Experimental Double Bass: 100.003

Another composer-driven entry in the Experimental Double Bass: 100 Days project. One of the composers working on a piece for me asked whether it was possible to fade between a full note and a harmonic/spectral quality. I’d explored this some in interpreting Sogge’s “Design I” graphical score so I revisited here. And then I just felt like putting in some choppy bass drone texture. Oh, and we get a siren so I play with that too.

Accepting the general noisy environment of my studio is a sort of love-hate for me. Sometimes I get a little precious and wish it were quieter like a “real” studio. Other times I’m happy that the “real” world gets to leak into the sounds.

You can also listen or download via bandcamp, or iTunes, or anywhere else that music is sold. Eventually I might get around to uploading them to Soundcloud as well (it’s just a real pain the ass to do that one so I’m procrastinating on it).


Here are some experimental/research questions I had for myself with this upright bass sketch:

  • How does the fade between harmonic and normal note work/feel? Can I control it and how?
  • Do I enjoy hammering away at a single note physically, in my hands? in my ears?
  • Oh shit there’s a siren, how do I respond?

Extended techniques for double bass here is mostly limited to harmonics/spectral qualities.

In terms of learning/results of the research:

I think I have an in-the-hands sense of controlling the bow to fade between note and harmonic. I’m using the physics of the string as well by moving the sounding point closer to (to favor harmonics) and further from (to favor a pitch) the bridge. By not increasing pressure as I get closer to the bridge the harmonic of the string begins to emerge from and then overtake the tone. I think I could work this up to be pretty controllable and relatively seamless.

I do enjoy hammering away at a single not in both my hands and my ears.

As for that siren, ah well. Real life inserts itself.

Technical notes

Same as in the two previous entries, I’m using the AKG 414B-ULS (the older, transistor infused large diaphram model) off the treble side of the bridge, in real close–the mic starts to overload a bit in parts. A little EQ to remove sub harmonic junk. New in this take is a little bit of tape emulation. Tape emulation is great as a “soft clipper” in that it will often shave off slight bits of energy at specific frequencies depending on machine, tape type, speed, etc. This is kind of like multi-band compression but kind of not. Anyway, it’s something I like to use to help a recording sound more like what my ears pick up or more like what I want a sound to be. Maybe I’ll write more about this sort of thing in future installments.

Experimental Double Bass Home

Previous page Next page