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First Lesson Today.

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Pastorius43, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. So, I'm having my first Double Bass lesson today. I'm wondering what my teacher should teach me? He's normally a EB teacher, but has a few DOuble Bass students. The book he's using to teach me is F. Simandl.

  2. ToR-Tu-Ra


    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    You'll be fine with Simandl. Be sure you get all the basics down: posture, left hand position, right hand bow grip. These are the most important to get by without pain. Good luck, relax and:

    WELCOME TO THE DARK SIDE!!! :bassist:
  3. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Congrats on your first lesson. Don't underestimate the relevance of that classical technique. It's really going to help you no matter what you want to play like.
  4. TomGale


    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    Oh Lord! I had hoped no one was still using this book. It's old and outdated. If you want to get the real feel of Simandl, change to thick, gut string and raise the action 1/4 to 3/8's of an inch higher. Always use all fingers instead of just 2 and keep all shifting to a minimum. You will be right back in 1890 to 1950. Please check your calender. It's 2006!
    Tom Gale
  5. bdengler


    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    And the Simandl etudes really stink. You should see if you can get a mix of Tom Gale's books and George Vance's for the etudes.

  6. Anybody in here ever use the Sturm 110 Etudes book? That one is pretty good. I didn't even know there was a George Vance etude book. Are you talking about The Repertoire for the Double Bass books? I guess they kind of double as etude and solo books, since they teach technique through solos. However, I really don't agree with the Rabbath approach, which is what all of the fingerings in those books are based on. So, George Vance's books are good, but his fingerings suck.

    By the way, Pastorius, just trust your teacher, and hang on to that Simandl book.
  7. I actually like the book :) The exercies that go with the scales are pretty fun, and make playing all more interesting. The lesson went well too, we got to about page 14. He showed me how to hold the bow and bow correctly and how to hold the double bass, and went through the exercieses. Thanks for the responses also:)
  8. sibass89


    Jan 29, 2006
    Cincinnati, OH
    I've used the Sturm books. They are great and cover every bow stroke and every kind of left hand technique you can think off. Some other great etudes are Kreutzer, Keyser, and Storche-Hrabe.
  9. TomGale


    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    George Vance's books are good, but his fingerings suck. (?)

    That's a litle too harsh. I know George and his stuff is very good although I disagree with the approach. He takes a basic skill and incorporates into a solo or etude. When you finally have mastered the etude you have also mastered the skill. He and Hal were originally selected to do the Suziki (sp?) bass book. The publisher wanted too many changes and they balked - and good for them! The series then came out in its present form.
    Personally, I don't like a repeated rote system although it does work on reinforcing fundememtal skills. I think the reading level should move along with the fundememtal skill levels - you get into the orchestra faster! Try my "Practical Studies". It works.
    Tom Gale
  10. I was checking out that site, and i noticed the phone number on the left I'm loctated very close to columbus ohio. IN those Clinics you do, are beginners welcomed?

  11. TomGale


    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    It is located in Columbus, Ohio and they take all levels.
    Tom Gale
  12. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Tom, who are you? Please fill out your priofile, COMPLETLY! If your Book, that you keep Advertising up here is that good, then send everyone on TB a free copy. We will evaluate it and then see if Simandl should be Shelved. Until then, buy some Banner ads and pay for advertising instead of knocking all the proven methods that the world has been using for the last 100 years. The Bass is still tuned E, A, D, G and Simandl is still on of the best methods to learn with.
  13. I didn't mean any disrespect towards Vance; I think his books are a great approach, using solos (as well as orchestral repoirtoir) to introduce and reinforce technical issues. However, sometimes I find that his fingerings are a bit exaggerated, and often less efficient than more obvious fingering solutions. I found his books great for building up a beginner's repertoir, and Sturm good for reinforcing the technicalities.

