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Orchestra low B examples..

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by groooooove, Nov 4, 2018.

  1. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    hey all,

    I'm looking into the topic of historical bass parts for my graduate classes -

    I am trying to find as many examples as possible of written low Bs. Also if anyone happens to know how they would have generally been played (is a 5th string most common?) i'm into that too!

    also just in general interested in hearing repertoire that goes there. sounds fun.

    i tried a search, it turned up one useless thread from 12 years ago.
  2. the_Ryan


    Jul 10, 2015
    Pines of Rome, last movement

    Also Sprach Zarathustra, but I forget where exactly

    There's a number in act 3 of Wozzek where the basses drone a low B almost the entire time
    groooooove likes this.
  3. Not sure what you consider historical, but the majority of German/Austrian music written in the last 50 years is meant for 5 string basses. That’s including double stops and harmonics which are unplayable with a C extension.
    groooooove likes this.
  4. I was just reminded of this thread. Let me offer some real examples.

    Benedict Mason, ChaplinOperas:

    Helmut Lachenmann, Mouvement:

    Wolfgang Rihm, Jagden und Formen:

    Brian Ferneyhough, Inconjunctions:

    Beat Furrer, la bianca notte. (Note it’s not a low B, but a harmonic partial on the B string):
  5. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    Paul, amazing resource there - thank you so much!

    In conversation with another bass player, they said they were under the impression there are Baroque parts - perhaps even some by Bach - that are written down to B. is this completely incorrect, or perhaps some sort of baroque violone/instrument/transposition confusion?
  6. That’s not really my area of expertise. But I would be surprised to see anything like that. Even if it’s a notated low B natural, it’s almost certainly meant for the 8 foot octave.

    There are many academic texts about historical tuning systems and continuo octave doubling. If you want to learn more, I would suggest searching for dissertations and the like.
    groooooove and wathaet like this.
  7. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    forgive my ignorance - where would one search for those?

    I just finished reading "the baroque bass violone" and it did not satisfy my curiosity, it tripled it - id love to know more about historical tuning in specific scenarios (baroque, classical, regional, etc)
  8. Co.


    Sep 10, 2006
    Maybe your colleague is refering to the 6th Brandenburg Concerto. There are seperate Violoncello and Basso/Contrabasso parts. The lowest note in the Basso part is a b flat, so it looks like it is super low, but actually it is meant to be played at pitch, not transposing one octave down. This is confusing, since the part is labeled Contrabasso, and it is the only Contrabasso or Violone part, that is written for an 8 foot instrument in the Brandenburg concertos. The Basso part in this piece is meant to be played non transposing on a Violone in G, not an octave down on a double bass.
    groooooove likes this.
  9. A university library, for example. Plenty of dissertations and other academic journals are freely available online, as well.

    Paul Brün’s book is essentially a list of historical tuning systems. If you can find a low B listed in there, then you can be sure someone was playing those notes. We all know bass players can’t resist honking out a low note if we have it.
  10. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    i've been in touch with paul, I have a 2018 edition of his book on order (seems to be taking forever)

    I guess that would be the best place to start. Thanks!

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