It all started in elementary school, 5th grade for me. Orchestra started in 4th grade at my school, but I didn't want to play the "normal" instruments. (Violin, Viola, cello) I wanted to play the instrument that was bigger than me. But that meant that I would have to wait an extra year.

First day of 5th grade I walked into my orchestra class, and when asked what I wanted to be I said, "I want to be a Bass". After I said that the room went silent. I was the only kid in the school who signed up for bass. My career went on into high school, where I started to pick up with my learning. Getting a bass guitar and getting into jazz. But I Stuck with the orchestra life, for my senior recital I tackled my first concerto. The Capuzzi double bass concerto in D.

Then I moved onto collage, going to the Cleveland Institute of Music. Once I graduated (only 2 years ago) I moved back home and have been with the local "semi-professional" orchestra for the last year and a half.

http://imgur.com/gallery/9DIcbbb That's my bass section and me

http://imgur.com/gallery/NuRzY6o That's one of 2 basses.

http://imgur.com/gallery/4EgsnxH My playing, I apologize for the bad quality of sound and video, but my phone is on the verge of dying, and the microphone is shot. As well as my room having horrible acoustics.

That's my story, do you have any questions?

Comments: 758 • Responses: 108  • Date: 

FondOfDrinknIndustry556 karma

Did you hear about the orchestra that was playing Beethoven's Ninth? The bassists had some time to kill before the end of the symphony, so they'd cut out across the street to a pub. Well they missed their cues at rehearsal so one bassist had the clever idea to use a piece of string to tie a page of the score to a bell down at the pub, so they wouldn't miss their cue. Lo and behold, it's opening night, the bottom of the ninth, the score is tied, and the basses are loaded. tip your waitresses, I'll be here all week

Sirkaithethird197 karma

Ugggggg. I saw Beethovens 9th and wanted to die

FondOfDrinknIndustry52 karma

How do you see music?

Sirkaithethird192 karma

Yes

chrisob96200 karma

As a bassist in a school too, what tips do you recommend for me?

Sirkaithethird157 karma

What level of school are you in? If you're just starting out, technique, in highschool or college focus on the technical side.

chrisob9664 karma

Began last September, would be nice to get some tips so can improve over the summer!

Sirkaithethird76 karma

Do you play with German or french bow?

chrisob9662 karma

French. EDIT: Bad memory

Sirkaithethird149 karma

Keep your arm straight, and play in front of a mirror, watch your bow and how it's angled, remember it's an optical illusion if you look down and it looks straight.

Sirkaithethird29 karma

For french bow, I would recommend the same thing, it's a more airy bow, so you'll want to work on getting sound. Still play in front of a mirror

banana_banana_banana5 karma

How about Baroque?

Sirkaithethird4 karma

I don't have experience with the Baroque bow sorry.

banana_banana_banana5 karma

When I was in college, the school made me take lessons from a cellist: he was so damn pissed that I wanted to learn Baroque style of holding the bow... He was also pretty pissed that I wanted to play across all 4 strings while in 4th position... (at the base of the neck?)

What do you think of playing Bach cello suites with a different fingering for each repeat?

Sirkaithethird9 karma

That's one way to do it, I just use the same fingering

yesicanderson119 karma

Do you have any recommendations for Bass lures/bait? I'm looking for something effective but humane.

Sirkaithethird170 karma

I like a good shotgun

Bored_Pigeon107 karma

Do you have to buy an extra seat when you go flying?

Sirkaithethird155 karma

Yes and no, if you want to trust your airline with your baby go right ahead and check it in. But I will buy an extra seat for my bass. Some airlines will require you to also get the seat behind the bass as well, because it blocks mobility.

TD74630 karma

whats the smallest Aircraft you can effectively get your bass into a seat on?

Sirkaithethird45 karma

Im not much of a plane person, but the smallest I've gotten my bass on was something along the lines of a 2 turboprop regional plane. I would think anything that a major airline will fly should work. Headroom wise the plane was already a bit small, but we made it work.

jay--dub43 karma

Can it fit in a rowboat?

