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Along the neck in leaps and bounds...

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by chicabass, Mar 25, 2006.


  1. chicabass

    chicabass

    Mar 18, 2006
    NOT USA
    Is there any reason why it seems to require more effort to keep intonation perfect moving UP the string even with Simandl-style fingerings yet when moving DOWN in mostly blind leaps, it seems much easier and the proper intonation seems almost automatic?

    Is there some theory to this that I haven't worked out yet?

    I'm just starting out, but I would have thought that when you're using the correct fingering and you are pretty sure of the distances between your fingers, it would be a lot more 'sure' than moving 'backwards'.
    I'm not even sure if I should be doing it that way *frown*, but I have better accuracy descending...

    (I wondered if it would be something to do with it maybe being physically easier to descend but then I thought, no hang on that means you have to lift your arm and stuff, and also you can't really feel out where you're going like when you're ascending? Meh. Does anyone else ever find it harder to stay in tune on the way up than on the way down?)

    Or alternatively, does it sound like I'm doing something wrong?


    chicabass/K`
     
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    It could be the way your ears work, could be that you're leaving less familiar territory toward more familiar. Could be that you're tensing up when you ascend and play more relaxed when you descend. Hmmm.

    --
    Edited tpyo.
     
  3. Gravity? :p Seriously, though, Ray makes some good points.
    I would maybe compare it to bench pressing, when you strain to lift the weight, then relax as you come down.
     
  4. Anon2962

    Anon2962

    Aug 4, 2004
    Which I agree with, but isn't it weird that in reality it takes more effort to shift back because you're fighting gravity. :confused:

    I guess our brains don't see it that way.
     
  5. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    My first thought was that when you're in (say) C position and want to move down to Bb, you have two landmarks to interpolate between: The nut, and your current position. Moving up, and unless you're going right to the D or Eb (depending on you neck), you have no physical landmarks to locate you.

    But I suspect it has more to do with simple practice and experience. Studying Simandl, you have a lot more practice in lower positions. My nephew (who is now on volume 3 of Vance) had the opposite experience- probably because Vance starts you from the beginning in what Rabbath terms 3rd and 4th position- at the heel of the neck, and the octave. It was in moving down to the lower positions where he need more practice to get his intonation right.
     
  6. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Well, I can't vouch for my intonation on the way down being perfect or automatic, but yes I have this problem too.

    I want to guess that it's because of the harmonic series, as they get more flat as one goes higher...but I don't really know the answer. I just know that, like you, I have to work on it.
     
  7. TomGale

    TomGale

    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    In my Practical Studies for DB, I move from A position (1st) to D pos. (4th) - then to the octave which I believe outlines the fingerboard and helps build confidence. I then add the 4 reference points around the neck which you can approach from either direction. This is the article that is in the book and I hope this works - computer non-geek.... Tom Gale
    Go To:
    http://www.gollihur.com/kkbass/gale.html
     
  8. chicabass

    chicabass

    Mar 18, 2006
    NOT USA
    Gone to the printer. Whooooo-hooooooooo.



    I was thinking also, that maybe when one is moving back up along the neck (descending notes) as you get closer to the nut, the intonation becomes less 'precise' and you've got more margin for error?


    chicabass/K`
     
  9. Anon2962

    Anon2962

    Aug 4, 2004
    I'm not sure that shifting back to 'half position' gives you a landmark - at least for me my thumb doesn't actually feel the groove of the neck when i shift back. however, you can measure where first position is when you have a break beforehand. Beginnisg phrases should always, where possible, be measured from somewhere. I think that this is why playing in half position easier, as it is to play a D or Eb on the G string, depending on the neck.

    Intonation is, of course, a major part of bass playing, no matter what kind of music you play. One thing that i found really helped me is to keep the bass at the exact same height and same angle in-so-far-as possible. Sitting (in my case real low) has helped me with this - i have a spike holder that keeps the bass at the same distance from from the stool, which also guarentees the angle of the bass being the same every time i play. (It has also done wonders for my bow are, but i'll stick ot the topic!)

