This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

The Contrary Bass

19 July 2019

Do you know what's funny?

Big and awkward is funny.

Making strange buzzy noises
or a sudden unexpected sour note
is always good for a laugh.

Or watching someone
get so frantic in frustration
with a musical instrument
that it makes them pull their hair out.
That's funny!

That was the humorous setup of

Karl Willing
humoristischer Streichbassist
humorous string bassist

This crazy German comedian's postcard
was sent from Hannover
on the 21st of February 1918
to Frieda Hümpe of Varrel,
a town in Lower Saxony, Germany
just south of Bremen.

Karl Willig's three pictures
wrestling with his double bass
gives a preview of the jokes
in his music hall act
that needs no translation.

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Sometimes the humor of the string bass,
a.k.a. the contrabass, the double bass
or the bass fiddle

was associated with less sophisticated culture
like folk and country music.

In this case the instrument itself
can become a joke.
A crude homemade box
with three strings
would be all that was needed
for the bass accompaniment
of a Tyrolean folk ensemble.

This Bavarian folk comic and musician
was known as:
Der g'schert Girgl mit der Bassgeig'n
The sheared Girgl(?) with the bass violin

This postcard of Schnacklfranz
was never posted but it has note in French on the back
Munich la 14 V 09
Souvenir à
notre voyage de noce
Souvenir to our honeymoon
Charles & E...(?)

Certain musical instruments are inherently funny.
The shape, the sound, or the size
all contribute to punchlines that never get old.
These two entertainers knew
that a well-played joke on the double bass
was better that any concerto
because it could make an audience laugh.

We can appreciate the classic humor of the string bass
by watching these two clips of the brilliantly funny
British comedian and actor, Jim Tavaré
from two sets performed many years ago.

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This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where there's always something funny going on.


Molly of Molly’s Canopy said...

Nice post! I particularly like the Tyrolean bass player. I sometimes social dance at a leased space in a Tyrol Club and wondered about the culture. Seems good humor is part of it. One of my all-time favorite humorous bass songs is “Me and Lenny” by Jay Leonhart, which would fit perfectly with your post:

La Nightingail said...

I knew you'd go for the bass! :) Fun post - especially including the two videos of Jim Tavare. Truly funny! Thanks for making me laugh out loud!!!

Barbara Rogers said...

I just love the name "Schnacklfranz" as it makes me laugh just to hear it!


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