Sirkaithethird40 karma

Uhhh.... Have not tried... I wouldn't want to stand up and play it in a rowboat. The boat would probably tip.

rainpixels18 karma

Just remembered Jim Tavare's bit where he says his bass was an heirloom from his grandfather who survived the Titanic, and that he used his bass as a boat to survive. Jim then proceeds to a bit playing the first few notes of the Jaws theme.

Sirkaithethird8 karma

That's a good one

coryrenton87 karma

which positions in the orchestra do you think are at greatest risk for hearing loss?

Sirkaithethird195 karma

Brass, and precussion. Or the unlucky seats in front of the brass.

kingkungen82 karma

How hard is it to get a job as an orchestral Bassist where you live?

Sirkaithethird142 karma

Depends on what level of orchestra you're looking at. I auditioned for the state orchestra and didn't get in, but the city and county orchestras both wanted basses so I joined them. As a bassist you're always needed, I've been in groups where violins make up 80-90% of the orchestra, with no basses other than me. So it depends.

Stewpid49 karma

Is it really, truly, all about the bass?

Sirkaithethird89 karma

I can confirm it is all about the bass. We keep the beat, we make the group sound intune, we keep the melody form becoming too harsh. It's all about that bass

d0mr44842 karma

No treble?

Sirkaithethird28 karma

Bass section humor at it's finest

LaconicGirth4 karma

That’s one of those jokes that feels like it should get old but never does.

Sirkaithethird2 karma

It's true

Rhoobarb200246 karma

What is your preferred method of keeping spiders out of your house?

Sirkaithethird44 karma

Not sure how this has to do with Bass... But I don't really actively seek out spiders

Rhoobarb200285 karma

*Ask me anything!* ;)

I was inquiring how a Bassist would remove a spider from their home

Sirkaithethird89 karma

I mean if you want a memed answer, I would detune my E sting to a low B and plug into an Amp, boosting Bass and lowering mids and treble. Turn up the volume and drown the spider in my bassy vibrations

FearSneacta48 karma

See? Now was that too difficult?

Sirkaithethird42 karma

It would probably piss off the neighbors... I'll do it sometime and see what they say

rainpixels22 karma

You have spiders for neighbors?

Sirkaithethird14 karma

Maybe

Firebrand77741 karma

Do you enjoy playing orchestral music or swing band music with walking bass lines?

Sirkaithethird57 karma

Both, They both have their times, but as ive said earlier Bach is one of my favorite composers and his bass lines were basically walking. Now lines where you play 8 different notes in 3 different patterns gets boring.

BitPoet39 karma

If you play jazz, are you required to wear sunglasses?

Sirkaithethird44 karma

Depends on what kind of jazz you're playing

hammajammah36 karma

Do you ever slap on the electric bass? If so, are there artists songs you like to cover?

Sirkaithethird46 karma

I don't do much slap on my Electric, but I know RHCP are a really good group if you like to play that stuff.

Snaz531 karma

You ever dabble in Jazz? Mingus is one of my favorite musicians.

Sirkaithethird26 karma

I do some swing and jazz music

MakeeDru18 karma

As a fellow musician that plays the violin, but never sought to further a career in music due to awful pay, how do you survive? I know it is a touchy topic with musicians, but are there special bonuses working for an orchestra? At one point I was a fill in for a pretty big philharmonic, but it was a role call sort of thing, where you'd be called that week to practice three nights and give a concert, be paid for the concert. It was maybe $200 in pocket, if I recall. It was also an understanding that the more you filled in, the more you'd be considered being hired. It was tough.

Sirkaithethird21 karma

It is definitely a tough job, I teach lessons, and have an amateur Luither business going to make ends meet.

MakeeDru4 karma

As I've gotten older, I've realized that where you live matters, and finding individuals soaked in the music scene always helps. Occasionally I will play venues and weddings, bur not as often as I'd like. How did you get into being a Luither? Are you an apprentice?

Sirkaithethird19 karma

When I was a teenager my rented bass was taken in for a new bridge and strings, along with a new coat of varnish, I asked if I could go with and I apprenticed for 3 years.

vnutellanutella17 karma

How much do you earn?

Sirkaithethird57 karma

Is not enough an answer? $10-20 above minimum wage but I get a $200 bonus for each month and $55 and hour on Concert nights. The orchestra also currently covers some cost of living expenses, but that probably will change soon.

