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Hammer Technique in Thumb Position (pizz)

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Jul 24, 2004.


  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I've been working on a lot of thumb position technique exercises lately, and have made a good deal of progress. For exercises, I've been using a mixture of Petracchi and basic scale studies, then just working on playing tune melodies an octave higher than they are often written/played. I have a great teacher who is helping me with left hand position, and I'd never have made it this far without him. However, since he's an orchestral player and almost always plays arco up there (while I'm working on pizz technique almost exclusively), there is one issue where he admits he has little experience - "hammering" pizz notes. So I thought I'd check and see what some other jazzer's experiences might be.

    Basically, I often practice a fingering concept when working on scales in which I group fingerings in twos with no open strings, so that the second note of each group can be "hammered" as a legato phrasing with no RH attack if I desire... then I shift to the next group and do the same thing. Descending, I'm working on "pull" techniques to achieve the same effect, although this is much harder. I find that in the lower positions, this is *fairly* easily executed by using arm/wrist rotation to supply the power while keeing the fingers relatively stationary - a concept I believe is very important for stamina, consistency, and longevity. However, up in TP, I find my leverage much more restricted, and while I can still execute the technique to some degree, it doesn't feel as strong as in the lower positions. Thoughts about different ways to approach this?

    Also, up in TP, I am often unsure how to rearrange the note groupings and when to shift if I want this legato effect, since up there the traditional groupings are of three or four notes. I've done some experimenting and come up with some useful workarounds, but was wondering what others might have experimented with along these lines. The important things I want to maintain are an even, solid tone and good intonation. Any thoughts/comments/anecdotes anyone would like to share would be welcome. It's exciting territory, but a hell of a lot of work!
     
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I used a lot of hammer-ons and pulloffs when volume permits, both up and high and down low. I've never really spent serious time just working on it as it seems to come pretty naturally.

    As far as what you're talking about getting your hand into position to get the articulation that you want, this is what I'm working on with my 'Chaotic Fingering' thing, which really comes into play with the Stick of Pain. With the stick, you have articulations that will make you finger things weird, plus a nagging things that I'd really like to accomplish is a better vibrato with my thumb. I end up making shifts that I really wouldn't need to make just to get around a seemingly straight note from the thumb when I'm wanting to wiggle that note around...

    A good excercise would be hammer-on, pull-off tremolos. Put your thumb on, say, G on the G string. Tremolo Bb with your 3rd finger (great for blueses -- makes the chicks go nuts and tenor players smile) as it's the easiest, then work chromatically down...
     
  3. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Dang... whre you located?
     
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Me, you mean? Right here in Brooklyn.
     
  5. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    NYC. Well, I slip through there every now and then, enroute to another patch of woods up in Maine, and it sounds a good place to maybe get a lesson, make that travel time worthwhile. Take my lessons where I can get 'em.
     
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Bring me a cup of coffee and I'll show you what I know!
     
  7. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    I'm a coffee freak. A coffee cup is one of my appendages. Hard to hold onto it and bow. I'm afraid I won't be able to teach you anything, however, it'll be a one way street. Or maybe something about music and woods animals. They love music, too.
     
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    ...and this is exactly why I don't bow. I mean, in life, ya gotta make choices, right?

    Ray - I'm hip to the stuff you mentioned so far. I guess what I'm looking for is a sort of physical weight shifting concept up in the tratosphere that's like what I use down low. I found a little extra bit of leverage last night, which may help. Fingering wise, I should probably just keep experimenting with two note groups and shifts in addition tot eh three note groups. Oddly, one of the few things I don't have an issue with is getting a decent vibrato on the thumb...once the arm weight is there, it seems to come pretty naturally.
     
  9. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Cello?
     
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    :confused:
     
  11. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Oscar Pettiford?
     
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    OK. Oscar played both bass and 'cello. Your point?
     
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Probably that if you want to play that high that you might as well play cello.

    I'll submit in the defense of TP that 2/3 of the instrument resides after the octave.
     
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Oh. Well, if that were really the point, I'd probably respond thusly: :rolleyes:

    No, sorry, I'd probably make that: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:



    I wasn't aware that TP needed defending. :eyebrow:
     
  15. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    It comes under attack a lot, particularly from non-bass players, but also there are a few among us that want to 'stop to occupation'.
     
  16. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    No fence ment, really. I used to teach some cello, and play some jazz cello, and it was a pretty fun way to get up there, I thought more fun that the TP on bass. And a lot easier.

    I played sousaphone for the depths, E flat tuba for mellow and some dixieland, and B flat tuba for high range stuff. If Ida had an F tuba, Ida played it for something. I like to make life easy for myself and use the right tool for the job - or, more ergonomical tool. For those who fly in TP - that's wonderful. Have at it. I don't, though. So I take (took) the easy route to high notes.

    There's invariably sousaphone players who defer to the baritone or French horn range, and there are a few who can actually do it. Similar, IMO.
     
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    None really taken, I just didn't understand what the 'cello stuff was all about. I don't fly in TP yet - more like hopping, skipping and jumping - but I'd like to, hence the study and shed time. It just seems logical to me to attempt to become fluent on the entire range of the instrument. And when I hear the high stuff done well, I find the way it can sing up there very inspiring.

    What I don't like about TP playing is what I think of as bad TP playing, in which the player seems to be going up there just for the sake of going up there and gets a ****ty tone. To my ear, it only really works if you can make it sing, but that's just me.
     
  18. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    We probably don't differ by much, actually (except in talent). I believe a fellow should get as much of the instrument in hand as possible, and practice my TP at least some each day. My instrument isn't good up there though, so it's just to cover whatever orchestral work may bring in.

    I have considered a 5 string high C bass and am still considering it, to cover my shortcomings on that. I have doubts about their tone on the high C though, and need to get hold of one before firming up the decision. Then I'd also be torn because I love the low C better.

    It's really a question of what is going to be more beneficial to me on whatever gigs start coming in once the chops get back into shape - a year, probably - and more often than not it's the low C. I'd like to be ready by the time "full retirement" hits. Right now, it's just partial, and allows me to fool around a little. After it's full, I will probably have to work to maintain my standard of living (sic), but just as little as possible!!!

    Anyway, these are low level economic decisions, and I could just as easily break out and get both! I'm not all that predictable, even to me.
     
  19. Aww, that's easy. You just need to get a sixer. :rollno:
     
  20. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Scary!