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Classical Technique Books for Jazz?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by NigelT, Mar 2, 2016.

  1. NigelT


    May 29, 2014
    Hi all! I'm a high school jazz bassist and my band director suggested that I invest in some classical technique books to practice and solidify my bass-ics (ha). Is this good advice? If so, what books would you all recommend I look into?
  2. Sean Riddle

    Sean Riddle Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2013
    Ventura, California
    Simandl is one of the most popular bass technique books written. If you want to get into more modern technique books, check out the Vance books or if you want, the Rabbath books (which is the basis for the Vance books). The Evolving Bassist, by Rufus Reid is a technique book dedicated to Jazs and it's a really wonderful source of knowledge. He is offering you some solid advice. When you are improvising, it's really good to have a strong technical backing that will allow you to be able to express any ideas you are creating with utter ease for hours.
    I am currently in college and I am a jazz major. Along with my main lessons with my mentor, I am studying with the more classically oriented bass teacher at my school and I have been able to get a lot out of these lessons. It's amazing to be able to draw from many different sources in your music.
    DC Bass likes this.
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Working with a bow really solidifies your left(fingerboard) hand, I second the recommendation to find a good legit teacher to work on physical approach. Books are books, being in the same room with a real live human being who has been a deeper understanding than you is a Good Thing.
  4. Having spent time with a lot of methods I still use and recommend Simandl for jazz player. It is a long life so checking out as many as possible but Simandl is still the quickest and most solid method to start with. A live teacher is also best!
  5. matt holt

    matt holt Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2005
    Cincinnati OH
    Agreed, the simandle was highly helpful to me as a jazz player-and most of it will work fine if you practice it Pizz. Some of the exercises even make pretty good little walking bass lines! All of my upright students, classical or not, go through the simandl eventually.
  6. matt holt

    matt holt Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2005
    Cincinnati OH
    I use the Ried as well with my students, but I find the sequencing to be a bit odd-or, put differently, there is a ton of great information, but I don't always agree with the order in which he presents it.
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I'll put in a word here for the Bach cello suites for jazz players. I've found that working on them exposes a million technical issues and then makes you figure out ways to address them so as not to spoil the music. It's not a "graduated method", but it can be very effective for intermediate to advanced jazz players, and musically they are some of the most beautiful music I've ever encountered.
  8. Simandl should be practiced arco.
    Tom Lane and Steve Boisen like this.
  9. Harry Monkley

    Harry Monkley

    Jan 16, 2016
    I can only speak from a students perspective, and with no comparative knowledge of other methods, but I've been studying arco for the past year with main focus on Simandl book 1 and the first few etudes from the Simandl 30 etudes book - the more I work on this material the more I appreciate how well conceived it is and how much it is improving my playing across the board. I've read opinions from some elsewhere on the forum that Simandl is dry and not musical, but my experience is that you can really see that you are making progress because if you stick with it, your ability to make the excercises sound musical improves along with your ear, intonation, technique and reading. Treat it as long term investment and don't be tempted to rush through it.
    carl h. and Chris Fitzgerald like this.
  10. As an improvisor, the dry and unmusical aspect is positive. #1 the lines don't leak into your playing and #2 it clearly demarcates the difference between playing and practicing - which is one of the most important things for a musician to learn. In any case, no bass method is as musical as playing the music you want the way you want.
    HateyMcAmp and Jason Hollar like this.
  11. the_Ryan


    Jul 10, 2015
    Bronx, NY
    I agree with the recommendation of seeing a professional bassist/teacher because there are many things you can do by teaching yourself, regardless of method (Simandl, Rabbath, etc.), that can lead to bad habits, mainly playing in a way that is painful and creates a lot of tension.
    Jason Hollar likes this.
  12. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar It Don’t Mean A Thing... Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    I think the Ray Brown book is based on the Simandl fingerings.
  13. Simandl is more about the sound of the etudes - they are dull but hard to play out of tune. I use all sorts of fingerings and octave transpositions with them.
  14. hhalt

    hhalt Hans Halt Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2010
    Reno, Nv
    I agree with Chris concerning Bach cello suites, but the original keys can be daunting. I have a version by Robert Rohe that transposes them down by a fourth or fifth. Still plenty hard! There are other editions for bass in lower registers for the beginning, intermediate players.

    I prefer the Bille method to Simandl. The etudes are much more musical, slurred bowing are addressed sooner, and the fingerings are more across the fingerboard which is more helpful for improvising IMO.
  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    For the first 2 suites and portions of the 3rd, I play them an 8ve lower than originally intended (at written pitch for the bass) and transpose the bits that go too low. Of course, I'm also playing them pizz, but this is kind of a pizz thread on the part of the OP. Can you share what some of these other editions are for bass in the lower registers? All information is good information!
  16. hhalt

    hhalt Hans Halt Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2010
    Reno, Nv
    Sure thing!

    According to our cello instructor at UNR the best edition for cello is published by Barenreiter-

    Amazon.com: Bach, J S - Six Suites For Violoncello Solo BWV 1007-1012 By Barenreiter: Books

    And yes, great to play these down the octave when possible. Play the whole thing down if you have a 5 string or low C extension. : )

    Samuel Sterling has transcribed 4,5 and 6 suites. None of these go above a high Bb but some of it is in tenor clef though.

    J. S. Bach SIX SUITES No. 4 and 5 arr. Sterling-lemurmusic.com

    Unfortunately, I think the Robert Rohe edition is out of print. He also published a duet book of Bach Two Part inventions which I love.

    I also like "Bach For the Young Bass Player transcribed by Frederick Zimmerman. These are not the suites, but anything by Bach is good!

    I am also a big fan of Rabbath and Vance. I really like Vance's Vade Mecum, which contains in depth scale fingerings. He will take a two octave scale fingered 7 or 8 different ways, which really gives the jazz player much more flexibility when improvising.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Thank you! Our cello professor here recommended the "G. Henle Verlag" Urtext edition, so that's been sitting on my music stand for the past 8-10 years, but I will definitely look for the Sterling and Rohe. I'll also check out Vance, which I have heard a lot about here but never really explored.
  18. mtto


    May 25, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    hhalt and Chris Fitzgerald like this.
  19. hhalt

    hhalt Hans Halt Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2010
    Reno, Nv
    I need to check the Ricordi edition out. I see that the first suite is in C. The Rohe puts the first suite in D. The Rohe seems to be out of print, but I am big fan of playing the suites in more reasonable ranges for the bass. I know there are some purists out there that say you must play them in the original key, but for us jazz guys, who needs to be up in the stratosphere all the time.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  20. Scott Lynch

    Scott Lynch Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2002
    Delaware, USA
    +1 for Simandl. The book is very thorough, and starts with a focus on left hand development and note reading skills. You will start in half position and work your way up the neck, learning to play in different keys as you go.

    The Suzuki and Vance books have a different approach - more folk and easy classical songs and not nearly as much in the way of etudes. I like this approach too and would also recommend diving into these books for the quality graded repertoire they offer, though they are not quite as comprehensive in their approach to technique as Simandl.

    Also note that the Vance books follow the Rabbath system, which differs significantly in how the fingerboard is conceptualized vs. Simandl. Suzuki follows the Simandl system in its recommended fingerings.

    I personally enjoy working on songs a little bit more than etudes, as I find it easier to get into expressive aspects with the songs a bit easier. For building technique, though, Simandl laid a solid foundation for me. Both approaches have helped develop different elements of my playing.
    Last edited: May 25, 2016

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