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Has anybody tried Dr Mortons technique?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by JazzBassinSC, Jul 28, 2005.


  1. JazzBassinSC

    JazzBassinSC

    Jul 26, 2005
    Columbia, SC
    I was looking at the website for Dr Mortons' books, and it looks like he advocates a four-finger technique, even in the lower positions.
    I realize this Simandl vs. Electric Bass Method has been beaten into the ground, but here's my question.
    For those that care to respond, at what point do YOU go from a Simandl to one finger per half step method?
    The pic on Dr Mortons website looks like he's in first or second position using this technique.....too low for me.
    Gary Karr states in his video that "electric bass fingerings are where its at" (Im paraphrasing) but he doesnt go into detail SPECIFICALLY as to where he uses this method. (I cant see anybody using it in first position, it seems ridiculous)
    Anyway, are Mortons' books just a rehashing of what you can get out of any EB method? Or are they worth the money?
    FWIW, I can play an A major scale starting on the E string without shifting or pivoting....any lower than that, and I use 1-2-4.
    At what position do YOU use a one finger per half step method?
     
  2. Charles Shores

    Charles Shores Commercial User

    Jul 26, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    Owner: Guitar Barre
    I find myself using it starting at 4th position, works really well most of the time. It saves valuable shift time and evens the tone, I think.

    Chad
     
  3. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    Some methods encourage using it right back in hP and encourage "pivoting" on the thumb.

    I've recently started using this -- starting in 1.5 position (positions as taught by the Simandl method) but I find that using "electric" fingerings for the B and C on the G string (and F# and G on D, etc.) on my bass is perfect spacing, and I tend to overshoot this if I use Simandl fingerings as I've been taught them. IMO, I also find it very useful up around the heel of the neck (3rd-4th positions) and helps intonation there. Also much more comfortable.

    Considering lowering my action to facilitate these fingerings, though. I'm using Spiro Mittels with decently high action (actually, too high at the nut -- but that's not the point) and it's a real workout on the hands.
     
  4. JazzBassinSC

    JazzBassinSC

    Jul 26, 2005
    Columbia, SC
    Thx Aaron and Chad. I might try the usual online book sources (amazon, sheetmusicplus, etc) where I can check them out and return the books if I dont like them. I did a search on here, and it seems like some are familiar with Morton, but didnt go into specifics as to what his approach was. I'll post back if I end up getting his materials with a summary.
     
  5. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    JB in SC,

    Gary Karr advocates using the electric fingerings in the higher positions. If you watch his video, he demonstrates starting around fourth position, if I remember correctly.

    I think you shouldn't use electric fingerings unless you can play your scales in tune with them. It's easier to get sketchy with the intonation when you use the 1-2-3-4 fingering because your covering the spacing of 4 frets (which is much greater on the DB in the lower positions) instead of the spacing of 3, which is much easier to play cleanly. So, this is how I usually decide for myself.

    A lot has to do with hand size, too. Obviously, if you have gimungus hands, using those fingerings is a more viable option. Sometimes us smaller guys can't really make the stretch, even with the thumb pivot.
     
  6. spacecanoe

    spacecanoe

    Aug 6, 2002
    canaduh
    ive only been playing upright for about 2 weeks now and ive been playing electric for years and years. my bass teacher( yes i finally have one:)) is showing me the simadl fingering and truthfully i think its kind of a waste... i do it when i have to.. but i find the electric 1234 fingering to be easier and not really too fatiguing. mind you im not playing for more thatn 45 minutes or an hour in a sitting. i do agree though that it is hard to get proper intonation if your running 1234 fast but that just comes with practice id think.. plus i think simandles fingering should be more like 134 instead of 124 but hell thats just me.. i say defy the laws of tradition and if it works for you go for anything.. even playing it with a plectrum if need be HAHAHAHAHA man imagine that:p
     
  7. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Spacecanoe,

    While I agree with you that different techniques work for different people, I personally think Simandl has a lot of value. My first teacher was all about Simandl and made me use that technique religiously. I'm glad he did, because eventually I used that as a good foundation to build from and incorporate other ideas from other players. It's a lot harder to "go fishing" on the upright than on the electric, obviously, because of the lack of frets. But in my experience, guys I know who were classically trained seem to navigate the bass with much greater ease than guys who just figured out the board for themselves.

    This also applies to using logical fingerings. Many times fingerings that make perfect sense on the e bass are the worst fingerings to use on upright. So, it's not just technique, but learning new scale patterns and such, and this also makes a difference.

    I do agree with your point, but I think it's good that you're at least looking at Simandl. IMO, the best thing to do is absorb everything and then develop your own way of doing things.
     
  8. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    Interesting statement. I found it far more difficult initially on DB, figuring out the patterns for the different scales that had I had long since been acquainted with on BG. IMO, it made me a better musician and I now have a much greater knowledge of the fingerboard. On BG, 1 pattern for each scale will take you where you need to go. Not so much on DB, so even now when I'm figuring out how to finger X mode in X key that I haven't done before, I'm able to do it much faster than a couple months ago because figuring out those new fingerings really enforces your knowledge of the fingerboard.
     
  9. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Aaron, you really summed it up perfectly with this post. Like many guys, I also came from electric and it wasn't long before I realized that most of what I knew concerning positions needed to be re-learned. And that's part of the process that makes you a better player. Ray Brown said "know the fingerboard. Know it up, down, left, right, every way." (I'm paraphrasing.) But you are living proof that it's a true statement.
     
