In this extract from 2012, double bassist Leon Bosch shares why Simandl’s etude no.1 covers the fundamental aspects of playing
LEON BOSCH double bass
TEACHES AT Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, UK
STUDY Etude no.1 in C major from 30 Etudes for the String Bass by Simandl
The whole book of studies by Simandl takes a bassist from a basic level to an advanced one. Each etude covers a particular discipline and has a useful application in the musical world. In my view, if a player studies them properly and meaningfully, they should be able to earn a handsome living. Etude no.1 in C major looks terribly basic and simple on the page, yet it covers all the fundamental aspects of playing – you need every single facet to be a bassist and musician.
It’s a great diagnosis tool, and it’s the first thing I give to students and young professionals who come to play to me. By the end of the first few bars you can really see how good someone’s sound production, bow control and distribution, pitch perception and rhythm are. Often, young players are surprised to be asked to play something that looks so easy, but are horrified when they realise what it shows them about their playing. Then they go away and try to learn it properly, which can take months, but once you can play it well it transfers to everything else you do, however complex.
Another thing I especially like about Simandl’s studies is that unlike a lot of other etudes for stringed instruments – which are almost always purely technical affairs – they emphasise the musical aspects of playing, dealing with technique through the music. Each one has a magnificent underlying musical element. No.1 is all about discipline and control and is a bit like the Prelude to Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
Read: Leon Bosch: Life Lessons