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I am not a troll... I think

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by mandocaster, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. mandocaster


    Dec 24, 2004
    Houston, TX
    periodically someone asks about left hand technique and a sizable contingent of tb'ers will react with complete certitude that there is only one way to left hand goodness - that is, through classical technique.

    I tend to dig in my heels a little when I feel I am being fed dogma.

    What of Dave Holland or Ray Brown? I don't think either spent a lot of time in formal study. I might be wrong; I am not a historian of jazz.

  2. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Ray Brown definitely studied classical. Don't know about Dave Holland.
  3. Dave Holland studied at Guildhall IIRC.
  4. mandocaster


    Dec 24, 2004
    Houston, TX
    I may have picked poor examples. I am just going by their wikipedia bios, that have them going out after HS directly into full time gigging.
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    There are people who repeatedly recount that Ray Brown would get private lessons with the local classical bass symphony principal wherever he toured. I would think that 95-98% of the bass pros out there have some kind of classical training. Only freaks like Chris Fitzgerald would go without it. ;)
  6. I did a master class with a heavy NYC jazz player a few years ago, and he had a characteristically pithy comment on this subject:

    Something like: there are only a couple of really good jazz bassists who didn't do much classical training - and he named Charlie Haden and Wilbur Ware. So, he says, if you think you're as good as those guys, go right ahead ...

    My $0.02: for the left hand, there isn't 'classical technique' or 'jazz technique,' there's just technique. And besides - technique is a separate thing from making musical decisions when you're improvising - it's only 'just technique' (ie, technique gives you the facility to play in any direction you might want to - but the music is more than the technique.) Can I use the word 'technique' any more times?

    I've sometimes had to work with classical teachers or section leaders who were absolute about their stance, bow hold, bowing, or whatever being the only right way to do anything - which I would call genuinely dogmatic. Saying that you can best develop your left hand by working with one of the published methods seems like a moderate position in comparison (depending how you say it).

    ... troll ... <ducking>
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    And even the freaks, I hear, practice lots of Simandl, Rabbath, Petracchi, and J.S. Bach on a regular basis...albeit without the bow (which is what makes them weird in the first place). :help:
  8. mandocaster


    Dec 24, 2004
    Houston, TX
    I studied with Hal Robinson and Bill Black here in Houston years ago (for all the good it did me... I'm not very good). I still get Simandl out. I don't mean to sound like a troll heretic.
  9. I was kidding, I'm just allergic to smileys.
  10. uprightben


    Nov 3, 2006
    Boone, NC
    One could concievabley learn Rabbath or Simandle technique only using pizz and jazz literature. The reason this is not the best way to go is that when you play pizz you have a larger margin of error with your intonation. That is not to say that it is ok to play pizz out of tune, but that when one is very slightly out it is much less noticable pizz than arco. So, just for the sake of intonation, you are better off using the bow.

    So, why not study jazz arco for intonation and skip the classical lit.? Well, if you want to improvise, you need a large melodic vocabulary. To deny youself the classical lit. is to deny yourself +- 1000 years of western music. It's like a writer who has never read anything that was written before the beats, or a painter who is ignorant of everything before Jackson Pollock. If you want to be an artist, you do well to educate yourself about the history of your art. Grow your roots deeply and you will be a strong flower, not a shallow troll.:bag:

    So there is a preachy rant, but you did ask for it. lol
  11. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
  12. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    The players who brought me up, bass-wise, rejected Simandl dogma but were deep into physiology and ergonomics. Consequently, I don't use Simandl and never did, and I aim for an ergonomically sound approach even though my old teachers would probably cringe if they saw me now. (God knows they'd cringe if they heard me now!)

    It's fact, not dogma: Inefficient left-hand technique has a substantial risk of muscular damage. Yes, there are players who go through their lives with floppy fingers, thumbs up near the E-string and palms touching the neck and they don't get hurt. But the fact that they are successfully able to defy ergonomic science doesn't mean that the science is faulty.

    Y'know, people take all kinds of risks in this life without getting into trouble, but it doesn't mean they're smart (or good musicians).
  13. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    For me it is fairly simple: I had ideas and musical goals and I did not want to waste a bunch of time re-inventing the wheel. There is no easy way, but just dealing with the traditional information that is there is certainly a faster way. It can't hurt you.
    Learning the bass is the best place to put your ego aside and just get on with it.
    If you do the work in the practice room, then you get to "play" on stage, if not you are always working.
    I don't want any technical issues to get in the way of my music making, so I try to attack technical problems from all sides. I check out every method I can get my hands as well as trusting my own judgement and ability to solve problems.
  14. FYI Dave has great classical technique. Great big chunks of chops. Watch his left hand for a while... you'll get the idea. He does, however, digress intro the 'monkey grip' on occasion, but the groove is there, so...

    My 2 main teachers came from both sides of the coin- one S, one R, but they both encouraged my to work on that stuff like crazy, and I think it has paid dividends. My intonation is better, my shifts are clean, and I don't 'paint my self into a corner' too much. Heck, sometimes I even suprise myself sometimes by walking a chorus (or 2!?) in thumb position on the D/A/E strings.

    +1 on Sam's commentary on the physical side. Efficiency matters.

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