Fingering a figure in Mozart 39

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by bucephylus, Oct 2, 2005.

1. bucephylusSupporting MemberCommercial User

Aug 18, 2002
I'm currently working on the Mozart 39. In the first movement, there are these repeated groupings of a short eighth note followed by two sixteenths. Pretty straightforward, but I'm finding at tempo, they are a bit challenging to be precise with. So, I've been trying to break down the possible fingerings. The way I see it, there are two possibilities.

The classic technique would be to shift after the eighth and take the sixteenths across 2 strings. The problem is that still leaves a shift on the last sixteenth to get back into position for the repeated figure. I guess my problem with that is the shifting on the sixteenth at tempo. Obviously my shifting isn't precise enough. Is it supposed to be? (I know, practice, practice, practice).

The alternative is to "cheat" and use cello fingering. With that approach, the bowing is on one string, but more importantly, the fingering is set up for the repeated figure. There are some intonation issues with that method as well, but it seems to fall in more naturally at tempo.

I'm pretty sure my issue with the first approach is the shifting. The string crossing with the bow is fine.

2. jallenbassSupporting MemberCommercial User

May 17, 2005
Bend, Oregon
I use my thumb on the lowest note of the pattern. The first one on the G string and the rest on the D string.

3. bucephylusSupporting MemberCommercial User

Aug 18, 2002
Thanks.

In fact, I don't quite see what you are saying. Sorry. Let's take the Eflat figure - Eflat 8th, F 16th, D 16th. Which gets the thumb and which are on the D string? Does the F get the thumb?

Do you keep that fingering all the way down into the lower positions or move to the lower strings as the figure descends?

4. TomGale

Jul 31, 2005
American School of Double Bass
Eb = 2, F = 4, D = 1. Standard open hand bass technique. It isn't cheating and it isn't cello fingerings. Welcome to the 21st century.
Tom Gale
ASODB.com

5. bucephylusSupporting MemberCommercial User

Aug 18, 2002
Thanks Tom. That's the way it seemed to lay best for me. I appreciate the feedback.

6. jallenbassSupporting MemberCommercial User

May 17, 2005
Bend, Oregon
The D is the lowest note of that pattern. It gets played with the thumb.

You can go as low as is comfortable on the G string but I play only the first one on the G. All the others I play on the D string.

7. Johnny L

Feb 14, 2002
Victoria, TX
If I did play that line in an orchestra for money, I'd go with thumb position to knock it out. It's easier to play in tune than using open hand for me.

OTOH, when I came into double bass from bass guitar I wouldn't have even considered playing that line using thumb position and would have worked it until I could play it in tune with a 1-2-(3)-4 fingering as Martha Gale suggests. Bass guitars have the same string stop that cellos have.

39's a sweet tune btw

I want to ask you guys about the bowing on that. Does the 16th note line typically get played off the string as is the 8th note? If so, is it typical to do a pull-off also to get the 16th notes to speak clearly?

It's just an academic question. Pull-offs are part of the standard guitar technique "repertoire", and I've only personally heard of Jeff Bradetich explicitly advocating this for bassists.

8. jallenbassSupporting MemberCommercial User

May 17, 2005
Bend, Oregon
The 16ths are slurred.

I do a pull-off.

9. Johnny L

Feb 14, 2002
Victoria, TX
Oops thanks for the correction jallenbass.

Right the 16ths are slurred...but I want to recall seeing a bass hero in a master class talk at length about off the string bowing and using that line as an example where the bow needs to stay on the string until the second 16th note is enunciated and then it can leave the string.

It all makes me want to think that the way the bowing on that line should happen is for the bow to bounce more or less naturally on the 8th note but then get a controlled bounce (entirely guided by the hand with no intention of dribbling it) of some kind for the 16ths to ensure that they speak.

How do you do it? Do you play that line off the string, and do you let the bow bounce naturally throughout...or do you control it at all times or the flip-flopping that I'm thinking of?

If they were 8th notes throughout (say, as in another Mozart excerpt), would you let the bow bounce naturally then?

Thanks,
Johnny

10. jallenbassSupporting MemberCommercial User

May 17, 2005
Bend, Oregon
Hal Robinson told me that he plays Mozart 1st mvt 8ths off the string and Mozart 4th mvt 8ths on the string. That works for me.

As far as natural bounce and controlled bounce I'm not sure I understand your question. When I bounce the bow it is always controlled. I guess at real slow tempos I control the bow more than at faster tempos

11. bucephylusSupporting MemberCommercial User

Aug 18, 2002
Thanks a lot for the great suggestions. They both work, but both still have problems. Using the thumb seems to lead to bigger shifts through the thumb position after the octave figure at the end of each phrase. However, the phrases are more naturally in tune, at least for me, with the thumb fingering. I'll have to play with each for a while before deciding. Thanks again.

12. KSB - Ken SmithBannedCommercial User

Mar 1, 2002
Perkasie, PA USA
Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
What is the metronome tempo at the Allegro section. The First bar of that F_GE,F_GE etc looks the hardest comming off the eighth notes and in 6-7th position. Depending on the actual Bass used the Thumb on the G or D and G thumb pos seems the only way. I just pulled out my Excerpt book II by Zimmerman, pg. 44-45 for those that have it. Out of fear, I looked up my entire season of the two Orchestras I play with to see if this was on the Program. We have M's41 but not 39 in the Mozart Program this season. Whew.. I'm off the hook..
______________________________________________________
CONCERT IV - Happy Birthday Wolfgang! NPSO Celebrates Mozarts 250th Birthday
Saturday, Apr 08, 2006 at 8:00 PM

Allan R. Scott, conducting
Evelyn Burnam, mezzo soprano
Louis Scaglione, baritone

Choral Society of Montgomery County
Louis Scaglione, artistic director

MOZART, Overture to Così fan tutte, KV 588
MOZART, Exultate jubilate, KV 165/158a
MOZART, Symphony No. 41 in C major, KV 551, Jupiter
MOZART, Overture to The Magic Flute, KV 620
MOZART, Mass in C major, KV 317, Coronation

I have awhile for this as luck would have it.. Any pointers from you Orchestra veterans out there in TB land? Or, wait till it's time to work on the music and then come crying for help..?

13. jallenbassSupporting MemberCommercial User

May 17, 2005
Bend, Oregon
I wouldn't say you're off the hook. I find 41 much more difficult than 39. Way too many 16th notes in the last mvt.

14. Johnny L

Feb 14, 2002
Victoria, TX
O.K. that helps thanks jallenbass.

If we use a basketball dribble as an analogy, I was hoping to say that "natural" meant we were letting the ball spring back up without our picking it up, where "controlled" meant I was picking the ball up rather than letting it bounce up...but this is all probably too much thinking and worrying and I should just keep having fun practicing it

That's interesting about the 4th mvmt on the string. You don't let the bow leave the string at all?

15. KSB - Ken SmithBannedCommercial User

Mar 1, 2002
Perkasie, PA USA
Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
Well, I was referring to the 39th. Ok, I just got out the 41st, book III Pgs. 18-20. Ok, the Andante, how fast are those 32nds? The Eights don't look that hard in the Allegro or Molto Allegro as far as technique goes. Just a lot of note runs with a few shifts and accidentials. I will let you know after we do it next year how well or not so well I did with it..

16. jallenbassSupporting MemberCommercial User

May 17, 2005
Bend, Oregon
The hair never leaves the string. If the stick bounces consider it a bonus.

17. jallenbassSupporting MemberCommercial User

May 17, 2005
Bend, Oregon
The 32nds are OK.

Aug 18, 2002