with fourth tuning exeption of the 3rd -4th strings to be thirds (D G c e a d). Another example of German six stringed double bass is also called “violone” and tuned (G c f a d g).
As an example 19th century ,in Germany it was E A d g tunning for its depth of tone, but Italians prefered the brighter A d g and whereas French adopted fifth tunning G d a like the other instruments for its powerful sound.
However this string changes and not always appriciated from the composers view. Like Hector Berlioz in his memoirs he claims that (considering that time a lot of double bass players playing on three stringed basses) four stringed bass he refers to as “the true double bass”. He also likes the three and four stringed instruments mixed in the sections due to open string usage. This gave an additional effect to the sound but unfourtanetly this gave the technical difficulity for the different tunning players as some passages were impossible to play on certain tunnings.
Composers finally decided the issue when they insisted on the importance of the E string in balancing the increased power and upward tehndancy of orchestral music. By the end of the 19th century five string orchestral basses and tunning were started to use in orchestras in order to fulfill the composers needs for lower voices. Today’s orchestras it is sure that the instrument in orchestral use needs the lower register more then the higher register due to the dark and deep sound of the isntrument. It is more likely that half or more then half of the bass sections of orchestras have five stringed basses. In late 19th century, due to the need of 5 stringed basses in orchestras players were asked to play 5 stringed basses. Due to it is heavier body and thicker neck it was not prefered by the players. It was not common to have more 5 stringed instruments until the 1940s.
Different playing styles
In the orchestral sound there are many possibilities after the breakthrough of expressing feelings and creating atmospheres.Double bass has many possibilities since the instrument never completely finished its development both physically and technically.
Before the 20th century, the instrument had almost the same effects like other string instruments.Like con legno(playing with the wooden part of the bow), pizzicato (plucking the string with the hand) or the natural harmonics. After the impressionistic movement also composer’s started to discover new possibilities on the instruments in general. However double-bass has good grounds for new possibilities in the different styles of playing. The color of the artificial harmonics in the lower positions are used in Debussy`s compositions. Also harmonic glissandos are much more colorful then any other string instrument due to the lenght of the string. Bartok pizzicato is also has a strong effect on the double-bass due to its thick strings and longer distance between fingerboard.Which gives a sudden breakdown in the composition.
Besides the different playing techniques, composers prefer to write bass divisions and sounding chords inside the bass sections after Berlioz`s Symphony Fantastique(1830). Mostly because its deep harmonic effect and sound on orchestra.
With the change of the musical eras, the composers use more and more the new techniques about the instrument, like harmonic glissando playing under the bridge or playing the tail piece. These sounds gives more specific effects for the composers to give their impression in the compositions.
Examples from the compostions from 19th 20th and 21th century orchestral double bass parts.
Orchestral double bass parts are not explicit like the other instruments in the orchestra and they can rarely be used as evidence of the double bass range. In 19th century music, they are often similar (almost the same) with cello part, only being separated when needed addtional color or special intension from the composers ideas.
The separation of the bass part from the cello was around the mid 18th century and was
developed by Beethoven. This expands the orchestral sound and range.
In this section below there will be chronologically listed with the excerpts from orchestral music. To show that how it changed throughout the time the use of double bass.
From the begining of the composition Beethoven uses basses as part of the development of the melody. Later cellos and basses play in unison. This shows that instead of giving the accompaniment role, basses have the melody from the begining of the piece.
In the last movement of the symphony, the introduction is at Larghetto, in common time, creating an atmospheric quality through dynamic variations and different instrumental effects, particularly in the strings (tremolos, pizz, sf to p). To create this atmosphere the composer uses double basses with division in order to create and prepare the witches dance and for the idée fixe.
In Gustav Mahler’s Symphony no:1 “Titan” (1888), the initial and recurring melodic material is based on the popular round “Bruder Martin” more commonly known as “Frère Jacques”; however, Mahler places the melody in a minor mode. The subject is first presented by a solo double bass, followed by bassoon, tuba and, eventually, the entire orchestra. This movement represents the first clear doublebass solo in the repertoire.
In impressionist music Debussy was one of the composers that used the instruments in color and not distinct changes in the rhythm. All the instruments playing against in order to break the pulse, however as we see basses playing in the strong pulse is again giving the basic and stable function of the music.
In this composition Schoenberg uses instrumental colors “klangfarbenmelodie” in order to express the colors from the dynamics and ptiches written for the parts of the instruments.Considering the piece is writtern in chromatic harmony, colors are clearly given in the texture of the composition. In the excerpt we can see that the bass is playing divise with a more stable part in the bass solo and the tutti section playing more the chromaticly changed chords for the color.
Praeludium begins, as have dozens of pieces since, with soft, unpitched percussion noises (tam-tam, cymbals, bass drum, snare drum), which, via pitched percussion (timpani), introduce “normal” orchestral instruments in whose voices melodic ideas begin to emerge. At the end, there is a corresponding reduction to the single piano tam-tam stroke with which the piece began. Berg always liked arch forms and palindromes. In the section uses basses in division in order to give the root of the sound and on top adding the melodic material like rest of the orchestra.
As the first period Stravinskys this piece is full of rhythmic and motivic relations to express the story related to the ballet.This is why all instruments have the function of the harmony (dissonants and clusters) and the imitation of the happenings on the stage. Like in the last part of the composition double basses used with brass and percussion to give the ancient dance of sacrifice.
