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Re: Orchestra bass playing

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Posted by Mat on September 14, 2001 at 06:00:09:

In Reply to: Orchestra bass playing posted by Orchestra Bass on July 23, 2001 at 13:08:14:

: I am a new-comer to Orchestra Bass - I have played for the past four seasons
: in a community orchestra - 4 concerts per year- we have 4-6 basses
: and a full brass/woodwind/percussion compliment & play some "big"
: symphonies ( Brahms, Tchi, Bruchner etc). Often I have trouble
: hearing myself &/or the section.

: Can you give me some advice about playing
: in a section and dealing with the sound that I do or don't hear?
: I have been taught nothing and I have read nothing as of present about
: this "problem" - maybe it is only me! Thanks for any advice you can
: share (other than a new louder bass - I'm happy w/ my bass) Al

It might depend on your place in the orchestra. If you are seated right in front of the trumpets or percussion, it is pretty normal you don't hear a thing. It should be possible to be seated somewhere where you don't have somebody blowing or drumming in your ears. If you are already in the "right" (indeed, the far right side of the baton, behind celli and normally with nobody behind your back) place, there should't be a problem, except if your bass has ample sound. You can't get more volume out of it than it is build for. Some basses just don't produce much sound, not a good thing to have in the orchestra. An orchestra is a tunekiller, you learn how to play out of tune in an orchestra (if amateur; this should't happen to pros), because you stop listening to yourself and listen to the ensemble (what is normal, offcourse). So it is not unthinkable you don't hear a thing, but it should be solved. So, change place or refine your bass (new strings can do wonders sometimes). If that doesn't help, the problem might be your ears, or the orchestra (a piano is no double forte). Brahms en Tchaikofsky are good orchestrators, so they won't count out the basses.

Good luck and open your ears!

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