    What's really important is that all of the important technical issues are covered, whichever books and/or methods are used in the procedure of teaching them.
  14. TomGale


    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    Thomas B. Gale, Composer and Bassist

    Mr. Gale is the author of a series of books for the double bass and is Senior Faculty Trustee of the American School of Double Bass. He holds a Master of Music from Northwestern University; a Bachelor in music from West Chester University (Pennsylvania); has studied with Carl Torello of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Rudolph Fashbender of the Chicago Symphony. He is the former principal bassist with both the Huntsville Symphony and the Huntsville Chamber Orchestra (Alabama) and was the former bass instructor at the U. of Alabama - Huntsville. He was also the former executive director of the Allentown Symphony and has performed with the Harrisburg, York, and Allentown orchestras*— all in Pennsylvania. He has done bass presentations from state to international levels, and his articles on bass techniques have appeared in more than nineteen countries. His teaching experience*— both in public schools and private studios*— covers more than forty years and includes more than twenty years in an Air Force Reserve Military Band. He and his wife Martha live on a mountain in Northern Alabama where he continues to pursue his work on bass technique theory and still works as a freelance musician.
    Bass World, Vol 27 #3.

    Melodic Duets for Double Bass

    Practical Studies for Double Bass

    Technical Foundation Studies for Double Bass, Volume 2

    Thomas B. Gale
    503 Monte Sano Blvd.
    Huntsville, AL 35801

    Although he is perhaps best known in the bass community for his work with former ISB Solo Competition Winner Mark Morton in the Columbus, Ohio based double bass studio known as the American School of Double Bass, Thomas Gale has enjoyed a varied career. As a student he studied with Carl Torello of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Rudolf Fashbender of the Chicago Symphony. He freelanced in his home state of Pennsylvania with several regional orchestras including the Harrisburg Symphony and taught in both public and private schools for almost thirty years. After moving to Alabama he served as the principal bass of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra and the Huntsville Chamber Orchestra and taught at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In his desire to help developing bassists, Mr. Gale has self published a series of books collectively known as Music for the Developing Bassist. His collection includes a total of six books; three newly revised editions were submitted for review.

    First reviewed in the fall issue of Bass World in 1996, Melodic Duets for Bass has now been expanded to a total of seventeen short works. Arranged
    for the advanced beginner, the titles are primarily from the folk and religious song repertoire including such familiar titles as Amazing Grace,
    Sometimes I Feel, When Jesus Wept, Just A Closer Walk, and Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair. The scores are spacious, with plenty of room for markings. Only a few suggested dynamics and fingerings are indicated,
    allowing for freedom of interpretation. For the most part the arrangements are bass friendly, using open strings and harmonics in a clever way, such as in the effective Christmas Basses Are Ringing. In a few pieces Mr. Gale has experimented with a range of creative aleatoric treatments and theatrical instruction, giving the students a chance to ‘play’ with the music. For example, in The Great Irish Race, bass two is given a repeated figure with the instructions “repeat ‘till you can’t stand it anymore.” A harmonic line is written as being “optional by either bass” and then a scalar passage in contrary motion is accompanied by the instruction to “race to the next quarter note, may the best bass win.” What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor features a graphic notation section marked “very slowly, in a stupor” followed by the ending line marked “AFAMP – as fast as musically possible.” Other arrangements help develop a sense of tempo and ensemble. Sweet Betsy from Pike features several fermatas and changes in tempo and character. In short, Melodic Duets offers a range of refreshing and creative diversions for developing bassists.

    Previously review by Bass World in 1995 and again in 1997, Gale’s revised Practical Studies for the Double Bass uses American folk songs as a vehicle for introducing beginning concepts of double bass technique. A checklist of fifteen items appears on the inside cover to be reviewed by both teacher and student to “make sure you and your equipment are ready.” This list suggests much about the philosophy behind the book, that a qualified teacher is necessary as a guide. Unlike other methods that begin with open string exercises or at the mid-point of the neck, Practical Studies begins immediately in first position using the first and fourth fingers. Likewise there are no introductory rhythmic studies. Exercises with combinations of quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes are introduced on page two without explanation. This approach allows the book to concentrate on the introduction of individual bass techniques without detailed concern for the student’s overall musicianship.

