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Double Bass in Wind Ensemble

Discussion in 'Orchestral Auditions [DB]' started by Sem97, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. Sem97


    Oct 9, 2018
    I’m a music student at university, majoring in cello. I play with my university’s string orchestra as well as a community amateur orchestra. I plan on taking up the Double Bass within the next few weeks as a secondary instrument for its musical versatility and its capability of strengthening my cello playing.

    One thing I’ve wanted to do for some time is join my university’s wind ensemble. They’ve been performing in my city for over 20 years and each time I go to their concerts I just want to be a part of the experience. Auditions are held next August, and I was hoping I could audition with bass as I know wind ensembles often utilize the DB to compliment the low brass and compensate for the low winds. However, the ensemble already has one double bassist, so I’m worried about them accepting another one, even if I do well on the audition. Is it possible that a wind ensemble can make use of multiple DB’s, or is there usually just one?
  2. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    I used to play with a professional wind ensemble and I was always alone, however this is more due to economics. Sousas first professional band had four basses, and in the 1928 School Band Contests booklet, two string basses are listed. The latter was an attempt to standardize the size of the ensemble
  3. Any decent sized wind band will outblow a double bass anytime they want to. Two is not a problem sound and volume wise. There may be some intonation issues, but hey, they've got flutes and trombones.
    Ric Vice likes this.
  4. wathaet


    May 27, 2007
    I never needed an amp with the wind ensemble. Alone in a wind ensemble is a good place to learn to develop a big sound while maintaining quality.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
    salcott likes this.
  5. stringtapper


    Jun 24, 2009
    Denton, TX
    Any time I have ever played double bass in a wind ensemble or seen one played it has always just been one.
  6. Billy889


    Sep 29, 2018
  7. Bubbabass


    May 5, 2004
    During my years in the Air Force Band in DC, we had two basses vs four tubas. You will develop a big sound.
  8. Richtofen


    Jul 28, 2017
    Playing Double Bass in a Wind Ensemble is both a fun experience and a strange experience. My tip is to watch out for the band kids and your bass.

    I would audition anyway, and if you get it, you can get to know how other band instruments work, and how your instrument relates to them.
  9. tsheldon

    tsheldon Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    Western New York
    In college I played double bass in wind ensemble. My experience varied widely based on the music selections. I recall lots of having to read tuba parts which was not very fulfilling. Some of the contemporary pieces were fun.
  10. Dbass926


    Jun 20, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    It may be fair to say that no wind ensemble in the history of the world has ever suffered from having too many bassists want to play in it. In both universities I attended, we all viewed it as something between cancer and syphilis in terms of desirability. I do think there are some cool bass parts out there, so I'm not trashing the whole concept. It's more that I think the ensemble director will be extremely happy to accommodate you.
    mingusman37 likes this.
  11. ILIA


    Jan 27, 2006
    Two basses in wind ensemble vs. one? It really all depends on the repertoire. If the "string bass" is merely a part of the "basses" ("basses" used to refer to all instruments that are all doubling each other and playing the bass line which would include tuba, bari sax, string bass, etc.), then yeah, two or more is great. But if the double bass part is orchestrated within true wind ensemble music, minimal doubling, then, no, one string bass is all that is necessary, although I can't think of a wind ensemble director that would not want two qualified double bassists in the stable.
  12. I spent five years in a wind Ensemble. Some of it really was fun. I also got to learn and play some very interesting music.

    On the whole, I did not enjoy doing it. I really could have played whatever I wanted and get away with it. I even tried it a few times as an experiment to see. From time to time the director (who is a composer) would give me more notes to augment what we were doing. Also, when I arrived he started putting bass parts in his music (though still mostly a waste of time). For some reason, people would say that I was so impressive up there but that's because I had the most visible finger movement being on the edge of the stage and a string player.

    I think it's more psychological than true that "you can't hear the bass but you can feel it." Band directors want a bass because they think their band looks good and they can fill their own heads with some superstition of its contribution. I guess if the instrument beside you (Which could be one of many depending on the configuration) can't count much then you'd help them out I guess.

    Like others said you'll learn to project I guess. Mostly it's a soul-sucking experience. But maybe it's just not for me. If you say you go to concerts and like it then it could very well be for you.

    Also, there are plenty of pieces with cello parts in band. Honestly, you'll have about as much to do if you just played cello. The only thing I think can help you with bass is hand strength and some perspective when going back to the cello.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2018
  13. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    I was the only bassist in wind ensemble.

    Every class I thought "Whats the point of me being here?"

    Still got credit though.
    Dbass926 likes this.

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