Thursday, 31 May 2007

Your chance to play on the double bass




Audience to last night's Esplanade Presents: At The Concourse: Basso Bravo! were treated to a hands-on session on the double bass, the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in use, after the 30-minutes performance.

Many who are unfamiliar with the double bass may have the misconception that this bulky-looking instrument could only play slow, unexciting music and play a supporting role in any form of ensemble. In the above-mentioned performance, d'Bassists seeks to share with our audience that the double bass can play beautiful melodies too. What's more, it is fun to play on the double bass.

Photo courtesy of Eastcoastlife.


Several bloggers came to support Esplanade Presents: At The Concourse: Basso Bravo! last night. Let's see what one of them says about the performance:

Eastcoastlife:
My hubby and I enjoyed ourselves at the concert. It was fun trying out the double bass!
(Please click here to read Eastcoastlife's post on her experiences at the performance held on 30 May 2007)

If you have missed last night's performance, there is still one chance to do so tonight. Here are the details:

Esplanade Presents
At The Concourse: Basso Bravo!

Esplanade Concourse, Singapore
30 and 31 May 2007
7.30 p.m. - 8.00 p.m. and
8.45 p.m. - 9.15 p.m.
Free.

Now, let me end this post by introducing you to some of the parts of the double bass. Enjoy:
Scrolls, pegs and peg machines.
f-hole: This is the hole where the sounds come out from the instrument.
Bridge.

Also visit:
Parts of the Double Bass (About.com: Music Education)
The double bass: parts and names (By Jonas Lohse)
The double bass - Wikipedia

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Music for Trio



This week, on 27 and 28 May 2007, XM, Emily and I rehearsed Tony Osborne's Blues-Style (for 3 Double Basses). Composed in 1981, Blues-Style is a lively trio in a rhythmic and popular style.

I have found Blues-Style a fairly effective piece of work. It sounds fun and it is not too difficult. The challenge would be to play it effectively as an ensemble. Last night, we rehearsed this work for several times just to work on the articulation.

Here's a bit about the composer: "Tony Osborne is an important double bass educationalist and composer who has made a significant contribution to the double bass literature."

Blues-Style is one of the items that will be played in d'Bassists' upcoming performance. Be treated to a rare programme consisting of classical and contemporary pieces played by our double bass ensemble:

Esplanade Presents
At The Concourse: Basso Bravo!
Esplanade Concourse, Singapore
30 and 31 May 2007
7.30 p.m. - 8.00 p.m. and
8.45 p.m. - 9.15 p.m.
Free.

Getting in touch with our supporters



Setting up an ensemble and maintaining it can be a challenging yet exciting endeavour. To get an ensemble running smoothly, it is not just about putting aside time to rehearse and to play music, it is about many things else.

Last night, QH, XM, Emily and I met for rehearsal. We did not just rehearse and talk about music. We actually found ourselves also talking about ways to publicise ourselves, ways to reach out to our supporters, logistics issues and more.

One thing that had came out from one of our many discussions over the past few weeks is an online email form for our dear supporters to contact us.

You may be pleased to know that you can now conveniently get in touch with d'Bassists by completing the fields found on this link. In just a few clicks away, you can write to us, join our mailing list, join us, sponsor us or engage us for performances.

You can also find the link to our online email form on the sidebar of this blog, under Contact us.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Life after rehearsal

After two hours of rehearsal on 27 May 2007, XM, Emily and myself headed for Purvis Street for dinner. We had wanted to have our dinner at Miss Clarity Cafe but it was closed!

As such, I suggested that we consider Jaymes007's recommendations to try the Shanghai Hao Chi Lai Restaurant at 13 Purvis Street.

While waiting for dinner, we put aside time to discuss regarding d'Bassists' upcoming performance at the Esplanade Concourse. Emily shall be the one to introduce d'Bassists to the audience.

To reward ourselves for a day of hard work, we treated ourselves to the dinner. The staff at the Shanghai restaurant were fairly attentive. The Sheng Jian Bao (Fried Meat Buns 生煎包) were good. Be careful when eating the Sheng Jian Bao as they may squirt meat juices at you! The award-winning Carrot Puffs has a filling with a nice texture. This is worth a try. The tomato soup with egg is a good way to end the dinner even though my usual habit is to start my meals with soup.

What better way to remember the dinner than to put photos of our dinner?




