Originally from Ireland, Bernard O’Neill has been a bassist, arranger, and educator for over 30 years. He works regularly with Sinead O’Connor and Rufus Wainwright, and he recently put out a project called Syriana: The Road to Damascus.
We cover a wide range of topics, including:
- how double bass has actually been in Middle Eastern music for a long time
- how North African orchestras always had double basses, from the colonial times onward
- different scales used in Arabic music and how specific the quarter tones and decorations are
- bass section proclivities
- micing techniques for orchestra
- how he got into arranging (his grandfather was an arranger and a band major in the British army)
- how many talented arrangers came out of Dublin with Bernard
- deep and multifaceted discussion around teaching improvisation to advanced string players
- how Bernard structures his writing and balances it with performing, teaching, and other projects
Bernard is doing great things for the music world, and it was a pleasure to sit down and chat with him!
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