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
Abstract: In the period 1849 -1851, a collection of articles by A. Müller and F.C. Franke appeared in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, which discussed various aspects of double bass playing. The two double bassists agreed on some points, including that the double bass has a very important role in the orchestra, that there was a lack of good double bass players at the time, and the general characteristics of a good instrument. But, they debated other subjects, such as playing stance, left hand technique, bow technique, the necessary components of daily practice, and the common practice of simplifying double bass parts. Their discussion on these topics has implications for historically informed performance, especially in regard to the performance of Beethoven's symphonies, while also raising questions regarding technical development that are relevant to modern double bassists who play all styles of music.
1. Introduction: Franke and Müller's debate
2. The role of the double bass
3. The level of double bass playing
4. Construction and set-up of the instrument
5. Holding the double bass
6. Left hand technique
7. Bow technique
8. Components of daily practice
9. Performing Beethoven's symphonies
10. Additional remarks
Appendix — translations of cited foreign texts