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Classical music on bass?

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Borknagar, Jun 7, 2003.

  1. Borknagar


    Feb 3, 2003
    Norway, Oslo
    so....anyonw out there know any good classical peaces to play on a solo bass?
  2. Chip


    May 2, 2000
    thats all you'll ever need :p

    also im wondering if anyone know some more details on the "elgar cello suite"
    i only know the name, and want to have a listen to it, its ment to be the hardest cello piece ever composed
  3. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Yeah, the Bach cello suites are pretty much the best selection for bass stuff.

    I know Chromatic Fantasy, which was written by bach(If I'm not mistaken) then later transcribed to bass and played by Jaco.

    there are a couple Tb'ers that do a lot of work with classical music.

    David Grossman in particular, uses 6 and 7 strings to get extended range, for stunngingly accurate and precise transcriptions.

    I believe Michael Manring did the BoureƩ, but I don't know if he did it solo bass.
  4. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Chip, do you mean Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor?

    Ooooh, I love playing classical music on the bass. I play a lot of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Simandl. I'm getting up the will to teach myself Franck's Sonata in A (Allegretto poco mosso), not sure how it'll sound on bass, but it's worth a try.
  5. Chip


    May 2, 2000
    im not sure, my teacher just mentioned it in a practice horror story, where this girl practiced this one part she couldnt do for 8 hours straight, after that could never play the cello again :\
  6. speaking of Bach on bass, who's done versions of Toccata and Fugue? I've checked out Fred T Baker's version that's on the Shuker basses website http://www.shukerguitars.co.uk/ - which is okay, but the tone is horribly thin.
  7. Depending on what you classify as 'Classical' I play many pieces on electric bass, Beethovens piano sonatas are very difficult to play on bass. Try the second mvmnt to 'The Tempest'!!
  8. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Bach's Cello Suites are great fun on bass - no real need to get a version transcribed for Electric Bass, unless you want to pay more for it... I used the Cello version for reading practice for years - on four string bass you just have to move the low Ds and Cs up an octave, which is fairly easy to do, and fairly good practice in its own right.

    The other book that's great fun if you've got someone else to play with is the Bach two-part inventions. There are also three part inventions which you could do (not tried those) and I think four part inventions too...

    Michael does a very fine version of Cello Suite number 1.


  9. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I'm primarily a soloist of avant-garde classical music for the
    bass. Aside from having
    commissioned about 100 works there are a few "older" pieces that i can recommend.

    First - George Crumb's cello sonata. You will have to do some scordatura but other than that you'll be fine.

    Second- John Cage's composed improvisation for electric bass. this is a fun piece.

    third - Christian Wolff's bass solo "Untitled" (written for me I might add..)
    and also his "Bass exercise out of Bandiera Rosa."
    Oldschool94 likes this.
  10. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    I know it's not quiet the same, but I believe Engie Malmstein did some amazing classcial renditions on his electric axe... ;)
  11. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    If my brother saw that spelling he'd hunt you down for sure. He's a full on Malmsteen (cant spell the first name) nerd, always practicing his stuff. He even developed repative-strain-injury according to the doc (saw him a few days back) from playing '14 hours a day' since he left college...

    PS - that toccata recording by Fred Baker sounds good!

    To Borknagar - the intro to Cryptopsy's 'Phobophile' (assuming you like them due to your screen name) kind of has a classical feel to it and is easy to play. The bass part is only a bar or so long (you could learn the 10 sec piano intro too I guess).
  12. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    It's Yngwie Malmsteen.
  13. I'm trying on the prelude to Bach's Cello suite no 4 (Eb major) right now. If I can nail it convincingly on fretless, I'll be a happy man. A happy, suprised man. :)

    The legato bits are causing me lots of trouble.
  14. When you guys play the solo cello/violin stuff by Bach on the bass, do you guys transpose it to make it more "playable" or do you play it in it's original key? Guitarists play those pieces as well, but some change the keys of a suite to enable the addition of thier own original counterpoint to the original melody. Sometimes it's also just for convenience, ie suite no 4 in Eb to E.

    I can't remember the site, but there was this one guy who was planning to record the cello suites on a six string bass. I'd have to get back to you on that one because I have to re-find the site. It's got lots of Bach arranged in MIDI.

    I've heard Edgar Meyer tackle 3 of the cello suites (no 1, 2 and 4). I like what I hear, but you have to bear in mind that I don't play double bass so I can't judge on the technical merits. I also had a gaze inside Double Bassist magazine and saw a review of a double bassist (who's name escapes me) that recorded a double Cd of all 6 cello pieces. The editor unfortunately gave it a horrifying verdict with two thumbs down. I've heard BWV 1001 - 1006 and BWV 1007 -1012 played on the guitar and lute plenty of times, but I have yet to come across a recording of the Bach cello and/or violin solo pieces for the big Db (aside from Meyer). I'm really eager to hear it one day.


    Hi Don Z, are there any pieces composed for unaccompanied bass from your commissions?
  15. "I also had a gaze inside Double Bassist magazine and saw a review of a double bassist (who's name escapes me) that recorded a double Cd of all 6 cello pieces."

    What I ment was all 6 cello suites, ooops..... :eek:
  16. there's a quicktime video clip of John Patitucci playing Bach's G major prelude on Yamaha TRB6 string on this site-
  17. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    99% of my commissions are for solo bass.
  18. Hi Don,

    When you play your solo pieces, are there lots of classical DB-ists watching as well? Some people can get pretty conservative when people play solo music on bass guitar and DB...but that's good that you're doing stuff like that.

  19. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I've been a soloist for 13 years now. My audience is very small; usually college music dept. types... Usually because I'm playing their compositions.

    There are always Db'ers in the crowd and to be honest in playing contemporary classical music most of the players are very open minded; they have to be to be playing this kind of music.

    Every so often a db'er will give me some flack so I just ask if I can try out his or her bass and that usually settles it...
  20. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    If anyone's interested - I've typed out the first 1 min 50 (whole thing = 2min 50) of 'Fred Bakers' version of 'Tocatta' on guitar pro including tab+notation.

    You'll ned a 5 string bass to play it though, I did try doing it for a 4 string with a bit of detuning but its not really possible past a certain point :'O(

    reply here/pm me if you want the GP file/ascii tab file + midi file.