Shanti Nachtergaele: The Birth of Modern Double Bass Playing at the Prague and Paris Conservatories

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Shanti Nachtergele; Photo by Sergio Veranes

Congratulations to Shanti Nachtergaele, a current PhD student in the musicology program, who was awarded a Vanier Scholarship through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for her project “The Birth of Modern Double Bass Playing at the Prague and Paris Conservatories.”

An accomplished double bass player and musicologist herself, Shanti holds a B.Mus. in double bass performance from Shenandoah Conservatory (USA), an M.Mus. in early music from the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague (The Netherlands) and an M.A. in music theory and history from The Pennsylvania State University (USA). She has presented at various conferences in North America and Europe and her article “From divisions to divisi: improvisation, orchestration, and the practice of double bass reduction” is forthcoming in Early Music.She is currently at Schulich studying with Tom Beghin.

Project Abstract:

While research on early forms of the double bass has made great progress in recent years, few studies investigate how these instruments were actually played. Double bass method books from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries demonstrate greater technical diversity than is observable in performances today; however, this diversity diminished over the course of the nineteenth century as European conservatories established double bass classes and made efforts to standardize technique. I propose to study the role that two particularly influential institutions, the Prague and Paris conservatories, played in standardizing double bass technique and establishing the German and French schools of double bass playing that remain dominant today. I will also experiment with and compare the techniques outlined in historical double bass methods in order to evaluate their potential effects on musical performances.