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Giovanni Bottesini Double Bass Concerto No 2 in B Minor tuning?

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by Malcolm Bamba, Dec 27, 2016.

  1. Malcolm Bamba

    Malcolm Bamba

    Dec 4, 2016
    Hi, I have a question concerning the Piece stated above: The piece is played on a solo bass and so therefore the tuning and notes are different for a regular four string bass. Im just wondering if I want to play this on a standard double bass, would I be doing to every note? The sheet music I have says "Stimmung Des Kontrabasses" and shows four notes, F#=E, A=B, D=E, G=A.
    Ill link the music here so you can see what I am saying.

    Just overall asking how to I transpose the notes from Solo to four string?


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  2. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I'm not going to click a random Google Drive link, but I'll take a stab at it.

    Typically the solo part for the concerto is written in A minor, and the starting note for the concerto is a written E. If you are using a bass in solo tuning, you still read and play an E where you usually would, but because the instrument is tuned a whole tone higher, a sounding F# comes out of your bass. The piano/orchestra part should be in B minor, which makes everything work out for everyone involved.

    If you want to play the piece using orchestral 4ths tuning, you can do that as well. There is the Yorke Edition which is written with both the piano part and the bass part in A minor, which means you do not have to use solo strings, and everything is still in the same part of the bass for you. That is probably the most common way for people to learn the concerto, and when it is asked for on audition lists etc. you will be performing everything in orchestral tuning because of all the excerpts anyway.

    If you want to play it in B minor without changing strings, you will need to transpose. If you are comfortable doing so at sight, everything needs to go up a whole tone, so your starting note will be an F#. If you are not comfortable doing that, (a lot of people are not) then you will need to rewrite the bass part. Depending on the edition, the piano part may have the solo part written in the sounding key of B minor, or it might have it in the solo tuning key of A minor. If it is in B minor, you can either photocopy/scan and cut and paste the solo line, or you can copy it out as written. If not, then you've got some work to do.

    As far as what you "should" do, that's your call. It can be played in either key. A minor likely sits better on the instrument, and you have open A and E strings to create I and V sympathetic vibrations, so it will potentially sound fuller. Playing it in B minor on solo strings maintains all of those things, but the strings tend to be a bit brighter and higher tension which helps the instrument carry a bit better. If you are working on this with a teacher, I would ask them what they suggest. If they say A minor and you have a piano part in B minor, it might be worth it to purchase a separate edition in the same key instead of transposing everything.
  3. PenguinsFan


    Oct 24, 2016
    I know the piece. I'd definitely recommend against transposing it.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2016
  4. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    I don't want to discourage you, but most players are quite familiar with the solo tuning concept long before they attempt a work a difficult as this. Do you have a teacher? Your question is akin to a hopeful Formula One driver asking about how a clutch/stick shift works. Please tell us more about your background, and I am sure we can provide some useful advice. Anyway, don't transpose. The piece is hard enough already!

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