As a string bass player, you spend so much time providing the foundation of harmonic percussion it’s easy to forget that bass players can play melody lines, too! The holiday season provides the perfect opportunity to reclaim your place as a soloist – or as a featured instrumentalist in your ensemble.
We’ve put together a list of 15 holiday favorites for you to start working on. Feel free to jazz them up with a little slap bass style, or the insertion of your own, personalized expression.
songs that touch the heart and soul
The following four songs are classics that almost always bring a tear or two to the eyes of audience members.
This is a slow tempo solo arrangement, which is perfect for the beginner bass musician. The price is $3.99 for unlimited prints or add $2 to get the sheet music immediately as a pdf file.
Technically, technically, this iconic Leonard Cohen piece isn't a holiday song. However, it's an emotive work with beautiful biblical imagery that everyone loves the first time they hear it. This arrangement of the song is in C major, with a G2 -E4 range. It also has a slow tempo, which means a beginner can quickly impress audiences. It's been covered countless times, but here's Cohen himself:
This is a Musicnotes Edition of this arrangement, which means that when you buy this arrangement from the sheet music site, you’re also buying performance and recording rights. You also have the right to print out an unlimited number of copies. This arrangement resolves all sorts of copyright issues that music teachers may face. If you have dreams of posting your bass performances online, check if the Musicnote Edition note is added to the site’s sheet music.
This is another option that isn’t a Christmas song per se but fits the season and a song that people of all backgrounds really enjoy. This is a moderately slow, three-page arrangement. As with most of the sheet music available on the Musicnotes website, you can buy a single print (this score’s sheet music is $3.25) or add $2 to download it as a pdf file.
Songs to get the audience to sing along
Will you be playing in a home or space where carolers are bound to join in? If so, the following six songs get toes tapping and voices aloft since they are tried-and-true pieces in any Christmas-oriented songbooks.
Always a crowd-pleaser in any winter festival or holiday environment, this song picks up the tempo a bit from the preceding options. This score includes both a solo arrangement and an instrumental part and works for bassists, cellists, and certain horn instruments (in case you're putting together a holiday band!).
This is a free arrangement that you can download off the site as a pdf. The site provides a transposition tool if you want the arrangement in a different key. It even makes recommendations on what key to choose - based on what instruments you’ll have as accompaniment. This same site has a plethora of holiday songs, which makes sense for a site called “Christmas Music Songs.” You can also find:
These are just a few of the options on this website.
Composed by Felix Mendelssohn, this score includes both a solo arrangement, as well as version with piano accompaniment. This is also a Musicnotes Edition arrangement, which means you get a full range of copyrights when you buy this sheet music ($4.95).
Songs honoring Hannukah
People who align with Jewish spirituality and culture can feel overlooked during this time of year. Honor diversity by tapping into the wide range of Hannukah-themed songs arranged for string bass. We’ve included two of them here.
We also recommend visiting Kveller’s list of Top 10 Hannukah Songs, and then searching for them at your favorite online sheet music sources. Click here for some of our favorite places to download sheet music from the internet.
This score includes the sheet music for bass clef instruments, as well as for a long list of other instruments, which is why it’s a bit pricier than other sheet music options at $7 for one copy. This is an intermediate level arrangement that you can download from the site once you make the purchase.
This is a high tempo children’s song about the Hannukah game. If you’re not familiar with how to play Dreidel, here are some instructions (it’s a simple game).
If you want to round out your holiday repertoire a bit, check this list of popular songs for bass, which includes popular and patriotic music, and a show tune or two.
Prefer to play more contemporary pieces?
If you’re ready to embrace some of the season’s more contemporary holiday songs for bass, check out:
This song was first popularized by the cartoon version of, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and re-popularized by the 2000 release featuring Jim Carey as The Grinch.
Mariah Carey made this one a “new” classic. Play if for that special someone in your life, or in honor of all those special “someones” in your audience.
This retro-hit is hitting the world by storm in the wake of the holiday release, Last Christmas, starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding. The film includes this and other Wham! hits in its soundtrack.
You still have plenty of time left to download and practice these 15 bass songs for the holidays. Show your family and friends what you’ve got. Or, take the music into the streets with a fellow string player or two and earn some extra holiday spending cash.
Sponsored by Thomastik-Infeld