Sunday, 30 September 2007

No fret on the double bass, but fret not

"How do you play a double bass without the frets?". This is one of the questions that audience who came for d'Bassists' performance, Esplanade Presents: At the Concourse: Basso Bravo! would ask.

Yes, there is no fret on the double bass. Like this webpage says, it takes practice to learn where the notes are. Please check out the video found on the webpage. It gives a brief introduction to how one can develop a sound left-hand technique to play the double bass.

To establish a sound fingering technique, I find it helpful for myself to use some kind of established double bass method. Jason Heath has a few posts that discuss on a few of the known double bass methods. Please do read them here:
Rabbath versus Simandl – a comparative study
Follow-Up to Rabbath versus Simandl

Where researching on this topic of playing on the fretless double bass, I came across a double bass fingering chart. (This chart seems to be best viewed using Internet Explorer.) Do check it out and get an idea of how to play without the frets.

Also read:
Getting a hold on the double bass
How is the double bass tuned?

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Getting started to play the double bass

How does one get started on learning to play the double bass? How does one hold the double bass?

I have known of folks who play the electric bass who have keen interest in learning to play the double bass. There are also people who are simply curious or interested to learn how to get started on the double bass.

If you would like to be enlightened on these issues, I would like to point you to a multi-part series of video podcasts with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Grant Park Symphony bassist Andrew Anderson. He teaches at Roosevelt University's Chicago College of Performing Arts.In the series, Andrew Anderson teaches concepts, ideas, and techniques for this double bass.

Check out the first of the series here at Jason Heath's Double Bass Blog: Virtual Lesson with Andrew Anderson part 1.

If you like it, please visit Jason Heath's Double Bass Blog regularly for more of the series.

Virtual Lesson with Andrew Anderson part 1

Others in the series:
(Updated on 22 Dec 2007)

Pot-luck dinner at our conductor's home

Last evening, there was a pot-luck dinner and gathering at our orchestra's conductor's home. We had a pretty good turn-out last evening.

YJ made lovely apple pies. She told me she uses green apples to make the fillings. QY's muffins were nice treats too. I like the salad made by Charmaine. It was served in a appetising-looking watermelon.

Our conductor also showed us a DVD recording of the 3rd and 4th movement of Mahler's First Symphony, Stravinsky's The Firebird (Infernal dance of King Kashchei) and Hadyn's Cello concerto in D featuring the late Mistislav Rostropovich as the soloist.

In a conversation, our conductor also shared with me how he would like the double bass solo in the third movement of Mahler's First Symphony to be interpreted and played: with many layers of emotions.

At the gathering, our conductor also gave us a demonstration of two of the toy-tanks that he has built. It was fascinating that they actually could move under the control of a remote control, and they can make firing sounds!

It seemed that the night was very young for most of the folks who had came for the gathering. I was one of the first few who had to excuse myself for home at about 10 p.m. As such, I had missed the lantern-carrying activities.

The above photo was taken by Chong Han.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

A short coverage: Fantasie Passionée

The performance this afternoon has quite a pretty good turnout. Many thanks to the people who have came to support the performance, and the people who have made the performance possible.

The attire for today's performance was the new orchestra T-shirt.

Host unlimited photos at for FREE!

When the sound-check and technical rehearsal had started, the double basses and a few other instruments were still on the lorry, on their way to the performance venue. As such, I could sneak a bit of time to take a few photographs of the technical rehearsal.

The microphones were very essential for this performance. Without the microphones, the strings would have sounded overpowered by the winds in the outdoor setting.

Transporting the instruments for this performance would certainly require good planning. Take a closer peep at the photographs, and one could see that instruments like the harp, the bass drum, the timpani, and even the saxophones were used for the performance.

After the performance, I heard that a number of the members of the orchestra went for dinner at the nearby Fish & Co. restaurant. A week later, the orchestra will have a gathering at the conductor's place.

15 Sep 07 at National Library Plaza

One of my favourite songs from Phantom of the Opera is "All I ask of you". I have some good memories watching this musical two years ago at Her Majesty's Theatre in London.

Later this afternoon, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., the NUS Symphony Orchestra will be performing selections of tunes from Phantom of the Opera at the National Library Plaza, along Victoria Street (nearest MRT station: Bugis), and it is free. Yours truly will be one of the members of the orchestra who will be playing.

Audience to the performance can expect to be treated to selections of tunes from Phantom of the Opera and King and I. If audience would like music that sounds seductive, I am sure that listening to selected movements from Bizet's Carmen Suite No. 1 and Carmen Suite No. 2 will be a pleasant treat.

My personal favourite is Gounod's Faust where I think the double bass parts are simple yet very effective. Faust is one work where the double bass may be playing seemingly easy parts, but it serves a very important role in providing the rhythmic foundation to the orchestra.

We will be having a technical rehearsal from 1.30 p.m. to 2.15 p.m. later this afternoon. I have not played at the National Library Plaza and I suppose it would be helpful to do a sound check before the performance.

Beyond Campus
Fantasie Passionée
By the NUS Symphony Orchestra
(a member of NUS Centre For the Arts)
15 September 2007 (Saturday), 3pm
National Library Plaza (Ground Floor)
100 Victoria Street
Singapore 188064
Free Admission

Her Majesty's Theatre, in London.

Also see:

Saturday, 8 September 2007

The royal fantasy of The King and I, etc

Join the NUS Symphony Orchestra for a relaxing afternoon of flowing melodies from popular opera and theatre. Enjoy music with themes of passion and fantasy, from the fatally seductive Carmen and the deadly passionate Faust, to the royal fantasy of The King and I and the romantic phantom of the opera house.

Established in 1995, the NUS Symphony Orchestra has grown under the baton of Maestro Lim Soon Lee. The orchestra comprises over 80 students, alumni and guest players all passionate about making music.

Beyond Campus
Fantasie Passionée
By the NUS Symphony Orchestra
(a member of NUS Centre For the Arts)
15 September 2007 (Saturday), 3pm
National Library Plaza (Ground Floor)
100 Victoria Street
Singapore 188064
Free Admission

(Nearest MRT station: Bugis)

Yes, if you are wondering why d'Bassists haven't been rehearsing for double bass ensemble works, it is because our members are spending time to rehearse for Fantasie Passionée by the NUS Symphony Orchestra.

Also see:

Friday, 7 September 2007

Emily's in Baltimore

Emily, one of the members of d'Bassists, is now in Baltimore, USA, for the Students' Exchange Programme. She will be there for one semester. Wishing her an enriching and fruitful time there.

In this post, you will find some of the photos that she has posted. For more, please visit her blog:

Photo credit: Emily.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Virtual Master Class Project

I would like to point readers to Jason Heath's Double Bass Blog for a useful resource: Virtual Master Class Project, particularly for double bass players.

This project is the brainchild of Memphis Symphony principal bassist Scott Best. Scott Best and Jason Heath have played together in the IRIS Chamber Orchestra for years.

The Virtual Master Class Project is aimed at helping the participants to get feedback on their playing from professionals all over the world.

Read more about how to take part in the Virtual Master Class Project here.

To listen to the published submissions to the project, please visit VMC tracks.