This evening, I joined Charnwood Symphonic Wind Orchestra for their rehearsal. The connection is that our trumpet player at church is a long-time member of the band and they have got a vacancy in the string bass chair.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t been able to get the music in advance so it was on the challenging side. A lot of the parts are relatively simple in themselves but I’d been given mainly tuba and generic bass parts, written at pitch. Double bass (and electric bass, which is what I took for tonight) are actually written an octave above where they sound so I’m not used to all those ledger lines below the stave. Worse still, the place where I am used to low ledger lines is when reading treble clef and so I was constantly struggling to not misidentify the notes!
However, not too much was demanded of me on my first evening and I’ve now got the full set of music. It turns out it does have string bass parts for many of the ones we played. I wonder if there was an assumption about how electric bass was scored which led to the tuba ones being selected. Anyway, I should be on a firmer footing next week and be able to pick the best available parts and practise or even transpose the ones that are more problematic.
Looking at the engraving of some of the suitable versions I found, I wonder if a previous occupant of the bass chair has, in fact, done just that – many of these parts lack the full copyright information but share stylistic characteristics, so I think somebody has got to work with a notation program.