A Bass By Any Name Is Not … Quite Agreed Upon

I remember reading Gary Karr’s Article in Double-Bassist that was about the unresolved disagreement about what our type of bass is called. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the orchestral genre of bass, Gary Karr is a virtuoso solo bassist. His story and solo bass in the orchestral genre can’t be covered easily in a few sentences, so suffice to say that a certain segment of bassist jaws drop at what he can play on a bass. This article was written about 10 years ago and now that the upright bass has reemerged in popularity, it looks like things have sorted themselves out.

Let’s recall the names:

upright bass
double bass (with no dash)
string bass
bass violin
bass viol
standup bass
Contra Bass

Talk about subjective subjects, it’s one that I’ve struggled with when people ask me what “the thing” that I play is. Of course, I just call it a bass, but if people ask me to elaborate my answer might depend on what day of the week it was. In other words, it depended on what type of music I was playing at that time:

Double-bass (orchestral)

Upright bass (For anything else)

The term “upright” used to sound goofy to me and I preferred “string bass” over it, but I’m just relieved that there are less names to deal with. It seemed as if since we couldn’t agree on a name, the music merchants industry worked it out for us. Marketing people need one name for a product as do the Web designers. I saw a pivot point when there were links on music store websites and tags on instruments labeled “upright bass”. If an Upright Bass is what I play, so be it. Now the name has finally grown on me.

However, it seems that there are still those two names left on the list. Orchestral people call it Double-bass, which has been written on orchestral scores for centuries, because in early music, basses played cello parts and doubled it since it plays an octave below what is notated. For everyone else, that name makes no sense since functionally we rarely double anything except maybe on a few notable tunes for a few bars. Even anything past the baroque period has independent bass parts, so we deviated from that. It never sounded right to me calling it a double bass in a jazz or miscellaneous setting.

With a large majority bassists (including people who play bass guitar) calling it an upright, maybe at some point in the future I’ll have to get used to the term Upright Bass even in an orchestra. For now I liken it to Fiddle vs Violin; what genre it’s in determines what it’s call. Life is easier just calling it a bass.


Archiving Your CD Collection

Lossless Image

Lossless Image

I’ve amassed a fairly sizable CD collection (over 1000 CD’s) over the years and I have been archiving them onto my hard drive for the last year. I can use every square foot of home that I can get (houses here cost about $500+ per square foot), plus I like the convenience of having quick access and search for any title or artist. I still buy CD’s because MP3’s and iTunes are lossy codecs, which brings me to my point; archive with a lossless codec. Whether it be FLAC, iTunes Lossless, or Windows Audio Lossless, the key is to use a lossless codec.

It’s fascinating to me how your average consumer is demanding more and more details out of a digital camera, while they are are settling for lower resolution and compressed music. Equate lossy compressed music to your digital camera from 10 years back versus lossless compressed music which is better than your high end digital camera today.

Here’s the scoop. Lossy compression methods means that details and nuances in a song are dropped in favor of making that file as small as possible. In pop music where there aren’t as many nuances and details to

lossy image

Lossy Image

lose, it may not be as perceptible. For music with more complex instruments, you most likely will perceive the loss when you go back and listen to the original uncompressed source. When you compress it using a lossy compression, once it’s lost, it’s lost. No software will be able to recover those details. Hard drive space is now cheap at less than $100 for 1TeraByte (1000GB). An average CD using the lossless codec will take us less than 400MB to archive, which means you will be able to store about 2500 CD’s on a hard drive. I actually backup my music onto another hard drive in case of a hard drive crash.

Hard drive space being so cheap, there’s no reason not to want lossless as your primary music storage method. If you prefer to buy music online, try to find a vendor who sells that music as a lossless format. From what I’ve heard, they don’t cost much more if any. This will future proof your collection, since in all likelihood, online music distribution will gravitate to lossless and higher resolutions.

I use Windows Media Player because it’s an easy to use, convenient software. You can probably find out how to do that on your preferred software by doing an online search.  To archive lossless, go to options, rip music, and then select Windows Media Audio Lossless as the format.

Internet: The Misinformation Age

Thanks to the Internet and it’s vast amounts of raw, unfiltered data, we have a wealth of information and even more misinformation.

I find this guy hilarious to watch. It’s like watching one of the Muppets teaching upright bass.

Kids, don’t try this at home. Ever!

Welcome to OUR site

This is my first post and my first blog. Since I currently have zero subscribers, I am hearing the echos of an empty virtual room.

As some of you have known, I’ve been sitting on the domain names of uprightbass.com, bassviolin.com, and double-bass.com for some years now without doing much with them. When I was in college I did run an modest online store to pay for my school expenses, which some of you had supported. After I graduated, I sold off the business to pay for my college debts.

After selling off the business about 10 years ago, uprightbass.com went into limbo as I pursued my career and worked hard to make ends meet. Now it had finally reemerged as a blog.

While I don’t have specific vision for it at this point, what I wanted to do is allow it to grow and see what comes from it organically. For that to happen, you the readers will have the say on which way uprightbass.com will grow. For my part, I’m going to do what the blogger does and write about what comes to my mind and we will see how this site grows. Since this is called ‘Upright Bass dot com’, it would make sense that the majority of people peeking in would be interested in genres of music aside from orchestral. That topic is very well covered by Jason Heath’s Double Bass Blog.

I’d especially like to encourage those people who are doing something a little out there or innovative. Are you playing the upright bass where people normally play bass guitar? Are you playing music that’s really pushing the envelope?

As we grow, I’ll get some other professionals to also do some writing for us, because a topic such as the bass can’t be covered by one person alone.

Send me an E-mail. Whether you’ve never seen a bass or we’ve met at some point down the road as professional bassists, let’s start the dialog. Drop me a line and say hi. For those of you that want a little exposure; I’d like to do some profiles of bassists at various stages in their career as part of the blog.