    I'd imagine that keeping the bass in the same position could be achieved while standing too, but the reason i sit is so that the angle of the bass doensn't change as i go into higher positions, as i don't have to lean the bass to a more vertical position when going into thumb position.

    Of course keeping the bass at the same angle also needs the spike to be at the same distace. I have a hollow aluminium spike without notches. I 'remember' how far to put the spike out by using my hand as a measure - i know that the stretch between my index finger and my thumb is the right height.
    A necessity for settling intonation is with a really solid hand position (this way i can measure notes from the 'landmarks' (nut and D), and of course, practice!

    Also, shifiting with the thumb behind the fingerboard (not in thumb position) the exact same distance as is needed is a good thing to keep in mind, especially when practicing scales etc. (which requires the thumb to be in the same place in relation to the hand for each postion).

    With this combination i found it easier to measure, and internalise the 'feel' of each postion, which means i no longer have so much smoke coming out my ears from trying to 'remember' or 'guess' where each note is when shifting larger intervals.

    Keeping contact with the string when shifting is also really important - if you take your fingers off the string while shifting, especially for a large interval, you are effectively 'blindly' shifting - you have to rely on only a visual clue as to where the note is, which while is theoreticly possible, is also VERY risky.

    However, sometimes we are forced to do a 'blind' shift to thumb position, like when we have to very quickly shift from, for example an open G to a D thumb position. (the passage from the study i'm thinking of is in pretty quick semiquavers [16ths?] G-D''-C#''-C'' etc.) In this case its impossible to keep contact with the string because its and open G.

    This is how I think of solving this problem: I'm a big supporter of allowing the left arm to come in contact with the shoulder of the bass when playing in higher positions. I don't 'rest' the arm there, but i much prefer the angle of the arm when i don't force myself to 'come over and around the top'. It also gives you a vital reference point - allowing the arm to touch the shoulder a moment before you place the note, with practice, allows for alot more accuracy. Especially if the bass is always in the same position. It becomes a third landmark. And one which can be used throughout the majority of thumb position.

    Before people start attacking: I realise that alot of schools of thought on playing in higher position say that you should *NEVER* allow the left arm to touch the bass, but I think why not? The only reason i can think of is that it will wear down the finish of the shoulder, but this happens at an extremely slow rate, and how long would it take to for the wood to actually become worn? But, of course, these are the things that have worked for me - everyone's different, and there are alot of great players playing with very different approaches to technique. It's just that this one makes the most sense to me!
     
  10. chicabass

    chicabass

    Mar 18, 2006
    NOT USA

    =D I always wondered whether this was like 'cheating' or not... I was practicing one day and thought 'hey, that's a neat reference!'


    chicabass/K`
     
  11. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Not really. Yes the notes are closer in the upper positions, meaning when you are off it will be easier to hear...but out is out.
     
  12. TomGale

    TomGale

    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    I once heard Gary Karr say, "Always wear the same height shoe heel when you perform as when you practice".
    TG
     
  13. chicabass

    chicabass

    Mar 18, 2006
    NOT USA
    ...or when some of us sit we should make sure we have the same height stools as we practice with?



    chicabass/K`
     
  14. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Non Geek? Are you sure. My 15 year old son just installed 5 new computers in out office and set them up with our accounting software as well as out UPS program.. all Networked.. THEN, he orderd $3,000 worth of parts and MADE his own computer including a water coooling system valued at $6,000 if you could but it somewhere. DELL advised him to do it himself as they were un-able to build such a beast with their resources... So he's a Computer Geek to you or just a smart and talented kid?

    By the way, YOU Tom Gale are a Bass GEEK. Or is that Mr. Geek. I'm a Bass Geek to by the way but that's a good thing, I think!

    Like I said before, send out a few of your books for free to the TB Pros, me included and we will review it for you. This way you can give your horn a rest and let someone else honk it for awhile.. OK? Thanks for listening.., Ken
     

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