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Double Bass Initial Grade Double Bass

Double Bass Initial Grade exams consist of three pieces, scales, 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 Initial Grade (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.

Initial Grade 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 Margery Dawe Canada – Sleigh Ride
from More Travel Tunes
Double Bass Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

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2 Sheila Nelson Fish Cakes and Apple Pie
Double Bass Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

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3 Christopher Norton New Toy
No. 9 from Microjazz for Starters
Double Bass Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

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4 Catherine Elliott Rondo Duo (PF/DB)
(upper part; ending at b. 24)
The Essential String Method, Double Bass Book 2
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1300173)

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The Essential String Method, Cello/Double Bass Books 1 & 2, Piano accompaniment
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 102378)

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5 Trad.
arr. Elliott
Twinkle Duet (PF/DB)
(upper part)
The Essential String Method, Double Bass Book 2
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1300173)

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The Essential String Method, Cello/Double Bass Books 1 & 2, Piano accompaniment
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 102378)

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6 Peter Furniss Round and Round
(starting at letter B)
No. 8 (not 8a) from In Concert: Brilliant Solos for Beginner Bass
Da Capo

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7 Katrina Gordon Twittering Sparrows
No. 7 from Feathered Friends
No. 7 from Katrina Gordon: Feathered Friends
Recital Music (RM413)

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8 Trad.
arr. Elliott
Down by the station
No. 27 from Ready Steady Go, arr. Elliott
Bartholomew (BMP 502)

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No. 27 from Ready Steady Go, Piano accompaniment, arr. Elliott
Bartholomew (BMP 502a)

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9 Trad.
arr. Elliott
The Jolly Miller
No. 29 from Ready Steady Go, arr. Elliott
Bartholomew (BMP 502)

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No. 29 from Ready Steady Go, Piano accompaniment, arr. Elliott
Bartholomew (BMP 502a)

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10 Trad.
arr. Lillywhite, Marshall, Hussey and Sebba
Miss Mary Mac (PF/DB)
No. 25 from Abracadabra Double Bass, Book 1, arr. Lillywhite and Marshall
Collins Music

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No. 25 from Abracadabra Strings, Book 1, Piano accompaniments, arr. Hussey and Sebba
Collins Music

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List B

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Thomas Gregory Silent Friends
Double Bass Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

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2 Edward Huws Jones Gone for Good
No. 12 from Ten O'Clock Rock
Double Bass Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

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3 Trad. Spiritual
arr. Iles
All night, all day
Double Bass Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

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4 Catherine Elliott Swan Song
The Essential String Method, Double Bass Book 2
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1300173)

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The Essential String Method, Cello/Double Bass Books 1 & 2, Piano accompaniment
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 102378)

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5 Peter Furniss So Slow
No. 7 (not 7a) from In Concert: Brilliant Solos for Beginner Bass
Da Capo

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6 Katrina Gordon Flight of the Swallows
No. 5 from Feathered Friends
No. 5 from Katrina Gordon: Feathered Friends
Recital Music (RM413)

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7 Thomas Gregory Footprints in the Snow
No. 20 from Vamoosh Double Bass, Book 1, arr. Gregory
Vamoosh (VAM31)

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No. 20 from Vamoosh String Book 1, Piano accompaniment, arr. Gregory
Vamoosh (VAM51)

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8 Sheila Nelson
arr. Elliott
Lullaby
No. 12 from Right From the Start
(slurs optional)
No. 12 from Sheila Nelson: Right from the Start for Double Bass, arr. Elliott
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1300046)

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9 Sheila Nelson Swingalong (PF/DB)
('E' version)
P. 18 from Tetratunes for Double Bass, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1300037)

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Tetratunes: teacher's book with accompaniments, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1000230)

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10 Trad. French
arr. Lillywhite, Marshall, Hussey and Sebba
Au clair de la lune (PF/DB)
No. 23 from Abracadabra Double Bass, Book 1, arr. Lillywhite and Marshall
Collins Music

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No. 23 from Abracadabra Strings, Book 1, Piano accompaniments, arr. Hussey and Sebba
Collins Music

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List C

No. Composer Piece information Publication(s)
1 Edward Huws Jones Ten O'Clock Rock
No. 9 from Ten O'Clock Rock
Double Bass Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

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2 Peter Martin Hop Scotch
No. 2 from Child's Play
Double Bass Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

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3 Peter Wilson Bow Rock
No. 4 from Stringpops 1
Double Bass Exam Pack 2020–2023, Initial Grade
ABRSM

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4 Jan Faulkner Bowling Along
No. 1 from First Bass
(slurs optional)
No. 1 from Jan Faulkner: First Bass
Recital Music (RM406)

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5 Jan Faulkner Raggy Times
No. 4 from First Bass
No. 4 from Jan Faulkner: First Bass
Recital Music (RM406)

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6 Thomas Gregory Walk on Mars!
(slides optional; with DC, as in accomp.)
No. 22 from Vamoosh Double Bass, Book 1, arr. Gregory
Vamoosh (VAM31)

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No. 22 from Vamoosh String Book 1, Piano accompaniment, arr. Gregory
Vamoosh (VAM51)

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7 Sheila Nelson Don’t Bother Me
No. 13 from Right From the Start
No. 13 from Sheila Nelson: Right from the Start for Double Bass, arr. Elliott
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1300046)

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8 Sheila Nelson Manchester United (PF/DB)
('E' version; with 1st repeat)
P. 28 from Tetratunes for Double Bass, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1300037)

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Tetratunes: teacher's book with accompaniments, arr. Nelson
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1000230)

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9 Sheila Nelson Off We Go! (PF/DB)
The Essential String Method, Double Bass Book 1
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 1300165)

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The Essential String Method, Cello/Double Bass Books 1 & 2, Piano accompaniment
Boosey & Hawkes (BH 102378)

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10 Tony Osborne Russian Circus
No. 6 from The Really Easy Bass Book, arr. Osborne
Faber

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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.

Publications & audio

 

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