String bass (Contra bass) and alternating bass
Possible runs on the Contra bass according to scale
Necessary notes on the Contra Bass for alternating bass (Wechselbass)
For dance music the string bass should be played with the bow. Only if used for chamber music „Stubenmusik“ the instrument should be played without bow. The single notes should be played very short as a rule, and should be stopped with the left hand after every tone. This rule (short notes for the bass) has to be applied for all other bass instruments as well.
Principle of alternating bass:
Wechselbass is not necessary. Playing fundamental notes only is always correct. The way of playing explained here makes the bass sound better and more interesting for most tunes.
I explain the scale step progressions in an different web page: easy multiple voices.
If you would like to try alternating bass for alpine folk music, a lower note must follow a higher note or the other way round, two of the same notes should never be played after each other. In the first step progression one starts with the 1st note (basic tone) of the scale, in the 5th step progression begin with the alternating note (alternating tone), this is the 2nd note of the scale. The exception is the subdominant 4th step progression. Here it would be best if you use the 1st note of the 4th step progression (4th note of the scale). Later you could also try the 3rd bass of the 4th step chord on longer passages.
If this principle is not doable, then it is best to play only fundamental notes and depending on experience and ability you could add runs or arpeggios, but no alternating bass. With all 8 time “Ländler” or “Mazurka” and with all “Zwiefache” no alternating bass is played at all.
Runs are short fill-ins from one bass note to the next. If alternating bass is used, these runs should fit into the alternating bass notes and should not disturb the alternating bass line. The run itself is not important, rather the target note towards which the run leads. This target note is in most cases the first note of the following step progression, or in the case of alternating bass the alternating note, alternating tone of the 5th step progression.
Some examples in C-major:
On the web page easy runs I show some more examples.