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"Odd" things you've had to play..

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Andy Mopley, Dec 19, 2018.

  1. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    I recently saw on orchestra perform a piece where the violins played a bar, repeated later in the music, by rhythmically tapping the end of the bow on the music stand. A variation on the "col legno" notation?
    What are some of the lesser known things you've had to play/do, as part of any previous performance you've been involved with?

    Regards to all
  2. Sounds like you're describing Il Signor Bruschino overture.

    I played a children's concert recently, featuring Russell Peck's "The Thrill of the Orchestra," introducing the families of instruments with a narrator. In the strings intro, there was a short passage that required us to play on the after-lengths.
  3. I’ve done so many strange pieces. Composers today are free to write nearly anything.

    I made a video about it a while back. I probably have enough material to make another one by now.

    Snufkin, Lee Moses, Neo1 and 4 others like this.
  4. Thanks for sharing that :D
    Loved the kazoo. How do you notate the parts that are played with a pool cue?
    Btw there’s a double bass concerto dedicated to a Finnish bass player which includes bowing under the strings while the bass is laid on the floor.​
  5. I don’t remember any pool cues. What part was that?
  6. Right after the kazoo, about 1:25 ahead. I figured that was a pool cue cause it looked like one.
  7. Ah, that’s a Reibestock (rasping stick in English). It’s just a stick with some notches carved into it.

    You notate it like normal, with the word “Reibestock” written over it.
  8. I just wrote "add fills, like you're cleaning up in the kitchen" in the drum part of a big band arrangement. Does that count?
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
    csrund, The Biz and neilG like this.
  9. All right, thanks. I don’t know if I should include that to my bass tools, but I’m definitely going to practise some bass scat ala Slam with a kazoo :)
  10. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    csrund likes this.
  11. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Thanks Paul - but when playing something as "out there" as some of this sounds (to me, anyway) how critical do traditional things like intonation, timing etc. become? I understand the need to always play in tune, but I am wondering if slight "out of tune" notes - which may even be expressively required - would be noticed by the audience? Also, where would the kazoo sits in the orchestra, with the wind section? :D:D
  12. That depends on context and priority. Sometimes precision takes a back seat to theater. Something like Ferneyhough is a bit past the edge of humanly possible, but it sounds more convincing the closer you get.

    A lot of pieces are microtonal, which might just sound badly out of tune to some people. The first clip, for example, is full of quarter tones and odd syncopations.


    I think it would have worked to “improvise” something similar, but I wanted to play it precisely and really belt it out with confidence. I think you play differently if you decide it doesn’t matter.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018
  13. Peter Sculthorpe (now deceased) is an Australian composer well known for his infatuation with the sounds of Indonesian Gamelan music. In some of his compositions for orchestra he asked the basses to make raindrop sounds by hitting the strings with the bow stick (col legno battuto) between the bridge and the tailpiece, or bow a slur across the 4 strings in the same place with up or down bow, or bow across the tailpiece to give a very deep resonant sound,or twist a creaking sound by resting heavily on two lower strings. In this case you pivoted the bow on one string by pushing the frog towards the bridge on the other string with no sideways movement of the hair. In a piece called Ketjak we had to wear a boot and stamp our foot very loudly.

    In his book, The Art of Bass Playing, Warren Benfield gave a list of nomeclature and symbols required for contemporary music of the times. I would recommend buying this book that contains so much wisdom.

    Also in his piece, "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima", Penderecki asked for the wonderful sounds of tutti strings playing huge crescendos and diminuendos while player 1 stayed on the first note, player 2 moved apart glissando up or down a 1/4, tone, player 3 a 1/2 tone, player 4 a 3/4 tone, etc,etc, finishing or starting in huge blocks of dissonance. In between there were in-tune passages to play. It may be on You Tube.

    All the best for Christmas,

  14. Things like “col legno”, playing behind the bridge, etc have been standard techniques for longer than I’ve been alive.

    Sadly, playing from a helicopter has yet to be accepted as common practice.

    marcox, letrabass and Sean Riddle like this.
  15. I recall bowing the tailpiece, too, but I can't remember the piece/composer. The sound reminded me of a ship's engine.
  16. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012

    Just today I got a call to play John Cage's 1967 'Musicircus' with my chamber orchestra. Evidently a variety of musicians/musical groups/tubas/kazoos/clowns/whatevers get together, and all perform at the same time. Well, maybe not clowns. That's just too creepy.

    From a review of one person who has performed 'Musicircus':

    'I should have seen it coming when I signed up my string quartet for the Aldeburgh Musicircus, the latest take on John Cage’s 1967 concept involving a cacophony of mixed-genre, mixed ability musicians. Actually, I needn't have worried. Walking down the rammed sea front last Sunday I heard ukuleles, trumpeters, bagpipers, barrel organs, seagulls, and I saw stilt-walkers, puppets, flags, and a mystifying sign inviting us to cook our eggs ‘to perfection to the silence of John Cage's 4' 33''.’ But in a line-up of roughly 800 musicians it was hard to make out individual performances – hardly a high-pressure scenario.'

    Puppets? Sheesh.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2018
  17. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    Back when "The Color Purple" first started touring off Broadway, the bass book included a jaw harp double.
    ...and, not just any jaw harp, it had to be a jaw harp in the key of "C".

    I got plenty of good natured ribbing from the orchestra for that one. But, I took my extra 15% for the double and just laughed it off.
  18. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    image. image.

    Gary Karr performing behind a wall of basses.
  19. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Wow..Had no idea the sort of responses this thread has generated!!

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