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Blame the Double Bass for the Death of the Symphony

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by LouisF, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
  2. Well, apparently he's done his research, and there's some truth to it. I'd say the vast majority of kids just aren't attracted to a big-assed, cumbersome instrument. Most kids that start playing want to play something that draws attention, and it sure ain't the double bass, or tuba. Hell, I admit it. I played tuba from the 6th grade (started playing bass then, too) until my junior year in high school. Hell, I've just never had the desire to play anything but a bass clef instrument from the get-go.
  3. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I don't know: you look at David Young's program at Colburn, Barry Green's in the Bay area, at lot of the work that ISB supports... and the incredibly talented young players coming out of many different college programs (not just Rice, USC, Peabody, Curtis etc) and I would have thought there was a great deal of interest in the instrument.

    The author is right that when cash is tight, music and other arts are first to go, but I think there are valiant community alternatives.

  4. Big B.

    Big B.

    Dec 31, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I dont know about kids but go audition for a symphony job. You'll be amazed not only by how many young players are there, but that more often than not they are winning. Every year I play in the symphony I see better and better young bass players winning jobs.

    Maybe its a problem in England but the double bass seems alive and well in the US. My experience is that the influence of jazz helps endear American students to the double bass. When I play at schools kids go crazy when the big bass comes out.
  5. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    My kids are in the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras. This year, WYSO started a new "endangered instrument" program, for instruments that they consider to be in short supply: Viola, bassoon, and French horn. Now, this may reflect demand for instruments in college orchestras, rather than at the pro level.

    Granted, this isn't an authoritative analysis, but just one data point.
  6. cold elephant

    cold elephant

    May 9, 2005
    Double bass players are not in short supply any more in this country. Every time I end up going into the Royal Academy in London on a Saturday (when they have Junior department on) I see younger and younger children having lessons in the bass rooms, and a lot more of them. I've seen the change there over the past 6 years, and believe me there are more people starting, starting earlier, and playing to a higher level year on year. So much so that the junior academy string competition for both under and over 16s was won by two bass players a couple of years ago if I recall correctly, playing pieces like the Brahms sonata and Bottesini carnival of venice variations and the like.

    That's just one junior department in London (there's Guildhall, Trinity, and Royal College too!). Without considering Caroline Emery at the Menuhin School, and various other private studios around the country. There were about 25 students studying at Royal College alone last I heard. When I started playing in 2003 there was an 'endangered species' programme which got me started with free lessons, and school paid for me to go to National Youth Orchestra for two years, and attend a weekly course where I had theory/harmony/jazz trio/mixed ensembles classical playing/recitals and private lessons with one of the players in the section at Opera North.

    I think ten years ago this article might have been a bit more pertinent than it is now, but as I mentioned there's been a definite increase in the number of players and the standard of it all in the last few years, and it's still going on now. All the professionals around the country I've been working with have said as much.

    There will always be times when certain regions will struggle for bass players for their youth orchestra, but I think now nobody is worrying about the number of young players coming through into the profession in this country. In most of the trial situations for orchestral jobs happening around the UK, there are a good number of candidates who are 25 and under and are about a year or two out of college. In some cases, nearly every trialist involved is in that age group. With that in mind I struggle to see where the need was to focus on bass playing in this article.
  7. Funny, go tell about it to people like Mr. Ruiz, Mr. Klinghoffer (and many many more......) who since long time bringing the bass to the next generation/young pupils by doing it with fire and Inspiration and as a solo instrument as well. By the way Guy Tuneh has presently his new bass studio in one of the conservatory of music in Berlin. so, everyone please stay calm, no need to take everyones word so seriously.


  8. In my experience, nothing that poorly written should be taken seriously. Especially an obscure blog piece riddled with misspellings and poor grammar.

    Jesus. The author should worry more about the dearth of copy editors obvious from her article than the dearth of bassists she perceives.
  9. I almost wish he was right...more jobs for the rest of us.