Upright Approach to Fingering Modes?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by fu22ba55, Mar 2, 2014.


  1. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

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    Having played EB for 30 years, my approach for modes was always to memorize three "boxes" per mode, starting on the 1st, 2nd and 4th fingers.

    Playing "across" the strings on upright is discouraged (sounds bad) past the 4th position or so… And more focus is given to walking up and down the G (and D strings).

    What's common "best practice" on learning fingerings for modes on the upright? Walk up one string? Use two strings? Think in tetrachords?

    Simandl only has Major and Minor scale fingerings written out… Ray Brown's book doesn't even have any minor scales in it… just major scales and chord tone exercises.

    What's recommended method for getting solid fingerings for all the modes on upright? Does a fingering reference exist for the modes on upright? Or should I extract them from Simandl fingerings?
     
  2. MrSidecar

    MrSidecar

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    Makes you think, doesn't it? RAY ain't using modes??? Not any MINOR?

    No seriously, I used to (waaay back when, my electric days) obsess about modes and how to play them. Nowadays, I don't think modes (or, while playing, ANYTHING) AT ALL. Rather, I practice: major scales 2/3 octaves, major/minor chords 2 octaves, sometimes harmonic minor, sometimes pentatonics, harmonic major. Synthetic scales like half/whole. Hexatonic. Whatever. But not modes.

    Comes down to this, and all this IS JUST ME and I might be crazy: If you play G mixo over G7, you're still playing the C major scale, only starting from a different tone. I find that, while modes certainly help being busy learning them (which is just a ton of ways of learning major), and they help tremendously in choosing ALWAYS AND ONLY the notes with the least possible tension, they're not terribly exciting musically. But hey, that's just me. (I'd go even further and quote Hal Galper: "The chord scale method is a bogus way of teaching improvisation!")

    However, it's a free world, and if your way of skinning the cat involves modes, practice major scales in 2 octaves, then start them on different notes, using the same fingerings as for the major scales. Bam- modes.

    Best
    Sidecar
     
  3. Mushroo

    Mushroo

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    Your teacher told you this?
     
  4. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

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    Correct.

    He said to let my electric fingering knowledge inform my choices, and sure, If I WANT to, I can play more across the strings -- but he emphasized walking up and down the G string for now (which I agree with). Playing across strings more will come later once I'm proficient with linear approach.
     
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  6. Jeremy Darrow

    Jeremy Darrow

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    You can absolutely play across the G, D and A strings into 6th position. If you can make it work, you could probably use the E as well.

    I agree with MrSidecar, once you really know the Major scale on the bass, the modes are just different pieces of it. Hal Robinson's book 'Boardwalkin'' is a terrific resource for learning the Major scale all over the instrument. He uses the Rabbath divisions of the fingerboard, which I find to be much more practical than Simandl.
     
  7. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

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    Thanks Sidecar for insight.

    From 30,000 feet, I understand the Zen-like nirvanic utopian ideal of "everything is major" and "don't practice modes, just be the ball, Danny" But down here at the base of the mountain, I need to get the modes better under my fingers.

    My teacher says "just practice major scales" then puts a chart in front of me and says "play D dorian here, play G mixo here." Now, while I know those are both derived from C major, when I'm halfway up the G string and need to walk back down, I just need to grab the right combo of half-steps, whole steps to get the sound I want.

    (this is NOT a "what or why modes" thread. This is a "HOW modes" thread)

    Understood.

    The one fingering I've cemented for major scales (walking up and down the G string) starting on the SECOND degree of the scale is

    1 - 4 [shift] 1 - 4 [shift] 1 - 24
    (so in C major)
    D - E [shift] F - G [shift] A - BC

    You're saying it's better to always maintain that grouping (for shifts) and just start where I need to start for the given mode rather than learning new groupings and shifts for each mode. (Less to memorize, and better to rely on ears).

    so G Mixo would be:

    Option A:
    4 [shift] 1 - 24 [shift] 1 - 4 [shift] 1 - 4
    G [shift] A - BC [shift] D - E [shift] F - G

    OR should I just treat as G Major and flat the 7th when I walk by: (different fingering)

    Option B:
    4 [shift] 1 - 4 [shift] 1 - 4 [shift] 12 - 4
    G [shift] A - B [shift] C - D [shift] EF - G

    ---

    If the answer is "option B feels more natural" then there we are: I've got to internalize NEW fingerings for each mode, no?

