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Importance of Technique

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by lijazz, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. Watching many bassists over the years, it seems that some have technique (or lack thereof) that evidences itself as how they learned to play their instrument over time without any formal musical education as opposed to other musicians who seem to have so called "proper" technique (i.e.: finger positioning). My question is this: How important is "proper" technique? I have seen bassists with tremendous chops that display what might be considered awful technique. Conversely, I have seen bassists with what appear to be great technique that absolutely bore me.

  2. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    If a bassist is perceived as boring, it has nothing to do with his technique, but the music that is produced by that technique. ;)

    Technique is whatever works for you. Where the problems often start is when people try to emulate the technique of someone they admire, instead of finding something that suits them.

    If you can get your music across in a safe and proficient way, then that is the "proper" technique.... for you.
  3. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    In life, technique could be seen as a means to an end. There has to be an application reason for a technique to work.
    What we have is the idea first, the realization of what is required, followed by at some stage the technique to give the required result we seek or want. There are many variables to consider to arrive at any technique, and that journey if not shared by others will arrive at a different technique to achieve the same result for them.
    As far as playing music is concerned that is an idea that grows and is expressed on an instrument, no playing technique required, but certainly a mental technique to develop ideas is needed, again technique but a different application to the physical one but both want to achieve the same thing, the music involved to be good.

    As far a playing goes technique is defined by the instruments and the physical characteristics of the person playing it...ideally. But for many the place they grow up in and the players around them may see them be introduced to certain techniques and ideas first. As in up-right bass, German or French bowing? On Electric bass Pick or fingers, etc.

    I have said before if we look back to the orchestra days of early up-right basses, why the design?
    Well back then size defined tone, bigger or longer gave lower tones than smaller and shorter. A violin is a small bass in construction. In that construction of a bass because of the tone required it had to be big. Because the construction techniques were wood based joints had to be big to take the tension of strings, tuners had to be big neck had to be thick as truss rods were not an option. Instruments were built for a function not for the player, so techniques to use them were developed. Again this was for the sound not the player, the instruments were not player friendly but for sound.
    Instrument makers like Stradivarius built beautiful instruments of such symmetry that the idea of an asymmetrical instrument was not desirable, though the ergonomics would have been better for the player, again we see this is not a consideration.

    So we have a large instrument, with large joints or heel to the neck and body, thick strings, large tuners etc. and we need to play this instrument. So techniques were born and developed to achieve the results.

    Fast forward to the modern day and we have basses from Fender to Status, from wood to carbon fibre, from magnetic to light sensor pickups. Space age materials that allow better construction, better sound, better balance better design, better everything if you want.
    But the idea for music has to come first because if you take away the technique of bass and apply what's left to another instrument, if it is good music it will still sound good, if its technique lead it will be left wanting.
    Combine great music and great technique and you have the greats of our instrument and for them and them alone i think they are at a level where it does not really matter for them which comes first, they have learned what is important and that is good music.:)
  4. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    A vague question without defining what "proper" technique is. Really there is no single "proper" technique. What works for one size/shape of person/hands does not for another. So lets assume that you just mean "technique"

    To me, the importance of technique is twofold:
    1.) to acquire the necessary muscle memory to comfortably, smoothly and cleanly execute your musical ideas with feeling.
    2.) to avoid long term injury due to bad muscle/tendon/joint use.

    think back, if you can, to how hard it was to finger your fist major scale.
    Our untrained muscles/brains were too busy interpreting and thinking about what our hands were doing to allow for anything very musical to flow.
    Technique is what was missing.

    There are a lot of specialized sub skills in "advanced" technique (slap -tap-artificial harmonics etc) that are not necessary for playing with feel.
    But technique is not on balance scale with feeling on the other end: I believe solid technique can only be an asset to playing emotively.
    To assume that a focus on techniques has a creative cost is a fallacy.
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    good technique has had one huge benefit for me that poor technique didn't...no pain. i would totally agree that i've seen great players with poor technique, but blaming technique for poor playing is the same thing as those who say they never learned to read music because they were afraid it would hurt their playing. if it's in you, it's in you, and no amount of knowledge can take that away.
  6. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I see technique strictly as a way to help conveying ideas.
    If there are no ideas, technique is helpless.
  7. nic salsus

    nic salsus

    Mar 16, 2010
    Saxophonist John LaPorta to a student:
    "I have some good news about your playing and some bad news. The good news is you have a lot of technique. The bad news is you have a lot of technique."
  8. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    I think technique is very important .
    It enables one to play the things one hears.
    It's by no means about playing many notes but to play with subtlety and deliberation.
    It's being able to make the instrument do what one wants it to do.
    I think having technique is never a problem, not having the maturity to use it musically sometimes is.
  9. queevil


    Aug 6, 2009
    As other have stated, I think that the only purely bad technique is the one that is injurious to the health of your hands. It's possible to use the wrong technique for a musical setting but it doesn't mean that the technique itself is bad.
  10. Beginner Bass

    Beginner Bass

    Jul 8, 2009
    Round Rock, TX
    A&R, Soulless Corporation Records
    Good technique will make it easier on you in the long run. For example, Cliff Williams (AC/DC) is huge, been playing for decades. His primary right-hand technique is a pick. Plays close to the bridge, mostly downstrokes. He now plays with a brace on his right hand. His poor technique caught up with him, and now he's going through pain every time he plays.

    The ideal technique allows you to play what you want, while not taking a toll on your body.
  11. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Technique... the most efficient use of energy makes for relaxed muscles. Relaxed approach means you can control your sound.

    Bad technique means you are muscling down, strain on joints and muscles, risk of injury.

    While some have bad technique and still manage to sound good, they are the minority.

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