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Anyone Played the Romance from Lieutenant Kije by Prokofiev?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Eli_Upright12, May 31, 2007.

  1. I'm learning it right now and I was wondering if anyone had any tips, hints, fingers, etc to offer? so far I really like it, any other thoughts on it?
  2. Stan Haskins

    Stan Haskins

    Nov 17, 2005
    NY and Miami
    That's a good piece.

    I've only played the solo arrangement from the Zimmerman book "Solos for the Double Bassist" - I'm not sure if my experience is valid. Are you playing from the original orchestral part? I know Zimmerman took lots of liberties with the solos in the book to make them more playable.

    That being said, I reccomend practicing with the piano accompaniment, or some other accompaniment, to make sure you're staying in tune through the modulations. It goes through some fairly difficult key changes (I believe you end up in Gb Minor for a while, if I'm not mistaken), and it's very easy to miss the key areas if you're not hearing them clearly.

    Good luck. Post recordings when you want, I'd love to hear some more versions of this piece!
  3. I'm playing the Zimmerman Version, and I do believe takes a couple creative liberties like the part in thumb position up an octave, I dont believe that is in the original arrangement. Also i believe he might have shortened it up a bit. The keys get a little funky, but at the high school i play in an all winds ensemble so I'm used to all sorts of flats.
  4. No one else has played this piece or has anything to say?
  5. stefaniw80401

    stefaniw80401 Supporting Member

    May 18, 2004
    Evergreen, Colorado
    I was lucky enough to be principle bass in my orchestra when we played it this season (4 months ago). I practiced it hard for a few weeks. Our conductor only gave me 3 or 4 opportunities (including dress rehearsal) prior to the concert. That was the biggest issue for me. After the first pass, he told me to play it as loud as I could -- I was already playing it forte. So I went home that week and slowed the bow down and leaned into it near the bridge to pump it out ff. This made it louder, and projected better, but when you play like that, there is little room for error with bow placement and speed. Next week at rehearsal, my adrenaline was pumping and my notes kept "breaking loose". So it was bad two weeks in a row. The worst of it was that I lost the musicality of it. That 3rd week I went back to being more musical, and not so close to the bridge. I also turned out towards the front a little, which took courage, but also let me project out much better. At the concert, I started it off OK, and fudged up the intonation in the middle section a bit. And I nailed the ending of the movement.

    Here's a summary of my advice:
    o Practice playing it forte.
    o Practice playing it slow! There are some long bows that you need to save!
    o Break out your best Gary Karr vibrato, or no vibrato at all ala Edgar Meyer. Worse thing you could do is have a nervous narrow vibrato.
    o Use the harmonics Luke. Don't forget to vibe those harmonics. I get best vibe on harmonics when my finger tip presses down and vibed on the fingerboard on the bass side of the G string, letting the side of my finger touch the harmonic. You can also vibe a harmonic vertically without touching the FB, but it's not as effective.
    o Memorize it for god sakes! Only then will you get it to come out musical with feeling.
    o Turn out towards the house if you have the kajones to do so.
    o Make love to your bass. After all, that's what I think Prokofiev had in mind. Our instrument visually evokes the female figure. If you play it with love in your mind and a relaxed face -- perhaps even a Monalisa smile, you will convey what the composer intended.

    Good luck!
    DC Bass likes this.
  6. Thanks, Ive been not trying to over do it, cause Im just playing it as a excerpt to work on for a while, Ive been mostly working on the musicality of it and getting it to flow and resonate well.
  7. SirFunk

    SirFunk Supporting Member

    May 24, 2001
    Topeka, KS
    If you want to hear how it should sound, listen to "Russians" by String :-D

    ok, just kidding, but he did use the melody from this piece in that song.
  8. Dave Whitla

    Dave Whitla

    Apr 25, 2006
    Lots of folks here are probably too young to realize that you meant "Sting"! :smug: Good tune though.
  9. SirFunk