    Or better to be more flexible and not "memorize" anything, just raise and lower the tones I need to get the sound I want? Treat the bass like a horn or a piano?
     
  8. MrSidecar

    MrSidecar

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    Hej Fuzzbass,

    Alright, got it. Sorry if I seemed snotty or brash. Was not meant to be.

    I'm not sure I understand if, and if yes why, you practice them only on the G-string.

    Have you practiced starting each scale on the lowest possible root note? Then you'll find that a) you can use loads of open strings to your benefit to smooth out shifts, and b) there's not the one fingering that cuts it all, but rather one or more per key.

    Example:

    C major. Start on C on A-String (4th finger), play D open, E on D with 2nd, F on D with 4th, open G, shift to A on D-string 1st finger, B on D-string either 3rd or 4th finger, C with 4th finger, D, E, and F on G-string with 1st, 3rd/4th, 4th, shift to thumb pos, G with thumb, A 1st, B 2nd, C 3rd. Back.

    Thus, C major scale, 2 octaves. To play D dorian, start on tone 2 of the above and play thru same way.

    To play A aeolian, start A open, B 2nd finger, then on like above. You get the idea.

    This you practice through the 12 keys. Use all open strings that make sense for shifting (D or G in F maj, maybe A in E maj, G in Bb maj, D in A maj, G in Eb maj, G in Ab maj, etc). While the open string rings, you change to the next note in the scale, that quite handily resides somewhere around D on the G-string, or A on the D string, E on the A string, etc (7th "fret"), a point that is usually very easy to hit because the bass neck meets the body there. According to how the scale goes on, you hit 7th fret with either 1st or 2nd finger (in the latter case playing the first finger anyways, f.ex. to hit Ab in in Eb-maj, or the 2nd if the note is needed, f.ex. E on the A-string in A-maj, then F-sharp with 4th, G sharp on D-string with 1st... and so on).

    You'll see that there are only F#, B, and Db where open strings don't happen. Those, I play with the standard 1-4 - 1-2-4 - 1-3-4 in mind and varying it to needs.

    Do this thoroughly, add practicing each scale on the lowest possible note on the bass (thus, either e or f) and modes are right there.

    Best
    Sidecar
     
  9. MrSidecar

    MrSidecar

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    IMHO, the teacher saying this is guilty of

    -firing a big fog grenade on the affair- He could say "Man, play C major Melodies."
    -encouraging a student to think in a manner that results in Always starting on the root of any given chord. Pretty unhip.
    -scaring students with a hypothetical workload of tons of modes to learn, when in reality, it all adds up to playing the key all the time
    -disregarding the connections between the chords, effectively encouraging disjunct scalar melody-fragments stopping at the barline or chord change
    -disregarding tensions on dominants, effectively disregarding melodic development

    I'm being harsh, but I really mean it.
    There is a use to modes, mostly in late50s jazz á la Kind Of Blue. They just don't work well in an environment with more chord Changes, IMO.

    Best
    sidecar
     
  10. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

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    No, no sir! Not brash! Very helpful and insightful! Thank you!

    I find the hardest part of learning jazz is asking the right, concise questions, so I just wanted to clarify my question.

    Yes, yes. I'm using standard Simandl fingerings for first octave (using open strings when I can), then once I hit G string (for any scale) I walk up the G string. (I don't walk up D string and cross over like you outlined).

    I was just using the single string as an example where using the same fingering (but starting on different degree) didn't make sense.

    Even though I'm using different fingerings than the ones you outlined, I do grasp your concept: use the same fingering and shifts I've already memorized for major scales, just start on different degrees.

    So you're saying don't search for a more efficient / unique fingering for each mode… just use the same fingering and shifts I'd use for the Major scale from which the mode is derived.
     
  11. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

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    To be fair.. it's not as foggy as all that:

    My walking lines rely a lot on chord tones, arpeggios, and not enough on blanket scales.

    They sound too "jumpy" and don't transition well. He's just trying to get me to add a more "scalar" sound to my lines.. and I suddenly realized (unless I'm using those old "boxes" from electric) I don't have the modes at my disposal.
     
  12. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

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    Thanks Jeremy,

    I hunted down Boardwalkin' and ordered a copy.
     
  13. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler

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    Try this.

