Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Dr. James Grier

2nd Supervisor

Dr. Peter Franck


This thesis uses the 12 waltzes composed by the famous double bass virtuoso, Domenico Dragonetti, as a case study to examine certain key aspects of his playing style. More specifically, this thesis seeks to answer the question: what aspects of Dragonetti’s playing could be deemed virtuosic? I select a number of instances in the waltzes where the demands posed by various passages suggest a specific solution required to execute the passage. I suggest various solutions to these passages that reveal the types of solutions Dragonetti might have employed and help shed light on my initial question. The analysis reveals that Dragonetti might have been an athletic musician who was agile across the fingerboard, and whose bow technique afforded him a large palette of articulations that helped him achieve polyphonic textures on the instrument

Summary for Lay Audience

Domenico Dragonetti (1763-1846) was a double bass virtuoso who had a large impact on the musical scene of his time. It was said that the way he approached the double bass inspired the composers who heard him play to write more complex double bass parts for their music. This thesis poses the question: what about Dragonetti’s approach to the instrument was so virtuosic? The 12 waltzes, Dragonetti’s last work, are used as a case study to help answer the question. In my analysis of the waltzes, I choose specific passages from individual waltzes that demonstrate a technically demanding feat that would require consideration for performance. These feats permit limited solutions and I provide various technical explanations that suggest ways they might be executed. Because the solutions are limited, they provide a potential indication of the type of approach Dragonetti would have needed to perform the passages. The conclusions drawn from the analysis demonstrate that Dragonetti had agile hands and was able to create a complex range of sounds through his use of the bow.

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