After dinner, we went to hunt for clothes for our upcoming performance. For more details on the performance, please refer to: Listen to d'Bassists: 30 and 31 May 2007.

**
In case you wish to visit the restaurant:

Shanghai Hao Chi Lai Restaurant
13 Purvis Street
Singapore 188592
Tel: 63331198
Fax: 63361986
Open hours: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
& 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. daily

Sunday, 27 May 2007

The fun thing about playing music

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On 23 Mar 2007, XM and I rehearsed our double bass duet items namely:
W.A. Mozart's Allegro and L. Mozart's Polonaise. Both of these works are arranged and edited by F. Pillinger.

Our double bass tutor, Mr G. Mouzyka, helped me better appreciate the musical joke behind W.A. Mozart's Allegro. He also reminded me to pay good attention to ensure that there is a distinction between the parts to be played forte (loud) and the parts to be played piano (soft).

There was one particular part from W.A. Mozart's Allegro where one's imagination can come in very useful in creating a dramatic effect. Mr G. Mouzyka suggested that I play Bars 13 to 14 dolce (sweet and soft) while imagining as if a young child is asking for something, and then play Bars 15 to 16 loud and with force, imagining as if the parent is disapproving of the young child's request. This is one thing fun about playing music: I get to make use of imagination to create interesting storylines out of the seemingly simple notes.

During the same rehearsal, I also found out more about Polonaise. While I was aware that Polonaise is a kind of slow dance, I did not know how the dance would look like. Mr G. Mouzyka enlightened me that Polonaise requires couples to walk around a dance hall holding hands, though not facing their respective partners while they were holding hands.

The polonaise is a stately Polish processional dance, performed by couples who walk around the dance hall; the music is in triple meter and moderate tempo. The dance has been used in formal contexts and during public ceremonies and festivities, particularly at weddings. (view source)


I cannot help but think that another fun thing about playing music is that it opens one to opportunities to learn more about cultures different from one's own. Read more about this dance here: http://www.usc.edu/dept/polish_music/dance/polonaise.html

If you would be keen to listen to the above-mentioned two double bass duets, do come for our upcoming performance at the Esplanade Concourse.

Date: 30 and 31 May 2007 (Wed and Thu)
Time: 7.30 p.m. - 8.00 p.m. and 8.45 p.m. - 9.15 p.m. on both nights

For more details, please refer to: Listen to d'Bassists: 30 and 31 May 2007.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Rehearsing Bach's Air

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Emily will agree with me that rehearsals are great and insightful with our double bass tutor, Mr G. Mouzyka, around.

On 16 May 2007, XM, Emily and I from d'Bassists met yet again to rehearse for our upcoming performance, At The Concourse: Basso Bravo!.

We started the rehearsal with Emily and myself rehearsing Bach's Air on the G string (for Double Bass duet), arranged by Buell Neidlinger. Cheers to Emily, she has tranposed this entire work a tone higher so that it would be in the key of D major. With the transposed version of the score for this work, I was relieved from the challenge of having to transpose from sight. Phew.


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Emily plays the first part while I play the second part of Bach's Air on the G string (for Double Bass duet). Our tutor shared with me on how I could better support the first part. One thing that I remember is that when the first part is playing at the higher register, the second part should be grounded and not too soft, so as to support the first part. The next tip offered was that the second part should listen and be sensititve to the first part so as to support the first. This means that when the first part does a crescendo or diminuendo, the second part should respond accordingly.

Next, the work should sound at ease, and unhurriedly. Our tutor gave us an interesting analogy that went somewhat like this: Imagine walking on the streets on a Sunday. You are not rushing to work....

If you would be keen to listen to Bach's Air on the G string, scored for a double bass duet, do come for our upcoming performance at the Esplanade Concourse.

Date: 30 and 31 May 2007 (Wed and Thu)
Time: 7.30 p.m. - 8.00 p.m. and 8.45 p.m. - 9.15 p.m. on both nights

For more details, please refer to: Listen to d'Bassists: 30 and 31 May 2007.


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Emily, playing the first double bass part of Bach's Air on the G string (for Double Bass duet).
Taken by XM. I like this perspective very much.



(updated: 29 May 2007)

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Listen to d'Bassists: 30 and 31 May 2007

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Esplanade Concourse


You are invited to d’Bassists' upcoming performance. It is an Esplanade Presents programme titled At The Concourse: Basso Bravo!.

