Bass Blog

Michael Hovnanian formerly played bass with an orchestra located in a large midwestern city.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

A self indulgent post

My practice studio is messy and disorganized. I have file cabinets and shelves for my music, but stuff ends up stacked on my music stand, the floor and a small table nearby. Usually I can dig through the pile and find the things I’ve been practicing most recently. I like the messy system because the urge to practice is often fleeting, so much so that the act of searching though a file cabinet for some music might be enough to kill it. In fact, I’ve come to look at the music lying out as akin to the colors on an artist’s palette. Seeing what I’ve chosen to file away versus leave out might shed some light on what in the musical spectrum I have been working on.

Below is a list of what I found. Some items are clearly there only because I clean my studio so infrequently; others are things I look at daily. Also, we recently had houseguests and I had to straighten up a bit – meaning I had to straighten some of the precariously leaning piles and so things got reshuffled out of their ‘natural’ order.

Anyhow, I hope this is of interest to somebody. It was to me.

On the Stand:

Zimmerman – Complete Bass Parts Bach book.
I’m not sure why this ended up at the front. I played Brandenburg 2 a while ago…

2 computer printed sheets of string crossings
Years ago I made sets of string crossings. 1 sheet has all the permutations on 2 strings in 6/8 time. The other, all the permutations on 3 strings containing 1 skip (from A to G string, for instance) across the barline.

Nanny Method, Book 2
Open to page 122 – the section (quaintly) translated as ‘exercises of bow’. I often run through these pages to loosen up the bow arm. Nanny Book 2 is the scale and arpeggio book – my nemesis as a student. My copy lost its cover years ago, possibly due to some angry outburst…

Zimmerman – Complete Bass Parts Beethoven book.
Stuffed inside at page 120 is Sevcik book 1 (?). This is one of the bowing books I swiped from my sister, who used to play the violin. The cover vanished way back when, so I don’t have the exact title at hand. Anyhow, recently, I have been doing some of the bowing patterns (no. 7) in 6/8 with letter ‘M’ from Beethoven 9. I usually do the Sevcik bowing patterns with scales, but recently I decided to try and find some orchestral passages I could substitute for the little etudes. Beethoven 9, letter ‘M’ always wipes me out, so I though I would force myself to play it repeatedly…

Then a bunch of bass quartet music:
2nd bass part to Two Dances, Teppo-Hauta-aho
2nd bass part to Sawtooth Hammer, ??
I really like this piece - enough to want to publish it. The part doesn’t have the composer’s name on it. I believe he is a friend of Doug Johnson.
3rd bass part to Space Bass, Carolyn Bremer
4th bass part to Six Chansons (Rainer Maria Rilke), Paul Hindemith, arranged by Jacque Harper.
We recorded a couple of these with the Chicago Bass ensemble for our demo CD.
4th bass part to Canon for Four Double Basses, Michael Wittgraf.
1st bass part to Quartet no. 2, Jan Alm – pages hopelessly out of order.
The first movement of this piece was also on our CD.

Way at the back I found two pages from some scale studies I made years ago. These were 5 - note ascending patterns with fingerings laboriously added in pencil.

From the floor and on the table next to my stand. Stack #1:

More bass quartet music:
Arcadelt Ave Maria (score)
4th bass part to La vi llegar, Enrique Francini. A nice tango arrangement by Dan Armstrong.
Suite for 4 Basses, Bernhard Alt. score with part 3 and 4 transcribed up a step so all 4 parts have the same tuning. My old teacher, James Harnett wrote this out by hand. Nice piece, but the tuning scheme of this quartet makes it a real drag to program…
Prophetiae Sibyllarum (Prelude) Lassus (score)
complete set of parts to the Gunther Schuller bass quartet.
The Wacker Consort performed this piece last week.

Zimmerman 36 Overtures and Romantic Symphonies books. The CSO played the Flying Dutchman Overture and Franck Symphony in D recently.

A set of Xeroxed parts from a bass sectional at Roosevelt University:
Beethoven 5, Barenreiter edition
Pulcinella complete ballet (tutti part)
Don Juan, Kalmus ed.
Dialogue with Time, Lera Auerbach

Csardas, Vittorio Monti (violin and piano editon)
This is something a lot of the hot young (bass) soloists play nowadays. I though I would keep up with the times by learning it…

Violin concerto no. 2, Alan Hovhaness. Violin part written out by hand years ago by M. Hovnanian
This would make a nice transcription, but making a piano reduction of the score is probably something I’ll neve get around to…

Sonata for Cello and Piano,op. 69, Beethoven. (cello part)

Perpetuum Mobile, Gustav Laska (bass part)

Mass in A, Schubert (bass part)

Comprehensive Double Bass Orchestral Excerpts, Ring Warner

Computer printed sheet of finger exercises (see the post in this blog from 12/7/06)

Sevcik violin studies, op. 2 and 3 books

Trout quintet, complete set of parts.

Thesaurus of scales and Melodic Patterns, Nicholas Slonimsky
Every once in a while, I dig this book out, pick an odd scale and try to figure out how to finger it.

Last but not least, a truly ancient copy of the piano part to the Dragonetti concerto.

Stack #2:

My Way of Playing the Double Bass, Ludwig Streicher, vol.s 2 and 4
I love these books!

Bass part to the Bottesini Elegy and Dragonetti concerto.
Vanhal concerto Piano part in C, Duncan McTier ed.
The above items must have been for students

Simandl Method, books 4 and 5
These contain some wonderfully obscure bass solo music by Simandl and other composers

Trios and Quartets for Double Basses, vol. 3, Zimmermann, ed.

Gamba Sonata #1, cemabalo part, Discordia edition

Bach 6 cello suites, facsimiles of 4 early editions
A fabulous little book. Expensive - $60 – but worth it. Unfortuately it is poorly bound, it is falling apart after only a few years. Contains the Anna Magdelena Bach manuscript long with 3 other from the 18th century. Very cool for studying the suites. Makes me want to burn any bass edition I’ve ever come across!

Sevicik op. 2 Bow Studies book. Gerd, Reinke, ed.
Every time I crack open this book by arranged by the now infamous Reinke, I seem to find a typo of some sort. I don’t use it any more.

Bagatelles, Dvorak. Charming little pieces for string quartet and harmonium (or piano). I played the trout recently and at the last minute somebody decided we needed an encore. Many thanks to the staff at Performer’s Music in Chicago for digging this up…!

Bass part to Metaboles, Henri Dutilleux, and the Alpine Symphony, Strauss. A couple of recent CSO things.

Bach 6 cello suites, Fournier ed.

Sevcik, violin book, cover long missing so the opus number is unkown at the moment. This book has the arpeggios on two strings, along with my handwritten sheet transcribing some of the patterns to be played on the bass.
I really like to dig these out when I feel my bow arms need a thorough going over.

Last but not least, a folder of bass quartet music from the Wacker Consort, but I’m not going to bother opening that right now…


Jacque said...

Michael, I love that so much of what's in your "filing system" is Chicago Bass Ensemble-related. Maybe that will drive some hits to our website!

The piece "Sawtooth Hammer" is by Seth Boustead. He's the man behind Accessible Contemporary Music (

Michael Hovnanian said...

Thanks. Anything to help the CBE!

Don said...

The Gradus ad Parnassum part by Max Dimoff is from the 21st etude in book 2. While the 4th finger is to be held firmly down, for the most part, that finger must be lifted in order to play the rest of the etude. I say that because that's the only way to play #21 which uses fingerings from the Franke Method. For some reason it's called #18. Maybe at one time it was.

A very mediocre bassist but a fairly good teacher.