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Mark Deutsch's Bazantar

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by AlexFeldman, Mar 28, 2001.

  1. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    The Bazantar (http://www.bazantar.com/instrument.html)...
    It was under 'Totally Weird Basses' in this month's issue of Bass Player, which I was reading (yes, it's a gift subscription :)) last week. My dad happened to get home as I finished reading the article, and I showed it to him.

    'Oh,' he said. 'That guy is going to be on my radio show.'

    My father volunteers at a community radio station in town as the engineer for a weekly program that features live artists playing in the station's studio. Anyway, it turned out that Mark Deutsch was (and still is) in my area, playing and discussing the instrument he has invented. I went to see him play last night (and I will see him again this evening). His website (link above) provides the basic details. Here's some more in depth information that I gleaned by sitting in the front row while he performed.

    The bazantar is, in essence, a five string double bass. The four drone strings are off to the left of what is probably an E string (I'm not sure how he has it tuned... I guess I'll ask him tonight) and when he wants to sound them he will hit them with the bow. I believe he also plucked them once or twice. The sympathetic strings sit under the fingerboard, and when the lower notes are hit on the bass (especially with the bow) they vibrate sympathetically, ala sitar.

    For anyone interested in exactly what this sounds like, mp3 samples are avaliable http://www.bazantar.com/chart.html here. These are from his solo album, 'Fool...' I have the album. The novel (and powerful!) sound of the Bazantar is completely outshadowed by Mr. Deutsch's playing. This is a wonderful, very listenable composition, and anyone into world music will especially dig it. While inspired by Indian music, there are plenty of hints of classical and jazz influences in his playing. I currently into 50's and 60's bop, and I was knocked flat by this recording.

    When I saw Mr. Deutsch play, it was in a 'free improv' setting with four other musicians: ethnic percussion, flutes/clarinet, alto and bari saxophones, and a lap top wielding new music type guy.

    It was a wonderful performance. The bazantar, which sounds almost like an entire orchestra, at times, on Deutsch's solo album, sat quite well in last night's setting and left plenty of space. Deutsch is a wonderful musician - he has amazing chops, but they serve him, not the other way around. He also played sitar and a five string fretless electric, and his performance did not suffer in the slightest as he switched.

    Anyway, check out the bass, and except to see more of Mark Deutsch. I'll report back about tonight's performance after I experience it. I can't wait.
  2. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    it's a very cool instrument, that has many historical parallels with the baryton, among other instruments. i wonder if he is going to perform some of haydn's baryton trios. if he could only get a few other players, that would be great.

    i envy you that you will be able to hear him perform.
  3. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Los Angeles, CA
    Oh bugger, now I find out: He's playing TOMORROW here in Chicago & I've got a rehearsal that I can't get out of opposite it. I'd first heard of him a year or so ago when he played at the Chicago humanities festival. Wasn't able to make that show either.


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