    Take all the modes, in order from brightest to darkest-

    Lydian, Ionian, Mixolydian, Dorian, Aeolian, Phrygian, Locrian.

    Each one consecutively flats a note.

    Spell them out verbally, out loud- with all of them starting and ending on the same root.

    Now, see if you can finger them in that key, saying the note names out loud, conscious of which note you are flatting moving to each mode. Try this starting different places on the neck, ascending as well as descending.

    Now do this in all 12 keys, all over the neck.

    Mastery of the modes, my memorization as well as technical execution, is vital to fluidity in improvisation. It's not hard; it just takes a lot of work.

    BTW, if you're doing modes on the EB and they fit into neat little boxes, you aren't doing them all over the fingerboard, 2 octaves plus. :D Music doesn't start and stop in one octave chunks.
     
  14. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

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    Understood and thank you. I've run across the L-I-M-D-A-P-L explanation before, and it's very helpful with understanding the modes.

    I totally agree. I understand my EB approach was flawed, and I'm trying to remedy that on UB.

    So, PUT IN THE WORK, that's my plan for the next couple years. Primary question was do I need to take a more linear approach (up and down the string) to modes, maybe by breaking into tetrachords? Is there a standard "best practice?" Maybe focus more on two string execution rather than across the neck?

    Or is fingering irrelevant? Modes are modes. Go and find them. All of them everywhere.
     
  15. chicagodoubler

    chicagodoubler

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    Well, that's an issue of basic double bass pedagogy- we should ideally be able to play passages across the string as well as up the string. This allows us the freedom to phrase things according to musical choices, rather than technical limitations.

    The Boardwalking book is great; are you using any type of melodic method, like Vance, Rabbath, Simandl, etc?
     
  16. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

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    No method per se: Instructor is teaching the following:

    1) Major & Minor Scales and Arpeggios (two octaves, Simandl fingerings)

    2) Learn tunes (from Real Book, walk over changes)

    3) Transcribe solos, play heads and solos.

    That's it. More of a "learn-by-doing approach," which is rewarding, but sometimes feels indirect.
     
  17. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Supporting Member

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    You know most of this discussion gets negated by Pivots...
     
  18. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

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    Thanks Violen,

    Due to tendonitis in my left hand, I don't have the strength for Rabbath-style pivots… yet.

    I've watched Hans Sturm's youtube vids explaining Rabbath and few of Mr. Rabbath own vids as well, but unless I stick with a more strict Simandl left-hand shape, I endanger my left pinky, and my thumb freaks out as well. It's been a long slow road back from tendinitis for me, and Simandl works for me right now without injury.

    I do anchor my thumb and shift at the block for Simandl IV V and V.5 positions, but any shifting or stretched hand shape up around second or third position hurts too much right now. I need to keep my thumb firmly behind my second finger at all times. Maybe in a couple years as I regain more strength.
     
  19. damonsmith

    damonsmith

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    The is a solid lesson plan for someone who has a grasp on the fingerboard and wants to learn jazz.
    I would either ask your teacher to focus on classical methods for a while or find a straight classical teacher and then go back to this guy.
    It is bad form to tell you to get another teacher but this just isn't a good lesson plan for a beginner on double bass.
    I recommend Simandl before Rabbath, but I have been working on Rabbath lately and loving it. I am still glad I did Simandl first.
    I would find someone who will go through Simandl or Rabbath and teach you to use arm weight and chest muscles to play.
    Once you learn all the two & three octave scales modes will be no trouble.

     
  20. bass81800

    bass81800

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    Just curious what the boardwalking book is and what this is about. I sure would like to get out of the habit of relying too much or not at all on going up the G string, vs. having better mastery of the entire fingerboard in order to play in higher positions, meaning knowing where everything is without thinking, and never, ever 'fishing' for the right notes in a solo, although I am usually accurate. I did my time doing all the major scales, modal exercises in all keys, arpeggios all the way up to thumb position, but doing this for so long and so much has made It too rote.

    And, yes, Simandl before Rabbath. I started more on the Rabbath and Vance books and it seemed to take forever to get intonation in shape. It was not until I started studying with a Simandl teacher that my intonation immensely improved.
     
  21. damonsmith

    damonsmith

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    Every chromatic position has 12 available notes in Simandl/Billie fingering and 20 using pivots. It is worthwhile to learn what all of them are regardless of how the tone is. You never know when a quick note on the E string will make something possible.
     

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