Friday, November 30, 2012

"Baltimore Rhapsody" Block 15 - the double bass

The double bass, or string bass, is block #15 of my original applique project called "Baltimore Rhapsody."   (You can read about the back story of this project here.)

This lowest of the stringed instruments is also called the bass viol, contrabass, and bull fiddle.  It is about 6 feet tall and the player of this instrument has to either stand or perch on a high stool to play it (the violin is only 23-24 inches long, in comparison).

The double bass is not just a larger version of a violin.  The "shoulders" (top of the body) are narrower and the back is flat rather than rounded like the violin, viola, and cello.  These and other subtle differences in shape and proportion help to create the deep, velvet tones. 

The double bass has four strings that are tuned in fourths rather than fifths, as the other three stringed instruments.  This helps the player a little, as it decreases the hand span needed to play a scale from 14 inches to 10.5, which is still very challenging!  The thickness and greater tension of the strings requires very strong fingers to play.

The music is written an octave higher than what is actually heard to avoid the excessive amount of ledger lines that would be needed to voice the actual low tones (ledger lines are used above and below the 5-line staff).

Before the time of Beethoven, the bass parts were pretty much just the bass line...rare difficult passages and melody lines.  He had a good friend who played bass, which enabled him to understand the instrument better and write more demanding, thematically interesting parts for the bass to play.  Very few solo pieces were written for this instrument.

In addition to producing the tone by bowing, the bass is often plucked (pizzicato) to produce a clear, resonant tone.

It takes great dedication to play such a large can even determine what kind of car you drive!  In addition to being the foundation of orchestral music, the bass replaced the tuba in jazz and dance bands, where is is most often plucked, rather than bowed, to produce the beautiful tones.

One more stringed instrument to go to round out the section...the viola.

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)


  1. Another great block. You are right about the car -- Although the bass is neither my husband nor my main instrument we do have occasion to move one (or more) as he teaches both band and strings. It's easy to get into my Taurus X (a station wagon/SUV) which is the only reason he was able to buy a Cube -- although we might be able to get a 1/2 size in it. Can't wait to see the viola -- that's my instrument (I use that term loosely -- I can barely keep up with the 6th graders).

  2. A bass is such an important addition to an instrumental group from two or three instruments to a very large group. It adds so much....and your block adds so much too! It is just fantastic. So much detail.


  3. Another wonderful block - just lovely choices of fabrics to bring them alive!

  4. A masterpiece block truly equal to the delightful notes of the bass!

  5. Another WOW block. Your attention to detail is amazing. I look forward to each new block and can't wait to see the final quilt.

  6. Fabulous and thanks for educating us.

  7. Fantastic applique work, Teresa. I love the addition of the flowers and fruit to your instruments. My granddaughter is taking viola lessons right now and my grandson violin. Anxious to see the viola block--Julierose

  8. cool block again, how did you do the applique? i see a straight stitch

  9. Oh!! Look at those daffodils! Teresa, you are a marvel. :D

  10. Your work is inspirational, I always know that if I am on a low with my needlework that a visit to your site will get me going again.
    The daffs are quite beautiful.
    I would love to have a go at some applique one day and when I do I shall refer to your site.
    Thankyou so much
    Briony, uk

  11. I love your beautiful applique' blocks. The strings on the double bass are great!


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