Venue: Esplanade Concourse, Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, Singapore
Date: 30 and 31 May 2007 (Wed and Thu)
Time: 7.30 p.m. - 8.00 p.m. and 8.45 p.m. - 9.15 p.m. on both nights

Admission is Free.

Experience the fun and versatility of the double bass, learn more about the instrument and be treated to a hands-on session.

The programme (tentative) for this performance is as follow:

- J.S. Bach's Minuett (arranged by G. Mouzyka)
- J.S. Bach's Air on the G string (for Double Bass duet) (arranged by Buell Neidlinger)
- L. Mozart's Menuet (arranged and edited by F. Pillinger)
- T. Osborne's Blues-style for 3 Double Basses
- W.A. Mozart's Allegro (arranged and edited by F. Pillinger)
- L. Mozart's Polonaise (arranged and edited by F. Pillinger)
- P.I. Tchaikovsky's Neopolitanian Dance (from Swan Lake) (arranged by G. Mouzyka)
- I. Berlin's Ragtime (arranged by G. Mouzyka)




Please click here for a preview of one of our past rehearsals.

Hope to see you there!

(updated on 29 May 2007)

An evening of duets and trios

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The scroll of the double bass


XM, Emily and yours truly (PY) met for an evening of rehearsal on 14 May 2007.

As Emily and I were early, we started practising J.S. Bach's Air on the G string (for Double Bass duet), arranged by Buell Neidlinger. This duet arrangement was written in the key of C major. Emily said that it would sound much better a tone higher, so when we replayed this work for the second time, we had to mentally transpose and play the entire work a tone higher. The work certainly sounds better when played a tone higher. My hats off to Emily for being able to transpose and play all the notes a tone higher almost instantaneously.

When XM arrived, the three of us sight-read several trios written for the double bass. We sight-read three works from Trio Favourites Vol. 1 arranged by Carolyn White. Mozart's Adagio, K. 617A and Mendelssohn's Nocturne from this set of scores would sound well if we were to devote more time to practise it. We decided we could consider playing these two works for future performances, after May 2007.

I read from the short programme notes of Mozart's Adagio, K. 617A that this work was "originally scored for glass harmonica". It was Mozart's meeting "with the young virtuoso Marianna Kirchgassner (1770 - 1808) which persuaded Mozart to write for the instrument".

Of more interest to me was the programme notes written of Mendelssohn's Nocturne. The melody is originally written for and "played by the bassoons and the horns, and is meant to depict the depths of the wood's magic and that of sleep."

We also played a few other trios. As there was some time, we rehearsed Sentimental Bossa Double Bass quartet by Murray "Doc" Solomon.

Much later in the night, XM had to leave early. Emily and I decided to use the time wisely by sight-reading a couple of duets from Classical & Modern Duets for Two String Basses (edited by Fred Zimmermann). I trust the composer's intuition in Emily that Francesco Durante's Allegro deciso from this set of duets would sound well as it is considered a good composition.

Overall, it was a night of fun practice. Of course, I think it was quite a challenging session because of the technical demands of the works that we had chosen to sight-read that night.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

BBQ party on 12 May 2007

When it is time to practise, practise smart.
When it is time to play, play hard!


A barbecue party was held at one of the holiday resorts in East Coast Park, Singapore, for members of the NUS Symphony Orchestra. A couple of us double bassists were there at this barbecue party of course.

Before the start of the party, it helped by taking time to enjoy the breeze and the evening scenery of East Coast Park:


The party won't be complete without the food and the barbecue. To be frank, I don't enjoy the smoke from the barbecue and I have no inclination to barbecue the food. Thank goodness, there are many nice folks who enjoy preparing and barbecuing the food. So, you would have soon figured that my role at the party was to eat the food.



Cheers to Emily's mashmallows, roasted like works of art.

Roasting mashmallows.

Buttering the prawns.


This is satay.

Good stuff: Potato salad, made by YJ using potato, eggs, onions, pepper.


Group photo of the double bassists who came for the party.


As if it was part of a ritual, a group photo was taken for remembrance. It is probably my way to show to readers that aside from practising and practising, we also do find time for recreation, and many other meaningful activities.

