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Doubling Cello in the classical period

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by Noam Elron, Apr 8, 2006.

  1. Noam Elron

    Noam Elron

    Apr 14, 2005
    Haifa, Israel

    In orchestral pieces from the classical period, thee bass part is usually composed of playing the celo part in "unison" and silent passages. My question is whether these pieces were originally written with a bass part (i.e. Mozart indicated when the bass is silent) or whether basses were added later on, and deciding when the bass doubles and when it shuts up was done by some conductor somewhere and got standardized along the way.

  2. Anon2962


    Aug 4, 2004
    It was written like that. Basses were tuned differently back then, so some insanely akward fast parts were not so akward back then. I've played some Haydn and there's oodles of what i'm talking about in there.
  3. mcnaire2004


    Jan 17, 2006
    I remember about 4 years ago I played some old piece and my teacher told me the bass part was written later. He said there wasn't basses back when the piece I played was written. (probably pre classical)
  4. kraid


    Apr 11, 2003
    I'm not sure what your teacher was talking about since there are double basses that date back as far back as the late 16th century and parts written for them throughout the baroque period, though sometimes written with the intent of being played on a violone.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think the main point to bear in mind here is that if you go back a long way , then composers weren't writing for a particular group of instruments and there wasn't a "standard" orchestra - it was just whatever they could get together.

    It's only when we get to around Beethoven's time and later, that parts are written with specific instrumentation in mind and when we get to the Romantic period then what we think of as a "normal" orchestral string section gets set up and written for.

    So - Mozart wrote music and "recycled" it for whatever particular combination of instruments were available - he didn't expect that it would be played by large orchestras with 4 - 8 Double Basses and huge numbers of other strings - he was expecting small groups of players,where only occasionally would there even be a single Double Bass.... :meh:
  6. Kam


    Feb 12, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    That also goes for continuo stuff in chamber groups, especially bach cantadas, etc. The bass parts are written, but no instrument was specified. Cellos are kind of the standard, but I think bass often works better, especially with mezzo-sopranos and altos.
  7. mcnaire2004


    Jan 17, 2006
    I got clarification. It wasn't my "teacher" it was my middle school strings teacher. I asked her about it. She said the bass part was added later not that basses wern't around. sorry

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