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Topic: Sting bass range question

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  1. #1

    Sting bass range question

    I have a song in my score for a pizz string bass with a very wide range. It goes up to a G# below middle C (actual sound, not the written part). The orchestration books I own put the practical upper limit of a string bass range to the D below middle C (actual sound). The lowest note is two octaves below that. It's a moderate waltz, with a nice walking bass line that periodically goes higher and lower than what you'd expect (which is part of what gives it interest and charm).

    I've tried transposing down an octave, but it gets too muddy. If I take it up an octave and use the cello, it overlaps the treble voices and muddies them. Other keys will put it in a difficult range for the singer or the other instruments. I've tried to split the part between the bass and cello, but there are no good places to switch instruments without ruining the fluidity of the line.

    I have two keyboards in the pit. One is playing the harp part. I can play the bass line on this as well and it doesn't sound half bad. Or I can have the second keyboard play a string bass patch. But I'd rather have the bass player play it, because he can add vibrato, slides, and other sutble effects which I think would suit this piece nicely. So, my question is: how difficult is it for a bass player to get the higher notes in this range - and does the quality of the sound suffer (or change enough where the switch might be jarring)?

    Allegro Data Solutions

  2. #2

    Re: Sting bass range question

    I cannot answer this question, but read this first:

    http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...23&postcount=1

    Raymond

  3. #3

    Re: Sting bass range question

    That range seems very conservative to me. It might be appropriate for a beginning player (except that the lowest note would be E, not D), but any decent professional should be able to play a high G sharp without much trouble.

    It would probably be a good idea if the high note was approached from below by small steps; approaching it by a large jump would be chancy.
    Dan Powers
    www.danielpowers.info

    "It's easier to be a composer than it is to compose."
    --Ray Luke (1928-2010)

  4. #4
    Senior Member Sonare Coeli's Avatar
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    Re: Sting bass range question

    I'm working on my BM in Double Bass Performance right now, so I'll answer this from a bassist's perspective.

    You can keep that line where it is - that G# should be just fine. It's a half step above the octave G harmonic on the G string, which is commonly reached. That would constitute the upper region of a good high school player's range. That note is in the same position where thumb position begins, so it's not a virtuosically high note in the least.

    What note is before and after the G#? Dan is somewhat correct in saying that a large leap might be difficult, but few leaps are actually "chancy." This highly depends on the situation. Being that this G# is near the octave harmonic (which again is commonly used), the player should even be able to pick it out of thin air if necessary.

    If you want, you can send me the part, and I can look over it for you and tell you what will be awkward or difficult.

    Tyler


    EDIT: And please never consult that orchestration book again regarding double bass, hahaha. As Dan said, that D is a good high note for beginners, but the D an octave above that can be called upon for professional orchestral writing if the texture calls for it. As for solo writing, anything goes. The highest closed note would be the C above middle C, and there are harmonics above that that can be reached as well.

    If you have any bass related questions at all, just send me a PM and I'd be happy to answer them for you!

  5. #5

    Re: Sting bass range question

    Thanks for your feedback. I'm glad that I won't have to divide that part.

    To answer your questions, the note immediately before the high G# is the F below it and the note after the high G# is the Eb below it. So, the progression goes F-G#-Eb. (The G# is the top of the scale going up and the one coming back down.)

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  6. #6
    Senior Member Sonare Coeli's Avatar
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    Re: Sting bass range question

    Quote Originally Posted by ejr View Post
    Thanks for your feedback. I'm glad that I won't have to divide that part.

    To answer your questions, the note immediately before the high G# is the F below it and the note after the high G# is the Eb below it. So, the progression goes F-G#-Eb. (The G# is the top of the scale going up and the one coming back down.)
    That series of notes is not a problem. Let me know if you have any other questions.

    Tyler

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