Messisfoot9 karma

The orchestra also currently covers some cost of living expenses, but that probably will change soon.

Why will that probably change soon? Is the orchestra scene dying or something?

Sirkaithethird9 karma

No what I mean is the orchestra is making some changes to cut back spending on it's members

Aithnd1 karma

How many hours are you generally paid for a week?

Sirkaithethird3 karma

It's 5 days for 5 hours of work, so only 25 hours. Get there at 11 and get home at 5

TransGirlInCharge14 karma

What is the most challenging piece to work on in general? What's the most rewarding/fun?

Sirkaithethird29 karma

Concerti and pieces that feature the bass are the most challenging, because as a bass you get into the groove of... Laying the groove. The most rewarding/fun I would have to say are baroque era pieces. I've enjoyed those alot.

TransGirlInCharge5 karma

Thanks for answering. :)

What is it about baroque that appeals to you that much? I'm not super familiar with baroque so I would not be able to even fathom a guess.

Sirkaithethird17 karma

Baroque is an era of classical music, think Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart. It was all about contrast of quiet and loud, countermelody and melody, high and low. My favorite Baroque work is the Brandenburg concertos, specifically number 3. First movement.

iscreamuscreamweall8 karma

Whoa whoa whoa Mozart was NOT baroque

Sirkaithethird3 karma

I apologise, I don't play much Mozart

RosieOhDonald7 karma

A lot of baroque isn't really my cup of tea, but Brandenburg Concerto No 3 is probably my favorite piece from that era and from JS Bach. It fuckin' jams! I remember the first time I heard it, I was tapping my foot and nodding my head (almost headbanging). I wanted to get up and dance! It's a great piece of music. I bet it's a blast to play bass on, too.

Sirkaithethird9 karma

Definitely a good piece for all parties involved

GollyWow13 karma

Had any trouble with airlines lately?? Also, have you ever bought a seat for your instrument on a bus?

Sirkaithethird15 karma

No, I haven't been doing much traveling recently. And once I've bought my bass a seat on a bus, that was going from Chicago to Minneapolis.

TheMysticFrost10 karma

As someone who started very similarly to you, what purchase recommendations do you have when buying a bass? Other than the obvious such as hands on testing, do you have any preferences in the maker?

Also, French or German? Personally, I prefer a German bow.

Sirkaithethird14 karma

I prefer a used bass, both of my basses are older than 50 years, and I've found that it takes time for the sound to mature. I play German bow as well. And use Pops rosin in the fall through spring and use Kolstine in the summer.

TheMysticFrost3 karma

Thank you for the advice!

Sirkaithethird6 karma

No problem!

Hubble-Gum10 karma

Who is your favourite artist?

Sirkaithethird41 karma

Bach for orchestral works, Dragonetti for bass works, and eagles for general music.

zptc5 karma

Who's your favorite bassist? Orchestral or otherwise

Sirkaithethird10 karma

Karr probably, I don't really spend that much time in the In-depth world of bass

LocriaNaircoL10 karma

I’m going to grad school to study music at Cleveland State. How is Cleveland for freelancing/teaching?

Sirkaithethird8 karma

I was impressed by the teachers that I had, oviously there were some bad eggs but majority were hard but fair.

LocriaNaircoL3 karma

I mean teaching opportunities for me. Like how are the public school orchestra/band students. Do a lot want lessons?

Sirkaithethird4 karma

There were signs up advertising lessons and most of the time slips were taken, but that's as far as my experience goes along those lines.

super_aardvark8 karma

Do you often find that your bassism gets you into trouble, or are people cool about it?

Sirkaithethird4 karma

Define bassism

super_aardvark9 karma

Well... I guess it would be the belief system or worldview that makes one a bassist. Presumably that means discriminating based on a person's bass.

Oh, also:

  • Large-mouth or small-mouth?
  • First, second, third, or home?

Sirkaithethird5 karma

I don't really discriminate on the instrument it's self. But I do judge others playing. And the playing of other instruments on the orchestra.

•Large-mouth •Second

rosinchard8 karma

Have you ever dropped a bass?

Sirkaithethird26 karma

I have...but it was a solid body electric and no damage was done

nikehoke8 karma

What's the extra low string you sometimes see? B? D?

