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auditions and instruments

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by ekspain, Mar 5, 2008.


  1. ekspain

    ekspain

    Feb 22, 2008
    Europe
    I've often thought- the better an instrument, the better sound, the more possibility for winning an audition, right?
    So heres the question: A big sounding, brighter contemporary bass

    or A beautiful dark, English or Italian bass

    Contemporary basses may seem "louder"- but an old great instrument
    just sounds better- somehow, they may make less of an impression on a jury though...

    Any thoughts?

    How many people do you know won their job on an Italian/English?
    or for that matter, on a bass from a newer maker?
     
  2. tlau5

    tlau5

    Mar 8, 2008
    My philosophy is that in the end its about the player and his skills. Sure a better instrument always helps but I've heard of great players with rather mediocre instruments. Its also determined by the instrument. A busted up old italian might be bad compared to a great modern bass.
     
  3. Player considerations aside, the "greater" sound often isn't really that much greater from behind the screen. Sometimes (in fact, often), what players say they "prefer" doesn't line up with what they actually select from behind a screen.

    You just have to get a bass that you can operate well and that creates a sound you're proud of. That may mean you can select a newer instrument - often the old, RIDICULOUSLY priced instruments (thanks, Robertsons) can be more finicky and less clear than a well-crafted modern instrument that costs less 1/4 the price.

    In fact, I witnessed an exact example of this: after months of searching, a great, modern, ca. $25,000 bass came in at over 90% of the quality and quantity of several ancient and pedigreed basses valued at $120 and above... the ensuing decision, I believe, is called " a no-brainer".
     
  4. sybarite

    sybarite

    Mar 4, 2006
    New York, NY
    couldn't agree more Karl, as long as you are comfortable with the sound thats all that matters.

    If you can't get the sound you're after with your bass, and you tried every type of string (thanks Mr Laszlo) or bow, then its time to considering looking for something else. But focus on sound & playability.

    Louis
    sybarite5.org
     
  5. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    Couldn't agree more. And the real consideration is what you think of the bass. You are going to play best when you are making a sound that you are proud of and when that sound is coming naturally without a bunch of micro management on your part.

    Dark...bright...punchy...smooth...these are words that people sell basses with. You have to pick what you like and then sell that sound to a panel. Lord knows you are going to have 8 different opinions of what a good bass sounds like behind that screen. You stand a better chance of showing them what a good bass player sounds like.

    Louis makes a good point though...if you have a bass that you like, then experimenting with strings and bows can drastically effect your overall performance and, given the right combination, will make you all the more marketable.
     
  6. bopeuph

    bopeuph

    Jul 3, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    This reminds me of a part in "Effortless Mastery," where Kenny Werner was talking about a party he was at. If I can remember the story correctly, the host had a brand name piano that was notorious for being very tinny and bright (he left the brand unnamed). Everyone at the party who could play, did, and the piano had that bright sound. Then the host sat at the piano.

    Werner said the piano gave the most warm, dark sound compared to the other players, and even sounded like a completely different piano. I always think of this story when someone says they need this instrument or that instrument to play better.

    I have an old Kay, and though I can't play it that well with a bow, I've heard others pull beautiful tones from my bass. Edgar Meyer would still sound like Edgar Meyer on my bass.

    Last week, I was at my old college for a rehearsal, and there was a newspaper article in the display about Buffet-Crampon donating instruments to the school, and one student quoted that he loves the opportunity playing on this professional clarinet compared to the one he owns; it gives him the "professional experience" he needs if he ever wants to play in an orchestra. In my opinion, he should keep playing on the clarinet he owns, because he graduates soon, and guess what? No more "professional" clarinet. And if he believes his horn is inferior, that's what he's going to sound like.

    Nick
     
  7. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia

    "Selling terminology" for instruments reminds me of the language people use to sell wine. I love good basses, but even the best bass doesn't play itself. Remember the title of Lance Armstrong's book (a response to a question he always gets), "It's Not About the Bike."
     
  8. groovinreuven

    groovinreuven

    May 2, 2004
    Canada
    This is my <10th post, but I feel the need to chime in on the subject.

