LISTEN Audio Instructions
Need ideas for easy and fun at-home music learning? Here's our daily Classical Kids Music Lesson.
Today we will learn about the biggest string instrument, the double bass.
Target age range: K-5
1. The double bass (also called the string bass, or just bass) has the same basic shape as the violin, viola, and cello, it is just a lot bigger. It's about six feet tall, and bass players need to stand or sit on a special stool to play it. Because it's so big, it can make really low sounds. Bigger instruments make lower sounds.
2. Watch and listen to the beginning of this movement from Gustav Mahler's first symphony. About fourteen seconds in, you will see and hear the double bass play a solo. It is a sort of sad and mysterious version of the folk song Frère Jacques (English translation: Are You Sleeping, Brother John?)
3. When the composer Camille Saint-Saens decided to write a piece of music called "The Elephant," he chose the double bass to capture the spirit of that big and playful animal. Listen to the music while you look at some cute elephant pictures.
4. Like the other members of the string family, the strings of the double bass can be bowed or plucked. When the strings are plucked, it's called pizzicato. The double bass is often used in jazz music. In jazz, the pizzicato double bass sound is very common. Here is the jazzy Pink Panther Theme played on the bass. Notice how the player also uses the wood body of the instrument to make percussive sounds.
Here is one more example of pizzicato double bass.
5. Write down or tell someone three things you learned about the double bass.
Have a question or suggestion? Contact Katie Condon, music education specialist.