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Songs kids would know on double bass

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by MikeCanada, Sep 3, 2016.

  1. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I'm out of touch, to put it lightly. There are a lot of really great orchestral pieces with interesting bass lines, plenty of jazz tunes with memorable licks and solos, and other genres that use our instrument in a prominent role. The issue I am having is that kids, roughly 6-16 in the program I teach with are not at all familiar with that music. I will be eventually teaching it to them and have been expanding my library to include solos that will work for younger students, but I am looking for bass related music they will be familiar with and they can relate to.

    Any suggestions? Pop songs that prominently feature double bass? Movie themes? Random other pieces? I am tempted to transcribe something onto bass, but I would love to find something where I can say "you know that song? THAT's a double bass!" or something like that.


  2. Original has 1.5 BILLION views.... (sampled DB it appears).

    17.5 Million views Jazz version
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
    Scott Lynch likes this.
  3. sing-modulator

    sing-modulator Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2014
    Mumford and sons, maybe. Perhaps not as popular as in 2009-2011...
    Scott Lynch likes this.
  4. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Just FYI - this song's lyrics is not "...about the Bass" - it's all "...about the *ass". (See the MT Video, #2, above.)
    Just sayin'.
    ColdEye likes this.
  5. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    Pink Panther seems to resonate.

    "Crowd" that young youre talking Angry Birds....
  6. Michael Buble, esp Christmas album, got a lot of radio & TV airplay here.
    ColdEye likes this.
  7. jasonrp


    Feb 19, 2015
    The Imperial March (Darth Vader's music) I have yet to meet a kid that doesn't know it

    I'm not sure you level of slap skill but there's a vid on youtube of a guy doing William Tell and slapping the crap out of it too (Way above my skill set)
  8. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Thanks everyone. As Don pointed out, "All about that bass" might be something they have heard before, but after an incident last year with our orchestra playing a pop tune that more than a few parents decided the lyrics/message wasn't so appropriate for young kids, I don't think that one will fly. I spent the morning listening to some Mumford and Sons and it could be great for some listening exercises. Our trombone teacher likes to lead with the Pink Panther, so we can hopefully collaborate on that one. We just did a Star Wars suite for our summer pops concert and it was very popular, so I might pull some of that out again. I also agree that the slap version of William Tell is well beyond my skill level in that idiom, as slap is not something I have explored much at all. I will explore some Michael Buble, and some other jazz(?) guys that find themselves getting mainstream airtime.

    If anyone has anything else, I'm all ears. We have a few instruments that like to pull out movie/character themes that the kids are familiar with, but I can't say I've watched too many Pixar/Disney movies lately to see if there is anything where I can say "hey, remember the bad guy in this movie? This is his song, and it was on double bass!"
  9. Also try Tony Bennett - he did several Duets albums with modern artists like Lady Gaga, etc.

    Very little URB in any pop stuff these days, Soundtracks are good source. Also, songs from American Idol or Glee might even work.
    ColdEye likes this.
  10. ColdEye

    ColdEye Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    Try John Legend. Ordinary people is something you might want to tackle. Thats pushing it with the age tho, as that came out like 4 or 5 years ago or more. R&B songs are a good bet, the challenge is finding something age appropriate. Or try those EDM music, I see a lot of them getting the acoustic treatment.
  11. ColdEye

    ColdEye Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    Try the recent songs BY Coldplay, adventure of a lifetime. That got some pretty good playtime on the radios.
  12. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Saxophonist Frank Mauceri and I did something completely different with third-graders which really worked: Free improvisation with themes suggested by the kids.

    "What was the last thing you were studying? Egypt? OK, we're going to play some 'Egypt' now!"

    Three minutes later, "What was your last book about? What happened? Where? OK, we'll play some of that now."


    Kids don't get a lot of chances to see grownups say, 'We are just going to make something up right now.' It can be pretty powerful!
  13. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    I definitely found that out, that the concept of music that isn't written down is another frontier, and also found out that the way we are teaching music is not too conducive to improv as well. I made a lead sheet, went through the melody, taught a bass line, and showed my students a blues scale. Played it through until all the pieces of the puzzle were really solid, and then showed them how you can improvise over it with just the notes of the blues scale.

    Deer in headlights. No one had ever musically said "make something up", everything had been on the page in front of them, and they had never done anything like that before. We talked a bit, played a bit more, and I got a few of them playing at least through the blues scale. Lots of looks that could only be translated to "my brain hurts".