    Text appears throughout the book to explain fingering and shifting notation practices.This is most successful when Mr. Gale goes into detail, such as in his explanation for finding the reference point for the D harmonic on the G string. He explains that the curve of each instrument’s neck and the shape of each bassist’s hand is slightly different, but that this reference point is available and reliable once the spatial relationship between the thumb and the first finger is established.
    Other single sentence explanations are less helpful when they address more complex concepts. For example, at one point a single sentence appears between exercises “Think of bow speed and bow placement as you change notes and strings.” While considering the bow while you play is excellent advice, there are a variety of possible strategies regarding the parameters of the bow. For instance, a student and teacher might well question Mr. Gale’s use of the term “bow placement.” The left hand position in the related exercises remains stationary, so there is a question of intent; should a student work to keep the bow at the same place in relation to the bridge or change placement depending on the string?
    The central concept in this method concerns left hand positions. Mr. Gale introduces a total of four positions in the book. First position is the same as Simandl.The next three positions span a whole step and are all in close proximity, with the thumb in the curve of the neck. He introduces the “harmonic position,” what Rabbath calls third position, by placing the first finger at the harmonic of the fifth above the open string. He indicates the position by placing the letter ‘h’ prior to a fingering notation. Next he describes the “pinch position,” one half step higher.That is to say that the first finger on the G string would now be placed on Eb and indicated with the letter ‘p.’ The last of three he calls the
    “corkscrew position,” yet another whole step higher. And again the first finger on the pitch E on the G string would be preceded with the letter ‘c.’ Finally he introduces the ‘open hand’ position, that spans the interval of a minor third and it appears that it may be used at any point on the neck.

    The idea is intriguing; codifying a series of chromatic positions to help with intonation over the break of the instrument from the lower positions into thumb positions using the thumb as a reference. Mr. Gale has obviously thought very carefully about this potential problem area of the instrument and crafted a logical solution. His use of folk melodies is an effective way of introducing new fingering challenges within a familiar context. However this concept needs to be expanded more fully to be effective. Each of the chromatic positions only receives a single exercise.
    It seems that a number of exercises employing each position independently and then with other positions would help to fully integrate their use. The “open position” receives more generous treatment with several pages devoted to various open position possibilities.

    Previously reviewed in 1997, Gale’s revised Technical Foundation Studies for the Double Bass, Volume 2 Thumb Positions is divided into four sections with a forward. On the inside cover, Mr. Gale has placed a diagram illustrating eleven variables in bow sound production. He states that: “The
    importance of the bow arm cannot be overemphasized.” In his forward he discusses the concept of the “Triangulation of Fingering Systems.” By this he means the development of three fingering systems including the closed hand i.e., traditional span of a whole step, the open hand i.e., span of a
    minor or even a major third, and the thumb positions, both above and below the octave. The first section of the book is comprised of nine etudes. In these etudes he explores various combinations of the three fingering systems in an organized manner based on the span of the interval from the thumb to the third finger in thumb position; a minor third, a major third, or a perfect fourth. Well-crafted and somewhat challenging, each etude carefully and thoroughly explores the variety of fingering possibilities outlined in the forward.

    The second section of the book discusses six selected left hand fingerings in some depth and provides a variety of musical examples to illustrate each point.
    Gale describes two closed hand fingerings concepts. The first of these is described as even-numbered consecutively fingered notes, such as phrases comprised of 2, 4, or 6 stepwise pitches. The second is odd-numbered consecutively fingered notes, such as phrases with 3 or 5 stepwise pitches. He then investigates combinations of open and closed hand positions when encountering odd-numbered consecutively fingered notes.
    The possible use of thumb positions in conjunction with the aforementioned positions is investigated, as is the appropriate use of only the first and second fingers in thumb position for lyrical passages. He offers several exercises for the development of making a transition between closed and open hand positions and finally discusses musical exceptions to several of the previous concepts in chromatic passages. The third section of the book is devoted to a brief investigation of rapid arpeggio fingerings. And the final portion of the book is devoted to an appendix of musical examples taken from orchestral and solo repertoire to illustrate thumb, open, and closed hand applications.

