Transcribing Viola da Gamba Literature for the Modern Double Bass


The double bass, in its modern incarnation, dates from the late nineteenth century, which means that any performer wishing to play solo music from an earlier era must resort to transcriptions. For modern bassists wishing to play music from the Baroque era, the options of existing transcriptions are severely limited. Currently a handful of composers dominate the landscape of baroque music for double bass, and the music tends to borrow from either violin or cello repertoire. The fact of the matter is that Baroque music is tremendously underrepresented when compared against the entire oeuvre of available music for the double bass. This dissertation will present a collection of transcriptions from viola da gamba literature in a variety of styles and genres in order to illustrate the potential this music has for expanding the baroque repertoire for double bass. The scope of this paper will include solo music with accompaniment, unaccompanied transcriptions, and music for two and four basses. In transcribing these works I have kept as close to the original manuscripts and publications as possible with regards to bowing and notation. Deviations from the original have been clearly marked so that modern performers may decide for themselves how faithfully to reproduce what the composer wrote. It will also serve as a starting point toward reinventing this wonderful body of music that has heretofore been taken for granted.



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