In this composition Varese used, the old style (like in Mozart- Grand Partita, Dvorak-
Wind serenade) wind septet formation with the double bass accompaniment. In this piece, considering the time Varese uses the bass almost unison with the lower brass like in Mozart and Dvorak but at the same time he uses harmonics and some solo passages to reflect the importance of the instrument. This shows us also the use of double bass improves as a function throughout the time considering the Wind serenade by Dvorak.
Andrea Tarrodi´s master´s exam piece Näktergalen – The Nightingale was premiered by KammarensembleN at the Royal College of Music on the 4th of June 2009. The piece is based on a story by danish writer H.C. Andersen.
Story: The Emperor of China hears that one of the most beautiful things in his own land is the song of the nightingale. He sends his courtiers to take a nightingale from the nearby forest and present her as a guest at court. The bird can communicate with the humans and agrees to come, but when the Emperor is given a mechanical nightingale covered with jewels, he loses interest in the real bird, which flies back to its home. The mechanical bird breaks down. When the Emperor is taken deathly ill, the real nightingale appears and its song so moves Death that he turns away and the emperor lives on. In this composition , composer used the double bass as a color with the functional effect with harmonic glissando and tremolo in tasto.
Survey among some composers of the 21st century.
In this section to connect and make an estimation or to get an idea for
- where is the music going?
- and what will happen in the future in orchestral music with the use double bass?
I will just put the data that was given by the composers itself.
- Throughout the centuries what is your opinion about the development of the double bass as it is part in the orchestral music?
- What is your approach in your compositions according to the new techniques on the double bass and how do you apply to it?
- What is your opinion about the future developments about the use of double bass in
your future compositions?
Oscar van Dillen
- Starting of as an optional doubling of the cello part in an orchestral setting, the contrabass gradually developed a greater independence. This is due to several historical developments:
- the contrabass comes from the guitar-family and is a relative latecomer in the orchestra;
- because of being a relative latecomer, it took some time for traditions of good playing to develop;
- after having become a true soloist in jazz ensembles, classical composers also started to emancipate the contrabass’ role;
- a remarkable compostion which takes this into the extremes is Ustvolskaya’s Symphony for piccolo and contrabass.
- I would urge contrabass players to be multi-instrumentalists and be able to also play electric babybass and/or fretless bass guitar, as these newer instruments complement the possibilities vastly yet are of similar built. Remarkably they as yet hardly if ever found in a classical symphony orchestra.
- In my opinion the contrabass-related instruments I mentioned above (electric babybass and/or fretless bass guitar) deserve our attention first of all.
- I prefer the lower registers by far, as my compositions show. Using the contrabass, in combination with other instruments -also in the low register- comes naturally to me. When I could choose, even in an ensemble setting I used two, rather than just one. Multi-part precise contrapuntal contrabass writing is all too often overlooked in contemporary writing.
- A steady emancipation.
- I use slap, grate, bartók-pizz., gliss, microtonal gliss. and intervals, on-the-bridge whitenoise, slapping the wood etc but all as integral part of the sructure where possible.
- I have no idea, most of the crazy new ideas in playing-techniques come from players, after all they spend more time alone with the instrument…
- The double bass is one of the few instruments I did not have a closer look at yet. My knowledge about it and its use roughly corresponds to what is written in Instrumentationskunden (Berlioz / Strauss, Erpf, Kunitz, Adler, Stiller).
- So far I have hardly ever composed for instrumentations with double bass (3 pieces for orchestras and one for a stringquintett) and all of them lie 10 to 12 years back. I hardly used contemporary playing techniques (this is a word for word translation) during that time.
- If I was given the possibility for writing a double bass solo or chamber ensemble with a bass, I would first delve into contemporary playing techniques and would possibly use them in accordance to the requirements of the composition.
Throughout the thesis my point was to show the reader from the beginning of the 19th century how the orchestral bass changed with the effect of the outside influences both on composers and on music. The subjects and chapters choosen was to show the facts that support the change or in other words to prove that everything in music had a paralel or contrary effect on each other.
For the double bass side of the topic, was to give an idea about how the instrument evolved and from both sides this evolution helped for the music to improve and change. As we see in the excerpts and cotations from composers how they see the bass and how they use the bass in the compositions.
As the ensembles (orchestras) get smaller for the compositions this gives composers to search for new sounds on the instruments. For double bass as it is mentioned above in technical aspects section, instrument is still developing and from the survey part, now more and more composers work with musicians and get new techniques over the instrument to write new compositions. Which gives the music an enourmus jump comparing to the 19th and beginning of 20th century.
As a conclusion, orchestral bass use is changing, developing and adjusting to the musical eras. This change is mostly effected because of the physical and conditional changes of the instrument and also new playing techniques found by contemporary bass players. Both sides effect each other and as David Graham mentioned in his answer who knows what it is going to follow next…
- A History of the double bass – Paul BRUN
- Geschichte des Kontrabasses – Alfred PLANYAVSKY
- Scores from Imslp (petrucci music library)
Author and License
- This thesis is writen by Aydın Balpınar
- Text is released under CC-BY-NC-SA 3.0