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Fingering (Discussion)

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by anonymous0726, Feb 8, 2002.


  1. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    To keep the thread clean, I had suggested to me to find another spot for conversation, flaming, questions, etc.

    I'm working on these in word and then posting them at TB and updating a semi-hidden page at my web site with the info at the same time. The web version, which should be more printer-friendly, can be found at: http://sun.he.net/~rparker/TheExorcises/

    I just put up the 4th crossing, and will be putting up my fingerings for the C scale soon, as it raises some interesting TP issues that are not really noticable in the F scale. Then I plan a GP for some of the above-mentioned yakking/flaming/etc.

    I'm really interested to see what you guys have to say about this stuff, as my only audience up to this point, other then brief demostrations, has been students.
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    If I end up flaming you over your fingerings, it'll take awhile - enough time for me to absorb all of this stuff! Just wanted to give the whole thread a thumbs up and say thanks for taking the time. Keep it coming.
     
  3. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Good stuff, Ray. I actually somehow stumbled across your page without realizing it was your work. I'm looking forward to applying next time I do some actual practice:rolleyes: . Nicely written, too.
     
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    ...here we go. With the two scales that I have up now, there should be enough detail here to see what you guys think.

    There are a million little things that I mention along the way when I'm showing this stuff to students, but I practiced as much self-control as I could so as not to notate every tiny detail. I'm expecting that I likely edited things that should have stayed, etc.

    Let me know what you think.
     
  5. Wow, Ray, you sure have put a lot of that into it.

    I have a couple of comments, first, renaming the fingers for thumb position is a hassle and leads to confusion. I think it's a lot simpler to keep the index finger as one, middle finger as two, etc., and simply add T to indicate thumb. It doesn't require any change in thought, 1 is always the same 1, 2 is always the same 2. Renaming the fingers is an even bigger complication should one get into using the thumb below the traditional 12th semitone. I've played music where I've fingered A on the D string with my thumb and E on the G string with 1. Explaining that fingering, for example, is a lot easier using T-1 than 1-2 and explaining the the thumb is now 1.

    Secondly, you seemed to avoid a common thumb position fingering that covers an entire tetrachord under one hand position, requiring only one shift to play an entire octave. Your fingerings appear to be similar to some of those in John Hood's _Three Octave Tune-up_, but I'm wondering why you excluded this possibility when you seem to have covered every other logical possibility?

    Oh, forget that question, I just remembered you wrote one finger per semitone in thumb position. But why be limited to that when it's very easy to cover a whole step between fingers in thumb position?

    Regarding the use of thumb pivots in the very low positions (1,1-4; A, Bb-C on the G string), I've found that to be very inaccurate and requiring much more practice than a simple shift. I think in that example F was played with 4 on the D string, why not play 2-1-4 then on the G? The A is already under the 2, and the shift is a very simple whole step shift. It also necessitates maintence of "proper" hand position (shape) which is less strenuous then breaking the shape for the reach and pivot.
     
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Shifting or rolling could be left to personal preference, but when you take the application of melodic tools into consideration then rolling is the only way to achieve any speed. As an example, go through the entire F scale, play the neighboring tone below, the neighboring tone above, and then the note. (By neighboring tones I'm referring to a half-step below the note and a scale step above) I think you'll find that when you start really covering four-fretted ideas with any speed that shifting becomes incredibly cumbersome, and this is why I have my students learn to roll on the thumb once pretty early on.

    As far as my renumbering of the fingers, this is pretty central to the way that I approach the bass. Remember that I propose keeping to the Slab-type, or four fingered (or fretted) fingerings. Using the old 'T-1-2-3' makes a confusing mess out of keeping your self in scale position by having your 1st finger on 1, 3, and 6 of the scale. It would also cause a lot of hassle if you were to take any literature up or down an octave, where if the finger-numbering is consistent you have no problem. Color printing, like I'm using, or the handy ol' asterisk, would differentiate between TP and Not TP pretty easily. (Just waiting for the punsters)

    As far as limiting myself 'when whole steps are easily reached', this goes back again to staying in scale position and minimal muscle-memory training to get the job done. I'll have to write out an example line that I might play as an example to preview where I'm heading.

    I had an interesting conversation with a bassist friend of mine who comes out of the classical thing and his comment was that because of the very diatonic nature of a lot of the literature played on that side of the fence that my approach would cause unnecessary shifting as you wouldn't need access to all that 'my way' gets you. I would have no problem conceding this. It's left up to the individual whether shifting or working out the intonation for all of the extra fingerings is less expensive. Ultimately you have to do what works for you for a given situation.
     
