Monday, November 16, 2009
Lately I have been paying more attention to my upright string bass, or double bass, or contrabass, or doghouse, or bass fiddle; there are many terms for this instrument. I prefer the term string bass, but upright bass is probably the most popular term.
Whenever I enter my music room upstairs, the first thing I notice is the scent of the bass's spirit varnish. It smells good. I see my bass sitting upright on its stand, tall, dark brown, chrome keys reflecting the light from the window. The bass looks so...dignified, sedate, sober and serious. If it could speak it would be have an English accent and would say, "Very good sir, don't even THINK about any 'rock-a-billy' or 'slap bass' on THIS instrument or I'll call the bobbies on you!"
I almost feel as if I should put on a tie just to practice. But Mr. Bass has let that slide...so far.
I have never been interested in learning to use a bow on a bass. My interest has been solely on the plucking side of things, what bassists call "pizzicato," or "pizz" for short. That means plucking the strings with your fingers. Playing with a bow (called "arco"), as is done on a violin or cello, is also common in orchestras and it does sound very good if you know how to do it.
I have a bow, so I decided to try it out. The wife thought I was torturing the cat. Not as easy as it looks. But I put some more rosin on my bow and tried again and it sounded a bit better. I'll keep at it.