‘Back-to-front’ Bassists: Idiodextrous Approaches to the Double Bass in Jazz.

Gottlieb, Greg (2016) ‘Back-to-front’ Bassists: Idiodextrous Approaches to the Double Bass in Jazz. Masters thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

PDF - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Download (2MB) | Preview


In the history of jazz, only a very few bassists have played ‘left-handed’ on a ‘right-handed’ instrument. This ‘idiodextrous’ approach is an embodied phenomenon that affects the body-instrument interface, giving rise to unique physical and sonic consequences. Each idiodextrous bassist studied here was mostly self-taught and ‘intuitively’ applied this unconventional handedness approach to a conventional instrument. Studying this rare practice raises questions that challenge traditions of string instrument playing and expose arbitrary prejudices against unconventional handedness approaches. Since its defining trait is the ‘reversed’ order of the strings in relation to the body, idiodexterity challenges assumptions about the ideal stringings for different musical contexts. The malleability of identities and cultures in jazz is arguably more receptive to unusual handedness approaches than is the classical tradition. In the context of jazz improvisation, idiodexterity may even facilitate the development of a ‘uniquely idiodextrous’ vocabulary of musical phrases and techniques. This paper is an attempt to succinctly encompass the issues central to idiodextrous double bass in jazz, within the scope of a one-year MA by Research programme, and to make recommendations for future studies. Four main areas of research have been investigated: Instrument, Body, Identity and Vocabulary. Interviews with bassists of varying handedness approaches, with luthiers and with body experts have been employed to address this unique subject, compensating for the effective non-existence of any previous academic literature. The insights of these expert practitioners contribute new knowledge on this rare and intriguing practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts
B. > Theses
Item ID: 20818
Depositing User: Users 5077 not found.
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2016 11:51
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:47
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/20818

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.