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Help on Losing the Position Tapes

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Beginner Bass, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. Beginner Bass

    Beginner Bass

    Jul 8, 2009
    Round Rock, TX
    A&R, Soulless Corporation Records
    Yesterday, the school bass I had been using for my orchestra classes' scroll broke. So in the meantime, I was using a bass the school had on reserve, which had yet to have the tapes placed. I asked my teacher if I could just try the bass without tapes for a few days, and then see how it went from there. My lower-position intonation is pretty good, not dead-on yet, but I'm working on it. So I was wondering if anyone had some helpful advice for this, or is it just practice until you get it right. Thanks for any response you care to give.
  2. Andrew Hamilton

    Andrew Hamilton Guest

    Apr 18, 2010
    I would say try to get some time on the instrument alone. It's much easier to hear intonation when you're in the practice room. Turn on your tuners drone function and try putting in on a C. Play a 1 octave C major scale and try to get the notes perfect. If you have to adjust notice where your adjustment took place and restart the scale.
  3. Beginner Bass

    Beginner Bass

    Jul 8, 2009
    Round Rock, TX
    A&R, Soulless Corporation Records
    OK, I'll do that when I can. Thanks for the help.
  4. bejoyous


    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    For the C on the G-string use the open G for a Sol-Doh relationship.
    For the C#, play the open A and let it ring so you can hear a nice Major 3rd.
    For the D, play the open D so the octave is in tune.
    For Eb, put your thumb in the pocket at the root of the neck and play it with your second finger.
    For the E, play the open A so the Perfect 5th is in tune/
    For the F, find E with 2nd finger then use the 4th finger, or play open D and listen for a minor 3rd.
    For F#, play open D and listen for a nice Major 3rd.

    Use various fingers for the above notes. When you are comfortable finding the notes try leaping to the notes from first position. (Ex. on the G-string, 1st finger on A leap to 4th finger on D, check tuning with open D. Then 1st finger on A leap to 2nd finger on D. etc.)

    Make sure the strings are in tune first.

    You can also go up the D string using open A and E.
  5. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Practice in front of a full length mirror-you'll be able see both your hands and your bow technique. The drone idea is a good one-I set my tuner to the fifth of whatever scale/arpeggio I'm working on.
  6. Practice in the dark. Seriously, if you can't see your hands, you have to use the feel and your ears. You'll find pretty quickly that's enough.
  7. You are training muscles to remember patterns of use.

    Each position has a three dimensional setting of the arm, and hand on the fingerboard, like a GPS reading. The distance between each set hand position can be measured by the thumb and fingers sliding up and down. The ears should both predict coming notes and judge their correctness.

    The first fingered note to remember is A on the G string. As Andrew McG suggests, turn out the lights and shut your eyes too. Reach for A, correct it, study the setting of your arm, drop your hand by your side then reach for the same place. Test and adjust. Keep repeating the process and quickly discover that your muscles have a memory. Repeat for D, this time with the pinkie. Try scratching the back of your head then reaching for D, or scratching your right shoulder or touching the top of your scroll. Reach for D thinking "tuning position." Then try shifting from A to D and back, thinking Position to Position, distance moved and note to note.

    There are ways to quickly find notes, even in orchestra, however very quiet harmonics can still carry a long way!! The note A sounded on the G string and tested against open D will locate Half and 1st positions and find notes from G to B. The G harmonic over C can locate notes from B flat to D. The D harmonic over D can find C to E. The thumb planted in the curve at the bottom of the neck will locate IV and V Positions very securely. F sharp is an octave+a third above open D and makes a sweet chord and Octave G is a Harmonic that is not quite directly over the same note fingered.

    There are three sizes of shift, Small, Medium (or Walking), and Bungey (or Death-defying Leap of Faith). Small is a 1/2 or whole tone distance moved by the hand, eg G A B C played 0 1 2 4 on G string. Medium is when the hand walks up and down the neck from note to note in say groups of two notes, eg G A Bflat C D E F on the G string. In both cases you can measure the distance travelled by the thumb and fingers sliding up and down neck and strings. In the largest shifts such as jumping to B flat in Thumb Position from B flat on A string the thumb and fingers must often let go of the neck completely, hence the Leap of Faith. Usual advice here is think only of the pitch of the note that you will land on and trust your muscle memory to do the rest. This actually works!!!!

    The gradual process of learning all your scales, Major and minor, over at least over two octaves with Major minor Dominant and Diminished arpeggios, will end up polishing and honing both your note finding and shifting skills.

    Hang in there!!

  8. basspirate777


    Mar 21, 2009
    Latrobe, Pa
    Excellent responses so far, Mr. Potts definitely had some good tips.

    I think the $60,000 dollar lesson here is to learn to not look at the hands. Muscle memory is what you really want as far as truly learning to /play/. You don't want to have to devote attention to your hands when you want to be looking at your music, the conductor or a saucy wench of your choice.

    Also, a good tip I learned is to gauge your shifts from a common "home" point. I always touch the nut (hehehe, gross!) before shifting. I know now how it feels to shift from half position up to third and to second and first, etc. After a good half hour or so of playing and I am warmed up-I can barely shift wrong, my shoulder and arms and fingers just want to gravitate to the right spot. I haven't gotten 100% accuarcy yet, but I found this really helps!!

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