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Prerequisite

Candidates for Grade 6, 7 or 8 exams must already have passed ABRSM Grade 5 (or above) in Music Theory, Practical Musicianship or a solo Jazz instrument. For full details including a list of accepted alternatives, see Regulation 1d.

Syllabus

Double Bass Grade 8 Double Bass

Double Bass Grade 8 exams consist of three pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading, and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. You need 100 marks to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Double Bass Grade 8 (2020–2023)

Pieces

Musicians learn to play an instrument to explore and perform repertoire, which is why pieces are at the core of the exam – candidates are asked to present three at each grade. The syllabus repertoire is organised into three lists which explore different traditions and styles, dating from the Renaissance period to the present day.

Choosing one piece from each list gives candidates the opportunity to play a balanced selection and demonstrate a range of skills. In this syllabus, the pieces are broadly grouped into lists by the characteristics of the music:

  • List A pieces are generally faster moving and require technical agility
  • List B pieces are more lyrical and invite expressive playing
  • List C pieces reflect a wide variety of musical traditions, styles and characters.

Most of the pieces require an accompaniment, as interacting with other musicians is an important musical skill, but there are also opportunities to choose solo pieces and develop confidence with unaccompanied playing.

We hope that by offering this variety in the syllabus, candidates will find music that inspires them and that they enjoy learning and performing.

Grade 8 Pieces

Candidates choose three pieces, one from each list (A, B and C) – 30 marks each. The full requirements and information for the pieces are explained after the lists.

List A

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 J. S. Bach
trans. Sterling
Courante (SOLO)
from Cello Suite No. 1 in C, BWV 1007
J. S. Bach: Solo-Suiten für Kontrabass, Suites 1–3 , trans. Sterling
Peters (EP238B)

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2 Cimador Allegro
1st movt from Concerto in G
Cimador: Concerto in G
Yorke (YE0003)

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3 De Fesch
arr. Siebach and Schlenker
Siciliano: Andante And Allemande
1st movt And 2nd movt from Sonata in D minor
De Fesch: Sonata in D minor, arr. Siebach and Schlenker
Hofmeister (FH2003)

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4 Dragonetti Waltz No. 6 (SOLO)
from 12 Waltzes
No. 6 from Dragonetti: 12 Waltzes for Double Bass Solo
Henle (HN 847)

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5 attrib. H. Eccles
trans. Zimmermann
Adagio And Corrente: Allegro con spirito
3rd movt And 2nd movt from Sonata in G minor
H. Eccles: Sonata in G minor, trans. Zimmermann
IMC (IMC1712)

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6 Handel
arr. Zimmerman
Adagio And Allegro
1st movt And 2nd movt from Sonata in C minor
No. 5 from Solos for the Double Bass Player
G. Schirmer (GS33083)

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7 Mozart
trans. Sankey
Allegro
1st movt from Bassoon Concerto, K. 191
(without 8va ad lib.; ending at b. 152)
Mozart: Bassoon Concerto in B♭, K. 191, trans. Sankey
IMC (IMC2421)

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8 Pichl Allegro moderato
1st movt from Concerto in C
Pichl: Concerto in C
Bartholomew (BMP 007)

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9 Telemann
trans. Sankey
Cantabile And Allegro
1st movt And 2nd movt from Viola da Gamba Sonata in E minor, TWV 41:e5
Telemann: Sonata in E minor, trans. Sankey
IMC (IMC2298)

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10 Vivaldi Largo And Allegro
1st movt And 2nd movt from Sonata No. 3 in A minor, RV 43
(low Cs and Ds may be adapted in cello edns)
Vivaldi: Sonata No. 3 in A minor, trans. Zimmermann
IMC (IMC1474)

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Vivaldi: Complete Sonatas for Violoncello
Bärenreiter (BA 6995)

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Vivaldi: Six Sonatas for Violoncello
Schott (ED 4927)

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List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Bellini
arr. Bottesini
Final de La somnambule
No. 3 from Arias for Double Bass and Piano, arr. Bottesini
Yorke (YE0023)

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2 Bottesini Rêverie
Bottesini: Rêverie for Double Bass and Piano
Recital Music (RM041)

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3 Dittersdorf Adagio
2nd movt from Concerto No. 2
Dittersdorf: Concertos for Double Bass
Yorke (YE0059)

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4 Fauré
arr. Close and Sassmannshaus
Sicilienne
Op. 78
Concert Pieces for Double Bass
Bärenreiter (BA9696)

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5 Boguslaw Furtok Elegie
Concert Pieces for Double Bass
Bärenreiter (BA9696)

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6 C. Nielsen
trans. Drew
Romanze
No. 1 from Fantasy Pieces, Op. 2
No. 1 from C. Nielsen: Fantasy Pieces, Op. 2, trans. Drew
St. Francis Music Publications

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7 Rachmaninoff
arr. Zimmerman
Vocalise
No. 14 from 14 Songs, Op. 34
No. 12 from Solos for the Double Bass Player
G. Schirmer (GS33083)

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8 Sullivan
arr. Frampton
Idyll
Sullivan: Idyll, arr. Frampton
Four Bass Music (FBM12)

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9 Tartini
trans. Drew
Adagio cantabile
Op. 65
Tartini: Adagio cantabile, Op. 65, trans. Drew
St. Francis Music Publications

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10 Tuláček Chant d'amour
No. 3 from Three Pieces for Double Bass and Piano
No. 3 from Tuláček: Three Pieces for Double Bass and Piano
Recital Music (RM021)

