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Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by David Abrams, Sep 10, 2003.
Is there an influence of cello technique on the development of bass technique?
I found playing cello first to be an immense help, but I imagine that if I had done bass then cello bass would have been of great aid to my celloing.
I think all stringed instruments probably influence one another some way. I know that this would be a good place to insert an example but I can't think of a good one, I'm sure there must be some.
In watching cellists, they seem to have a good use of the weight of the left arm in fingering the notes, which Francois Rabbath emphasized at the recent Summer Bass Workshop at the University of Maryland. This may be well known to most classical double bassists, but I had been primarily fingering the notes with the muscles of my hand to press down the notes as I would go from one finger to the next for one note to the next. Rabbath was teaching that the hand, finger, and wrist are relaxed and flexible without squeezing or muscle tension, while the forearm guides the hand and finger to the note. Then the arm rotates to finger one note to another, rather than the hand muscles squeezing and pressing down, etc. Is that an example of something already well known in cello technique?
My teacher has been trying to get me to use the weight of the arm, rather than the strength of the fingers for two years. I get the impression it is well known.
It is working now, but when I started out, I was squeezing the strings to the finger board using my fingers and thumb.
The squeezing caused an overuse injury that forced me to stop all playing for two months, then it was another couple of months before I could regain a decent practice schedule.
Using arm weight is a practical necessity for either instrument, or even viola da gamba or violone for that matter. It has to do with the size and tension of the strings and position of the arm, not so much with an influence of one instrument's technical development influencing another's. In other words, bassists and cellists came to the same practice by dealing with a similar circumstance, not necessarily by influencing each other directly.
New Directions in Cello Playing by Victor Sazer talks about similar ideas. Well worth having a look at.
I think that this is acheived more naturally on cello due to the way that you sit with the thing. When standing and playing bass, as most of us do, it takes a little more intent to 'get it right'.
Good practice to get the feel of it is to spend some time on a stool and then look for that feel when you stand. You'll find that you balance the bass so that it is falling into your left hand. The bent-endpin route is another good way to get this done efficiently as the bass falls forward and into your left hand.
There is certainly a correlation between bass guitar left hand technique and cello left hand technique. Playing the cello for many years helped to strengthen and condition my hand and arm. However, cello technique is much more related to double bass technique.
It is important to remember, though, that the mindset for playing each instrument differs slightly because of the tuning (cello is in fifths, not fourths, CGDA low-high).
But in answer to your question, knowledge of the cello will help with playing the bass, and vice versa.