Experimental Double Bass: 100.011

In this episode I’m experimenting with different textures of pizzicato on double bass. Pizz is a common way of playing bass. Some jazz bassists go most of their lives never picking up the bow and have a full and satisfying artistic life entirely by hand.

There are more ways to make sound sans bow than the traditional pluck of the bass. Where we pull the string, whether we intend it to sound a distinct pitch or not, how forcefully we pluck: all these things have an impact on the sound and meaning generated by that sound. I wanted to experiment with these things.

Along the way, I began to think a little more about structure in this piece–having an intro, having parts that communicated in the middle, and then having an abrupt ending.

Upright Bass Experiments

  • Non-speaking pizzicato
  • Pizzicato on the non-sounding length of string
  • Good ol’ fashioned Bartok pizz
  • Thinking about form


The raw non-speaking texture, played without time or distinctness in pitch, provided an interesting contrast with the pitched varieties of pizzicato.

In addition, the non-sounding length of the string — between the nut and the finger holding down the pitch — had a quiet and echo-like tone that reminded me a little of sul tasto with the bow (though not quite as covered sounding). Obviously the pitch relationships are inverted (the string gets shorter the closer the pitch-generating hand gets to the nut) so some work would have to be done to make extensive use of this technique. I enjoyed the sound and feeling of it though, so perhaps I’ll work on that sometime.

The experiment with adding more form was satisfying for me and I’ll try that again.

Technical notes

Same recording setup as in 100.005. Having a studio where I can just leave things set up is something that I love–hit record and go.

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