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Discuss The Role Of Your Instrument In Operatic Music

1255 words - 6 pages

Discuss the role of your instrument in operatic music, say why you think it is suited to the role it takes.


With the development of the opera, the double bass has been using wider and wider. It not only for doing as part of the orchestra or support the bass music line, but actually sometime, it takes the leading position of the whole orchestra. In this Essay, I am going to give a discussion about the role of double bass in operatic music and explain why I think it suited to the role it takes. I will also use a few operatic music examples explain the usage of double bass in operatic music in detail.

Double bass general introduction:

The double bass is the largest and ...view middle of the document...

Therefore, sometime the double bass also considered as a transposing instrument. The written way for different country may also be vary.

The role of double bass instrument in operatic music

From the book Performing Italian Opera, Gossett gives a brief introduction of the role of double bass in early opera: Gossett says:

“Italian double bass players normally employed an instrument with three strings, tuned as A-d-g (all notes for the double bass, by convention, are written an octave higher than they sound). Instrumentalists in France, instead, would have been using an instrument with four strings, with the additional lowest string tuned as E (sounding E1). In those many passages in operas written for Italy in which the violoncellos and the double basses play together (either with both parts written out in full or with the cellos told to play col basso-“with the bass”), they normally produce sounds an octave apart. But when the cellos play in their lowest register (from C through A flat), the three-stringed double bass tuned in the normal fashion cannot follow them, and hence must play the notes an octave higher, so that the sounding note in that lowest register of the cellos are actually in unison with the notes in the double bass.”[1]

From this statement, we can see that the double bass was using only as an accompaniment instrument. And also sometimes had to be used with cello. The double bass seems only can be used as a supporting instrument in opera in the early musical period. In Monterverdi’s Orfeo, the double bass called for a contrabasso di viole, in Monterverdi’s Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, it called contrabassi da gamba. The words “di viole” and “da gamba” means to play in a low register than a violin. However there is still no significant individual position for double bass at that time.

Gossett carries on suggests that: “No one had to be told this in the notation: everyone understood the convention, and double bass players made the adjustment automatically, using their musical sense to determine the point at which it would be best to change from one register to the other. But it would never have occurred to Rossini, when he revived for Paris operas originally written for Italian theatres, to require French double bass players to adopt an Italian three-string double bass. Rather, he must have been delighted to have the double basses at the Parisian Theatre Italien remain in the lower register, an octave below the cello, as long as possible.”

So Rossini actually made the revolution of the double player in operatic orchestra. In remaining the three-string double bass in the orchestra, also plays...

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