Fast technique, Rabbath

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Dr Rod, Dec 9, 2005.

  1. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    Hey Guys
    I am wondering if any of you have worked with Paul Ellison, Hal Robinson or Rabbath himself, maybe you can answer this question.

    Rabbath mentions in his blue book that he has learned how to use the human "panic" response to develop fast technique. He says that when we are in a dangerous situation we react very quickly.

    I have heard that your perception of time in such moments is very different, so something that is actually very fast, becomes slow in your head so you can think and manage the situation.

    Now the sad thing is that Rabbath mentions it in the intro to his book but DOESN'T TELL US HOW TO DEVELOP IT, HE ONLY TEASES YOU. :mad:

    Also if you have a relative that's a psychologist or something maybe you can ask, maybe we can do some team-work research here on this thread. :)
  2. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    Hi, He discusses this in greater detail in the art of the bow video.
    Basically the "cure" is to focus on breathing in order to take about 6-8 deep breaths. As one staurates the body with oxygen it hampers the body's ability to feak itself out on adrenaline. The high ox content slows down the uptake of adrenaline thus creating a quasi "drunk" state ( Rabbath quote) and giving one the ability to use this time warp...
    It is a great idea. One that I have played with and can say that it works great BUT it needs practice.
  3. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    This is rich, I just love bass voodoo. It is impossible to "flood" the body with oxygen. Even if you were to breathe pure O2 (air is only 20.9%) the hemoglobin-oxygen buffer prevents the O2 from being distributed to the body's cells from the dissolved O2 in the blood (except when breathing too high partial pressure of O2). If you take 6-8 deep quick breaths, that is hyperventilation and only serves to lower the CO2 content of the blood. This will reduce the urge to breathe for a short time but won't help you play faster. The quasi-drunk state from hyperventilation is due to blood vessel constriction, restricting blood from flowing to the brain
    Now if you accept that keeping your breathing normal will help you to stay calm, that would be fact. Hyperventilation reduces CO2, which is the trigger to breathe. Too little CO2, you feel breathless, you get nervous, the adrenaline flows, and that cycle will continue until you either pass out or get your breathing under control.

    Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, but this info is easy to look up. While my explanation may not be EXACT, it is essentially correct as far as I know, and I'm pretty smart.
  4. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    FIrst of all I never said "quick" breaths.It takes mores than that to get me breathing faster.

    Secondly, I just report on what I heard and whay "I" have experienced. It works for me. If it is bass voodoo than I guess it is voodoo and then voodoo works.
    Better be careful.

    I don't like to listen to gurus talk the talk without being to walk the walk. But hey , FR is way older than I am so I listen to experienced people , try it for myself and than decide.He does kick ass at 70 something. so he is doing something right.
    Maybe he just breathes in and out .

    But getting back to the subject of being able to play faster and what FR says. I believe it has more to do with which part of the brain the movement comes from. Breathing for example is a voluntary aswell as a non voluntary function. It can be controlled by several parts of the brain. I would imagine this affects outcome.

    BUt I would understand you west coasters have alot of experience with hot air.
  5. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Chill. That wasn't aimed at you personally but Rabbath's unscientific explanation. It may work for you, but the explanation WHY is incorrect. I am merely a humble seeker of truth.

    G-force can play fast.
    G-force breathes 6-8 times before he plays fast.
    Therefore, breathing 6-8 times before allows him to play fast.

    Try googling subjects like "hyperventilation", "Hemoglobin-oxygen buffer". You don't know my background, but I'm sure my knowledge of physiology is better than the average bass player.

    And yes, voodoo can work.
    Lastly, I'll trade you my adding of "quick" for your spelling of insight.

    Peace, now go home and practice.
  6. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    Thanks . I don't play that fast though.

    Tooshay on the insightfray. My you are a smarty pantz.
  7. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    I would like to thank you both for your input, but the spite is unnecessary.

    Now let's put your knowledge and energy to good use......If I may.

    What term should I google if I want to learn more about this special perception of time?
  8. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Psst, I'm not wearing any pantz. :)
  9. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Didn't mean it to sound spiteful.
    I don't know if too many have written on time as perceived by musicians, but I've had at least one teacher talk about finding time between notes, so to speak. Playing "fast" is, to me, more a mechanical challenge than anything else. Start slow, work up to it, stay relaxed.
    I googled musician+perception+time and got some articles right away. Interesting stuff
  10. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    I agree with you to a certain extend. Speed is mechanical that's true especially when we talk about Mozart exerpts, we know them by memory so it's not really a mental thing.