    I am reminded of the story from my high school art class about the writer at a photography exhibition who compliments the artist on his work, then says "You must have a very good camera". The photographer simply replies "I liked that last piece of yours I read - you must have an excellent typewriter".

    I have been beaten in auditions more times than I like to count by people with clearly inferior instruments to my own.

    My experience on the other side of the screen matches with that of my colleagues. The basics: rhythm, pitch, and sound production are all too often still lacking in players who may otherwise be quite accomplished musically.

    Although decent equipment in good working order is necessary, no athlete can win their sport without being in top technical form. Does a runner win a race because of their shoes? An audition is the closest thing to a musical race or competition, and requires the same level of 'fitness' on the part of the competitor. No instrument will make that difference.

    As wisely stated in the previous post, the 'best' bass in the world still won't play itself. The illustrating story is the one where a famous violinist is approached with a violin, and asked to play it. Her response to the request: "Buying or selling?". In other words, it is the player who determines 99% of the sound.
     
  9. artdrtr

    artdrtr

    Jan 24, 2008
    Redondo Beach, CA
    bravo99.
     
  10. professorslinky

    professorslinky Banned

    Apr 7, 2008
    Boise Idaho
    To win an audition these days one can have no less than an italian pedigree instrument. if you don't you might as well quite.
     
  11. JayR

    JayR

    Nov 9, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    I can't tell if you're being Professor Slinky about this or you're serious, but for what it's worth, Scott Pingel won the principal spot of San Francisco a few years back with a $20,000 Thomas Martin.
     
  12. professorslinky

    professorslinky Banned

    Apr 7, 2008
    Boise Idaho
    I coached Scott before the audition, and that bass is one in a million.
     
  13. anonymous12251111

    anonymous12251111 Banned

    Apr 6, 2007
    Owen Lee uses a Jackstadt and Reid Hudson Bows...So Ekspain...it really doesn't matter, I think most people who get these fine old basses do so once they get into a symphony, winning a job may consist of renting a fine bass or purchasing a modern instrument. Just my thoughts on the matter.
     
  14. manutabora

    manutabora

    Aug 14, 2007
    Iowa City, IA
    Professorslinky is hilarious. If you can play half as well as you can humor people, you must be amazing;)
     
  15. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Joel Reist won the principal position with the Nashville Symphony on a bass made by Arnold Schnitzer. Arnold is neither old nor Italian.
     
  16. G-force

    G-force

    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    There is an old account of Isaac Stern. Stern was coming off stage after perfoming a concerto somewhere. Probably Carnegie....An old"er" woman , a patron of the arts, kept approaching Stern saying " Oh Mr Stern your violin sounds sooo beautiful. " She then said this a few more times with the hopes of catching his attention. Finally Stern turns to the woman and hands her the fiddle. " Here, show me how good it sounds "

    Good instruments do help. But if you can't walk the walk then ain't no testore gonna shake no floors..
     
  17. I think that (I hate to say this) it depends on the orchestra and section... especially when crossing international borders. I find that it is easier to play an audition on an easy to play modern bass with a good sound than a -hard to play- old Italian bass.

    Also I agree the bow and strings make a difference for sure.
     
  18. hey i was wondering if gut strings would help me in my next audition i need to change my strings anyways
    i have heard only good things about gut and i am using a pollmann
    any suggestions on brands or just steel vs. strings
    p.s. it is a youth orchestra i am auditioning for
     
  19. sorry my last was off the topic heading i just need to know
     
  20. mcnaire2004

    mcnaire2004

    Jan 17, 2006
    everywhere
    I'm not the expert on stings. But, if you are going into a orchestra setting. I may avoid guts. I have heart to many bad storys about how unmanagable they can be.

    Pollman's are wonderful basses, I wish I owned one myself. But, just because of the brand people wont be able to name a string to it. You would have to put a different string on it and see how it sounds. The only problem, most sellers don't take a refund if you put the strings on a bass.

    You should ask your teacher what he or she thinks about the strings.
     

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