Sounds and the way we organize them, what we essentially call music, possess the power to grasp and even change our (inner) world. It is therefore very important to search for other sounds and question their current organization.

The way an instrument is played, and consequently the music itself, is directly affected by technology. This is true for all instruments but perhaps most so for the double bass.Due to its long string length and large body, the instrument has an immense acoustic potential, constantly challenging both player and maker. It makes the double bass the instrument par excellence to lead the search for other sounds. 

Within the research, various so-called technical advances and/or modern inventions are reoriented in time. The history of strings, for instance, seems to be a tale of progress, with the gut string nowadays finding legitimacy only in historically informed performance practice, whereas the ‘modern’ string has evolved further into a servant of technicality and virtuosity. We see a similar story in the development of the bow, but also in terms of temperament; the 'primitive' Pythagorean tuning seems to be inferior to the 'sophisticated' equal temperament tuning, a perception fueled by the idea of telos in history.

'Into the Toneworld' explores the acoustic sound possibilities of the double bass, without adhering to current techniques, technologies, tunings, etc. These have a narrowing effect and exclude a lot of possibilities based on a linear and progressive idea of time. Instead, this research is based on the physical properties of sound, more specifically, of the string. It also revisits the bow and, to a lesser extent, the endpin. The study of the acoustic properties of a string irrevocably leads to the questioning of equal temperament (and other temperaments or tunings).

The engine of the research can be found in my practice as an improvising musician. The will to make every fantasized sound audible through my instrument.

Into the toneworld

project team
Nils Vermeulen
Yannick Peeters (KASK & Conservatorium), Francis Maes, promotor UGent
01.01.2021 – 30.12.2026
extended techniques, tuning, intonation, double bass, bows, strings, gutstrings