...... there is one expressive marking I dread seeing on a bass part as I peer over from the drum stool, "a la string bass" or instructions of a similar type.This direction written a piece of music has the same type of effect on bass players that is normally ascribed to the incredible hulk when he gets angry, or the effects of the famous secret potion on Dr Jekyll. Watching the ensuing contortions that sadly always go with a bass players desparate bid to fulfill the composers directions would be highly amusing if it was not so ****** depressing. I watch with a sense of resignation as the bass players in front of me start to show the usual symptoms associated with this incurable malady or "contrabass delusionis maximus" to give it its full medical latin name. The eyes start to bulge, cheeks puff out, the face turns deep purple,spit starts squirting out of the mouth piece at crazy angles,the elbows start to flap up and down like some ancient jurrassic beast that has long ago lost the ability to get airborn,the hips and knees start to jerk up and down. The sound produced as a result of this bizzar ritual is similar to a farting hippo after a heavy night out on Shipstones. What makes bass players think that this is the right sound to make to imitate a string bass? Who told them it was a good sound? who are the brass teachers and conductors responsible for the creation of this appalling racket? I wonder if many tuba players have ever stopped and listened to a string bass player and appreciate what he is trying to do? I very much doubt it! Let me try to explain. The first thing to understand is that depending on the style of the piece or the period it was written the type of "string bass" effect required will differ. Earlier types of jazz or swing style may well lend themselves to a more staccato jerky type of playing, unfortunately this seems to be the only setting available in most tuba players brains.Any swing or jazz type arrangement based on a style post 1940 or therabouts DOES NOT NEED A FARTING HIPPO!!!. The secret to understanding what is required is looking at what the string bass player (a good one at any rate) is trying to do.The string bass, in the context I am talking about is plucked with the first finger of the right hand, played badly or by a beginner this produces a gappy staccatto sound, a sound which string bass players spend their lives running away from. What a great bass player is trying to produce from this plucking effect is, suprise suprise, a LEGATO SOUND. Yes LEGATO!!!! not a farting hippo. Speaking as a former jazz piano player, the first thing I want to hear from my bass player is a smooth silky legato sound, subtley underpinning the music while at the same time providing a round soft pulse to push the music along. This style of string bass playing has been standard since the 1940's up to the present day, covering many styles of light music, much of which finds its way in to the brass band repartoire only to be butcherd by flatulent red faced tuba players! Any of you bass players who want to hear what is it you are supposed to be trying to do when faced with this "string bass" marking need only have a listen to players like Ray Brown,Neils Henning Orsted Pedersen,Marc Johnson,John Pattitucci or Gene Wright. So, next time you see that marking lads and lasses,take a chill pill and try to get a nice swinging groove going.