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Part III. Informative Essays for Double Bassists

Murray Grodner Indiana University Press ePub

PART 3

Informative Essays for Double Bassists

“Basses, You Are Late.”

Are the Conductors possibly right? Do basses really sound late in orchestral playing?

Through constant and careful listening to live and recorded performances, I must admit there are times when the double basses do sound late.

At times it is possibly an illusion caused by the fact that our instruments resonate longer than other string instruments, causing us to be heard a bit longer than the other string instruments. This also could create the impression that we are playing behind the others.

At other times, however, our instruments do sound later or behind. Listen carefully to attacks, spiccato, short chords in orchestral fortes, etc. I am now convinced that since we have much thicker and longer strings, plus bows that are relatively light, our strings can physically respond a fraction of a second later, causing us to sound late. It is not that we play later than anyone else, but our instrument (at times) may respond slower. Is there a cure? Think of the tubist, contrabassoonist, French hornist, and all of the instruments where there is delay in sound between the player’s initial effort and the instrument’s actual sound response, and you have a clue to our solution. They don’t consciously come in early to create the sound on time, but over years of playing they have instinctively learned to make their physical effort so that the sound is produced to coincide with other orchestral sections.

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II Carnival

Richard Wunderli Indiana University Press ePub

There is an old story that was told and retold throughout Europe about a helpless boy who is mistreated by his stepmother and those in authority, and how he exacts revenge. It appears in many versions, often in song. In the following tale from a fifteenth-century English source, those who make life hell for the boy are his stepmother and her lover-friend, Friar Tobias. The boy is called Jack, but in my version I will use the German equivalent, Hans, or better, the diminutive Hänsel. With wild, carnivalesque humor, Hänsel finds justice against his tormentors. But he must resort to magic, that is, he must appeal for help from the other, enchanted realm for his special powers.

The story begins with a dispute between the father and the stepmother over what to do about Hänsel. The stepmother wants to send him away to fend for himself in the world, but the father decides to allow the boy to stay for another year and work in the fields as a cowherd.

So, the next day, Hänsel went into the fields. Presently, he came to a meadow and sat down in the grass to enjoy his dinner, but the food his stepmother gave him was so bad that he couldn’t eat it. As the boy sat alone, an old man came to him, gave a greeting, and told Hänsel how hungry he was. Could the boy spare some food? Hänsel replied, “God save me, but you are right welcome to such poor victuals as I have.” The old man ate the food and was happy.

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5. Finding William C. Oates

Glenn W. LaFantasie Indiana University Press ePub

Little Round Top was a place where heroes could be found in abundance on July 2, 1863, although in recent times it seems almost as if Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain fought on that hill by himself and against an amorphous foe. Yet, as I’ve shown, there were men engaged in that fight who did not agree with Chamberlain’s account of the battle, including men in the ranks of the 20th Maine as well as his adversary that day, William C. Oates, the colonel who commanded the 15th Alabama regiment at Gettysburg. Indeed, as a historian I was not attracted to the Little Round Top story by having first encountered Joshua Chamberlain and his exploits, but rather by having stumbled upon William Oates by accident. Sometimes historians and biographers find themselves traveling down roads they never intend to follow and discovering views of the past they never expect to behold. When I started to research and write about Oates some fifteen years ago, I did not know how enthralled I would become with his life, his times, and his family.

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4 Sex: Good Girls Do, or, Romance Fiction as Sex-Positive Feminist Mommy Porn

Catherine M. Roach Indiana University Press ePub

Listen to this cri de coeur by romance heroine Lishelle. She is one of the main characters in the 2007 novel Getting Some by USA Today–bestselling author Kayla Perrin, and Lishelle is royally fed up:

See, this is what I don’t understand. If guys fuck a hundred women, they’re heroes. They feel no shame in bedding a woman they’ve just met. But if a woman has a one-night stand, my God, she’s a dirty whore. How dare she like sex? This is the twenty-first century, honey. It’s high time we women embrace our sexuality and bury the shame. We have needs, the same as men do. Why do we feel so friggin’ bad about going after what we want?1

Lishelle’s passionate endorsement that women embrace their sexuality highlights how the story of romance is rapidly changing, perhaps especially for young women. Contrary to traditional notions that “good girls don’t do things like that,” today’s good girls do. A new era has opened up wherein women can write or read such erotica, hook up with multiple partners and different types of partners, make amateur porn or post pinups of themselves on sites like Suicide Girls, attend home-sale sex toy parties, wear porno-chic fashion, take pole-dancing classes at the local gym, revel in TV’s Girls or Sex and the City reruns, and, of course, read the Fifty Shades trilogy. Or consider the phenomenon, much reported in the press, of heterosexual women, well-educated and of upper-income levels, having sex without wanting long-term boyfriends. For the younger woman, she may feel she has no time or need for a serious male partner amid the demands of education and career moves; for the older woman, the children may be grown and flings provide more fun. Both like sex but prefer to enjoy male company without the compromises of full-time commitment.2

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6 Transformations

Rudolf A. Raff Indiana University Press ePub

After one more family move, I did my last year before college in another new school, Gateway Senior High in the Pittsburgh suburb of Monroeville. As many of my classmates were also new students who had just transferred there with the metastasis of suburban sprawl, no cliques of cool kids had built up and the teachers were good. Perhaps the best was our exceedingly sarcastic English teacher, who supplied just the right attitude for reading about the oddities of the Macbeth family and Julius Caesar’s unfortunate misjudgment of his friends. Two of my Gateway friends eventually took doctoral degrees in science. Tom Taylor became a mechanical engineer, and Mary Boesman became an immunologist. She died in 2007. Mary and I both read history and lent each other books. This was the best of my twelve-year run of schools, and I remember it fondly.

But that pleasant year also included the looming matter of where I should go to college. Given what my family could afford, my choices were limited. I could attend a university in Pittsburgh and live at home or attend the state university and live away. Not much of a contest. Despite the good universities around Pittsburgh, living at home would suffocate my becoming independent. After all the adventures of filling in applications, taking College Board exams, being interviewed, and sitting in on a sprinkle of college class lectures, I left for Pennsylvania State University in the fall of 1959. My parents took me to State College and helped me move into my first dorm, but I was anxious for them to leave. I now had to make my own triumphs and my own missteps (ludicrous missteps outnumbered triumphs that first year). Our first assembly as freshman students included an address by the president of Penn State. He told us to look at the person on our left and the person on the right. One of them would be gone before the year’s end. Perhaps that encouraging invitation to embarrassed sidelong glances constituted what might be described as a subtle preparation for life.

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