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Fast Sixtuplets - suggestions needed for clear articulation

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by CaseyVancouver, Nov 30, 2018.

  1. CaseyVancouver


    Nov 4, 2012
    E26E607F-CAF7-465A-A5E7-FF9EC0EABC18. I'm playing this tricky bass part in performance next week, then 3 more times during December. I can do a dumbed down version but would rather get this rhythm clear and articulate. I have it committed to memory, and done the usual practice method of playing it slow. Also have practiced alternating sixtuplets (sextuplets) and 16ths. Still can't get to 96 bpm accurately with the sixtuplets then 16ths with this passage.

    I'm playing it in the V position with the first sixtuplets 'G' note on the A string and ending with the segue to 'Hark...' with my 'C' on the E string. (so all of this sixtuplets bar and last two bar passage in the fifth position going to 'C' for 'Hark') I'm the only bass so I can do it how I want.

    Any suggestions?
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018
  2. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    I've been taught to approach fast passages by committing them to memory, as you have, and then playing it until it's second nature without a metronome at a slow tempo, completely relaxed. Once I have that, I bring in the metronome, starting at a very comfortable tempo and slowly increase the tempo until I'm struggling. Take a break. Repeat until I'm comfortably playing the passage 20 to 50 percent faster than required. Given that your performance is next week, unless you're already very close to playing the passage at tempo, I think I'd commit to acing the dumbed down passage this year and then add the full passage to my practice after the performances. HTHs. Break a leg!
    Ah, if it's not so much the tempo as the rhythm, separating the two and just practicing the rhythm without pitch by hand-clapping can help. Also, if it's the rhythm, learning to sing it in tempo helps me a great deal because then I know I've internalized the passage.
    Last, those sixtuplets at 96 bpm are nearly 600 bpm, so, I would expect that most people would find them challenging. Simplify, no one will know.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
    CaseyVancouver likes this.
  3. Try accenting the first sixtuplet of each repeated notes. The clarity that matters is hearing the note changes.

    Maybe try playing this on the g string and in lower positions. If I want clarity I’m going to have a much harder time doing it keeping everything in one position. I would probably start the second line off with an open G to give time to get to the high F then go down the G string from there the go over to the D string for the A and repeated Gs.
  4. I agree with Corey's fingering suggestions. I would seek the conductor's approval to simplify the bar concerned to 8th notes (triplets), arguing that you and your bass cannot clearly produce what is written at that speed and that strongly hearing the pitch changes is more important. If you have no luck with this idea then reduce the length of bow strokes on the string to a minimum at the balance point of the bow and produce them with as much relaxation as possible. Play the first note of Bar 365 on an up bow so that the paired notes are played down up. If the notation is correct then Bar 366 is back to quadruplets, not sextuplets, so there is some practice to make the jump from 6/beat to 4/beat confidently. Are you doubling the Cello part?
    CaseyVancouver likes this.
  5. A better bow with the right rosin can also help.
  6. Neil Pye

    Neil Pye

    Apr 13, 2016
    Horsham, UK
    I agree with Corey and David. Staying in the high positions makes articulating the sextuplets much more difficult, they will speak easier on the higher strings. I don't think there's an easy way to play that passage accurately, it's just stay as relaxed as possible and practise. It's the sort of passage we refer to as "an effect", which seems to give us an excuse to play it wrong (simpler!)!

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