Thursday, 19 June 2014

Double Bass Dance

Rachel loves her double bass; it just seems to be the perfect instrument for her. It's not common, it's left field, it raises an eyebrow because it's something a bit different. It's funky and tricky and oh so cool.  It just seems to go well with her sense of herself.

Don't get me wrong, she enjoyed the piano, but that was more to do with her wonderful teacher than the instrument. Her double bass teacher is young and enthusiastic and teaches with passion but it's the double bass itself which has stolen her heart.

I love watching her practice, she goes into this uber calm state where she feels the music rather than having to force it.  Even when she's doing scales it's more about sensing the notes than remembering them.

When she's playing with the school orchestra she's very chilled out and doesn't seem to have any anxiety if she misses a beat or forgets to the second time bar.  This may man nothing to you but is something that in any other situation would cause her extreme anxiety; she's a perfectionist.

Even getting the massive instrument in and out of its case is smoothly done now she's got the knack; it's an extension of her.  And for a child who can't see 3d and is always dropping things or tripping over herself that's quite something.

I was taking some videos and photos whilst she was playing this week (trying to design the double bass cake she wants for her birthday) and was struck by this idea of the double bass being an extension of her.  As a flute player I know about an instrument being an extension of your breath but have never really understood the string instruments (although I've always loved the sound). But looking at the double bass I was struck by its curvature; it's like a voluptuous woman, perfectly curved in all the right places.

Double bass players embrace the instrument when they play it, leaning it against their bodies and using the shape to get the most from the sound it produces.  Rachel is never static when she plays and agrees able to do so much more than just tap a toe.  She leans and sways and moves as the music takes her and as the double bass needs her to as she reaches for the notes she wants to play.  It's a dance.

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