Wednesday October 28, 2020
Silvio Dalla Torre
Chameleon Double Bass Double Bass as Solo Instrument? Tunings - Orchestral Tuning - Solo Tuning - Viennese Tuning - Fifths Tuning Playing Techniques I Playing Techniques II New Dutch School


Dr. C. Nicolai counted 12 different tunings in his article "Das Spiel auf dem Contrabass" ("Playing the Double Bass") which appeared in 1816, although it is known today that significantly more were in circulation. The fourths tuning even-
tually became established in the middle of the 19th century, and there was no further discussion of the subject for a hundred years. But now, against the back-
ground of the impressive history of our instrument, modern bassists are again experimenting with different options. The American jazz bassist Red Mitchell was the first to reintroduce the fifths tuning. Renaud Garcia-Fons, the French “World musician”, has had massive success playing a five-stringer in the "Gross-Bass Viol de Gamba" tuning E-A-D-G-C described by Michael Praetorius in 1619, and the Viennese "third-fourths" tuning is also experiencing a Renaissance – in 2004 an international competition in this category was held for the first time. If you would like a comprehensive view of the history of double bass tuning, please read this guest article. Here is a brief overview of the double bass tunings currently in widespread use, and the characteristics of each: