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High pitch playing.

Discussion in 'Ask Patrick Neher [Archive]' started by basshound123, Nov 17, 2010.

  1. basshound123


    Nov 17, 2010
    i am a student bass player. I really like the sound of songs played on the violin and cello, but, of course, i cannot hit high enough notes to play such things. i wanted to know if there was some special technique to use to do this, or any songs which had prominent bass lines(this is one gripe i have with the songs i play in orchestra).
  2. PNeher


    Mar 31, 2005
    Bellingham, WA
    Hi and High!
    You have brought up a point that solo bass players have dealt with for centuries! Some instruments have been made to cross the range of bass and low treble (like the "piccolo bass" of Brian Bromberg, and the Viennese Bass of the 29th century which had a high, extra, string), but are they a bass then? The range of the double bass actually is pretty high, going to a playable range of about four octaves. The cell only has a larger range. But the question is how does one develop the technique to play (well!) in that range. Of course the easy answer is: "Practice!" But there is much more to it than that. Practicing the stuff (like scales and arpeggios, etudes and orchestral excerpts, transcribing solos from saxophonists and violinists) that will give you the tools to play high is absolutely necessary. And so is applying attitudes that help your abilities (like "Bass playing is NOT hard." "I can play anything I want to play on the bass." and "I love a challenge!"). A methodology that helps YOU attain your goals is hopefully what your private teacher is providing. Look for one if you don't have one! You can learn the bass without a teacher, but it is much faster and more rewarding (IMO) with a teacher that has a lot of experience and is dedicated to your development.
    So, that's the "heady" stuff. Play the music you want to play, even if it is in violin range, where you can on the bass, then take it up an octave or two. Notice the forms you use and make sure you adopt the most efficient forms.
    Orchestral music for bass is pretty limited. Brahms and Beethoven really started to challenge bassists, Mahler and then Strauss REALLY challenges us. But so do greats in jazz and rock. Learn the music before you apply it to the bass and you will be that much more ahead of the game. AND, don't allow conductors and teachers to limit your learning with attitudes like: "The bass only plays whole notes, get used to it!"
    Finally, check out the solos written by composers: Vanhall, Dittersdorf, Bottesini, Negri, Misek, Dragonetti, Rabbath, Proto, Turetzky, and countless others, all to whet your appetite for solo playing (iTunes is a great place to start)
    Best to you my friend!


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