( Originally Published 1922 )
To play the DOUBLE-BASS, it is better to be big and strong, and to have robust hands and fingers that will stretch easily. However, there are double-bass players of medium height who prove that the choice of their large instrument was justified; but it is better not to be small, so as not to shock the audience by a comical disproportion ; that would truly be embarrassing;
Before the age of sixteen, it is greatly to be feared that one has not yet the necessary strength for this instrument ; after twenty or twenty-two years, flexibility would be lacking, and a great deal more of this is required than might appear. It is therefore between these two limits that it is right to take up the study of this instrument, as indispensable as ungrateful, for it never elicits applause, although it contributes an incomparable power to the whole.. effect, as much by its energetic timbre as by its depth. Its motto might be : Sic vos non vobis.
Its study is almost entirely material, and it is perhaps the sole instrument that never has to furnish style or amiability. " The tones of its strings do not present many well defined differences. Like all instruments whose compass is beyond the limits of the human voice, the double-bass is powerless to recall its, accents. It has to be satisfied with giving an extraordinary breadth to the song of the violoncello." * It is a part that is relatively kept in the background, and yet it is of extreme importance in the orchestral ensemble. Its qualities are strength, solidity and ac-curacy, and sometimes a certain relative speed, and that is all. Thus it can be learned rather quickly with three or four hours of conscientious work a day.