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Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by jamiecbass, May 20, 2012.
I was just wondering if a bass could be a concert master?
i know there are first basses
I suppose, but you might look kind of silly with a bass tucked under your chin.
Perhaps if you develop a genetic deformity where your chin becomes incredibly large, and you play a 1/32 size bass
I think that would be a wonderful idea.
I actually have a theory that the bass was invented to mock the violin. I can just picture a bunch of white haired, rich, drunk people laughing at it because it is literally completely opposite to the violin (the size, the strings are flipped, and the direction you hold it)
Concertmasters were originally developed to lead an orchestra. So the first violinist (the concertmaster) would serve as a sort of conductor as well as an actual player. His direction would move the rest of the orchestra like a conductor does today (or in a similar fashion to chamber music).
The reason a bassist wouldn't be concertmaster is because we generally don't have the melodic lines the violins do. The violins are the acrobats and fireworks of the strings section--they do the fancy, flashy work. Think of it like this: If a string orchestra were a shape, it would be a pyramid, with the violins at the top. But nothing is more important than the bottom--the bass and violoncello. We can't lead a piece melodically, but we are what makes the piece solid. Our purpose is to make everyone else sound great by phrasing with them, keeping the piece in tempo and following the upper strings.
This is of course a really simple representation of it, and with the full size orchestras of the late classical and romantic periods, the structure I just told you about would have been shaken up a bit (thank you, Beethoven!). But it still stands. And actually, quite a few violinists are going back to the old concertmaster role--Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell and Pinchas Zukerman to name a few.
Been there, but on violin.
Why would you want to be concertmaster anyway? It's way more work then most people understand. To be a good concert master you have to know all your music inside out, as well as the 2nd violin parts and viola parts. If stuff isn't happening you need to be on top of it. Cello and bass sections generally don't see much concert master involvement due to the different bow orientation, but bowing of the "chin" strings is all on the concert master.
Not to mention the big target on your back. All the idiots constantly take shots at you.
You have to be good enough on all the instruments under you to back up your talk - to be effective. Most folks just power trip in the chair and don't have a clue about what the job is really about. It's not just playing all the cool solo parts.
I saw the BSO play Stravinsky's concerto for piano and winds not too long ago. The bass section was seated in the first violins' usual position. I think this is one of the few times the principal bassist will have the privilege of tuning the orchestra (...from the piano...)
That was a neat performance - I saw it here in Boston, although I think they toured with it down at Carnegie Hall. It was great to have an unobstructed view of the bass section.
How is this related to Orchestral Auditions?
I'm sure there is a more appropriate section on the forum for this.
traditionally the bass section would be the rythm-keepers. A little in that direction, or?
I mean, I've found from being lone bass player in a string ensemble that there's some responsible work there too, as everyone depends on you just as much as on the conductor or concertmaster. When people look at them, they follow them, but players need to look at their scores, and when they do, they instinctively follow on you. So you better be with the concertmaster and conductor, but in a way that those listening to you will be with them as well. Especially since being the very foundation of the music itself enables us to many times override the concertmaster or conductor (ears>eyes in music) - especially problematic since then some will follow their ears (you) and some will follow the concertmaster.