    Improvising is something else I want to incorporate this year, and something else I need to figure out how to teach.
    carl h. and Sam Sherry like this.
  14. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Keep it simple and keep it fun: Roger Water''s bassline for Pink Floyd's "Money".
  15. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Ahoy Mike,
    I'm not sure if we exported this cartoon to Canada, (most teenagers here know it, as it's been around for well over a decade), but the theme has a nice triad-based melody (in G) that might be a hoot to transcribe and have both a melody and an accompaniment bass part.
    You could even do the Captain's intro for added comedy, esp. the "I Can't Heeear YOU!!", part.
    CatSquare and ColdEye like this.
  16. bengreen


    Jan 26, 2016
    San Diego
    Hope I'm not totally missing your point: you're looking for familiar music for bass students to play?

    If so, does it really need to be written for bass?

    I had a teacher once who used to experiment on me, having me play through a method book he was putting together for his younger students of simple, singable songs transcribed for bass. The idea was that it would be good for their intonation, having something that's not just black dots on a page but a melody in their head that's guiding their playing.

    I used to get kind of annoyed with him at the time, wanting to spend the lessons on more advanced technique, not kiddie stuff.

    Fast forward fifteen years....

    Just switched strings from Helicore, which I've used forever, to Kaplans, which I love the sound of but that have a totally different bow response.

    I was doing all my black dots and intonation exercises to get used to them and then had the thought: let's put away the orchestra stuff and just play some simple melodies instead. Concentrate on phrasing, a singing line, good pitch, imperceptible string crossings and purposeful bow changes, and make it happen in all the registers...

    ... "mamma, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys"...

    don't know how that song got into my head, decidedly no cowboys in my background, but my teacher was right: when you put away the pages it really makes you pay attention to the musicality of what's coming out of your instrument, and hence to the technical issues that allow that musicality to happen.

    So I'm headed to the library for folksongs and such that I can memorize, and intend to make this a regular practice.

    Maybe just ask your kids what melodies they like and play and teach those to them.

    BTW deer in the headlights...that would be me when asked to improvise in front of an audience.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
  17. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    Thank you Don, Spongebob has definitely made his way north of the border, and is one of the reasons why a lot of the kids are interested in clarinet.

    Ben, I am looking for a few different things but likely did not express that very well. The first thing that I am looking for is music either featuring the double bass in a solo/melodic role, or prominently and memorably in an accompaniment role that the kids entering the program will be familiar with. One of the big adages of our program is "You like classical music, you just don't know it yet" where we like to draw upon things like movie themes, popular jingles, video game music, pop music, and anything else that is mainstream that both our kids and their parents will be familiar with featuring "classical" instruments. It helps to showcase the possibilities for orchestral music outside of symphony concerts, and to prove it isn't the dying art form that people like to debate about.

    For example, our horn teacher usually plays something from Star Wars because it is easily recognizable and prominently features her instrument. We just played the William Tell Overture at a pops concert this summer, and the trumpet teacher has been getting a lot of mileage out of it for the same reasons. Our flute teacher likes to play Peter Pan's theme, not only because it is a flute melody and a movie that at least the parents of our kids will have watched, but it introduces the idea of thematic material related to a character. In a perfect world I would find a melody or theme that is played on double bass from pop culture somewhere, and in a not so perfect world I am looking for something where double bass is prominently featured. I know there are classical music excerpts which I do show to my older students especially when they are worried about how we never get anything interesting to play, and I know there are things like The Elephant that are well known to bass players, but I am not finding a whole lot of "here's a good example of our instrument getting the spotlight". I know it is more common in jazz and other genres like bluegrass, but we don't really have a prominent scene for either of those here.

    I will also be incorporating familiar melodies, folk songs, and other things into our classroom. Aural learning is a big part of what we do, and the kids who have been involved for a while have developed a good ear for singing melodies back and call and response type stuff, which is one of the reasons why I think improvising should not be a huge leap. While we do have a strong focus on classical music, getting kids excited about the music we are playing and music in general is a big part of that, and Simandl studies are not the kind of thing you find yourself singing in the shower. I did expand my own bass library significantly this summer with a mind towards accessible repertoire for my students, and will see how that evolves over the year.

    As far as improvisation goes, I know it can be very nerve racking. It really did not come naturally to me and while I can walk over chords and come up with bass parts, soloing still is not a strong point of mine. Improve does involve exercising a different part of your brain, or at least thinking in a different way than we typically do with written music, and I would like to build some of that into what we do as well.
  18. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    One of the most recognizable movie themes, ever - 2 notes played by the Double Basses!
    In Half Position, no less.
  19. Michael Karn

    Michael Karn

    Apr 16, 2014
    There's a story i heard about that, it has the ring of the apocryphal but what the hell. Homer Mensch comes home after a movie date, as he walks in the door his wife his wife asks him how the session went and Homer says "it was ok but all we did was play two notes over and over"
    Don Kasper likes this.
  20. CatSquare


    Mar 7, 2014
    Speaking of John Williams, I bet the imperial march (Darth Vader's theme) would sound good transcribed to solo bass played with a bow. A lot of his melodies would make good lines. The Harry Potter theme, Indiana Jones, they're so iconic.

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