Volume 6, August 2015
Examination of mid-nineteenth century double bass playing based on A. Müller and F.C. Franke's debate in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 1848 - 1851.

by Shanti Nachtergaele

8. Components of daily practice

Both authors advise a method of practice meant to help aspiring double bass students rise to a professional level of performance. Franke's method book provides a detailed guide to this training and includes exercises in every key, for all types of bowings, and in various styles. He also includes examples from the orchestral repertoire, and sections on ornamentation and accompanying recitatives. In his review, Müller commends the method for having good exercises that are presented in a reasonable order, and that address the various aspects of playing. He also compliments in particular the sections on supplementary subjects such as ornamentation, compositional styles, and accompanying recitatives; the latter of which, he states, no one else has written about before.lxii

Though Müller did not write a method in a traditional format, he nonetheless includes suggestions for a routine of daily practice in the second installment of his extended article; Müller's routine consists of:

  • Strong, long sustained notes, which allows one to think about bowing correctly and to test the strength of the left hand;
  • Scales in all keys, with different fingerings;
  • Thirds, sixths and octaves;
  • Arpeggios — a common feature in double bass parts — in all keys and styles, which involves practicing string changes;
  • Slurs, starting with three notes per bow and progressing up to complete scales in all keys;
  • Trills of half and whole steps.lxiii

Franke writes that Müller's routine is too limited, and suggests adding both exercises in fourths, fifths and sevenths, as well as more bowing styles than just slurs.lxiv While the addition is not extreme, it does indicate that Franke has a more technical approach to double bass playing than Müller, the latter of whom speaks more about the value of strength and dependability in players.