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Double-bass orchestral part playability

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by the exile, Aug 3, 2018.


  1. the exile

    the exile

    Feb 17, 2017
    I have written this part for double basses (for orchestra) but I am wondering if bars 118-120 in particular have leaps that would make playing rather difficult? (Just to be pedantic - notes will sound an octave lower than written as per normal).

    Sorry - please note that the part is played pizzicato.


    CB_PART.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 3, 2018
  2. ILIA

    ILIA

    Jan 27, 2006
    The high Ab at the end of m. 119 going into the low extension Eb on the downbeat of m. 120 is not really playable (since the gate will be on the Db and not the Eb). Even at quarter note = 82 and pizz, it's still unplayable and those that heroically try to play it with a standard set-up, are going to be giving you clacks and other noise along with the little tone they will be generating. It's even problematic on a 5-string. You're also assuming that the bassist has a gated extension, which sadly, is not universal. The rest of the passage, however, is well-done.
     
    robobass and Carl Hillman like this.
  3. bengreen

    bengreen

    Jan 26, 2016
    San Diego
    If it's a solo bass, yeah maybe you'd do well to get with the bassist and give it a listen. But a section's a different animal. They have the option to split up in wost case scenarios. If that's the line you have in your head, I'd be inclined to just leave it and let the players figure out how to make it happen. There's plenty of stuff in the rep that's far from sitting comfortably under your fingers
     
    neilG likes this.
  4. neilG

    neilG

    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    I can play it. You can make it a lot easier by making those lowest F's, E flats and d flats an octave higher. The jump from low F to Ab in the first two notes of 118 is the hardest part. The higher octave will have more presence and ring.
     
  5. the exile

    the exile

    Feb 17, 2017
    ILIA, bengreen and neilG - thank you so much for taking the time to respond. Your advice is so helpful :)
     
  6. the exile

    the exile

    Feb 17, 2017
    Are you playing a 5 string? I do intend to keep the notes in that low range.
     
  7. neilG

    neilG

    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    No. Very few people play 5 stringers around here.
     
  8. One thing, besides the playability thing. I would avoid the constant clef-changes. Makes it very difficult to see the contour of the line, and to read in general.
     
    the exile and Les Fret like this.
  9. the_Ryan

    the_Ryan

    Jul 10, 2015
    Ithaca/Seattle
    Especially since Abs aren't super hard to read in bass clef.
     
  10. Yes. If there's a long section in that register, use TC, but here BC all the way is much, much better.
     
    the exile likes this.
  11. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    I agree with the above (mostly). 1) I don't see the high Ab to low Eb as possible in 119-120. The other leaps from high G to low Eb and F are also pretty impractical. 2) It would indeed be way easier to read if it were all in bass clef. 3) in 122-123, its not possible to get the bow into position that fast at that tempo, even if it's already in your hand. If this is an orchestra part then all can be done divisi. Best to write it out yourself and prevent arguments in the section!
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
  12. This is very playable. Just tried it and there are some challenges but nothing unplayable. If this is how you are hearing it don't change it.

    Personally I like the clefs changing where you have them changing. I'm not a fan of leger lines. With the way that you wrote it there is plenty of space for the performer to make any necessary notes in the part.
     
    the exile and coldtrain like this.
  13. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    You can jump from an Ab above octave G to a contra Eb at that tempo? You can pluck a contra Db and play the Db on the A string with the bow an eighth note later? This I would really like to see.
     
    Fredrik E. Nilsen likes this.
  14. +1
     
  15. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Maybe he can. Doesn't mean a composer can expect it.
     
    Fredrik E. Nilsen likes this.
  16. I'm no classical bassplayer, but "very playable"?
     
    robobass likes this.
  17. robobass

    robobass

    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    Yup.
     
  18. If I get a chance sometime in the next few days I'll post a video : P

    The notes are marked staccato so they don't need to be super connected. That space is plenty of time to get to the next note in the specified tempo.

    It's not the most sight readable part but if you can play the standard orchestra audition rep this should be playable.
     
  19. neilG

    neilG

    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    It's playable. Not easily. I think it would be wise for our composer to heed the advice of people here who can actually play the instrument and simplify or divide the part. It will sound better.
     
  20. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Totally agree. I hate constant clef changes exactly for that reason. You see that way too often and most of the times it is not necessary at all.
     

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