Friday, 23 November 2007

The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians

For musicians who are looking for an authoritative reference source on the subject of music, The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is probably the most authoritative one available in the English language.

According to an entry on Wikipedia on this dictionary, "The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is an encyclopedic dictionary of music and musicians...and is the leading music reference source in English for both encyclopedic information and bibliographies". At the point in writing, the latest edition of this dictionary is named The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd edition), edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell.

I find that The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is a very useful reference for one to start off with when one is doing research for the purpose of writing programme notes, or simply, to learn more about an established composer or a musical term.

There is an online edition of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Here's the URL for Grove Music Online:
(Note: Subscription to its services would be necessary to access the database.)

For readers who are living in Singapore, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd edition) is available for reference purposes at the following public libraries: library@esplanade, Lee Kong Chian Reference Library, and Woodlands Regional Library.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Rosin for use in Singapore's climate

What is rosin used for? To produce a sound from a string-instrument, a string-player would usually draw a bow across one of the strings of the instrument. In order to increase friction and make the bow-hair grip the string and produce a sound, a regular application of rosin is required.

Rosin is a solid form of resin obtained from various species of pine tree. The Contrabass Shoppe has a page that gives a very informative account about how rosin are made and a short account of why some double bass players prefer soft rosin wheras others prefer hard rosin. Here's the URL:

In this post, I shall attempt to share my personal experiences of using various kinds of rosin in the Singapore's climate. Singapore's climate can be described as being humid in general. According to one source, the mean daily temperature is 26.8°C.

The Contrabass Shoppe has featured three different kinds of rosin and described them in fair detail. I shall attempt to share my personal experiences with two of the rosins mentioned on The Contrabasso Shoppe.

Nyman Rosin
Nyman rosin
Photo credit:

Nyman rosin is quite a great rosin to use in the Singapore's climate. Firstly, it is not too sticky in our climate, and as such, it will not be prone to melting itself away under the hot tropical climate. A bow with Nyman rosin feels fairly easy to control and has a fairly rounded tone. I think it works very well when playing music from the Classical period, especially works composed by Mozart.

The only thing to be careful is try to store it in places where it is not prone to falls. Bad falls can break a piece of Nyman rosin to unsightly pieces.

Pops Rosin
Photo credit:

I initially did not like the sticky feel of Pops rosin. It would demand a bit more deliberate bow control to achieve a delicate and smooth tone on the bow that is rubbed with Pops rosin. However, this is one rosin that makes the double bass sound clear and bright. I find that it works particularly well when I play symphonies by Beethoven.

My main word of caution is that please keep the Pops rosin in its red container, and keep the container preferably in an upright position. Otherwise, Pops rosin is likely to melt under the hot weather and gets distorted in its shape, and you may find yourself in a sticky mess. In addition, as compared to when I was using Nyman rosin, I find myself rehairing my bow more regularly when I use Pops rosin.

Thanks to P., I have the pleasure to use Petz No. 2 rosin. Petz No. 2 rosin helps in the production of a beautiful and warm tone when I used it in United Kingdom in a dry and fairly cool climate. However, Petz No. 2 rosin feels very soft and tends to be prone to shape-distortion in the Singapore's climate.

Carlsson Swedish Bass Rosin
I personally find Carlsson Swedish Bass Rosin to have similar properties to Nyman Rosin. Maybe this arise because I could not differentiate the subtle differences between the two? I particularly like the design of its container because I know that it will be difficult for me to lose the lid.

L'Opera's Jade, Double Bass Solo rosin
My personal experience with this rosin is pretty mixed. A bow rubbed with this rosin produces a fairly delicate and soft sound. I find that there is less "noise" and it feels more smooth playing the first movement of Eccles' Sonata in g minor when using Jade rosin as compared to Pops rosin. However, this rosin does not seem to provide enough grip in the Singapore's climate. I felt the rosin was lacking in grip especially when playing fast passages.

Meantime, if you have personal experiences to share about the use of rosin in the Singapore's climate, please add your views to the comments-section.

Most of the above-mentioned rosins can be purchased from the following places (Note: this list is not exhaustive):

Synwin Enterprises
845 Geylang Rd, #03-01 Tg Katong Complex, Singapore 400845
Tel: 6743 7865
Fax: 6743 4862

Frank Brothers Violins
1 Esplanade Drive, Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, #02-08 Esplanade Mall, Singapore 038981
Tel: 6883 2581


Thursday, 8 November 2007

Happy Birthday Tony Osborne!

10 Nov 2007 is Tony Osborne's 60th birthday! Tony Osborne is an important double bass educationalist and composer who has made significant contributions to the double bass literature. Cheers to more years of great compositions and music by Tony Osborne.

Please find a short youtube video dedicated to Tony Osborne. Wishing him a Happy Birthday!
(Video link:

Tony Osborne has recently been appointed the Visiting Lecturer in Composition at Bulmershe College, University of Reading. Congratulations to Tony Osborne.

d'Bassists had performed one of Tony Osborne's compositions, Blue Styles, earlier this year. To listen to it, please visit: Tony Osborne's Blues-Style (1981)

Read more about Tony Osborne here:

Last but not the least, if you would like, you are invited to join in to wish Tony Osborne a Happy Birthday!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Jason Heath's Advice for aspiring music performance majors

If you should have such questions in your mind: "Should I pursue a music performance degree?", "How could I identify a good teacher from an established institute to study the double bass from?", "Where can I find resources to learn to cope with a music performance career?", then please read on.

Jason Heath, a double bassist with a B.M. and M.M. in Double Bass Performance from Northwestern University, has an interesting post that discusses on the various issues that aspiring music performance majors should take note of. This post also points the reader to resources that offer helpful tips on taking auditions.

Do find time to read: Advice for aspiring music performance majors