The double bass, aka upright bass, aka standup bass, aka acoustic bass, aka string bass, aka contrabass
That is me playing the double bass! Well, playing a couple of notes on the double bass. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I do now have a feel for the instrument. Speaking of experts, the bass belongs to the talented Jason O’Brien, aka Big Brother Bass, of the Elastocitizens (an eleven-piece, Toronto-based, funk rock band) and Marta (a lovely folk singer/songwriter), among many other projects he is working on. Jason kindly agreed to show me a little about his double bass Rosie and not only how to hold her and play her, but also how to feel the vibrations of the strings through my body (sounds nice, eh?).
The double bass is a four-stringed, non-fretted instrument that stands approximately six feet tall. Unlike an electric bass, there are no frets to show you where to put your fingers to achieve certain notes, so it’s more about the feel of the instrument and listening to the notes to adjust where you hold the strings accordingly. Posture and keeping hands and arms loose are also very important to creating the beautiful low notes the double bass is known for.
I’m really glad I finally got to include some music in my 30 Days of Art. I’ve been focusing a lot on visual art over the past week and I’m happy to branch out into the other art forms. Playing the bass was exciting, but definitely a challenge. My fingers have that nice tingly feeling that comes from holding the thick strings tightly. My favourite bit, though, was the way you pluck to make the strings vibrate. You definitely need strength to play the double bass, though, and a lot of practice!
Here’s a short video of Jason playing for me today:
And another video of Jason playing with Marta: