The Double Bass: A Massive Melody...

By: Carly Hill, Staff Writer • Apr 07, 2012 • 0 Comments

The 1974 movie, Romance with a Double Bass, a bassist shows up at a princess’ ball.  He and the princess find themselves killing time, swimming in the river.  When someone steals their clothes, the bassist helps the princess maintain her dignity by sneaking her back to her castle in his bass case.  And, of course they fall in love in the process.

The Double Bass is quite the romantic instrument.  It is the largest and lowest-pitch stringed instrument in a symphony orchestra.  Other names for it are the acoustic bass, upright bass, bass violin, string bass, contrabass, and stand-up bass.  Although you typically find the double bass played in the symphony orchestra, it is a very versatile instrument – which is also played in blues, rock, country, tango, folk music, etc. 

 

Check out the unique way that musician Stanley Clarke utilizes the instrument.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py3jT0uaZw0

The double bass can be played like a violin with a bow, or plucked, as Stanley Clarke played it.

The first time we saw the double bass in history was in 1493.  Prospero wrote about “viols as big as myself.”  This is accurate description of the 6-foot-tall instrument.  Also, in 1516, there was an illustration that closely resembled the double bass.

Our featured piece today is this beautiful double bass case from our friends at Eclectic Architecturals.  Great as a coffee table and conversation piece, this is a very beautiful and unique antique to add to your home.  Click here for more information on how to get it. 

The construction of the double bass is similar to that of the violin; however, it differs in proportions, as well as in the shoulders.  The shoulders of a violin are bulging, while the double bass’ shoulders slope.  This slope allows the bassist to have more access to the upper range of the instrument.

To allow for easy transportation, modern bass cases are typically made of soft padded cases or bags.  The instrument is quite fragile, so some bassists use a hard case – a good one costing about $500 USD.  These cases are made for a function.  There is no comparison to the antique wooden cases from centuries past.  Sure, it would make for a complicated airline experience if a bassist carried his double bass in a well crafted, wooden case like the one pictured above, but the purpose of purchasing a case like this isn’t to have a case you can carry your bass around town in.  Get creative.  Like Eclectic Architecturals suggested, make it your coffee table.  Or, you can stand it up in your living room.  It is exquisitely made and would make a great addition for any musician, or music lover. 

Hope you enjoyed learning more about the musical instruments we have loved for centuries, this week.  Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Musical Latiquing!