  10. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Are you sure this is correct. I have read most of his materials and have most of his books. I thought what he promotes is a combination of a number of fingering systems and the four-finger technique is only used higher up the fingerboard generally beginning around the crook of the neck.
     
  11. bpclark

    bpclark

    Apr 30, 2003
    West Central, OH
    What Dr. Morton is trying to do is provide a set of fingering strategies that make musical sense while making passages easier to finger.

    So with that in mind "open hand" or four-finger technique will be used most often in the upper register where it is more likely to make passages easier to play. It is OK, however, to use it in lower registers if you are physically capable and it makes sense musically.

    --Brett
     
  12. JazzBassinSC

    JazzBassinSC

    Jul 26, 2005
    Columbia, SC
    Pete Coco said:
    Gary Karr advocates using the electric fingerings in the higher positions. If you watch his video, he demonstrates starting around fourth position, if I remember correctly.

    Thats what it looked like to me as well, Pete. I just wasnt sure where his "cutoff point" was as far as Simandl vs 1-2-3-4, since he didnt really state it, he had made the comment and I didnt know if he used it in the lower positions as well.

    Pete Coco said:
    IMO, the best thing to do is absorb everything and then develop your own way of doing things.

    Well said. Im exploring my options, and fourth/fifth position seems to work for me.

    Adrian Cho said:
    Are you sure this is correct. I have read most of his materials and have most of his books. I thought what he promotes is a combination of a number of fingering systems and the four-finger technique is only used higher up the fingerboard generally beginning around the crook of the neck

    I wasnt sure about his methods at all. I was making an assumption based on a pic from his website:
    http://www.asodb.com/sp/sp2.html

    It looks like he's stretching quite a bit (or maybe my fingers are longer than normal, or his are shorter...not sure)
    The nut nor the heel of neck are visible, so its hard to say what position he's in, but here's a quote taken from his site:

    "This fingering system places a half-step between each of the four fingers, making the hand span a minor third (on one string). This added half-step is extremely advantageous, especially in fast passages, because it makes it possible to play diatonic passages across the strings in any key without shifting at all! As a result, “open-hand” technique is winning more and more followers."

    "Without shifting at all" is what led me to believe he uses it all over the fingerboard.

    Also, he says:
    Franz Simandl’s famous New Method (which is not “new” at all — it was first published over a century ago) is still the leading proponent of this system. In the “closed” technique the left hand spans a whole step (on one string) which requires the hand to stay compact and move quickly. This system works well for about 90% of playing situations. Problems arise in the other 10%.

    Adrian and bpclark, it sounds like you are familiar with his method. If he uses 1-2-4 in the lower positions, and 1-2-3-4 in the higher positions, how is this different from Simandl?
    I thought he was trying to get away from a "dated" (as he seemed to put it) technique.

    Pardon my ignorance, but Im new at the DB bass game, and am curious as to his approach. Can you elaborate a bit as to what his books are all about?
    Also, since you both have his materials, what do you think of them? Do you use his methods over Simandl?
     
  13. bpclark

    bpclark

    Apr 30, 2003
    West Central, OH
    I haven't had his books for very long, but I do like them. I'm not quite sure how elaborate as you asking other than to say that his approach is to try to make fingering as simple/easy as possible while making them as musical as possible as well instead of sticking to "fingering rules" for the sake of sticking to the rules. So you will see the use of "open hand" in lower registers and possibly starting the use of thumb positions below the octave. I don't know if that helps you or not. If you have a more specific question, I might be able to be more helpful. I've heard Dr. Morton talk about his approach and his ideas are well thought out. They certainly work very well for him and it seems to me should work well for a lot of others as well.

    --Brett
     
  14. JazzBassinSC

    JazzBassinSC

    Jul 26, 2005
    Columbia, SC
    Thx Brett. The fact that you are happy with his purchase is good enough for me. It sounds like he's onto something and Im sure once I dig into his stuff a lot of these questions will be answered, but Id certainly like to email you in the future (after Ive had a chance to assimilate/apply what he's talking about) since you're studying his method as well.
     
  15. bpclark

    bpclark

    Apr 30, 2003
    West Central, OH
    I'll be happy to help where I can.

    --Brett
     
  16. TomGale

    TomGale

    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    Glad to hear some our using our material at the ASODB.com. The whole theory of what we call the Triangulation of Fingering Systems involves the musical combining of the closed hand techniqes (Simandl, example), open hand (4 finger, etc) and thumb positions - both above and below the octave. It's very logical and musical - at least we think so.
    Tom Gale
    ASOD.com
     
  17. TomGale

    TomGale

    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    I forgot to mention that Mark doesn't recommend using the open hand tech in half or first or any particular position. He advocates closed hand 90% of the time and open hand as a suppliment for places that would be suitable and make the passage easier or more musical.
    Tom Gale
    ASODB.com
     
  18. bdengler

    bdengler

    Jan 23, 2000
    New Albany, Ohio
    I take lessons from Mark Morton and I use his scale books and Tom Gale's books (I'm in Technical Methods No. 2). Mark does NOT advocate using a four finger technique in all positions on the bass; instead, he and Mr. Gale promote a Triangulation method, in which the traditional Simandl method is combined with four-finger and thumb position techniques. I'm beginning to get the swing of this method and I'm finding it more efficient for playing and I'm getting better intonation, especially since I learned the meaning of Tom's "rock 'n roll" method of doing the four-fingure technique. :)

    Regards, Brian