Double stops?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Danko, Oct 26, 2006.

  1. Hello all!

    I've noticed that when playing double stops, I need much more hand strenght to keep notes from buzzing and keep fingers tight without loosing pitch.

    I have a perticular passage to play when I strum double-stops just like powerchords on a guitar. It sounds great within that particular tune. But the passage is 32 measures long and for now I can play 3 measures correctly. After that I loose strenght and my part falls apart (it even rhymes). :)

    Any pointers welcome!

  2. What part of the fingerboard are the double stops in?

    If they are in the lower positions try using 4 and 2 as much as possible. You will have more endurance since you can hold each string down with two fingers. I'm working on the Prokofiev Quintet right and the 4th movement has the same type of problem. The whole movement is double stops. I use 4 and 2 for every one.

    Same type of thing for thumb position. Use 1 and 2 or 3.
  3. How comfortable are you playing two strings at once? To be able to play double stops correctly you must first start with your bowing arm. Create an even tone and use arm weight to create the sound. Then let your left arm use its weight to hold down the strings. If you can't make a confident sound with your right arm your left will be tense and stamina will go out the door. Relax and focus.

    Also, our bodies have this wierd thing where we want to be symmetrical, but you need to fight that and only put enough pressure on the strings with your left hand as is needed to hold the strings down. Its suprisingly little. Overall, relax and don't try to power your way through the passage becuase it will only make you tense. I hope that made sense.
  4. Dave Whitla

    Dave Whitla

    Apr 25, 2006
    Great piece. Probably my favorite thing to play- biggest challenge and most fun put together! Hope you have a good oboe player for that 4th mvt. I've been really lucky to have played it with a few really good ones, and they're still a shade of purple by the end of it!

    As for the main topic- double stops- if strength (note spelling :bag: ) is a problem, working at it gradually will build it up. Approach it like you would any other strength/endurance activity. You have to let your body adjust to the increased load while pushing it to improve at the same time. Also allowing for rest/recovery.
  5. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    I've found with double stops that I tend to over press both fingers. What often happens is that I apply more pressure over one finger than the other so I compensate for the other by applying much more over all pressure. The difficulty lies in giving each finger only what it needs.
  6. Thanks all for replying.

    The two-finger technique didn't work for me. I have poor intonation as is. Adding a second finger to first gives me more strength (I've learned :)), but totally screws the intonation up.

    But something did help: as I strum those double stops, I found that it was my right hand fatique that kicked in. I also struggled to keep a consistent tone with every strum. So I bought a thumb pick (yeah, a pick! - the thing for the geetars). As it's easier to strum with a pick and I get a consistent tone, I can now concentrate on the left hand and the part gets smoother.

  7. jfv


    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    If you want to work on doublestops and actually do it
    as the instrument traditionally has been used then get
    a BOW (gasp, yes imagine that). Listen to Rabbath
    play Bach, now there's some pretty doublestops.

    A pick, LOL, you gonna paste a pickguard on your
    top too?

    Good luck,
  8. prelims222


    Sep 20, 2004
    Southeast US
    Learn to transfer your arm weight into your fingers on your left hand.

    Do this with individual notes at first. Spend maybe five minutes seeing how little work you actually need to do with your "muscles" in your hands. Then figure out how to do the same thing with two notes at once, balancing your arm weight between the 2 fingers (1 and 4 probably?). You'll be surprised how much more control over pitch you will get from this..

    and the double stops will be easy
  9. jsbarber


    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego
    There is an article on Double Stops in the most recent (Autumn 2006) issue of Double Bassist that you might want to take a look at.

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