Sunday, November 02, 2008

Week 44 of year 2008 on the double bass

26 Oct 2008, Sun: The orchestra that I play with will be performing "Autumn" and "Winter" from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, Opus 8 for the orchestra's 30th anniversary concert next year, in March.

I was probably very diligent today. Although the orchestra's librarian has yet to give the members a copy of our respective parts for Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, Opus 8, I took the initiative today to borrow a copy of the full score from library@esplanade so that I could study the basso continuo's parts in advance.

At about 10.30 p.m. at night, I started sight-reading through the parts for the basso continuo of "Autumn" and "Winter" from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, Opus 8. Technically speaking, "Autumn" would present more challenge than "Winter" for the basso continuo. The greater challenge for my practice was to achieve a warm and clear sound particularly on all the notes that were played on the "E" string of the double bass. More practice would be needed. As for "Winter", the challenge was to play well-articulated strokes, and to sound energetic even when playing the parts with soft dynamics.

Here's a you-tube video of Nigel Kennedy playing the third movement, Allegro, of "Winter" from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons (View source) for you to have an idea of what I have been practising.

27 Oct 2008, Mon: I practised an orchestra excerpt, Smetana's Die verkaufre Braut (The Bartered Bride ) from Test Pieces for Orchestral Auditions: Double Bass published by Schott.

Afterwhich, I realised that I had not sight-read the first movement of "Winter" from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, Opus 8, so I worked through it. Then I decided that since I had borrowed the full score, I might as well sight-read the basso continuo's parts of "Spring" and "Summer". So I did. The challenge would be to play the octaves with good articulation and a good tone. "Spring" has some interesting parts for the basso continuo.

I was in the mood for a little adventure so I sight-read the first page of the solo violin part of the first movement of "Spring". It was a little challenge to do so since everything was written in treble clef instead of the bass clef that I usually read as a double bass player. I managed it somehow.

29 Oct 2008, Wed: I practised the first movement of "Autumn" from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, Opus 8. The goal was to simply help the fingers remember!

I worked on Faure's Sicilienne. The middle section proved to be the most demanding. How do I play this section lyrically and smoothly, as if the double bass was singing with grace? More good practice!

30 Oct 2008, Thu: It's double bass lesson day. I worked on sight-reading. It was still a challenge, but the lesson that I learnt is that if at first attempt I can't get it, I can work at a slower tempo and make a few more attempts to play the sight-reading exercise more proficiently.

After working on three short sight-reading exercises, I worked on Faure's Sicilienne. The middle section was still the most demanding. I think my tutor wanted me to first start with working on the first section of Sicilienne, so I spent much of the lesson working on achieving a good lyrical line for the first section of Sicilienne.

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