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Sharing A Music Stand, Not Fun!

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Rob Hunter, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. Have I been spoiled or what? After 20 years of playing rock and five years of playing jazz, I've always been the ONLY bassist. On Sunday, I sat in with a community orchestra and had to share a music stand for the first time.

    I hated this! I was standing too far away from the chart and I couldn't figure out how to angle my body (the other bassist was to my left). I know it'll be difficult to describe in text, but I'd be curious to know how others stand in this situation. It must be a fine art to ensure the music is lined up with the conductor, while making sure you're not stabbing your standmate with your bow!

    And is sharing a stand a "standard" thing in orchestral playing?

    As an aside, my girlfriend's a violinist, so I expect I'll be doing more of this symphony stuff in the future. I'm actually looking forward to this musical adventure - if I could just learn where to put my feet....
  2. I (somewhat) know how you feel. I've had to share a stand unexpectedly a time or two, & concur: it ain't right. I play BG in Church, & as our lineup varies, so does my working space- it gets consistently smaller- so I figure I'm pretty flexible. But having to completely alter my position so as to share a chart, watch the bandleader & keep from putting someone's eye out is a bit difficult. I can't imagine trying all this while playing complex orchestral stuff on DB! Just remember, that which does not kill you makes you stronger.
  3. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    It's pretty common. Space in some pits can really be a premium. Other times, if it is somewhat of a makeshift setting, they simply may not have enough stands or copies of the sheets to go around.

    I've been in plenty of tight settings and had to read the charts from the same stand as the guitarist(s). With the horizontal necks, I think it is even a bigger hastle than snuggling up with another DB.

    I've only done DB with a big group a couple of times now, but in both cases I shared a stand at my request. I keep a set of "ears" (I think they are called "standouts") in my equipment case that will extend a common variety Manhassett out to be nearly as wide as a conductor's stand. Both times, the other player agreed that it was preferable to have the single, wider stand that allowed for fewer turns rather than trying to cram two setups in our space.

    I HATE trying to turn pages in the middle of a piece, so for me, I'll do almost anything to avoid it.

    Just keep the stand a little higher so it is easy to see from a greater distance and make sure you get a good light. You'll be OK.
  4. I work for an orchestra and, as my memory allows, I cannot recall ever seeing an orchestra where the strings were not set up in pairs, sharing a stand.

    Note, I said "strings." In our orchestra, the typical setup is a stand to a chair in the winds and each string section in paired rows. There will often be a lone man out in an odd-numbered section.

    I have always understood this to be a function of musical convenience. With an item in each hand, it is easier to have only one string player (per pair) turn the page than have each do so. Also, strings are typically all playing the same part, while winds are usually one (or two)-to-a-part.

    In our case, we have the stands and charts, it just makes more sense musically and logistically.

    ps-I confirmed with our librarian and stage manager: every orchestra they have seen has had most strings sharing a stand.
  5. Ben Joella

    Ben Joella Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    Boca Raton, FL
    And just to expand about the page turns. If everyone has to turn a page, then you can get giant gaps in the sound and notes can be missed. Pairs lets one person stop playing a little early and make the turn, while the other takes care of business.
  6. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    In the two community orchestras I've played in here in the VA DC suburbs, each bass is on a separate stand. In every other orchestra I've been in dating back to Nixon's first term, bassists played two to a stand.

    The pros and cons have already been covered above.
  7. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I much prefer to play in situations where I am the only bass. It's a completely different situation. Chamber groups can be pretty large before more than one bass is required.
  8. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    In Pro Orchestras they Learn/know the music b4 the concert. The Music is for refrence mainly and distance is not so much of a problem.. For a community/ametuer situation, get or make a copy of the music and get your own stand.. It's much easier that way...