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dress code & rests: novice questions

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by contrabajisimo, Nov 16, 2004.

  1. Hey guys, I'm sure for a lot of you this is common sense and something you perhaps don't even question, but... I have a first symphony orchestra gig next week and have two questions:

    1. what is the appropriate dress code (we suppose to wear black & white), are there places that rent suits as I don't have any?

    2. I noticed something about myself is that during long rests (for bass section) I don't know how to behave. How do you guys handle the long rests besides counting the measures?

    I apologise if these questions are offensive to the old-timers in classical music, but I'm just starting out, so help me out.
  2. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    1. Buy yourself a good black suit not flashy, just plain standard suit. And a white shirt. You add a tie and you're ready for job interviews, husher jobs at the music hall, concerts, auditions, weddings, etc... every musician needs a black suit.

    2. Just behave. Don't pick your nose, etc... Counting the bars could be useful, and sometimes mandatory. In any case, stay deeply concentrated on the music, do not distract the audience while your bandmates are playing.

    This thread has the potential to crop some funny stories... :D
  3. haha.. pick my nose... no.. I don't know, I just found myself either deeply being responsive to the music physically (like a jazz gig) or just staring at the charts, but then I kind of felt a little self-concious, but I guess that's just inexperience screaming.

    What tie is a standard tie? Is it a black "butterfly" type? How is it called?
  4. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    1) It's OK for jazz, but for classical it's considered an unnecessary waste of energy: the metronome remains inside yourself and the emotions are only expressed through the music.

    2) bow tie
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Unless you are a conductor or star violinist - ever seen Maxim Vengerov, or how much sweat is produced by Valery Gergiev...? ;)

  6. I had the opportunity to work with Gergiev for a week and half this past July, and he would have to change shirts in between our breaks during rehearsals!
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Wow - that must have been great !! Although I wonder sometimes, how it is for the front row of the strings? ;)
  8. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    1. tux

    2. don't fall asleep
  9. 1. You can get cheap used quality tux's at vintage clothing stores etc. (I paid 30$ for mine) Sometimes they show a little wear, but no one in the audience can see that. Get a bow tie and tux shirt which can be fairly cheap. I recommend the regular collar shirt (not the funny one that stands up like for prom or weddings) with small pleats. Most guys were cumberbunds. Get decent black shoes and youre' good to go. One thing I recommend is to get a jacket that is a little loose in the shoulders so you can play comfortably.

    2. During long rests you should remain unobtrusive but interested. Don't daydreem too much. Listen to the music, look the conductor, look at your music, look at the floor. Don't stare too much at the other musicings, especially if they are playing a solo or an exposed part. Never look up abruptly if some makes a mistake. In fact never look at the person who makes the mistake. I heard a story where someone turned around when the horn player behind them clammed during a solo, and the horn player lunged over the stand and started wailing on the guy. I'm sure this wasn't during a performance but still. Don't make sudden movements or draw attention to yourself. Don't look out into the audience in an obvious way. You can rest your arms across the the strings of the bass to take the weight off and shift a little to keep body parts from falling asleep or getting cramps. That's it.

  10. Thank you, man! Although very obvious these questions were making me little uneasy as I suspect that there are well established traditions, or etiquette if you will of behavior during the performance and rehearsal. So I just don't want to put myself in a position where I can be misunderstood. Thanks.
  11. I'd recommend getting a very good pair of shoes. Even if you play sitting on a stool you're not going to play your best if your feet are bothering you.

    Having a handkerchief is a good idea also. With stage lights and potential anxiety you're more likely to sweat. It's better to be prepared than to wipe your forehead off with the scherzo you just finished :)
  12. Tuxedo or black suit. White shirt, bow tie. Usually black, maybe white. You don't really need a vest or cumberbund; they're just hot and uncomfortable. Oh, and get a used suit if you can't afford a good new on; those cheap Mr Formal monkey suits suck! You'll sweat to death and it'll last all of six months. Unless you're principle, shoes don't matter much so wear something dark and comfy. I usually wear just black socks. Tacky? Maybe, Comfortable? Yes.

    Count bars, so you don't look like an ass and miss your entrance.
  13. Contra|Brett|


    Oct 6, 2004
    For classical, 95% of the time you are going to need a tux. My orchestra is black bow tie and black cumberbund. For jazz i just dress fairly casually, "nice pants" and a button up shirt with a tie.

    When resting during long rests i usualll just look at the conductor, my music, or pretend to look at my music while my eyes scan the audience for people i know. It is considered unprofesional to look at a soloist while they are playing a solo and espetially to look at someone who just made a mistake.

    I actually just finished a piece like this when my orchestra played "Eine Steppensizze" by Borodin. Not only is it hard not to look at every single soloist in that piece, it is hard to get it out of your head. Anyway, sometimes you don't have to count the whole rest, in that Borodin piece, the bass section just had to listen for the english horn to come in, then count 26 measures. If we were really lazy we wouldn't count at all and we would just wait for the english horn to play the same thing twice in the row then just come in the next measure.
  14. that's good info for me, because in Vivaldi's "Winter" that we are doing I'm constantly stairing (so far only at rehearsals) at our violin soloist admiring her technique and eyeballing all the orchestra players (with admiration, so far)... huh.. thanks.
  15. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    I don't know where ContraBrett is located, his public profile being blank as of today. Anyho, IN FRANCE, you gonna look out of place almost anywere with a tux, and you'd be notified whenever such a specific attire is required. Prolly would be a better idea to clear the dress code issue with your conductor instructor, etc... rather than with TalkBass.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes, I've been to a lot of concerts with big European orchestras and have noticed particularly with youth orchestras, that the dress is far less formal - in a lot of them, the males just wear open-necked shirts and no jacket - but it does vary from orchestra to orchestra and I have only rarely seen US-based orchestras.

  17. Every orchestra I've ever seen or played with in Southern California require tux's or tux-like black suits with black bow-ties. Sometimes white dinner jackets for outdoors in the summer and spring.
  18. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Yes Youngman, everything is relative. Since Karim is located not too far from Californie and seems to be aiming towards a classical bassists curriculum, I guess he could start to think about shoping for a tux... I still think that a black suit could do it too, and would have other miscellaneous uses besides classical concerts. Karim has to check out for himself if tux is mandatory or not.
  19. A very good idea is to remove any and all buttons from the jacket that could produce unwanted clicking and clacking; primarily the ones on the sleeves.
  20. youth orchestra gigs (in scotland) is generally black trousers, white shirt and orchestra tie (if there is one).
    pro or semi-pro is what all the other guys said :)
    got my first show with the university orchestra who play in tuxes and bow ties, so i'm off to scour the second hand shops too...

    and for long rests, sit and look composed- i try andlet my bow arm hang naturally.