Sirkaithethird20 karma

5 string basses will either have a B or a C string, some basses like mine that I have pictures of has what's called a C extension, that allows the E string to become a C string.

secretssafereddit3 karma

I play a fifths tuned bass. It has a low c.

Sirkaithethird5 karma

I've played 2 5ths tuned basses, but haven't owned one

nurseandrew7 karma

Have you ever hit the "Brown Note"?

Sirkaithethird7 karma

How to google the brown note. No, I have never hit the "Brown note"

privit697 karma

If you could do three things to improve the world of classical music, what would they be?

Sirkaithethird10 karma

  1. Trumpets should get quieter melody
  2. Concert uniform needs to be changed.

edging_away7 karma

Do you guys ever play the Jaws theme just for fun?

Sirkaithethird30 karma

I've played the theme, but it's honestly just a "party trick" it's 2 notes just getting faster and faster.

Mammothhair7 karma

How many orchestral players create their own musical projects or does work kind of dampen that desire?

Sirkaithethird5 karma

I cant really speak for the whole orchestra. But most of us are pretty musical people, I have written a few chamber songs, and have picked up guitar as a second instrument.

MagnumDoberman6 karma

How much so people bang each other in the orquestra?

Sirkaithethird21 karma

No comment, that's for orchestra members to know

Gnascher5 karma

My daughter started in kindergarten on the violin. At the end of 5th grade (2017), she decided to switch to double bass, and is kicking butt.

She plays with projectSTEP and plays in one of the NEC Prep orchestras.

The biggest issue seems to be limited repertoire for the bass. Any suggestions? Beyond repertoire, any inspiring words for a budding bassist.

Sirkaithethird16 karma

What grade is your daughter in, I may be able to find some repertoire. Inspiring words? Remember it's the other instruments that people hear, but it's the bass that makes them dance.

guesting5 karma

Do you have perfect pitch? How much ear training do you do?

Sirkaithethird6 karma

I definitely don't have perfect pitch. But I have pretty good relative pitch.

Sirkaithethird6 karma

As for each training... I don't do much at all.

oneechanisgood4 karma

  1. What's a typical day for an orchestral musician like?

  2. How many days in a year do orchestral musicians work?

  3. What's your favorite and least favorite part of being an orchestral musician?

Sirkaithethird9 karma

Typical day, Get up, eat, pack up instrument and music, realize you forgot something and pack that too, get to the bus station and climb on a bus, stand with your bass crushed In there. Get to rehearsal unpack tune just in time and go though your day, get home unpack practice and go to bed.

Depends on concert schedule and how close to a concert you are.

Favorite is the comradery you get, least favorite is public transportation.

papercutjake4 karma

Ever watched Mozart in Jungle on Amazon Prime?

Just finished and it made the world/business behind orchestras pretty intriguing.

Sirkaithethird7 karma

totally haven't binged the while series in a month

ionwesker3 karma

I am going to assume that you dabble in modern music and play electric bass.

If so, which do you find more difficult. transcribing modern songs onto double/upright bass or playing classical pieces on an electric bass?

Sirkaithethird5 karma

Classical pieces on electric. Definitely. Playing classical pieces without a bow changes the sound so much.

ionwesker1 karma

Can you not bow an electric bass? (I have never tried)

Sirkaithethird3 karma

The bass strings are flat across the bass, if you look at a bowed instrument the bridge is rounded so you can play single strings.

ionwesker2 karma

Jimmy Page used to bow his guitar, is entirely different to how it is done on an upright bass?

Sirkaithethird3 karma

If you listen to the recording it sounds like he's hitting multiple strings, where in a upright you will be hitting one unless you want to hit 2

ionwesker2 karma

Ahh i get you now, thank you for clarifying.

Sirkaithethird2 karma

No problem

Meta-EvenThisAcronym2 karma

Does the crowd go wild when you drop the Bass?

Sirkaithethird12 karma

The crowd would probably give concerned mutters if I dropped my bass.

Happyfeed2 karma

What kind of music do you listen to? Anything really obscure? What are your non-music related hobbies?

Sirkaithethird2 karma

I sail, I sail a lot. I own a 25 foot sloop and sail around the local big lake. I'm a classic rock guy. But if you want obscure music Wardruna is your group

shiggydiggy772 karma

Favorite all time band?

