Bass Blog

Michael Hovnanian plays bass in an orchestra located in a large midwestern city.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all. Thanks for the many interesting comments on the Welcome Satan post. The amount of interest initially took me by surprise.

The subject of Pops, programming and populism is probably worthy of a blog all its own, but that isn’t what I set out to do here and I imagine after a time I would find writing about playing pops concerts as tiresome and demoralizing as playing them. I am sure the issue will come up again the way things seem to be heading at the CSO. For now I will leave my opinions in the comments sidebar.

So, on to ‘more important’ things.

After time off – I spent a week out of town – there is always the unpleasant task of getting back into shape. After longer periods away (2 or more weeks) I tend not to have much concentration when I start practicing again. At such times I usually pull out an old book of bass parts from Bach cantatas and read through it, or at least try to. I think Hoffmeister publishes that book. I don’t know if it is still in print. Also, there may be more volumes.

If I’m motivated to get in shape quickly I use a set of finger exercises – mindless but effective. Lately, I’ve been doing some variation of these every day.

Starting with each pair of fingers. Next I do it again with separate bows. After that I repeat it on the other strings.

Next, I take each two note pair and go across the strings. This is the first group. I do this for each of the two note patterns.

Going on, I do a series of patterns using 1-2-4, slurred, then with separate bows and on each string in turn.

Finally, I take those patterns and spread them over two strings. This is the first group. This first line has 3 notes on one string and 1 on the next. The second line is 2 and 2. The third line is 1 and three. I do this for each of the 1-2-4 patterns.

Going through the whole thing takes half an hour, forty minutes and gives a good workout.

When I get time to finish it up I will try and make a PDF of the whole thing (it’s 4 or 5 pages) and post it here.


Jacque said...

I look forward to the .pdf, Michael!

Jeff said...

Can one play these wam warmups on the electric bass? Are you still playing the electric bass?

mh said...

Hi 'Jeff'!

I think the slurs might be a problem...

oceanskies79 said...

Hi Michael, I hope you won't that I put a link to this post on my blog?

mh said...

You are welcome to do so. I will try and finish the PDF soon so you can link to the complete exercise.

Mori Umberto said...

Hi Michael,
Re. slurs and the electric bass, do you think it would help to do the warmups in private so you can't hear the slurs? Or just ignore the slurs? Or fight the insulters back?

Edward Richards said...


You pose some interesting questions. The subject of slurs, audibility, public, private, (not to mention the whole question of the electric bass) deserves a blog all its own. I look forward to your efforts.

Jeff said...

Really, gentlemen(?), the whole idea of a Bass Blog is fascinating. Isn't there a piece (written back in the 70s, I think) for Bass Trio called "Blogs"? Please advise.

e.r. said...

Paul Chihara, friend to many a bass quartet!

Karl Ditters von Dragonettiburg said...

Isn't that piece "Blogs" simply "Clogs" in orchestra tuning? I located an historical image of Michael performing "Logs" at the Olympics. Here:

e.r. said...

Which Olympics (what year)? Did he get a medal?