Someone studying the history of the Double bass would soon see that two basic factors determined our instrument’s evolution. First and foremost was the influence of composers and their drive for the low “C”…
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Fifth tuning would be both logical and rational, were it not for the resulting fingering difficulties, which had already caused its rejection at about the end of the 18th century. It was tested again in 1895 by Viseur, a professor at the Paris Conservatory. Although he succeeded in convincing several other bass players to take up this system of tuning, it was once again abandoned soon after his death…
I am very pleased that the famous jazz author Gene Lees has allowed me to reprint some of his interview with the real fifths legend and pioneer Red Mitchell.This excerpt is from Mr. Lees outstanding book “Cats of Any Color: Jazz Black and White” from Da Capo press 2001.
The system of tuning in fifths is a legacy of the violin family. For this reason, the conditions of the introduction of the tuning C G d a in late 17th-century Italy are best understood thought a rapid survey of the early development of that instrumental family.
By Paul Brün