32 votes

Why is the double bass the only instrument in the violin family tuned in fourths?

With long open strings, the span to reach notes especially at the nut end would be too much for a lot of players if it retained the 5ths pattern of tuning. Making the tuning in fourths means that the ...
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  • 174k
16 votes

Double basses in Beethoven's Eroica

Beethoven wrote those low notes even though he knew they were not playable on the instruments available. The subject of Beethoven's disregard for the range of the bass has been much discussed. Stephen ...
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  • 15.4k
14 votes
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Why are double stops rarely written for double basses, compared to other strings?

First I’d like to point out that all the info provided by @BenCrowell is on the money. I would just like to add a few points from the perspective of a bassist. The bass does lend itself to some ...
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13 votes
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What does 'Poco Meno' mean?

Generally it is to do with speed/tempo. Poco= a little, meno = less, so, a teensy bit slower. Slower than marked, or slower than you played the bit before. Often followed by 'mosso'.
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  • 174k
13 votes
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What is this extension on the scroll of a double bass?

It's an extension that allows the low E string to drop to low C. A lot of modern orchestral music has been written for extended range basses, and so professional bassists should have this. There are ...
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  • 21.3k
12 votes
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Did they ever make a double bass this huge?

As far as I can find, it was likely just a really big double bass! Whilst it may appear somewhat equivalent to the octobass - it is different to the maintained examples in the Musée de la Musique ...
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  • 2,457
11 votes
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How can people stand on their double basses?

Effectively, the image and video prove that a double bass is stronger than you imagine. There are angles at which you wouldn't want to step on a double bass, but at the positions shown, it will ...
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  • 35.7k
11 votes

Why are bass guitars so much shorter than a double bass?

Electric bass strings are much thicker, hence heavier, than electric guitar strings - this allows them to sound at a much lower frequency without needing double the length. (Guitars have scale ...
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  • 2,145
11 votes
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What is different in double bass bows with black hair?

I'm assuming we are talking about natural horse hair and not synthetics. From what I understand, the white hair is finer and preferred by violin and viola players. The black hair is the coarsest and ...
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  • 1,417
10 votes

Why is the double bass the only instrument in the violin family tuned in fourths?

I can think of two reasons: Bass is difficult enough the way it is. If you were to play it like a cello, you would need a) much more frequent position changes, and/or b) a strong, independent and ...
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10 votes
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What is this symbol, a line over the note heads?

It's the tenuto sign. It means that the note should be emphasized, by either playing it slightly louder than the rest or holding it to its full length. Wikipedia explains it pretty well.
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  • 5,744
10 votes
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Double bass harmonics are slightly flat?

If you're using a tuner, then you can safely use the octave harmonic to tune. She is wrong in saying blanketly that "the harmonics are slightly flat". Some are flat, some are sharp, some ...
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  • 4,479
9 votes

What is double about the double bass?

The "double" in double bass is due to its range compared to the cello which is an octave lower so it's "double the bass" compared to the cello. The names contrabass and double bass refer to the ...
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  • 46.1k
9 votes
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What are some good options for playing a note written below the standard range of a double bass?

Since the standard 4 string double bass only goes down to E, and the cello down to C, this has been an issue for centuries. Many 4 string basses these days have an extension device fitted to the E ...
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  • 4,913
9 votes
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Double basses in Beethoven's Eroica

I would strongly advise against Solution #2 (tuning the string down). Especially if this is a school/amateur orchestra (as you say), this could wreak absolute havoc. I have enough experience giving, ...
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  • 78.8k
9 votes
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Are there any violin family instruments built without a left shoulder?

As far as double basses are concerned, it's not uncommon to see a body with something like this: Just a normal double bass body, with a left shoulder cutaway (if it is really called like that). They ...
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8 votes
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What is a latin rhythm and how do I play it on Double Bass?

Used like this "Latin" is a rather non-specific term. Markings denoting specific styles of Latin American Music, for instance Bossa-Nova, Samba, Mambo, Rumba, Salsa etc. would suggest particular ...
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  • 20.9k
8 votes
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Is it common for an orchestra to have 5 string double basses?

Extended range basses have become all but standard in professional orchestras. Lots of music uses it, so you might as well have it. In the US, the preference (for whatever reason) is for the E-...
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  • 21.3k
8 votes

Why is there a natural accidental on this C?

The measure in question is a straightforward melodic minor scale. It is an "Etude for String Bass" so presumably there are no other instruments possibly playing (or having played) a different C. ...
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8 votes
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As there's a "double" bass, is there such a thing as a "single" bass?

Double Bass does not imply a Single Bass instrument: but I was under the impression that the cello was a "tenor" instrument, rather than a "bass" one. Perhaps the cello is a tenor instrument in ...
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  • 6,713
8 votes
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Range implications of C extension on double bass

Look at this video, particularly from 1'35" You finger from the left (player's view). The 'clips' are on the right. They don't obstruct fingering.
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7 votes
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Is a white Double Bass okay for practice?

Seemingly odd question! I guess they'll both sound and play about the same, and if it's mainly for home practice, colour shouldn't be an issue. One of the reasons solid colours are cheaper is that the ...
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  • 174k

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