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My night at the symphony

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by jazzbo, Jan 19, 2001.

  1. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Last night my girlfriend and I celebrated the (Chinese) New Year at the SF symphony. No, Metallica wasn't there!

    Amy Tan read from her children's story "The Chinese Siamese Cat." The music was composed by Nathan Wang, and featured Jiebing Chen on erhu, Zhiming Han on yangquin and dizi, and Cynthia Hsinmei Hsiang on zheng. We also heard Nathan Wang's "Overture to On Golden Mountain" and Chen Gang and He Zhanhao's "The Butterfly Lovers Concerto" again featuring Jiebing on erhu. There was another reading by Amy Tan from "The Joy Luck Club" with Rachel Portman's score. What a tremendous night! Hearing the butterfly harp as accompanied by the Chinese violin was amazing. What awesome virtuosoes. It's unbelievable the soul that Jiebing can play from a two-stringed instrument!

    Getting to hear to string basses along with cellos, violas, and violins is absolutely amazing. I must learn URB, I must learn URB, I must learn URB, I must learn URB.

    All in all, it was a wonderful night. It's always magnificent to go to the symphony; however, when you can celebrate eastern instrumentation and folklore in addition to your standard symphony, it's an awesome experience. The night began with a local kung fu school demonstrating their dragon dances.

    It was a great night!
  2. Welcome. I hope you follow through; step one: please don't call it a URB
  3. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I must learn String Bass. I must learn String Bass. I must learn String Bass. I must learn String Bass. I must learn String Bass. :D
  4. Looks like your success is virtually guaranteed. :D
  5. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    jazzbo, you are half way there. Don has an amazing knack for identifying the problem, and offerring the appropriate solution.
  6. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Don, please don't take this as a smart a** question. It's not meant to be.

    Why? That's what I've always called it. Wrong terminology or what? If I own a 3/4 size bass, something doesn't ring right when I call it a DB. I assume that the "proper" name is double bass. Right?

    On the other hand, I don't want to sound like an idiot to someone who's classically trained.
    Tnx, Pkr2
  7. Tim Ludlam

    Tim Ludlam

    Dec 19, 1999
    Carmel, IN
    I find it frustrating having to use the "international symbol" (C-shaped left hand over head, fingers-extended right hand in front of stomach) every time I try to explain my chosen instrument. I guess that the term URB maybe helpful in that regard, but the actual instrument we play is quite simply the BASS.

    The other instrument requiring sound amplification is a bass guitar, not a BASS. Therefore, I think alot of veteran players find it somewhat insulting to have to describe their hand-crafted, pieces of art as anything other than bass or double bass.

    URB falls into the category containing such descriptives as:

    Bull fiddle, slap bass, cello?.....etc.
  8. Poke Her, Too:
    I guess this is the area where my petulance surfaces.
    It's alot of things.
    1. On their manuscripts, Mozart, Stravinsky, Penderecki, et al never wrote "upright" or "acoustical" or "standup".
    2. We were here first, before there was another instrument that laid claim to the word "bass". Our heritage is 4 centuries old.
    3. In the space of 40 years, solely via the arrogant force of numbers, the world of BG has forced the DB world to explain itself, to add modifying language to our description of our instrument, for reasons which include the dumbing down of the general public, the power of boneheaded media (was that a redundancy?) and the corporate world.
    4. I'm a purist, not always reasonably so.

    This reminds me of a story Michael Moore told me.
    In the earliest days of cable TV, he and Jimmy Rowles, both badly hung over, appeared on a morning talk show. After their number, the overly cheerful host came over to interview Jimmy. After listing several major highlights of Jimmy's career (e.g. Billie Holiday's accompanist) the host asked "...with all that, what's left? Is there anything you haven't done that you wish you had?"
    Jimmy replied, "I wish I had blown up the Fender factory."
    The host didn't ask any more questions.

