BASS2016 PRAGUE: The Bass in Music

“Just a moment… Hold on… – Now! Do you hear it? There! Now! Are you listening? It will come back in a moment, the same passage, just one moment. Now! Now you can hear it! The basses, I mean. The double basses…”

(Patrick Süskind, Der Kontrabass)

Much of the world’s music, now and in the past, is supported by a deep voice, a low and booming sound that firmly grounds the music’s upper voices, fixating and liberating them at the same time. Essential to the music, yet often overlooked, this bass part can take many forms and guises: the basso profondo in Russian Orthodox choral music, the tambura drone in Indian Carnatic music, the synthesized bass lines of electronic dance music, the walking bass in Jazz, the basso continuo of Baroque music. In Western music of the past few centuries, the chosen instrument to fulfill this vital role was the double bass or its predecessors and relatives, such as the violone. Although more recently joined by the electric bass guitar, the string bass continues to be a mainstay in many a musical genre, including but not limited to Western classical music, Jazz, Country and Folk. Despite its prevalence and its worldwide community of millions of bassists, little research has been dedicated to the instrument.

For the first time, BASSEUROPE, the European foundation for double bassists, invites paper submissions dedicated to the string bass in all its facets. At BASS2016 PRAGUE , the 5th Biennial Double Bass Congress hosted by BASSEUROPE and the HAMU Academy , scholars will be given the opportunity to present their most recent work on the bass. All aspects of “bassistic” research are welcomed, and the call is open to studies in every musical genre, including non-Western music. Although the focal point is the double bass, also proposals on the electric bass and other stringed bass instruments will be considered. Some possible research areas are:

  • historical research
  • performance studies
  • biographical studies (of performers, composers, luthiers)
  • musicological research
  • pedagogy
  • organology
  • sociological or cultural studies (on reception, media, representation, identity,…)

Besides individual papers , also proposals for scientific posters and round table sessions are welcomed. Both papers and round table sessions will be 50 minutes (including a 10-minute Q&A for papers), posters will be up for the duration of the conference. Presenters are strongly encouraged to include live demonstration (e.g., lecture-performance) and/or media (audio, film, illustrations) in their session. Please note that a research presentation must be predominantly academic.

For a paper or a poster, send a 300-word abstract with a title and a description. For a round table session, describe the session’s main theme (up to 300 words) and list all names of the foreseen participants (maximum four) and their related expertise or affiliation.

Fill in the application at By selecting “Research” you will get the option to append your abstract (PDF only).

Application deadline: March 1, 2016 (midnight) 
Authors notified by: April 1, 2016
Congress: September 20-25, 2016 at HAMU – Music and Dance Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts, Malostranské nám. 12 – 118 00 Prague 1 – Czech Republic

The organization will investigate the possibility of publishing the conference proceedings.

The research committee is Matthias Heyman (University of Antwerp, Belgium), Mads Hermansen (Nordic School of Public Health, Denmark), and Michael Klinghoffer (Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Israel).

Visit (general information) or mail to (research-related questions).