There are certain works that are part of the traditional canon of works that we double bassist learn as students. They’re so common, in fact, that it can feel blasphemous to think about approaching them in a different way.
I find it so refreshing to see a new take on a familiar classic. The four works listed below have been reinterpreted, transposed, or reimagined in some way. Check them out, and I hope that they spice up your bass teaching or open new doors in your musical development!
1 – Koussevitzky: Double Bass Concerto, Op. 3 transposed to D
San Francisco Symphony Assistant Principal Bass Stephen Tramontozzi has created a new version of the Koussevitzky Concerto transposed down a whole step. This key sits surprisingly well on the bass, and it makes many passages easier.
This new transposition makes certain passages more resonant and takes advantages of many harmonic that are not available in the original key. This new edition is a great way to introduce students to this important part of our double bass solo repertoire.
2 – The New Simandl (adapted by Cole Davis)
Cole Davis has taken the traditional Simandl Method and mapped it across the strings, refingering these exercises to stay in one position and traverse all four strings rather than shift up and down.
Cole provides great explanations of his reasonings for various fingerings, demonstrating both the “old way” and the “new way” for various passages in Simandl.
This approach is great for a jazz player wishing to map this classic method book into positions that may serve them better.
3 – Harmonious Harmonics: Trios & Quartets for double bass
Anyone who has tried to teach young bass players has experienced the muddle mess that often results. Bass ensembles written for young bassists generally sit in the lower positions of the instrument, and trying to create any sort of harmony can be tricky that low. Bang out a perfect 5th at the bottom of the piano and you’ll see what I mean!
With Harmonious Harmonics, David Heyes has reenvisioned the young bass ensemble. All of the bass parts in this volume can be played by students new to the bass, and the lower parts are playable even after a couple of bass lessons.
Presenting early bass ensembles in this register is such a pleasant experience for the listener. It is also a great opportunity to teach student leadership and good ensemble skills.
4 – Henry Eccles: Sonata No. 11 (published 1720), for string bass and basso continuo
Andrew Kohn has taken the classic Eccles Concerto and, after close study of the original edition in the Library of Congress, created this new edition that features several cool new changes, with extended supporting documentation about these changes.
This edition is a great change of pace for people long accustomed to playing traditional editions of this work. Highly recommended for a fresh take on this classic double bass piece!