    [Edited by Don Higdon on 01-27-2001 at 04:39 PM]
  9. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Well, I've always felt it's about the music first, the artist second, the instrument third, and somewhere way down the line, the label. But then again, what do I know? :)

    Anyway, I do frequent the DB side of the world here at talkbass, and have read all posts here to help learn more about the BASS. I can recall in several threads, seeing posts by BASS players using the term upright bass, or URB. Actually, that's the only reason I chose to use that term.
  10. String bass is legit too, though doublebass is most accurate. Paul Brun claims the original name for our axe was violone.

    As one who plays both the string bass and bass guitar (although it's no secret which I prefer), I can get away with this: in the early '90's I lived in the Germantown section, near Mt. Airy, of Philly, a breeding ground for jazz musicians. The Arkestra was a few blocks away, the Eubanks brothers grew up there, Stanley Clarke, I met Arthur Harper up that way, there's other names I can't recall, one of Ellington's bassists, and plenty of cats no one's heard of but they all burn. That's where I learned the official designations: real bass, toy bass.
  11. The washtub fiddle is also a commonly used name for the double bass.

  12. But the difference is, no one cares if you spill your beer on a washtub fiddle! ;)
    Seriously, though, in addition to Don-San and KrackHouskey's
    very valid points, I should also point out that "Upright" and "Standup" are physical positions, While Double bass, String Bass, Bass Viol, Kontraba├č, refer to the actual instrument,and since you play an instrument, not a position, these terms are correct,yes?

    [Edited by reedo35 on 01-28-2001 at 05:41 PM]
  13. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    ???? You guys explain theory much more clearly than semantics (sp?).:)

    May I take the devils advocate position? It really isn't a very important issue to me but I still don't see the error in terminology.

    1- A bass guitar is not played in an upright position, therefore the difference is quite obvious.

    2- An electric bass can certainly be as much a work of art as a DB.

    3- A beer spilled on an EBG or tub fiddle is just as traumatic to the owner of them as it it is to a double bassist.

    4- String bass is no more legit for a DB as it is for URB. They both have strings. So does BG for that matter.

    5- " On their manuscripts, Mozart, Stravinsky, Penderecki, et al never wrote "upright" or "acoustical" or "standup"."

    This is very logical reasoning. On the other hand, none of these old masters ever used the tem "jazz" to describe music. Granted, this is a pretty weak retort since Jazz hadn't been invented in thier time.

    6- Real bass vs. toy bass needlesly belittles the players of toy basses. It really didn't mention which was which in the post that I am addressing.

    7- "Paul Brun claims the original name for our axe was violone."

    If this be the case, why is DB not just as inaccurate as URB? Shouldn't they both be called the "vialone"? I wont even mention the fact that none of them used the term "axe".
    I'm not insulted by theat terminology, although some may be.

    8- We were here first, before there was another instrument that laid claim to the word "bass". Our heritage is 4 centuries old.

    I really don't think that this is 100% on the money. I was under the impression that "bass" is technically a description of the clef upon which a musical score is written. technically speaking, a tuba is as well described as a bass as a DB. I stand to be corrected, but I thought that the absolutely proper name for DB is contrabass.

    9- "URB falls into the category containing such descriptives as:
    Bull fiddle, slap bass, cello?.....etc."

    I'm curious as to what authority this statement is based upon.

    To sum up: A rose is a rose is a rose... However I do yield to the opinion of those who definitely know more about bassy type things than myself. Hereafter my descriptive name will be double bass. When in Rome...:)

  14. The I.S.B Mainline had a humorous editorial to the effect that we can't even agree on what the name of our instrument is. Bass, bass viol, string bass, double bass, contrabass, bass fiddle. On the other hand, "upright" was not on the list.

    I don't get your point regarding jazz and the name of the instrument.

    There is scholarly disagreement on the characteristics of a "violone."

    EB as much art as DB? You're entitled to think so, and I'm entitled to reject the notion.