    SirFunk Supporting Member

    May 24, 2001
    Topeka, KS
    Damn, I didn't think I was THAT old. Good call on the typo though :-D
  10. mtto

    mtto Gold Supporting Member

    May 25, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm playing this with an orchestra at the end of this month. Anyone have thoughts on interpretation, vibrato, or favorite recordings I should check out?
  11. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design Endorsing Artist
    Always best to go to the source:

    simandlesque, eerbrev and mtto like this.
  12. cpaterso

    cpaterso Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2007
    Hi - Barry Lieberman has a whole series of great videos of different double bass works. Here is a link to the one he did on Lt. K:
    banks, DC Bass, eerbrev and 1 other person like this.
  13. cpaterso

    cpaterso Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2007
    wow - I had missed that "lift" by Sting! huh!!! Did he pay anyone royalties?
  14. ILIA


    Jan 27, 2006
    Back when Sting lifted the melody, the work was still in the public domain here in the USA (but not in the rest of the world), so he (his label) probably got away with not paying mechanical rights to the Harry Fox thugs. Had Sting tried to release "Russians" today, he probably would have had to cough up some licensing $, since the Gatt Treaty made Americans subject to international copyright laws.

    Moral of the story, hang on to your music that was purchased before Prokofiev's music was removed from the public domain.
  15. stefaniw80401

    stefaniw80401 Supporting Member

    May 18, 2004
    Evergreen, Colorado
    I've seen Barry's videos before. It's a great breakdown of how to play this piece, and he has a very nice tone. I like to play this solo with a more sustained vibrato, and more slippery like the film singer.
  16. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    Here's my experience:

    Practice the G minor scale from the F on the G-string up to the high D many times until it is dead on in-tune every time. I use a keyboard with a straight organ sound and use a piece of tape to hold down a G so I can hear the interval relationships.

    Use the same finger with same notes - All F's are 4, G-T(o), A-1, Bb-2, C-1, D-3(o) (except as noted below), Eb-3, low-D-T(o).

    Harmonics are always in-tune - use them for the G, high-D and low-D (even Barry in the above video cacks the low-D). Practice vibrato on them so they don't stick out as much.

    For the high bit in mm 5-6 & 9-10, I use C-1, D-3(o), shift up with 3 for the Eb, D-2 or 3(o), C-1, D-3(o). This prevents reaching for notes which causes little pitch swoops.

    It is phrased in 2 bar mini phrases within the 4-bar phrase - crescendo to the F then come back, crescendo to the high-D then come back.

    Let the other bassists handle the fast notes at Rehearsal 16 so you don't cack a note or string shifting down to the lower notes.

    For the tenuto notes, give them a little push so they sound like singing, "Ya, ya." For the dotted tenuto notes, make the push a little stronger and shorter so it sounds like singing, "Yum, yum, yum, Yaaa." The slurred notes play very smooth and connected. Use lots of bow and play it forte. Listen to some Russian singers sing folk songs for inspiration.
  17. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Why would you always play F as 4? The first one you play takes you back up pitch-wise in the phrase. Why go all the way back for that?

    I disagree. Harmonics are not always in tune. And Lieberman cacks the note because he cacks the note. There's nothing inherently difficult or unusual about that shift, he just didn't find it.

    If one were to practice scales as per your first, very good suggestion, there shouldn't be any pitch swoops. I would suggest practicing that g minor scale up to at least e-flat since the solo does go that high.

    I really don't think that video is a good example of how to play the solo.
    wathaet and Peter Ferretti like this.
  18. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design Endorsing Artist
    A very young Hal Robinson goes for it:
    Will Yager, Leo Smith and DC Bass like this.
  19. stefaniw80401

    stefaniw80401 Supporting Member

    May 18, 2004
    Evergreen, Colorado
    Yeah .... that's it .... beautiful vibrato.
  20. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    If the harmonics are not in tune then the string is dead and needs to be replaced.

    F with 4 so there isn't a tonal difference when going to the D-string with a 2 plus no risk of the bow doing anything weird during the string crossing; F with 4 involves placing the thumb in the pocket of the neck, and the side of the hand will probably touch the top edge of the bass, so there is an anchor point when reaching for the note, thereby increasing the likelihood of an in tune note. I bet most bass players have played that F with 4 many more times than with 1, 2, 3 or thumb.

    I find using pivot shifting causes the pressed fingertip to roll a bit while the rest of the hand is reaching up or down, thereby affecting the pitch slightly.

    The pressure of playing an exposed solo in concert adds to the possibility of flubbing something. This method worked for me and is applicable in other instances.
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