Sirkaithethird2 karma

Oh... I can't really say. Rolling Stones, Eagles, Metallica

dotayoda2 karma

Is it true that violinist are always smug insufferable cunts?

Sirkaithethird3 karma

No, infact my fiance is a Violinist

cloverdoodles2 karma

[deleted]

Sirkaithethird3 karma

The friendly jests and intertwined life's are very accurate

_Capt_John_Yossarian2 karma

What does the conductor actually contribute by waving that little stick around while yall are playing?

Sirkaithethird3 karma

The conductor generally is the artist and we are their tools, if they want us louder they signal it. They tell us how we should sound to make their vision true.

Internet_Pilgrim2 karma

Does it get the ladies?

Sirkaithethird3 karma

Sometimes

ilrasso2 karma

That is an odd looking upper fretboard extyention. What is up with that?

Sirkaithethird2 karma

The C extension? It allows my E string to tune down to C without using a tuner

fluffychickenbooty2 karma

You ever play britton’s young person’s guide? Love that piece. The bass section solo is super impressive. Hello from a fellow string player 👋

Sirkaithethird3 karma

Don't know that piece, but I'll look it up.

Patrickann7772 karma

Do you play any other instruments?

Sirkaithethird2 karma

I do, guitar, and electric bass

llama_in_galoshes2 karma

Have you ever played bass in an elevator?

Sirkaithethird3 karma

I can't say that I have, why?

Catman4192 karma

Have you ever said to a non-musical friend, “Hey, wanna take a ride to the store? I broke my G String and need to get a new one?”

Sirkaithethird7 karma

Can't say that I have but the bass section has some jokes about that. "Hey baby, I'm a bassist. And I want to take a walking line up your g string passing your F hole and finally hitting your bridge. Maybe I'll even see your tail piece"

Catman4193 karma

Haha! Not bad, but I probably would go with “Baby, if you were a chord I’d finger you all night!”

Sirkaithethird2 karma

That's a good one

Shmoil2 karma

Have you played in the pit for any musicals? I played bass from 4th Grade thru 12th, and I loved getting to play in the pit.

Also, without getting too personal, what part of the world/country are you from? Both of my parents were orchestra teachers, and knew many other teachers from around the country (USA). My mom would be so pumped if I could tell her an orchestral bassist had made the front page of Reddit.

Thanks for doing this AMA. I recently started trying to get back into playing. It's awesome to see the bass getting some coverage.

Sirkaithethird3 karma

In highschool I was the pit bass. But haven't done much pit since then. Our orchestra sometimes does covers but that it. I'm from Minnesota, but definitely not in the Minnesota orchestra. And if course the bass will get coverage, anywhere it goes. The orchestra is a car and the bass is the engine, the rest are just color.

zsaleeba2 karma

[deleted]

Sirkaithethird8 karma

The electric bass is never in the orchestra. If it is you're probably covering something and need that sound. The double bass has a unique sound that no electric bass can reproduce.

deconstruct20002 karma

How many hours a day do you practice?

Sirkaithethird6 karma

Depends, if I have a new piece 3-4 hours if I can. If it's just fine detail. 2-3 hours.

kazooie71 karma

What are common misconceptions people have about classical musicians?

Do you have any music recommendations? A violinist friend of mine recommended The Goat Rodeo Sessions to me a few months ago, and I like the accessibility of it: very talented musicians performing instrumental music that's genre-bending (not that I don't like classical).

Sirkaithethird3 karma

Misconceptions, we're boring people, we're rich, we have no life outside of the orchestra. Music recommendations, I'll have to think about it.

darkseid0011 karma

How much are you paid?

Sirkaithethird3 karma

If you read down I answered this question already... Here's a hint... Not enough

FearSneacta1 karma

How low can you go?

Sirkaithethird6 karma

C1 with an extension E1 without

ThePerdmeister1 karma

do you play the bass in a orchstra?

Sirkaithethird3 karma

That I do

anguishCAKE1 karma

How does it feel to have fingers forged of steel?