    As fingering choices are inevitably musical decisions, they remain a very personal choice. A player must be well informed to confront these musical choices intelligently, yet creative solutions are not always born out of logic. Gale has made a bold effort at codifying the universe of fingering choices and then searching for principles of application. And yet, as he
    acknowledges in the second section of the Technical Foundation Studies, “determining bass fingerings is not a science.” However, when one has a highly evolved perspective on the variety of fingerings available, then one becomes a well-informed performer. Gale’s methods are thoughtful guides
    that have the capacity to assist bassists in developing just such a highly evolved perspective. – Review by Hans Sturm
    Double Bassist, fall issue Sept. 2004

    Thomas B. Gale's:

    Technical Foundation Studies for Double Bass - Volume 1 : Open Hand Technique, 2nd edition 2000

    Technical Foundation Studies for Double Bass - Volume 2 : Thumb Positions, 2nd edition 2002

    Practical Studies for Double Bass - 2nd edition, 2003

    Melodic Duets for Double Bass, 2003

    Thomas B. Gale
    503 Monte Sano Blvd.
    Huntsville, AL 35801

    In case you are not familiar with the "Simandl-Plus" system developed by Dr. Mark Morton at the "American School of Double Bass", it helps to understand the "Triangulation of Fingering Systems" (the core concept of the system). It is a systematized approach to three fingering styles: 1) "Closed hand" (Simandl) - a 1-2-4 spacing 2) "Open hand" (Franke) - a 1-2-3-4 spacing, and 3) thumb position. The Triangulation is the focus of these books.
    The "Practical Studies" is the primary source of learning. The
    sequence is impeccably devised, with each concept being logically presented and tied to prior material. It develops closed hand, first position, neck position and common bowing patterns. American folk
    songs (Oh, Suzanna, Skip to My Lou, Aura Lee, etc) are used as musical examples.
    Vol. 1 is used as a supplement to the closed hand. The Open-Hand technique will scare many people at first, since a cursory glance shows complex exercises as low as Bb on the G-string. However, the introduction warns against "blocking" the fingers and "playing past the pain" - the two biggest land mines of this technique. The studies are repetitive exercises that progress through six positions on the G-string. An appendix consists of reprinted Performance and Technique
    articles by Thomas Gale. The article on improving one's playing is particularly insightful and clearly communicates basic tenets of practice and musical growth.
    Thumb position is addressed in Volume two. Like the Petracchi higher technique, Vol. 2 organizes thumb position into three groupings (m3, M3, P4). Unlike Petracchi, every possible combination of finger patterns within the intervals is reinforced. Original melodic etudes and the appendix synthesize all three techniques. Considering the amount of supplemental material in this volume, the title is misleading. It is the summation for the student's study of the Triangulation, and is therefore the vital volume.
    The "Melodic Duets" are nineteen folk tunes with no fingerings or articulated teaching points. They are simple tunes to be played by the teacher and student at every step of the student's progress. These duets are terrific for review, tone exploration, and making music together in the studio (how often is that overlooked in many lessons?).

    Each volume is painstakingly crafted, and reflects decades of
    exposure to successful classroom method books. This series will be a necessary study for anyone interested in exploring alternate and expanded techniques in the spirit of Petracchi, Rabbath, and other performers who are not only constantly pushing the envelope and finding innovative solutions to complex problems, but who also have the discipline and talent to present their ideas in a coherent manner.
    Dennis Whittaker
    Affiliate Artist of Double Bass
    Moores School of Music University of Houston 77204
  15. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.

    In a Nutshell no doubt!