    OK, there's no rule book. So? Do you think that in rehearsal, if the conductor says "...bar 95, cellos and basses," the tubas should play, "technically speaking"? For that matter, is the conductor required to say "double basses", "contrabasses", etc. when she means us? Similarly, if the conductor says "...brass and horns...", the trumpets, trombones, tubas play. So do the French horns. And the English horn does not. Everybody knows what "the horns" are. The whole point is that a vocabulary has been in effect for centuries which, absent the need for hair splitting, is crystal clear. Everyone knows what a bass is, and a tuba, and a contrabassoon, etc.
  15. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Good enough reasons all, Don. I really wasn't arguing that anyone was wrong. As I said, I was speaking as the d.a.

    Again, it'll be double bass for me too hereafter.

    I would love to have the opportunity to be around the players who play in orchestras and jazz groups and that sort of thing. I was never that lucky so my info will have to come from the guys like yourself on T.B. who are willing to share with me what you know.

    By the way, after only a couple or three weeks of daily skull practice some of the mystery is beginning to disappear. I actually understand now what is meant by scales, degrees and modes. I know that these things are boringly basic to the guys that know it but it has created a brand new interest in music for me. It's amazing to me how a concept can seem so intimidating until that light comes on. I honestly feel now that I am going to be able to learn this stuff.

    What truly amazes me is how much of this stuff that I've been doing for years by ear. Most of my practice at home has been playing along with recordings. One of the neatest solos that I do is absolutely nothing but major scales done to a walking bass line. I really thought that I was going to have to learn twelve different scales as opposed to learning one scale and moving it to different fingerboard positions.

    If I start getting on anybodys last nerve, just let me know. I sure don't want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg, so to speak.

    Now I have another dumb question. I am trying to learn to read standard notation and all the online lessons that I have found seem to be slanted toward the guitar or keyboard players. All of them start out teaching the treble clef. Since I am a bassist, should I concentrate on becoming proficeint on the bass clef and not worry too much about the treble clef, or am I trying to take a shortcut that will only slow me up when I get deeper into sight reading?

    Please keep in mind that I ain't no spring chicken so I really don't have as much time left as the younger players.
    At 63 I figure that I might have ten or fifteen years max of good playing time so I don't really want to spend a lot of time on that which doesn't apply to the double bass or bass guitar.

    Maybe the theory forum that Chris has suggested will get off the ground. If so, I certainly hope that you, Ed , Dave and all of you will support it with your help. That would be a formidable base of knowledge to tap into. Besides, it would get rookies like me out of your hair and you guys can have some discussion without interruption. :)

  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I must say that before using this board. I always said "Double Bass" or just the Basses if I was referring to an orchestral section. Ironically enough, I now tend to say "upright" bass as this seems to have been the most commonly used and understood term around here. I can see the argument that this helps distinguish it from the bass guitar for those who play the electric instrument and have no experience of (maybe even the existence of)Double Bass and just refer to their own instrument as "Bass". Nobody I have met in the UK calls it "upright" and I assumed this must be an "Americanism" which I went along with to be one of the "Guys" - another expression that nobody really uses in the UK. ;)

    As to pkr2's question on clefs - I don't know about orhestral - but all the "proper" Jazz books I have; like Rufus Reid's Evolving Bassist, stick exclusively to Bass Clef and recommend writing everything out in this.
  17. pkr2
    The only way to do it is to do it. If you want to learn to read bass clef, buy bass method books.
    I don't know what these online courses are offering; I'm by nature suspicious of how good they are.
  18. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    To answer the question, should you (pkr2) just ignore the treble clef and concentrate on bass? I think it goes without saying that your emphasis should be in the bass clef; however, learning the treble clef is very important as well. You would cut yourself off from all the music written in treble clef if you were not to learn it, and keep in mind that most melody tends to be written in that clef. I think it's important to master both, with your emphasis on the bass clef.
  19. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Advice well taken, Don.

    Does anyone have a reccomendation for a good book for a person at my level. It seems that I see the Mel Bay books mentioned a lot. Good, bad , indifferent?

    Tnx,all. Pkr2
  20. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Didn't mean to ignore your reply, Jazz. We were both typing at the same time.:) Thanks for the response. I'd rather have something and not need it than to need something and not have it so your advice seems to make good sense.


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