One of the most fun concerts I've gone to was last year when the cheif bass player in my local orchestra set up a bass focused recital and mixed it in with personal experiences and a passage or two from Der Kontrabaß. Have you ever been offered or wanted to participate in something similar yourself?

Sirkaithethird3 karma

I've always wanted to do a bass focused concert. But it hasn't happened yet.

Fingers forged of steel is right. But also the callouses go away so fast.

anguishCAKE1 karma

Have any ideas as what pieces you would play?

Also now that I think of it, if you do get the chance, try doing guess the bassline. As it was quite a hit with the audience.

Sirkaithethird1 karma

No idea what I would play.

Polarchill1 karma

Are there any bassists that inspire you (electric or upright)?

Sirkaithethird1 karma

My old teachers still inspire me, Adam Ben Erza inspires me with the multitasking that he can manage, and bassists in higher level orchestras inspire me

Snipers_end1 karma

What's the question that you're hoping people will ask? And what is the answer?

Is there a difference between a bass and a double bass?

I like classical music a lot, but I can't think of anything I like that has a prominent bass. What's a very popular piece that you think most people will have heard of that features a bass? (I saw you mention Brandenburg concerto, anything else?)

Sirkaithethird1 karma

Honestly I opened this thread so the bass will get some light shown on it.

The Bass, has many names, Upright bass, double bass, C/Kontrabass, A roughly translated version in another language is The Big Cryer. I've also heard it called a bass fiddle. It has many names. Double bass and the other names are used to show that the instrument you're talking about is the orchestral version not the guitar version.

Sno_Wolf1 karma

Ever thrown out your back carrying your bass around?

Sirkaithethird3 karma

No, I've hurt my back doing some upper position work though

somjuan1 karma

I've always wondered if there's a way to do a percussive chop on the bass like certain players can do on the violin (Casey Driessen: https://youtu.be/ZLc-PT9H1nE). Do you think this is possible on a full size bass?

Sirkaithethird2 karma

https://youtu.be/xjhZhI2Zthg Is percussive bass The chop is like staccato or marccato

AtreyuFlames1 karma

How do you protect your ears from permenant damage?

Sirkaithethird2 karma

For loud concerts I use musician's earplugs, they remove decibles while allowing me to hear clearly. Otherwise I don't use anything

chris_holtmeier1 karma

Are the basses actually loaded in the bottom of the Ninth?

Sirkaithethird3 karma

I'm not even going to comment.

HeuristicWhale1 karma

First off, I'm really impressed by what you do. I could only play the handbells, because keeping track of more than a couple notes was way beyond me. But, I digress, on to my question. I have the hardest time with using the right pronunciations of "bass" (the instrument you play) and "bass" (the fish). Do you have any suggestions for me? Is this often a problem you run across? Would you be offended if I called you a "bassist" (with the fish pronunciation)?

(Unlike some other posters here, I'm actually trying to be kinda serious. Do with that what you will.)

Sirkaithethird2 karma

I would probably be a bit offended, but if you explained that it's a problem pronouncing it I'd probably help you. Think my kind of bass as Base because we lay the foundation for the orchestra.

apawst81 karma

If you're playing a piece and there's a long (dozens of measures long) period where you're not playing, how do you keep track of when you come in? E.g., do you count every measure or do you know that you come in when the violins play a certain melody?

Sirkaithethird2 karma

I at first will do the math and figure out how many beats of rest I have, and just count the beats as I watch the conductor. Listening for certain melody parts.

Iklo0981 karma

As a fellow bassist currently studying in university, do you have any solo works that you'd heavily recommend? Ihave been looking around for stuff with my teacher that would be both fun and challenging.

As for what I've played already, I've done the Bach Cello Suites 1&3, most of the 'staple' bass pieces (Koussevitsky, Vanhal, etc), several Bottesini's, although he's got more music than anyone knows what to with, and lots of other things that I don't want to all type. I welcome a challenge :)

Thanks!

Sirkaithethird1 karma

Rabbath, Dragonetti, Larsson, Gliere, Berio, and Proto are composers that I have that you didn't list. Give them a search.

classically_cool1 karma

Are you taking auditions? Favorite and least favorite excerpt?

Sirkaithethird2 karma

Favorite ive done was Bachs Gavotte, in B (i think) least favorite... Don't really know to be honest.