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jazz and the methods

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by dar512, Apr 27, 2006.


  1. dar512

    dar512

    Mar 25, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Does a jazz player need to go though one of the various methods (Simandl, Rabbath, whatever)? If so, why? What does it give you?
     
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    The thing that the legit method books give you (whichever one you choose to work with) is a solid foundation in positional playing. They don't change around where the notes are when you play jazz, so having a methodology of approaching fingering and position shifts that somebody has ALREADY worked out is a good thing. I came over from BG too, and since I didn't really work on this stuff when I started, here I am almost 20 years later trying to clean up my physical approach. Believe me, if I had the choice I would NOT want to have to unlearn 20 years of bad habits and half assed approach.

    But over and above a book (which is, after all, a static tool) why not get together with a real live breathing human? They are going to be standing right there in teh room with you and can demonstrate, either by example or by actually pushing your body parts around, what the best physical approach FOR YOU will be. I highly recommend it.
     
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The classical folks have been working on playing the bass for 300 years or better. Jazz players, ~75. This doesn't make the classical folks right, necessarily, but I think it'd be worth you checking it out and making your own decisions as to whether they are right or not.
     
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree 100% with what Ray and Ed have said - but I could say one word ....."intonation"?
     
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Intonation is all ears after you get a clear sound. Technique is about fluidity, control and not injuring yourself. I've a couple of self-taught buds with the worst looking hand in the world, and I'd bet large sums that you'd give a favorite gumdrop to play half what they play. They are exceptions, though...
     
  6. dar512

    dar512

    Mar 25, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    This is a powerful argument.


    Yeah, that's actually part of the reason I asked. I do have an instructor that I'm working with. He's a great guy and he's taught me a lot in the last year and a half. The thing is, he does have background in jazz and upright playing, but that's not his forte. He's given me scale charts, but we haven't covered any kind of method. To be fair, for the first year I was playing on a BG and playing a Dean Pace is still mostly playing BG. [Although you do get to play in an upright position, which I find much more comfortable. :) ]

    But now I've progressed to the point that I need to internalize the scales in order to progress further. And I'm holding out the carrot for myself that I might spring for a real doghouse once I've achieved a certain proficiency at some basic walking lines.

    So if I really need to go through one of the methods, then I think I might need to find someone else to tutor me. So it ends up being kind of a major decision for me.
     
  7. dar512

    dar512

    Mar 25, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Oh. And if I do go this route, is one of the methods better than others for jazz players?
     
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I think all of them have their followers, it seems to be a personal thing. You might want to consider having two teachers (if you can swing it financially and timewise) one for jazz conception and a legit bass teacher. Or move to NY and study with my teacher, he's got both things going for him.

    But if you can't do two teachers, I would get with a clssical guy for a couple of years and listen to as much jazz as I could. The teahcer will get you moving around the instrument and your ear will get you trying to reproduce the language.
     
  9. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I find the Simandl and Petracchi methods to be best for jazz and improvised music. Since the music is fluid solid positions can be a big help.
    Remember, the ear can only tell you what you did, not what you are doing.
    You hear the sound at the same time the audience hears it.
    it is important to practice with the bow because you only hear the fundamental pitch in the very first vibration pizzicato, due to the overtone series. What the bow does is extend that first vibration so you can hear it.
    My feeling is solid technical grounding is far more important for jazz players and improvisors. The classical players know their music inside and out, we are supossedly making decisions in the moment.
    The use of solid methods and muscule memory is a more dependable solution.
    All the great jazz players besides Haden and Wilbur Ware studied a classical method. Those two players also had gifts that could be seen as extremely egotistical to assume you have.
    In my experience people who choose not to pursue standard methods either take a few decades to get sounding good or they are geniuses.
     
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I odn't know how many times I've heard players insist that they were playing in tune (when they weren't)because they're "in the correct position".

    Your "internal" ear ALWAYS has to have an expectation of pitch, positional playing gets you on the street, your ear and the expectaion of what you are going to hear when you sound the note is what gets you to the front door.
     
  11. mje

    mje

    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I've been studing the Vance books- at first, just to play duets with my nephew- and they've really given me a great boost in intonation and being comfortable in higher positions. (Of course as a jazz bassist I'm still a beginner- but I'm in tune!)
     
  12. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    There's got to be a whole White Castle-load of qualified teachers in Chicago.
     
  13. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    - True enough, you need to be able to hear the center of the pitch and have a sense of the sound you are making. However, relying only on the ear or only on positions is not going to be as productive as having good positions AND having a good ear.
    On the other hand, in any kind of improvised music, the ear has other responsibities within the ensemble. If it is engaged in finding your pitches it is a good chance you won't be listening to the other musicians as much.
    It is true that bassists with good position still play out of tune, but just as true is the fact that "ear" players wraping their fist around the neck are rarely as in tune as they think they are. Try putting a bow to one of those notes sometime!
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I like to think that the ear is not so much "engaged in finding pitches" as it is hearing its line/voice in its musical environment. I'm not trying to "find a pitch", I'm trying to play a specific note (that lives in the continuum of its line) in a specific timeframe.

    Maybe not listening to the other musicians is more of a west coast thing?
     
  15. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    - I think that is international. Anyway I don't think anyone is advocating not using your ear when you play, I am just saying that alone is not enough and it is not as simple as people think.
     
  16. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    And if you remove "ear" and put in "positional playing", that's about where I'm coming from.

    You had it right when you said it's "not one thing OR the other", but that it's BOTH, TOGETHER.

    You ever play with the Ferber Brothers when they were out that way, or were they only around LA?
     
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    This makes absolutely no sense to me. How does "finding your pitches" get in the way of listening? Often, I find myself "finding my pitches" within the context of the tuning of the piano or guitar, which causes me to listen to the other musicians more rather than less. Ditto with "finding my rhythm". As FOGHORN mentions, positional playing is like a zip code without a street address.
     
  18. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Mostly my point is
    a. Players with bad positions rarely sound good
    b. they don't need any more excuses
    I think we have all seen Charlie Haden copycats hunched over the bass and sliding into every note. I have seen enough of those guys and I have never felt they were able to interact well.

    Obviously context is everything. Matching or harmonizing pitches with a piano on a standard you know inside out is different than creating an independent line against one of Cecil Talyor's clusters.
    We all need to monitor our playing in the moment and fine tune when nessesary.
     
  19. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    IMO, part of "good positions" (good tecnique for left hand) is the ability to play each pitch accurately through a mix of muscle memory and the ability to hear what you're doing. Ears are part of technique, at LEAST as far as being able to tell when you're in tune.

    What does "good positions" or good technique equate to when you can't play in tune? Oh, yeah. Then it isn't good.

    Wait, so they can barely play the instrument and they don't sound good? Yeah, I don't think that's a case of having "bad positions," I think that's just generally a case of having a lot to work on in general.

    IMO, if you have to concentrate so hard on playing your notes in tune that you can't respond interactively with your fellow musicians while listening to THEM for the pitch, then there is a much larger problem that needs addressing.
     
  20. damonsmith

    damonsmith

    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Well said, MR. Saunders.
     

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