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List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Christopher Benstead Finale: Presto
No. 4 from Four Episodes
No. 4 from Christopher Benstead: Four Episodes
Yorke (YE0085)

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2 D. Bourgeois Allegro commodo (SOLO)
No. 8 from Fantasy Pieces for Double Bass
No. 8 from D. Bourgeois: Fantasy Pieces for Double Bass
Brass Wind (3404)

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3 Miloslav Gajdoš Capriccio No. 5 (SOLO)
Miloslav Gajdoš: Selected Works for Bass: Capriccios, Solos, and Reflexes
Presser (414-41178)

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4 Gouffé Concertino
Op. 10
Gouffé: Concertino, Op. 10
Billaudot (R19143)

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5 Gregora Polka
(complete)
Gregora: Polka
Recital Music (RM017)

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6 Jacob Allegro
3rd movt from A Little Concerto
(with printed cadenza)
Jacob: A Little Concerto
Yorke (YE0032)

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7 Bryan Kelly Ariel
from Caliban and Ariel
Bryan Kelly: Caliban and Ariel
Yorke (YE0065)

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8 Piazzolla Kicho
(starting at Allegro)
Piazzolla: Kicho
Tonos (20070)

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9 Semler-Collery Barcarolle et Chanson Bachique
(complete)
Semler-Collery: Barcarolle et Chanson Bachique
Leduc (AL21280)

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10 Bertram Turetzky Blues for Ray (SOLO)
No. 1 from Bertram Turetzky: Blues for Bass
Recital Music (RM874)

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Double Bass requirements and information: Pieces

Programme planning: Candidates must choose one piece from each of the three lists (A, B and C). In the exam, candidates should tell the examiner which pieces they are performing, and they are welcome to use the Exam programme & running order form for this.

Every effort has been made to feature a broad range of repertoire to suit and appeal to candidates of different ages, backgrounds and interests. Certain pieces may not be suitable for every candidate for technical reasons or because of wider context (historical, cultural, subject matter of the larger work from which it is drawn, lyrics if an arrangement of a song etc.). Pieces should be carefully considered for their appropriateness to each individual, which may need consultation between teachers and parents/guardians. Teachers and parents/guardians should also exercise caution when allowing younger candidates to research pieces online (see www.nspcc.org.uk/onlinesafety).

Accompaniment: A live piano or string (where the option is listed) accompaniment is required for all pieces, except those which are published as studies or unaccompanied works (these are marked SOLO in the lists above).

At Grades Initial–3, candidates may perform some or all of their pieces with a string accompaniment. Pieces that are published as duets (or with string accompaniment only) are marked DUET in the lists above. Pieces that are published with piano and string accompaniment options are marked PF/DB in the lists above, and may be performed with either accompaniment in the exam.

Candidates must provide their own accompanist(s), who can only be in the exam room while accompanying. The candidate’s teacher may accompany (examiners will not). If necessary, an accompanist may simplify any part of the accompaniment, as long as the result is musical. Recorded accompaniments are not allowed.

Exam music & editions: Wherever the syllabus includes an arrangement or transcription (appearing as ‘arr.’ or ‘trans.’ in the syllabus list), the edition listed in the syllabus must be used in the exam. For all other pieces, editions are listed for guidance only and candidates may use any edition of their choice (in- or out-of-print or downloadable). For full details on sourcing exam music, see Obtaining exam music.

Interpreting the score: Printed editorial suggestions such as fingering, bowing, metronome marks, realisation of ornaments etc. do not need to be strictly observed. Whether the piece contains musical indications or not, candidates are encouraged to interpret the score in a musical and stylistic way. Examiners’ marking will be determined by how control of pitch, time, tone, shape and performance contributes to the overall musical outcome.

Vibrato: The use and control of vibrato, and its effect on tone and shape, will be taken into account by examiners, who will be assessing the overall musical outcome. Pieces that are heavily reliant on vibrato for their full musical effect tend not to appear in the syllabus before around Grade 5.

Repeats: Unless the syllabus specifies differently, all da capo and dal segno indications should be followed but other repeats (including first-time bars) should not be played unless they are very short (i.e. a few bars).

Cadenzas & tuttis: Cadenzas should not be played unless the syllabus specifies differently. Accompanists should cut lengthy orchestral tutti sections.

Performing from memory: Candidates may perform any of their pieces from memory; if doing so, they must make sure that a copy of the music is available for the examiner to refer to. No extra marks are awarded for playing from memory.

Page-turns: Examiners will be understanding if a page-turn causes a lack of continuity during a piece, and this will not affect the marking. Candidates (and accompanists) may use an extra copy of the music or a photocopy of a section of the piece (but see ‘Photocopies’ below) to help with page-turns. Candidates and accompanists at Grades 6–8 may bring a page-turner to the exam if there is no solution to a particularly awkward page-turn (prior permission is not required; the turner may be the candidate’s teacher). Examiners are unable to help with page-turning.

Photocopies: Performing from unauthorised photocopies (or other kinds of copies) of copyright editions is not allowed. ABRSM may withhold the exam result where it has evidence of an illegal copy (or copies) being used. In the UK, copies may be used in certain limited circumstances – for full details, see the MPA’s Code of Fair Practice at www.mpaonline.org.uk. In all other cases, application should be made to the copyright holder before any copy is made, and evidence of permission should be brought to the exam.

Double Bass Grade 8 Double Bass

Double Bass Grade 8 exams consist of three pieces, scales and arpeggios, sight-reading, and aural tests.

Total marks in all individual Practical exams are 150. You need 100 marks to achieve Pass, 120 marks to pass with Merit and 130 marks to pass with Distinction.

Publications & audio

 

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