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a composer asks about a double-stop

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by KevinRaftery, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. KevinRaftery


    Jan 26, 2013
    Sorry, there's not a bass player near me, so I hope someone will take pity on a composer who wants to get it right but also stretch the envelope a little bit.

    If my attachment has come through, you'll see that I'd like to write a pizzicato double-stop at the low end of the instrument. I don't think the glissando will be a problem, as long as you can play bottom F and bottom C# to begin with.

    In my mind the F could be played with the thumb. Non-standard, certainly, but this is for a solo, and I expect the player to be very good (although I don't know who it will be).

    Am I dreaming? Many thanks.

    Attached Files:

  2. An approach using the thumb technique is near impossible. Just the leverage is the problem. Now attempting this, I am able to stretch from f natural to c#, but I also have abnormally large hands, the average bassist might have smaller hands. It may require a bassist of more skill than me for the thumb technique, but I don't think its possible.
  3. Herbie 80's

    Herbie 80's

    Dec 15, 2008
    I think you're on the wrong side, buddy.

    In regards to OP:

    It is possible, but it wouldn't be much fun. Like the previous poster said, it might be do able with a thumb, but playing an F natural on the E string with a thumb would be a bitch.

    Out of thumb position (down low) Double basses can usually have stops of a fifth, major third, minor third, fourth, and an augmented fourth. You might be lucky to find a player with massive hands.

    Check out Bertram Turetzky's The Modern Contrabass; it was written for composers just like yourself to inform themselves of what the modern double bass is capable of.
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  5. Lol, indeed. Sorry folks!
  6. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    It's a stretch to reach both the F and C# but not impossible.

    But, because of the range and the intervals, I can tell you it will sound like a pile of turd even if it is played perfectly.

    Although if you really want a wobbly tritone sounding, it would probably sound best to have to play the C# to B gliss on beats 1 & 2 with the second finger, hold the B and play the F on beat 3 with the first finger.
  7. KevinRaftery


    Jan 26, 2013
    Many thanks from a chastened OP.

    I'll have to get my imagination to work in a different direction.
  8. This is absolutely possible. I just tried it and it sounds super sweet.

    To be fair, it's a little complicated. But it's also been done before. Scodanibbio's "Jardins d'Hamilcar" has an extended passage where the bassist slides between a low F and F-sharp with his thumb while playing the sounding-A harmonic (under the D) on the A-string.

    You'll need a player who is comfortable with such a technique.
  9. probably only for sitting players, but probably doable, if a little practise is put on it.
  10. It works standing if you can rest the neck on your shoulder comfortably while holding the F. Sitting would be simpler.
  11. Anthony Fury

    Anthony Fury

    Jan 20, 2009
    X2 - Not a big deal. I tried it too and thought it sounded pretty cool.
  12. mjt0229


    Aug 8, 2007
    Bellingham, WA
    I gave it a shot standing and it did not work for me. Once I sat down, I started to think that it could be made to happen. I was having trouble keeping my hand curved as I made the gliss, but keeping the F down wasn't too bad.

    If you go ahead with it, consider what comes before and after, because getting into thumb position that low will require a transition that's unfamiliar. The left hand may come off the neck (or nearly come off) as the thumb comes around to close the F; also, I had to bring the neck closer to my head into more of a cello position. People who already use that posture may not have as big of an adjustment.

    Also, that's not going to be a particularly loud register on the bass, so it might not ring out as much as you'd hope.
  13. Alternative suggestion... I don't have a bass handy to try this. Why not stop the F as per normal, and use the RIGHT hand index finger on the C#, plucking them both with 3rd and 4th fingers of the right hand? Pretty much the equivalent of the BG tap technique, without the wimpyness of taps on DB.
  14. Tom Gale

    Tom Gale

    May 16, 2009
    F is 1st finger. C sharp is a half step wrist pivot 4 glissing back to 2nd finger B.
    Tom Gale
    Asodb org
  15. I wouldn't do a double stop anymore than a fifth on the lower range. If it were something under a (lowest space on bass cleft... Or technically the first a below the staff) we could just do it in thumb position. it's possible to do (like others have stated) but It'd be more "considerate" to just do it div. I know people who would throw a fit over something like that. But it is pretty cool.
  16. I meant to say something *over* an a. Sorry bout that
  17. Tom Gale

    Tom Gale

    May 16, 2009
    It's no big deal. You finger the F first finger and pivot the rest of the hand a half step higher. Easy to do and it opens a new world of possibilities of techniques.
    Tom Gale
  18. Tom, you're talking about a hand extension (which would also work), not a pivot. If you were pivoting, most of your weight would be taken from the first finger and you'd have a pretty miserable pizz.
  19. Tom Gale

    Tom Gale

    May 16, 2009
    If you use a Low D tuning, it's easier. How about 2 on the F and 4 and 1 on the C sharp and B?
    Tom Gale

    P.s. By pivoting, you will return shortly to the original hand position. It is a little different than using the extension or, as I call it, "open hand" technique.
  20. tlhettema


    Apr 28, 2007
    If it is a double bass part in an orchestra, I would suggest to divide it between two basses or two groups of the bass section.

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