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How is a DB player to behave?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Andy Mopley, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    For some players, males or females, when playing in a classical setting, it seems necessary to sway with the music, to nod their heads, to accentuate bowing...in other words, they seem to unwillingly "attract" the eye to their performance. Now, what do you think is considered "acceptable" in the context of both a smaller Baroque type orchestra and a full orchestral type? Does it depend on the conductor or is there some code of behaviour that needs to be followed, a bit like good table manners? Or anything (within reason) goes, after all it is about the music, first and foremost?

    Thanks for reading!
  2. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

  3. russpurdy


    Apr 16, 2013
    Haha, when I saw "DB" I totally thought something else. It rhymes with shouchebag.
  4. It depends on a few things, but mostly on your own discretion. You should never try to play super stiff, but "too much" movement can be distracting to your colleagues. I've also noticed that my ensemble skills and sense of time get worse when I move more than I need to.

    That said, I think you need to do what helps you play your best. If that means being physically invested in the performance, then that's great. Just be sure that your principal and stand partner are fine with it.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Having been lucky enough to see a lot of Europe's top orchestras over many years at things like the Proms at the Albert Hall - I can tell you that I have never seen bass sections swaying in time to the music - mostly they are concentrating on being able to : see the music, see the conductor and being able to turn the page at the right moment!

    I think I have seen this kind of thing only once - for comic effect, when I saw Andre Rieu and his orchestra doing Viennese Waltzes - when I tuned in to Sky Arts on TV by mistake! :p
  6. tappingtrance

    tappingtrance Cooke Harvey Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2005
    that video has been making it around FB. Notice the great Otto Preminger vid was most likely loaded backwards - reversed marimbas and a left handed bass player.
  7. rgarcia26


    Jun 9, 2008
    Miami Florida
    Lol and I though that Metal Bands invented that move!!!
  8. Don't overthink it. Just do what feels right.
  9. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    "Economy of movement" is something I often hear from teachers and professional players alike. With that in mind, take a full body video of yourself playing, even if it is on a phone camera, and ask yourself "what purpose does this movement serve?" A lot of the movements you will be making are necessary. Your bow needs to move back and forth for sound to happen, your fingers need to move up and down the neck, you likely need to adjust in some way to get to the end of the fingerboard etc. With all of that in mind, look at the movements you are making that are not necessary.

    Do you lean forward when playing louder or speeding up? Back when playing softer or slowing down? Do you tap your foot or nod your head to keep tempo? Do the fingers of your left hand move more than a couple millimetres off the string when you aren't using them? When shifting in the lower positions, does your arm move, or your entire body? You should be able to get from half position to almost thumb position without significantly changing much. Mute the recording. Does anything look awkward, weird, out of place, excessive?

    Most of the best players I have seen have this all figured out. They make it "look easy" by removing the extra movements that aren't necessary. Principal players will often move a little more than the rest of the section, but a LOT of information can be expressed with a small head nod, a slight lean forward or backwards, or a sideways glance.

    You definitely want to be relaxed. Playing while tense leads to all sorts of injuries. I had a professor that said when your section is giving all they have and your conductor still wants more, "the best way to play louder is to look louder." Occasionally you will run into this, or find yourself in an ensemble where theatricality seems to be more important than the music. For the most part, less is more.

    Find a balance, but chances are extra movement is doing you more harm than good.
  10. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Orchestral players should be pretty still most of the time. Once you've done a bunch of work with orchestra you become aware of every little distraction around you, and it can become annoying. I try to prepare about a bar before an entrance, and not to move before the principal or my stand partner.
  11. Tom Gale

    Tom Gale

    May 16, 2009
    Usually, they behave very badly - Esp. after the gig....
  12. THE SAW


    Sep 14, 2006
    I think a very limited, gentle choreography, combined with beautiful playing is the pinnacle of good bass player behavior.

    No pirouettes.
  13. Tampabass

    Tampabass Going Viral By 2080 Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    I know you are, but what am I?
    oh, behave!
  14. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Section etiquette is of utmost importance. The principal may use physical gestures to communicate. The rest of the section should be comparatively still. You can win a big job and be denied tenure for a simple infraction like moving excessively.
  15. Backflips. Several per movement
  16. Tom Gale

    Tom Gale

    May 16, 2009
    Don't pick your nose with your bow hand....

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