  7. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    I been uning some of your fingerings and some of the fingerings from Dr. Mark Morton (http://www.asodb.com). When he gets into thump position he calls the thumb 1. So, it not to hard to follow your exorcises and his fingering. He also advocates the 4 finger approach to bass and yes it is hard if not impossiable befor 4 position. Keep up the good work.

    Joe
     
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Wow! I'm very excited to see what Morton is up to. It looks like he's gone the same way that I have, but from the classical end of the universe. I've contacted him and look forward to meeting up with him on all of this business...
     
  9. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    Ray,

    I was checking out some of your music over at mp3.com. Nice stuff, you should cut one of their DAM CD's just so I could buy a copy ;-)

    Joe
     
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I kind of lost some motivation on the MP3.com thing. Maybe I'll find some energy for that again at some point. Alternatively, it's not unknown to snail-mail MD's and cassettes back and forth between TB members.
     
  11. I can dig your point about improvising in thumb position.

    This kinda harkens back to the Simandl+ thread, there's a time and a place. Sure, for anything shorter than a quarter note when the tempo is approaching quarter=300, you can't shift, but traditional fingering/shifting works fine for just about anything else, including playing the F scale the way you suggested.

    Another thing I have to ask you about is your assertion that shifting is unmusical or non-melodic and your fingerings are melodic. How can a fingering be one or the other? You hear a melody in your head, grab the notes and play them. But in all honesty, I think I play more melodically when I shift up or down the same string than when I play across the strings.
     
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    There is nothing about fingering that is melodic or otherwise. I speak of access to melodic tools. Technique should allow you to have your instrument out of your way so that you can spend your energy on music.

    Pardon me now if I vent a little frustration. I seem to be failing to get my basic tenet across.

    The basic point from which I start is how harmony lays on the instrument and how best to wring out of The Monster whatever it is that you are trying to play. If you can play everything that you play using whatever technique that you use, even if that method involves a single string and a C-clamp, then don't let me get in your way. If you, as many bass players do, find the instrument a difficult one on which to achieve agility, then you may want to consider what I propose. I've taken very modest natural physical ability and managed to achieve considerable mobility and have with my achievement generated some interest.

    My approach is purely pragmatic and if there is any beauty, it is purely in function. I'm a zero-BS kinda guy with some innate mechanical engineering skills, and I do not propose what I propose for the sake of anything but to erase, as much as possible, The Bass from standing between the player and the music.

    I believe, that between the 'Fingering' thread and the HTML post at my web site, I have laid out pretty clearly, but perhaps not in minute detail, the problems that I have with some of the more popular traditional left-hand methods. If the old ways satisfy you, then I again offer that you not let me cause you grief.
     
  13. Ray, I absolutely agree with the first statement.

    As for the second, you're not causing me any grief. You started this thread in what appeared to be an effort to promote some discussion about your fingering technique. I'm just taking part, expressing some questions and thoughts, which IMO, were legit. I thought that your effort to lay all of this out here at least deserved some thought and a critical response, not just a slap on the back or a blow off. And frankly I'm suprised there haven't been more questions or comments. Afterall, you laid this on at least a few of us who've been playing a long time and should be well acquainted with Simandl (or other), it's limitations, and how to beat them.
     
  14. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Cool. I guess where I was getting frustrated is that what I'm trying to get to is larger than whether shifting is better than rolling on the thumb and the like. Certain things like that are going to be personal and also depend on speed, etc.

    The powerful idea that I'm trying to get across is that traditional western harmony lays on the neck in a four-note-width pattern and that to achieve the melodic agility that a horn player or piano player has you need to maximize your ability to get all of the melodic tools under your hands.

    The two big limiting factors of the bass, technically, are range and string length. The range limitation can be softened by knowing how a key lays on the bass and how to access what you want when you want it, and string length can only be defeated by hijinx and mojo -- at least where you can't actually reach things with all four fingers.

    What I'm doing on this front is transposing a four-fingered approach to three fingers where four fingered fingering is impossible. Playing four fingers when it can be reached when speed is required, or three fingered if you have time to move around like that, and re-assessing completely the way that TP has traditionally been approached. Traditional bass technique seems to me to be engineered much the way that the English are famous for being designed -- things are added as they are needed -- which leads to an overall poor design. (I love English cars, don't get me wrong, but I offer as an example a '59 Jag that my dad had. You had to pull out a frame cross-member to get the oil filter off) As bass has progressed from a novelty into a 'real' instrument, it seems that no one has gone back and considered how to play the thing and rather have just continued to pass on bad habits and narrow thinking. (Narrow in that bass has been approached as a utility instrument.)

