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Extended Techniques/Prepared double bass

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by damonsmith, Jul 19, 2007.


  1. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I thought it was really getting time for this thread, I put it here because to would really like to start with the New Music perspective, since it is easier to
    Do an objective analysis, obviously it will include improvised music as well.
    I own the scores to Druckman's "Valentine", the Scelsi solos, the Xenakis, Barry Guy's Statements II, Turetzky's book and many others.
    I also have some of Dresser's charts on harmonics and bitones.

    These scores include some of the basics: Circular bowing, Double Glissandos, playing with a mallet or other percussion item, etc.
    We know that the 16th century composer Biber had the double bass prepared with paper and played Col Lengo to produce a snare drum effect.

    Obviously, personal experiment produes a lot and finding the music in the these sounds is the utimate goal.
    Before listing down my experience I'd like open it up just to get away from the "Play your bass with a nail" discussion.
     
  2. neal davis

    neal davis

    Dec 29, 2006
    toronto canada
    I'm a big fan of paper clips or any clipping device whether it adds to a percussive rattle around the bridge or varying note choices when put around a note on the finger board, I have also enjoyed the paper in the strings. there are so many options and as you have said it is the experimentation that is the fun part finding out how to make music out of it.
     
  3. Reuben

    Reuben Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    I don't get many scores from new composers asking for preparations on the bass, but many ask for unconventional techniques, or what used to be unconventional, like extreme sul ponts or sul tastos, lots of harmonics, col legnos and snap pizz.

    The world of preparation has opened up a lot for me since getting involved with quieter playing partners. There's a huge array of subtle sounds when the dynamics come down. Many of these sounds I've been finding simply do not work well if you have to compete with anything loud, nor do they amplify well.

    However, the lazy (I prefer 'practical') side of me only wants to carry tools I'll use a lot and for more than one sound, so right now, other than a bow) I'm only carrying a Honer rhythm stick, a plastic mallet, a timpani mallet, clothes pins, and alligator clips.

    When I taught my extended technique master class at Banff I sat down and wrote a family tree-style sheet up of all the stuff I do. Doing that was really interesting. I'd never sat down and listed it all... I'll try to find that sheet...
     
  4. My friend Vattel does this thing with two bows simultaneously. It can only be done with German bows. He holds both bows together at the frog and they angle apart extending out to the tip. He bows above and below the bridge simultaneously.
     
  5. Reuben

    Reuben Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    I've seen William Parker do that many times.
     
  6. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    -Vattel Cherry? I have some Charles Gayle cds with him.
    I have been working with two bows a lot.
    One concept is one in each hand, the right bowing the tail piece and the left bowing the normal part of the strings mostly doing wispy and crackle sounds.
    You can get a good climactic sound by bowing the yarn under the brigde on both sides G and E or even double stopping all 4.

    The other concept has been really intresting lately. I put my carbon bow under the D string over the A & G, hair facing up. then I point it down so the stick lays across the bridge.
    That sends the vibrations of the bow through the bridge to the body.
    Then with my other bow I bow the hair of the carbon bow.
    It is a really fantastic subtone like gritty sound.
    you get different pitches at all points of the hair, and you can bow the stick as well.
    A good combination is with the low E detuned and the bow hair as a "Double Stop".

    The idea came from hearing about (But not hearing) and African instrument that is horse hair bowing horse hair.

    On my next cd there is a piece where I play two prepared basses, laying on their backs I am standing with two bows.
    I have to re-size the file I have of it to get it on to my Myspace page.

    I got that idea from the incredible Mexican composer Julio Estrada who's solo bass piece includes two bass with the performer lying on their back as well.
    Stefano Scodanibbio recorded it.
     
  7. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Ok, the Piece with two basses on their backs "Broom with red bristles" should be the first piece on my myspace player.
    Link in my signature
     
  8. Yes.
     
  9. Very cool.

    I've been messing around with big chunks of styrofoam under the strings. It's surprisingly resonant and it makes a really, satisfyingly terrible sound if you bow right on it.

    Used to do some two-bow stuff similar to what Damon was saying - bowing right on the hair of the second bow, etc - as well as the same kind of thing with thin dowels, mallet handles, or lately a cello bow with no hair on it.

    I've also been playing the bass with a vibrator, but I do that one really sparingly on gigs because it's so ridiculous.
     
  10. neal davis

    neal davis

    Dec 29, 2006
    toronto canada
    and how big a vibrator do you need to use to get the sound just right?:hyper: man that is awsome how does it sound?
     
  11. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I have seen people do it with guitar and drums. I have used a cocktail stirrer to good effect.
     
  12. I play with a few musicians, mostly guitarists and microsound-ish sort of players, who are into dollar-store battery powered doodads: toothbrushes, miniature fans, and so on. Those electric erasers are a good one. I mostly stick the vibrator on the bridge for unpitched, grindy, rattly sounds - the size, of course, is not important.
     
  13. neal davis

    neal davis

    Dec 29, 2006
    toronto canada
    Your vibrator usage inspired me I tried a cleaning machine for my computer keys it looks like a fan but it has felt fan blades on it great sound and battery operated
     
  14. Reuben

    Reuben Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    I saw Matt Sperry do some peculiar things with tin foil on his strings, but whenever I tried it I couldn't get anything cool out of it.

    Ken Filiano occasionally uses a couple of (I think) metal dowels through the strings in a kind of lopsided V and plays them with two other ones. I'm not sure, they might not be metal, but it sounds great.

    This thread is inspiring me, and tomorrow I'm going to go to the dollar store and see if I can find some new stuff. I like going to hardware stores too. They always want to know what I'm looking for and get really confused when I say "I don't know, but when I see it I will know."
     
  15. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Sperry was a master of prepared bass. He had an extremely advanced concept of it. I got the large wood screw idea from him. We both were working on a Daxophone ( http://daxo.de ) concept when we met.

    Mathew was a wonderful bassist who was hit by a truck and killed at 34.
    He was good friend and I got a lot from him.
    A lot of people sort of exagerated how great of a player he was (he was quite good) after the tragedy, but in the prepared bass area I feel like he was the next word after Barry Guy.
     
  16. fryBASS

    fryBASS

    Aug 8, 2006
    New Haven, CT
    I use the back of my bow to tap on the strings and my left hand to hammer on the strings, similar to tapping on guitar. It works out pretty well I think.
     
  17. Ashley Long

    Ashley Long

    Jan 3, 2004
    Which Estrada piece is that Damon? Ive been trying to find out which one so I can order the sheet music for ages now.
     
  18. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    My student is borrowing the cd it is on. I should get it back today.
     
  19. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    It is called "miqi ' nahual".
     
  20. Ashley Long

    Ashley Long

    Jan 3, 2004
    Cheers Damon. I'll try and find the publisher.

    For fans of prepared bass, try Bruno Chevillon. His duet CD with Jean-Marc Foltz 'Cette Opacite' is available on Clean Feed records. Great disc, quite accessible too.
     

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