THE ”NEW OLD” SOUND OF THE DOUBLE BASS

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Högskolan för scen och musik

Abstract: This work is based on research about the different tuning systems adopted by bass string instrumentalists during the eighteenth century. The consultation of period manuals and books related to the development of the double bass highlighted how the first Viennese symphonic tradition was interrelated to the Viennese violone. This bass string instrument was radically different from the modern double bass and was tuned in F A D F# A.The aim of this study is to suggest a new performing praxis in playing the eighteenth-century Viennese repertoire on the modern double bass, taking advantage of its technology and playing technique, reintroducing the Viennese violone tuning.In this thesis, a comparison between the modern tuning and the Viennese one in quality of sound, left hand technique and musical direction was made on a selection of Viennese eighteenth century orchestra double bass parts. This was fundamental in understanding the original approach to the instrument and the potential of this period tuning. The recovery of Viennese tuning, underlined how the approach to the instrument was differently and horizontally oriented. Combining the Viennese tuning with the modern double bass technique it is possible to obtain a more ringing sound and to increase the agility of the left hand, reducing the number of shifts. These advantages combined with a different bow technique allow modern double bass players to explore new musical lines and interpretations of the first Viennese symphonic repertoire.

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