(Don’t) Use the Force, Luke

David discusses the pitfalls of forcing sound production in music, emphasizes the importance of trusting one's instincts over questionable choices, and announces the end of his regular "Fractal Fridays" posts as live performances and in-person instruction resume.

With David Allen Moore · Los Angeles, CA

Pressing and forcing are two negative buzzwords used to describe inefficient or excessive approaches to sound production. It is the rare player among us that has never been told to avoid these pitfalls. The universality of the concern begs the question: why do we do it? I believe it comes down to a simple but effective admonition.

Trust your instincts and not your choices.

We all instinctively know that resistance, rather than being futile, is necessary for sound production. It is our choices as to how to achieve that resistance that is frequently questionable. Hand a bass and a bow to any non-player, and they will reflexively press the bow into the strings in order to produce a sound.

A slightly more experienced player may resort to excessive rosin usage in order to achieve the quantity of contact that they desire. This can lead to a degradation of sound quality, poor control, and a lack of musical sensitivity and flexibility. By the axiom of “a swipe of rosin is worth 5 minutes of practice”, I once watched in horror as a bassist “practiced” for AN HOUR before playing a note (that’s 12 swipes, in case you think I am exaggerating).

This is a description of a process rather than a prescription for a solution.

Thanks and Farewell (for now)

What a long, strange trip it’s been… I never would have imagined when I started this project back in July that it would result in almost 40 articles and create a vibrant online forum of bassists from all over the world eager to continue growing and exploring while their professional and educational lives were in turmoil. (Summer 2021)

Check out more Fractal Friday writings here.

About the Author

David Allen Moore, 4th Chair Bass of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2000, was previously a member of the Houston Symphony. He is an internationally sought-after Guest Principal and has performed with the Helsinki and Israel Philharmonic.

Moore is the author of Fractal Fingering, a required text at notable universities. He joined the USC Thornton School of Music’s full-time faculty in 2010 while maintaining his position in the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He also teaches at Domaine Forget in Canada and DiscoverDoubleBass.com. His students hold positions in orchestras globally.

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