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Mark Morton

Dr. Morton's Torturous Exercises for the Double Bass

Dr. Morton's Torturous Exercises for the Double Bass

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About the Book

A set of thirty extremely demanding "calisthenics," each focusing on solving a very specific technical problem.

The goal of these exercises is to expand your technique, removing real or perceived limitations and revealing your ability to execute techniques that you might have considered all but impossible.

Unlike traditional etudes that lie somewhere between technical exercises and music, these “Torturous” exercises make no attempt at music-making. Instead, these musical “calisthenics” focus entirely on efficiently honing physical and technical skills that can later be applied to musical repertoire - freeing yourself to focus almost entirely on aesthetic and artistic expression. With traditional etudes, teachers and players must make an educated guess as to the intent of the etude, while each “Torturous” exercise states clearly at the top of the page its purpose and intended benefit. 

In order to achieve these lofty goals, many of these exercises are by necessity extremely demanding. Take it easy! If at any time you experience pain in the hand or arm, stop playing immediately, rest awhile, and gently stretch out before resuming practice. Continuing to play with pain may cause damage to the tendons or muscles.

Newly typeset. 48 pages

About Dr. Mark Morton

Dr. Mark Morton is one of the very few bassists in the United States who can accurately claim an equal measure of experience as a principal in a major symphony orchestra, an internationally recognized double bass soloist, and a leading, innovative pedagogue. Additionally, Dr. Morton plays and teaches both French and German bows and is an accomplished pianist—often accompanying his students in lessons and recitals.

Morton has played under the direction of many conductors, including Leonard Bernstein, Lorin Maazel, Alexander Schneider, Hans Graf, Gunther Herbig, Vladimir Spivakov, Maxim Shostakovich, Gunther Schuller, Nicholas MacGeegan, Marvin Hamlisch, John Williams, Henry Mancini, and Mitch Miller. Dr. Morton has twice appeared as the guest principal bass of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Canada, Pinchas Zuckerman, Music Director. He has performed in Alice Tully and Avery Fischer Halls in Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Musikverein in Vienna, La Scala in Milan, and has appeared in Carnegie Hall, New York City over 30 times.

Morton has performed on stage with many pop artists, including Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, James Taylor, The Beach Boys (twice), Brian Wilson, Three Dog Night, Doc Severinson, The Eagles, Jose Feliciano, Marilyn McCoo, Peter, Paul & Mary, Judy Collins (twice), The Smothers Brothers, Marichi Cobre, Ricky Scaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Asleep at the Wheel, Boyz2 Men, and many others.

Additionally, Mark Morton is an accomplished pianist, having appeared as a piano concerto soloist with several orchestras, including the Houston Symphony Orchestra. His recent release on Albany Records, Bottesini Greatest Hits, features Morton accompanying himself on piano, for which American Record Review says, “Mark Morton is a fine player on both instruments, and the music is lovely…” Fanfare commented, “His intonation is fine, and he certainly handles the bravura passages well.”

Formerly, Dr. Morton was an instructor of double bass at Capital University and Ohio Wesleyan University and was the assistant double bass instructor for Gary Karr at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. In the summer, he taught and performed alongside members of the Los Angeles, Chicago, Montreal, and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras at PRISMA in Powell River, British Columbia. He also teaches and performs at the Festival Internacional de Música in Naolinco, Mexico. Additionally, he has been on the faculty of a number of festivals in Costa Rica.

In the summers of 2012 and 2013, Morton traveled to Parma, Italy, where the Giovanni Bottesini manuscripts are housed in the Conservatorio di Musica ‘A. Boito'. There, he took 3837 digital photographs of these manuscripts and is currently cataloging them for the Biblioteca Palatina in Parma, preserving these priceless documents in perpetuity.

Though he has spent most of his career living in Ohio and New York City, Dr. Morton is originally from Texas and is a 4-year Texas All-Stater – 2 years as second chair of the Symphony Orchestra and two years as first chair of Symphony Orchestra. The DrMarkMorton YouTube Channel is a go-to reference for TMEA All-State audition demonstrations, excerpts, etudes, and solos and has garnered over 6000 subscribers and more than 1.15 million views. 

Dr. Morton earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Juilliard School in New York, being the only bassist to earn the Artist Diploma, Bachelor, Master, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees all from Juilliard. While there, he was a member of the first historically informed performance group at Juilliard - the Juilliard Chamber Orchestra - under the direction of harpsichordist Albert Fuller. The JCO performed a 13-city, 10-country tour of South America in the summer of 1983. Morton was also a member of the Bach Players, a student-formed ensemble that performed all the major orchestral works of J.S. Bach. His principal teachers include David Walter, Channing Robbins, Stuart Sankey, Eugene Levinson, and Winston Budrow.

Morton performs on a double bass made in Milan, Italy by J.B. Guadagnini in 1765, a very large orchestral double bass made by Joseph and Antonio Gagliano in Naples, Italy in 1805, and a copy of his Guadagnini bass by Paul Hart of Mt. Pleasant, UT in 2013. Mark Morton is the author of the popular “Dr. Morton” series of double bass technique books and has numerous articles in all important trade periodicals.

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