Sunday September 20, 2020
Silvio Dalla Torre
Chameleon Double Bass Double Bass as Solo Instrument? Tunings Playing Techniques I Playing Techniques II New Dutch School - Heavy Bow - Strings - Elements of Technique - Practising in Flow - Methods / Tutors - Opinions - FAQs


These are questions that are frequently asked or that help to explain my technique and method. Do you have a question that could be included in this section? Please use the Contact form to send it in! Frequently asked questions on the subject Bassetto are here.
I find the "New Dutch School" convincing, and I would like to switch to it. But I am worried that then I will be seen as a maverick and will not be able to get a position in an orchestra.
The concern about being seen as a maverick is certainly not without foundation. As soon as one does anything differently from the majority, certain reservations or even resentments must be reckoned with. Even the pupils of Friedrich Warnecke experienced opposition, but were then able to obtain first-class orchestra positions. What it really important is to realise your own musical conception; this is independent of technique. In any case the majority/minority principle only applies within the double bass group, which is a relatively small part of the string section. In relation to the strings taken as a whole, it is double bass players who play traditionally, using a light bow and the three-finger technique who form the exception. It is not unusual for this to lead to misunderstandings in everyday life in the orchestra, because conductors, violinists, viola players and cellists are often not aware of the specific problems of double bass players. In auditions, it is more and more the tendency to make the same demands of double bass players as are made of the other string players. This has the consequence that vacant positions, particularly principal positions, sometimes remain unfilled for years because frequently none of the applicants is able to fulfil expectations.
I will never manage to stretch my hand out to the three semitones. How is this supposed to work?
OK, once more, it is not necessary to stretch the hand out to a sustained extension of three semitones. Just as a boxer in the ring should remain in constant motion, the stopping hand works best in fluent mobility. Only the finger that is active at each time is working, while the others relax.
How long does it take to convert to the technique?
Depending on circumstances (talent, industriousness, previous experience etc.) it is possible to play pieces newly learned with it after three to six months. It takes longer to convert the old repertoire, because, as is well known, old habits die hard. It can take one or two years until the old automatisms are replaced by new ones.
I have relatively small hands. Will I be able to use the four-finger technique with them?
Yes. Certainly large hands are an advantage (as they are for the traditional technique), but not a requirement.
Is the fingering 1-4 for the whole tone not used at all in the four-finger system?
It is used. Similarly to cello technique, there are different positions: the basic position, the close position and the extended position.
I have been using the heavy bow for three months, but I still cannot create a spiccato. What am I doing wrong?
Spiccato playing in particular requires, in contrast to the light bow, a very relaxed arm, since only the weight of the bow should be working, with the arm controlling it. The most frequent mistake is too much activity, which produces the opposite of the desired result.
I would like to use the heavy bow, but not to change the left hand. Is that reasonable?
Certainly. The use of the heavy bow relieves the left hand and makes sense for any fingering system.
Does the bow hold have to be changed with the heavy bow?
In some circumstances, yes. It should be adapted to the weight relationships.
Where can I buy the heavy bow?