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Knowing when to come in

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Andy Mopley, Mar 29, 2014.

  1. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    I am wondering if, where a piece of music has several bar rests, before one or two double bass notes, and then several rests after that before the next note is played, is it reasonable to expect the conductor to cue in these DB parts or not?

    My feeling is that it is up to the player to keep up, and watch the conductor (and or count) but asking you folks with greater experience please

  2. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
  3. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Conductors are far too important to be concerned when the bass plays.

    Why do you think they are called Maestro?

    Either count or know the music.
  4. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA

    Yes, it is reasonable to expect that. It is not realistic to expect it. Don't count on it. Pun intended.
  5. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    OK, got it - thanks everyone!
  6. " I am zee Count. I lurve to count! Ho Ho Ho...One, magical one.....(my apologies to Sesame Street)

  7. hsu912174


    Apr 24, 2009
    I don't trust my conductor to remember to cue me for such insignificant punctuations. What I do is I count, and I look for movements around me (fellow section mates) to see if I have gone off track.
  8. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I have an electronic timer just like the massage lady. Deedee-deedee-deedee... Time to start playing again!
  9. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Some conductors will give it to you, some won't. Some will every single time in rehearsals, and not in the performance, or the other way around. It helps if you listen to the rest of the orchestra and know where those punctuations should happen, but that doesn't help if the flutes you've been listening to all along miss their entrance.

    Counting is essential, but it is just one of several tools. It is the only one where you are depending on yourself though, instead of hoping someone else is right, or the conductor remembers the bass section at the right time.
  10. 1. Count.
    2. Know the music.
  11. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    When I sit principal, I feel I take on the responsibility to do accurate counting and always be correct.

    When I have a lot of bars to count, in addition to counting the 1234,2234, 3234 style, I'll use my fingers to count in groups of 5. I just hold my hand against the shoulder of the bass and add pressure to each digit. The audience doesn't see any movement.

    If it is a really long rest, like 56 measures that's not broken up by rehearsal letters or cue notes, I'll keep track of the groups of 10 with the digits on my right hand on the bow. So bar 23 would be thumb and index finger on my right and thumb, index and middle fingers on my left hand.

    Also, I'll listen for the phrase structure and featured instrument parts and write in my own cue notes.

    As for being precise with pizzicati as a group, if the conductor is gushing over the melody instead of allowing the soloist to do their thing while making the accompaniment as precise as possible like they should be doing, you need to watch the conductor's style to see exactly where the ictus occurs.

    Find out what instrument they play. The playing style of the instrument affects the movement of their arm and body.

    A conductor who is a pianist (most are) or percussionist, the beat will actually be with an up-flick of the tip of the baton with a rise of the elbow and a bend of the wrist just before the beat.

    A string player is easy to follow. Just match your arm to the bow arm.

    A wind player will be breathing with the music so watch the mouth and ribcage area.

    If the conductor is bad, I know it's really rare :meh: but it sometimes happens, I do more preparatory body language while leading the section and tell the players to watch me for my upbeat sniffs, elbow movements, etc.
    mjt0229 likes this.
  12. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Thanks again everyone, many words of wisdom!
  13. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    3. Count.
    4. Know the music.
  14. robobass


    Aug 1, 2005
    Cologne, Germany
    Private Inventor - Bass Capos
    All of this is true, but it isn't just counting and getting the go-ahead from the conductor. You have to all come in together, exactly. You have to interpret not only the motion of the conductor, but also the way your colleagues and especially the principal will interpret where the entrance should be exactly. That's hard. especially with pizz. There's a certain feel you come to develop when working in a section over a period of time. This, imo, is a big part of what makes a great orchestra great, and what always limits a "pick-up" orchestra, or an orchestra made up of many subs, or even worse, soloists.
  15. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
  16. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    OK, thanks again - I am finding listening with score in front of me also helps! Great comments, btw, Robobass.