    I guess I didn't properly explain all of my concerns, but the discussion has helped me take the issue into pieces. Take for example sight reading, of fast playing in an orchestral situation, you are reading, and it can be fast. Often you get extra problems with sharps flats and naturals all over the place, difficult rhytms, etc...
    This is when I would loooove to have an enhanced perceptory skill.

    I know some people might say that you are just supposed to practice the part and that will take care of the problem. I agree. But sometimes you just can't, like in a sight-reading round in an audition.
  11. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    Other than practicing and mastering a wide variety of music, I don't know that there are any new perceptory skills that will help. The reason some players sight-read well (IMO) is that they have already learned somthing similar to what's in front of them. Patterns are recognized and are so ingrained that no conscious thought is required.
    Every time a player masters some music they couldn't play before, it enhances their sight-reading ability.
    And then, of course, there's that stuff than nobody can play the first time. Faking is a skill, too. :)
  12. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    There is also the issue of how well a person's eyes track as they read. My son went through vision therapy because both eyes were not working together when he read. He had a hard time focusing on the words because one eye would start to drift off course. If you know your instrument well and have a full understanding of written notation and have a hard time sightreading then this could be a likely culprit.
  13. G-force


    Jul 1, 2004
    oslo Norway
    Look. This is a very intersting topic. One which has daunted me for years. "Is there a limit to how fast "I" can play" and if so "how" does this mechanism work.
    I wholeheartedly agree with NielG that is has to do with the work quality before. Start slow, then crank up the ole Dr.Beat
    one notch at a time.
    But how does a sprinter learn to run faster. Does he just keep putting one foot in front of the other but faster and faster ?
    Yes and no, I would say.
    But first does he know how fast he wants to go? Does he know how fast he is going ? Is he aware of his breathing. Is he aware of many of the things not in which will make him run faster but those which kepp him at a slower pace.
    There are many issues and of couse just breathing for x amount of times in a certain way will only get you so far. I agree.
    ANyway I wanted to add yesterday that actually this talk from FR has more to do with nerves and HIS approach to conquering them than only playing faster per se.
    I read the third book intro and was also opened up to new thoughts. I have some of my own from before and these new ideas just made me more the more curious instead of just replacing the old ideas I had.
    FB talks about how when he was almost hit by a car with his brother.
    This incident made him curious and then he figured out how he
    could benefit from it. He used his own experience with self knowledge and awareness .
    He also drinks strong coffee before a performance if he feels not "nervous" enough.
    I'm sure Ill pay for this last sentance....
  14. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    There was a study done and I don't remember who, what or where but they found that concert pianists and non musicians are able to tap their fingers on a tabletop at the same rate of speed. The conclusion was that it's not about nerves and muscles but about the organization of information in the brain that makes a fast player fast.
  15. Dr Rod

    Dr Rod

    Aug 19, 2005
    Hey Jallenbass, I think you're on to something. Do you remember what study that was?

    The question is how you train your brain to organize information more efficiently. Chess players do it. They not only think, but perform under pressure, as opposed to the research scientist (for example) that thinks and experiments without such a rigid time frame as we, or a chess player. A scientist can also alter the order of the factors, whereas we have a schedule (written music).

    I have noticed that even with exerpts that I know well, I can't play them fast unless my brain has a very high awareness of all the movements. Or sometimes just the opposite can be true, I can play a passage very fast, but I don't really know what I did, and when I disect it and try to understand it, I loose it. Somehow it's like if I had broken the "mental" structure that allowed me to play it fast (my fingers remaining physically the same).
  16. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Most or all of you are stronger orchestral players than I am, but I find there are three somewhat distinct issues I have with fast passages in the orchestra, two of which have been mentioned.

    The first is the mechanical challenge. The second is the "vision thing," -- getting the brain to read and recognize not just individual, separate notes, but patterns -- both as rhythms and as melodic/chromatic lines. This second has been a bigger problem than the first for me -- I liken it to the difference between sounding out individual words, a letter at a time, and seeing and recognizing the whole phrase or sentence at once. I'm closer to the former than the latter, and I don't know how to get to where I need to be.