    So, if you are doing a lot of orchestral work and there are TP passages that can only be played with some kind of extended fingering, then only a fool would not use it. I'm a jazz guy, which has some similar and some different requirements from the classical thing. If you're a straight orchestral sort, then a lot of what I'm trying to open up on the bass may not be needed for what you do. I haven't had a chance to really dig into the Morton stuff that Joe Taylor turned me onto, but from what I've seen of it so far, it looks like he's on to the same things that I've been working on.

    I'm going to try to get up, maybe later this week, some examples of where all of this leads ultimately. This is so much easier to show in person as all I have to do is play some for you to show you how it works. A demonstration is worth a thousand words, eh?
     
  15. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    It nice to see the ball being tossed around. We all need to pay attention to what Ran and Doc Morton have to say. The faster the music and the futher up the scale it the more you need good fingerings. In the past before I got side tracked I used to played in two orchestras one university orcherstr and (a real long time ago) an all state symphony so I have seen a few bass parts I can tell you this if you have to do a lot of shifting you wont get all the notes! In Tch's 4th symphony you get to play in G cleff and the same in Shostocovich (sp?) 5 there is a lot of G cleff as with many others I can testify to you that going across the strings to catch the notes is easier than shifting like crazy. here is an example of what I am saying start with C on the G string play CDCDACACD (141414141
    ) all 16th notes, presto, if you have to shift for the A you wont catch the the rest of the passage where if you stick you pinkie out and hit the A on the D string it is easy. And, the odds of being in tune go way up. If you all want some real fun grap a gig where you are playing the Cello part and try to play it in the right register you will be so far up the finger board you'll need an oxygen mask. And, they have 32nd notes to play I did not know a base player could read much less play 32nds can you say lighting fingers.

    Also, there is one other little thing when you are playing with 5 to 10 other bassests and they all are going across strings for notes you look real dumb shifting like a mad man. Which may bring the wrath of the section leader down on you or the conductor asking questions like why don't you play it like the section leader--not good if you want to keep you job past the next try outs. You don't want to go there trust me on this one.

    There is no better way to learn where all the notes are on the bass than by playing lots of scales. Using all the fingering patters you can think of.

    Joe
     
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    I doubt that anything you write about fingerings will cause anybody grief. In BG? Possible. Even likely...but here?

    Nah. Never happen....:D
     
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    As a follow up, I played a (sightreading) Big Band gig this weekend where every other tune was in Ab or Db. The type of fingerings in Ray's thread are perfect for situations like this, and came in really handy as a way to keep awkward crossings at bay.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher

    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Some edits:

    The parenthetical in the sentence before "Arithmetic Can Be Your Friend" should read "(toward the ceiling)."

    You might want to get rid of the "#" signs when indicating nos, as these can be confused with sharps.

    Further points:

    Failing to mark the thumb positions with "T-1-2-3" notation obscures the point you're trying to make re: entering the thumb position early. To cite an example, in C no. 2.4, the 1-2-4 for the E-F-G on the G-string could be read either as TP or traditional fingering.

    For me, a good fingering isn't necessarily the same up as it is down. My intonation is better when I stick to 1-1 upward shifts and 4-4 downward shifts.

    I'm also an advocate of covering whole steps--and more--between fingers in TP. Maintaining a one-finger-per-half-step all the time seems unnecessarily "bass-guitaristic" and causes my intonation to suffer. (In fact, I don't do this on BG, either.) Whole intervals lie between the fingers much more easily than half steps in TP.
     
  19. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Thanks for the points. I'll see what I can do to clean these up.

    With this I purposefully disagree. One of the real points that I'm making with this approach is how harmony lays on the instrument and how to get this under your fingers. I make no distinction between different parts of the bass other than we are woefully short a finger at the bottom of the neck. For print, I differentiate where TP starts using color. Later, when you start working on the melodic tool embedded in the scale, then thinking about, much less listing, all of the fingerings with the mixed nomenclature would be intractible.

    This is something you could fix in about a week of slow, diligent practice.

    If you're running up and down scales, then this is fine, I guess. Orchestral folks would have more use for this than the rest.

    The only things that could cause you intontation problems with any fingering system would be:
    • Overstretching, or too many hand shapes to memorize -- two things I try to get rid of with this stuff.
    • Too many shifts or too many concurrent shifts, which I minimize by playing across the strings rather that staying on one or two strings. Edgar talked about this in his master class the other day as well.
    • Not spending the time in the woodshed fixing hand/ear/instrument shortfalls/bad habits.
     
  20. That’s the problem I have..Ab Db . I can "play" with no problem in these keys but when I "read" in these keys, it’s a different story. If I try to stay positioned on the Ab - my reading suffers (my brain is slow to transfer the notation to the board in this position)...if I stay in first position my reading is up to speed but I am shifting like crazy. I am currently working on reading in the Ab position so I must ask... which is the correct position to play these keys?