Special thanks to the folks who have made the BBQ party possible.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Let's rehearse

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7 May 2007. It was a Monday evening. QH and yours truly, i.e. PY, met in the evening to practise some double bass ensemble works. The challenge was that the works were mainly scored for a double bass quartets, with missing double bass parts not played, both QH and myself found it difficult to exactly hear the harmonies and chord progressions. Nevertheless, it was a pretty good session overall.

Much later in the night, XM came to join us. The works sounded more interesting and complete with three double bassists playing instead of two. I am sure that XM would agree with me that QH provides very steady rhythms and bassline. Even though QH claims that she is a semi-retiring double bassist, she is still in good shape when it comes to playing the double bass.

During our rehearsal, we did our best to articulate our parts as clearly as possible so that the melodies and the harmonies could reveal themselves to our ears. QH suggested that for the opening bars of I. Berlin's Ragtime (arranged by G. Mouzyka), the 2nd, 3rd and 4th double bass parts need to soften their volume so as to allow the 1st double bass part to sound loud and clear. We shall see how things would work out when Emily joins us for the next few rehearsals.

To end the rehearsal, XM and myself played a few double bass duets while QH listened and provided feedback.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

About d'Bassists



d’Bassists is a double bass ensemble based in Singapore. It comprises undergraduates, alumni and guest members of the National University of Singapore Symphony Orchestra, one of the 21 performing and production groups managed by the NUS Centre for the Arts.

The ensemble was formed to enhance ensemble-playing skills, as well as promote cohesion and teamwork amongst its members. Its name was specially selected as it sounds like The Bassists and represents a shorter version of Double Bassists.

The ensemble made its public debut on 10 January 2007 during A Journey through Time, one of the ExxonMobil Campus Concerts productions held at the NUS Theatrette.

Its official blog and website is at: http://dbassists.blogspot.com

***
Tags: double bass, ensemble, Singapore

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Our regular Luthier



Updates: Le Diapason will no longer accept repair works. The new focus of its business is to produce stringed instruments. To purchase instruments from Le Diapason or to upgrade instruments, please contact Michelle Li at 9185008 (call/SMS) or at michelle[at]le-diapason[dot]com.

Please refer to
http://le-diapason.com/ for details.

(For an alternative option for the repair of instruments of the violin family, please click here.)

Our regular Luthier, Le Diapason, has moved to a new location.


Both my two double bass tutors recommend Le Diapason as the place to go to repair and/or service the double bass in Singapore. Le Diapason is also a dealer, restorer and maker in fine violins, violas, cellos, and bows.




I personally like its dependable and attentive services. Once, I had sent my double bass to reshape its bridge and when the Luthier noticed that my instrument's strings were not strung properly, the Luthier restrung the strings for me with no extra charge. It has done a pretty good job in rehairing my double bass bow too.


Le Diapason's new address is at:
261 Waterloo Street
#02-43 Waterloo Centre
Singapore 180261
Tel: (+65) 6337 7192
Fax: (+65) 6337 7692
Email: info [at] le-diapason [dot] com
Website: http://www.le-diapason.com

Its operating hours are:
Mon, Wed, Thu, Sat: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. & 2 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Sun: 2 - 7 p.m.


Closed on Tue and Fri.

(Updated on 25 Jun 2010)

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Duet time

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This photograph was taken at the backstage of Esplanade Concert Hall.


This morning, PY and XM met up for a sight-reading session of double bass duets. The session began with the sight-reading of Bach's Menuet arranged for two double basses. XM played the first double bass part for this work, while PY played the second part. Three cheers to XM for he has done a pretty good job playing this work given that he was sight-reading.

Subsequently, PY and XM continued to sight-read almost all the duets from From Amadeus to Jazz: Easy Duos for Two String Basses edited by Franz Pillinger.

A few of the duets sounded boring. A few others sounded too low-pitch to captivate the attention of the listener. There were a few other pieces that were too challenging to be sight-read.

Among the various duets, PY quite like the melody of Greensleeves but given the degree of difficulty of this duet and the limited time to practise for it, it would have to be shelved aside for the moment.

After more than one hour of sight-reading session, XM and PY selected the following duets from From Amadeus to Jazz: Easy Duos for Two String Basses edited by Franz Pillinger:

W.A. Mozart's Allegro
Leopold Mozart's Polonaise
Leopold Mozart's Menuet

These duets were generally easy to play and at the same time, interesting. XM and PY shall meet one week later to rehearse these selected duets.