    The third problem is one of playing at the right time and together with the section. This is partly a matter of practice, partly a matter of knowing the music, and partly a matter of self-confidence.
  17. JayR


    Nov 9, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    I thought I was a pretty good sightreader until the weirdest thing messed me up. We were playing Prokofiev's classical symphony in D, which is a pretty easy piece, and we were on the 2nd mvt bass pizz runs, you know, where the 16th notes are displaced and barred across the measure. Just having the bar lines like that messed me up so bad my eyes couldn't follow the notes like they were used to and I actually had to go home the night after the read-through and just memorize the line because there's no way my eyes could stay with it at tempo. Anyone else get anything like this?
  18. springbogen

    springbogen Guest

    Sep 24, 2005
    This is such an interesting thread! To be a good sight reader you need to have great technique. You have to put in the hours and hours of practice, ( which I am sure Mr. Rabbath has) to master the bass. One of the factors that make you able to be a better sight read is to work your techique up. You also have to develop your sight reading. You have to spend as much time as it takes with the bass to learn to sight read, because a teacher can't tell you how to sight read. You have to learn for yourself.

    What helped me to become a better sight reader is to go through etude books. I try to learn an etude a day. Then try to pefect the etude within a week. I also practice the standard orchestral bass parts.

    I don't really know to whom this reply is to, I just sort of wrote it.
  19. Hans Sturm

    Hans Sturm

    Dec 11, 2005
    Dear Friends,
    Hi, I'm the one who interviewed Rabbath for the Art of the Bow DVD mentioned earlier in this post. When he was speaking about taking several large breathes it was to help control the nerves when there is an overabundance of adreneline, not about playing faster. "By taking large breathes you become drunk with oxygen" is Francois' way of saying that by hyperventilating you are concentrating on your breathing and not your nerves. He then says to go to the stage right away and begin playing. In this way you are still focused on your breath and then your conscious awareness of adreneline comes more slowly as you come out of a light headed state and you tend to be less overwhelmed by the nerves. He also says that when you have a great deal of adreneline that the perception of time changes since you are hyper-aware of what is happening, so that seconds seem like minutes. His point is that if you are able to take advantage of this feeling that you will be able to take more precise control over your performance. This will not necessarily enable you to play 'faster' but to become more aware of what you are doing. He also says in the interview that adreneline can help you to do things that are seemingly impossible (stories of his brother jumping a very far distance when being scared by an oncoming car - an act he could not repeat under normal circumstances). In this way adreneline is very powerful and may help you to perform beyond your current technical abilities.
    Regarding what Francois has said about developing speed - it is endurance that is the key. If you develop such endurance that you do not feel the string under your hand and that you are completely comfortable at any place on the fingerboard, then speed will come. Something I tell my own students at the university is that 'playing fast is nothing but playing slow faster' -- by this I mean that correct smooth even technical command at a slow tempo will allow you to play fast once you have mastered each technical element. I should say that it is more important to develop the correct movements and then develop precision over time. If you are constantly correcting your intonation on the fly, then you will have trouble learning to make each movement more precise and hit the correct place the first time without sliding.
    Lastly, to develop great sightreading abilities you need to work like a pianist. Pianists have so many notes and chord shapes to become familiar with that they need to read ahead of where they are actually playing in the music. If you can begin to practice reading a couple of beats of where you are actually playing and then develop the ability to read as much as a bar or even three ahead (short term memory development), then you will become an excellent sightreader. One of the biggest keys to this is to become as familiar as possible with diatonic shapes (scales and arpeggios with a great variety of fingerings in all major and minor keys) -- this way you can begin to recognize larger patterns in the music and not feel you have to concentrate on individual notes.
    I hope these bits of advice helps all of you a bit - they certainly have helped me over the years.
    Happy New Year,

    Dr. Hans Sturm
    Associate Professor of Double Bass
    Chair, String Area
    Ball State University
    President-Elect, International Society of Bassists
  20. Welcome to TalkBass, Herr Professor Sturm! Your posts are most welcome here.

    I've seen/heard Hans play in a variety of settings, most notably (for me) with Eddie Daniels when I worked for a musical-instrument manufacturer that made his clarinet. Hans did several clinic/demonstrations with Eddie, and I always pulled Hans aside and bombarded him with questions.

    Judging from his playing, Hans really knows what the hell he's talking about.