Cello and Bass

February 15, 2019, 6:09 PM · I have an opportunity to write a short piece for cello and bass, and I have been burrowing away, trying to examples to listen to.

One or two of the famous pieces keep surfacing, but not much else.

Can anyone suggest cello and bass duets I might find, please?

Here is one of my practice efforts:


Replies (12)

February 15, 2019, 6:33 PM · If you know how to search for it you may find more examples on IMSLP. I get 21 hits for "cello and double bass" from the following composers: Anton Verschäupen, Dragonetti, Rossini, Stephen W. Beatty (6 pieces!), Jeremy Crosner, Jeffery Michal Harrington, Jules Massenet, Werner J.E. De Bleser, Mikhail Bukinik, Félix Battanchon, Franz Joseph Keyper, Johann Matthias Sperger, Johann Friedrich Kelz, Edward Enrico Gerber.
February 15, 2019, 7:19 PM · Cello and bass. What a pair. The cello would have to be in the top limits of its range from start to finish.

I've never heard any cello/bass duets.

February 16, 2019, 12:50 AM · For a bass-cello duet, I would recommend Pizz. bass.
February 16, 2019, 4:24 AM · No Cotton, the 'cello and bass can even exchanges phrases at a similar level, as in violin/viola duets. Top two strings for the bass, bottom two on 'cello.
February 16, 2019, 6:40 AM · I disagree. Most intervals are muddy on the lower three strings of a cello, and everything is hazy on bass. If you took a violin/ viola duet and transposed it as-is for cello and bass, it would sound absolutely horrible.
February 16, 2019, 1:54 PM · As someone with a piece of paper from a University that says I can write music and a doubling bassist and cellist who loves playing Bach and other polyphonic solo work, my recommendation is to avoid writing closer than a fifth in the bottom registers unless in passing unless muddy is what you want. In the upper registers, go as crazy as you want. (I also played in low brass ensembles, including duets, on trombone, so I have experience playing poorly orchestrated pieces in that range.)
Think overtone series and organ stops.
February 16, 2019, 4:32 PM · Thank you, Albrecht, that was a goldmine.

Edward, I agree absolutely about the fifths. I have written half a dozen pieces for bass quartets and trios, and struggle to use four basses well, while three basses work nicely. And this is all about the muddy textures that readily emerge in the lower registers.

In a bass quartet, played in concert last November, I wrote as high as A above the treble clef. The first and seoond bass parts were written entirely in treble clef. Bass players are quite agile up high: it is the slow speaking instrument that is something to keep in mind.

And I have no experienc with harmonics on bass.

February 16, 2019, 5:35 PM · Well Cotton , we don't seem to meet the same musicians..
February 16, 2019, 5:55 PM · Have you ever played a double bass? Or even a piano real down low? Even at the C below middle C things become unclear, and especially at a distance in a larger space.
February 16, 2019, 7:29 PM · Cotton you might amuse yourself by searching for Paganini 24 played on the double-bass on YouTube.
February 16, 2019, 8:25 PM · I've seen it. Mind blowing as it is, if you listen to it blind (no video, just audio) to remove any spectacle, it becomes sort of...
Dare I say it?
Edited: February 17, 2019, 1:07 PM · A few yeas ago a former conductor, Jonathan Palmer, of my chamber orchestra, Bristol Chamber Orchestra, composed a double bass concerto as a required part of his D.Mus in composition at Bristol University. It received a warm welcome at its first public performance conducted by the composer with the Bristol Chamber Orchestra, and professional bassist David Heyes as soloist. The live performance was recorded in audio and video, for academic and archival purposes, by Bristol Uni's Music Department, and is probably the only recording of the work. I wonder who owns the copyright in a case like this?

The concerto is eminently listenable, with good tunes and rhythmic structures, possibly a bit Vaughan Williams in style, as evidenced by a very old Somerset folk tune that had found its way into the slow movement. There was of course an obligatory fugal section in the finale, as required for the D.Mus thesis. The concerto explores the full range of the instrument's compass and technique, certainly virtuoso writing but playable. I overheard the soloist in the green room afterwards say that he'd like to have it in his repertoire.

More details on http://www.compositiontoday.com/concerts/6750.asp

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