Standing or Sitting?
Paolo Veronese: The marriage at Cana (1562)
one of the earliest pictorial representations: Paolo Veronese´s painting "The Marriage at Cana" (1562) shows a double bass player in the sitting position playing an instrument the size of a man. Conversely, there are also depictions of smaller instruments being played in the standing position. From reports, it seems that the double bass has always been played both ways, regardless of the size of the instrument (not counting Vuillaume´s monstrous Octobasse). This applies both to chamber music and to orchestral playing. Corrette describes standing "Basso al Cembalo" players, while double bass players who shared a desk with cellists (which was normal practice in the Baroque orchestra) presumably played sitting down. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that double bass players, who were by then constituted into groups, switched more and more to the sitting position, as illustrated by pictures from this period (e.g. of the orchestra of the Covent Garden Opera House in 1846). On the other hand, the double bassists of the Kassel State Orchestra obstinately continued to play standing up until as late as the 1980s.
from: Charles Labro - Méthode de contrebasse (Paris, 1860)
With the modern easily-transportable double bass stools, the number of sitting players has significantly increased. Present-day bass stools are much more comfortable and ergonomic than the old wooden “high stools”, the appearance of which was evocative of a torture device – an appear-
ance which those who had to sit on them for hours at a time discovered was not deceptive!