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Eroica Extension Work

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by ifg, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. ifg


    May 4, 2011
    brooklyn, ny
    Hi all,

    Working on the Eroica for the first time. For those conservatory students / pros who use an extension (not a 5-string), I have a quick question about traditional performance practice in that quasi bariolage passage in the 1st Mvt, 17 after K thru letter L:

    Are you using your extension beginning on the C (25 after K)? If so, how are you managing staying in the lower octave on the Db, D, etc. Seems like a crazy amount of shifting, but if this is "how it's done" I'll keep working at it. (Is there a trick to working thru that?)

    If transposing up the octave is how most pros do it, it seems like the Eb (37 after K) would be the natural place to return to the lower octave, and, in this case, one really shouldn't play the low C at 25 after K (too much skipping around with the low octave). Also, I'd assume you're just transposing the pedal point up the octave, not the 3rds, 5ths, 7ths etc.

    Thanks! Again, if the answer is to play it as written and bounce around, I'd love a few pointers about how to be playing, for example, Db/F/Db/Ab/Db at that tempo cleanly. The answer may just be "hours of practice, my boy" in which case I'm ready to roll... Just didn't want to spend my time working this out if nobody does this.

    Obvi, on a five string, you'd just play it as written, and with a four string, you'd have to transpose, so I'd love to hear from the extension pros and near-pros.

    Thanks all!
  2. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    It IS a crazy amount of shifting but with practice it can be done. It might actually be easier with a mechanical extension (ie, Stenholm). Whether or not it's worth the effort is another question only you can answer. Cellists can't seem to play that Db in tune anyway, so I prefer to just let them have it. :)
  3. This excerpt is why you want a chromatic extension. If you set each of the capos so that they are just a millimeter away from being closed, you have enough time to close them as the sequence moves up. Otherwise, you're in shift city.
  4. I know this is off topic and all. But reading this, I can't help but be happy that I tune in 5ths.
  5. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Funny how a lot of parts doubling the cellos that seem impossible in 4ths work better in 5ths...

    In 5ths or on a 5 string, everything is at the correct octave, unless some random circumstances don't permit it, like modern "composers" (if you're at a conservatory, you will encounter students that think it's a great idea to have 3 octave leaps all over the place or some other nonsense.)

    Having worked with a number of players in 4ths with extensions, (machines, chromatic, one capo etc.) the "practice" often tends to be if it seems impossible or like it wouldn't really bring the piece crashing to a stop, it doesn't have to go down. However, bigger orchestras like to see it there. Especially if you make it to an audition/sub situation and they can see your bass has an extension.

    Learn it where it is written, but be able to play it up the octave too. If you aren't in the principal chair, follow what they do. If you are, it's your ball game.
  6. MostlyBass


    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    Sorry for the late reply! I was looking this over...
    Is this for an audition or section situation?
    What is your setup - do you have an extension? If so, what type?

    Depending on these factors, I have several solutions.
  7. John Hood in the Philly orchestra has a fingered extension and makes it happen. The other guys just close their capos really fast. If you paid for an extension USE IT! After practicing this you will absolutely know where those notes are back there.
  8. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    As someone else said in this thread, by the time you get this down, you'll really know where your notes on your extension are located.

    If you have a fingered extension, practice intervals until you are comfortable with the shift, just like hitting the D on the G-string from 1/2 or 1st position. When you go back to playing it as a piece of music, it will be much easier and be what Beethoven wrote.

    As my teacher used to say, "The correct way is the easy way, the easy way is the correct way." And, "It takes just as much effort to fake it well as to play it well so put your effort doing it properly."
  9. ifg


    May 4, 2011
    brooklyn, ny
    hi all, thanks very much for your thoughtful responses. i am using a fingered extension, and i'm new to the extension world.
  10. Luckily for you, Beethoven 3 is about as hard as it gets for extension work. If you can figure it out, you should have no problem with 95% of everything else.

    That said, keep your eye out for Also Sprach Zarathustra, Shostakovich 5, and Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony Op. 9. Some things were meant for 5-string basses...