Enharmonic Madness

Enharmonic Madness

Enharmonic Madness

Why was the double A-flat here?

No change of key, no modulation to a new key, no logical reason…

The music was published in 2011. Could it be a music notation software glitch? Not likely!

Here’s my theory: There is a mad music copyist out there with delusions of taking over the world one enharmonic at a time by sowing discord and confusion. It’s possible that I fell into their evil trap the first time I played this easy piece, thus proving the theory.

On Being a Female Double Bass Player

I realized that I was serious about my husband when I let him carry my bass. Why am I so protective of my bass? Strange men have taken it from my hands when I’m packing it up or carrying it around, and I’ve had to wrestle it back on more than one occasion. My bass is my voice, it’s part of my soul, and it’s an extension of my body. Plus it cost me a lot of money.

Just last night, I was going up some stairs and a man asked if I needed help. I said “No, thanks,” as usual. (Somebody asks me if I need help almost every time I’m out and about with my bass.) He came rushing up behind me and lifted the bottom of my bass up, almost causing me to fall.

I admit that I practice looking helpless, but only around doors I have to go through. Sometimes people in front of me let the door shut just as I get there. Most of the time these people are men!

All right then, it’s time to teach boys to leave people alone when they say they don’t need help, and to hold doors open for people who have lots to carry…

December and the freelance musician

Things get pretty busy in December for me. Since December 1, I’ve played the Messiah, parts of Vivaldi’s Gloria, a boatload of Christmas carols and some Renaissance, Baroque and modern classical music. And there are still two weeks to go. I’ve probably played the Hallelujah Chorus more than I’ve played the National Anthem over the years.

Yesterday I left the house at 7:30 am and got home around 6:00 pm. I played the bass for about 4 hours and spent about 3 hours driving 125 miles. There was a choice between knitting or closing my eyes for a few minutes between services, and I didn’t get any stitches done.

This week I’m playing at one of my favorite churches – it’s only 3 miles from my house!

Smashing Basses

Claudia Botterweg playing the double bass

In the mid-nineties I was rear-ended by a semi truck and my bass got smashed beyond repair. At the emergency room, they thought my neck might be broken and when a doctor finally came in to see me, I was weeping. He said “What’s wrong? Are you worried about your potentially debilitating injuries?” “My bass got smashed!” I wailed

This is the bass that no longer exists.

Claudia Botterweg playing the double bass

Bass on a Plane


In the summer of 1975, my bass and I had to go to North Carolina for Eastern Music Festival. We flew on Eastern Airlines. My parents bought a half-price ticket for the bass so that it could sit in a seat.

Before the kids and the old people and the infirm got their chance to get on, the Eastern Airlines gate guy took my bass on the airplane. He spent 20 minutes trying to get the bass in a seat. Finally he gave up. My bass ended up standing in a corner of the pilot’s cabin. And it had a fun ride. The plane was late. A few weeks later my parents received a refund for the half price ticket.

The experience was so pleasant that I would recommend flying Eastern Airlines whenever you need to transport a bass on a plane. But for the last 20 years, basses have been required to ride in the luggage compartment (in a hard case). And Eastern went out of business in 1991. Coincidence?

Playing in Sun City & groups go out of business

I just wanted to invite you all to a concert I’m playing in next Sunday at the West Valley Art Museum. I played a solo program there several years ago. It’s a great little museum. In the spring of 2006, 3 groups that I worked for went out of business:

  • The Mt. Shasta (California) Concert Association. I went up in November to play a solo performance on their concert series. They were a regional organization that put on a few concerts a year and brought the artists to local schools. They ran out of money and volunteers.
  • The West Valley Symphony, which was in business for at least 25 years. When I first moved here in 1989 it was a volunteer community orchestra that brought in ringers to help out. (I was a ringer.) For the past several years everybody got paid, and it was growing in to a pretty good orchestra. They lost their venue, the Sun Dome, a year or two ago and that was the breaking point.
  • Scottsdale Community College Summer Music Camp, which had been around since the late 70’s. I worked there as bass instructor for maybe 15 years. It was the most wonderful 3-week day camp, where I met the most amazing kids. We made those kids (4th to 9th grade) play their instruments for 2-3 hours a day, worked them half to death, but they loved every minute of it. I believe the rising costs of liability insurance and a lack of interest from the new college administration caused the demise of this awesome experience for young musicians.

I guess I got off on a tangent there… It gets kind of discouraging when stuff like this happens, and I feel guilty that I haven’t been a better arts advocate. It hurts my wallet, but in the end it hurts all of us when we have fewer places to listen or to participate in the arts.

Anyways, this Sinfonietta on the 20th is going to be directed by the West Valley Symphony conductor and is made up of string players from WVS. So maybe there’s hope for the northwest valley! Thanks for listening to my little rant.