Key to playing fast, even 16th notes?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Andy Mopley, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    HI all,

    not withstanding that this will come with good practice, a teacher, etc. are there any specific exercises - from a book or self-created - that help to develop this skill? At the moment, I am using snippets from different pieces and playing them starting at a low metronome speed and then increasing steadily..But sometimes I wonder if it may be better to use the famous E and A notes exercises?? I might add the help applies to both single string and string crossing

    Thanks for reading!
  2. Tony Gray

    Tony Gray

    Mar 6, 2006
    I think the key is to play even slow 16th notes. Lots of them.
  3. Keep your fingers relaxed, the faster you go the harder it is to keep relaxed. Then the hand cramps up and you cant move it.
  4. Start with slower tempos. Maybe triplets that use 16th, 16th, 8th before straight 16s. Also, if you don't already (I have a hard time doing it) I'd learn to use your ring finger. I can't imagine how much easier they'd be for me if I learned how to use my ring finger early on.
  5. Edvin


    Feb 25, 2010
    Do you talk bass guitar? :)
  6. Probably not to be honest haha, no shame.
  7. basic74

    basic74 Guest

    Dec 28, 2012
    I guess to get into specific finger motion advice it´s good to know if we´re talking french or german bow?

    but slow 16s with good tone, lot´s of them is good advice, very slowly increasing the tempo. itzhak perlman said something in the sense of things learned quickly are also forgotten quickly, things learned slow are never forgotten. I think he´s right.
    I still know a few choruses of that ron carter blues walking bass line by heart. I´ve learned it 15 years ago when starting with the double bass and it was really hard to learn it. but it´s sunken in really deep.

    I think learning a technique at a slow tempo is key, giving the brain time to process, giving yourself time to get the feeling for the grip, the hair on the string...
    I learned the hard way I have to learn something until it´s mine, like riding the bike. then I never forget it. of course when I´m training every day with the road bike I´m still better at it.

    and to your question about which material to practice: every material you can think of, but one thing at a time.
  8. MostlyBass


    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    All great advice - you can never go wrong with slow practice. Try practicing (slowly, of course) with a rest on 1 but then play e & a 2. Start with an up bow on e just as in a full set of four. This allows you to focus your hearing on the up bows and make sure the 1/16 note are musical by leading to the next beat.

    Also try playing the up bows slightly louder.

    Record yourself so you can analyze exactly where the issues are.
  9. Ibby

    Ibby Guest

    Jun 24, 2013
    I have learned about a technique that billy sheehan uses. Its basically where you start with your ring finger on the 1, then middle, then index, then ring again on the 4 and then ring on the 1, so the 1 will be on a different finger each time. He explains this in a video if you care to watch it, once you learn it it can be very useful for playing fast.
  10. jblmusic1994

    jblmusic1994 Guest

    May 15, 2013
    Jackson, Ohio
    Do you mean ring on 1, middle on 2, index on 3, and ring on 4? Otherwise the 1 will not alternate fingers.
  11. basic74

    basic74 Guest

    Dec 28, 2012
    some poeple use 3 finger pizz. on double bass, but this discussion is about arco... wrong forum maybe?
  12. Play slow to start with. Focus not on what the notes are or what fingering you're using, but on how it feels to play them. Play a lot of times slowly, and gradually work up, so by the time you're even close to playing fast, you have the notes memorised and you can concentrate on the feel of your hands playing it for you.

    Practice with a metronome too... but remember that you're not reacting to the metronome, but instead playing to be in time with it, so your sound comes with its sound.

    You only really need to do this a few times before you aren't distracted by the notation, fingering etc and are really focused on the shape of the line. Eventually you ought to be able to read most of the orchestral literature at speed and not get lost (although playing it properly cleanly may take a bit of practice)... but don't get frustrated, that takes a few years.

    It helps to figure out ahead of time what notes are there and what they mean harmonically.
  13. One thing that I didn't see mentioned, but I find makes a difference is focusing on musicality. That is, first drill the line in an effort to just know the technical challenge and have a good amount of muscle memory built up for the particular section you are playing. Once you feel that you and your body knows what it needs to do, shift your focus to phrasing and musicality. For me this helps get my mental process out of the way of my physical processes.

    It is, of course, a work in progress.
  14. tmntfan


    Oct 6, 2011
    Victoria Canada
    this is for your left hand. hammer ons/ pull offs will help the notes sound clearer
    the numbers are for fingering. start in first position and move up in half steps.

    1h2p1h4p1 Shift up repeat
    4p2p1p0h1h2h4 Shift up repeat

    do this with out a bow a first, then do with varied bowings (slurs and what not)
  15. Dbass926


    Jun 20, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Another suggestion is to separate your hands. Are you capable of executing 16ths cleanly on one note? You can model the bow stroke on one note, the move to a scale, 4 strokes per note then 3, 2, 1. The 3 strokes pattern is especially useful in making your up and down bows consistent and identical.

    If your bow is functioning correctly, you may want to take the passage in question and double the notes - play 2 Cs instead of one. This can help you identify what is a left hand issue and what is a right hand issue.
  16. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Thanks all, lots of useful advice, will stick to slow speed practicing, making sure there is a sense of musicality before taking it up a notch or two...Thanks again, everyone.
  17. Hi Andy, look back in the archives. There are previous post posts in threads by Felessan around 07-22-2008 (page 17), ekspain around 05-31-2012 (page 7), David Potts around 06-11-2012 (Ask Patrick Neher), jbdoublebass around 07-05-2012 (page 6) and portphilia around 11-13-2012 (page 4). There are lots of suggestions,including some of mine.

    I would suggest inventing a series of very simple basic exercises for each hand and then exercises that put together the hands. You might find them in my contributions to the above posts.

    Various simple patterns of fingerings in one position on one string, bowed either slurred or separate, and even, hooked or inverse hooked, will gain control of LH finger actions.

    Choosing a single note to bow on the string with increasing speed accompanied by proportionately less bow will teach a lot about producing a clearly articulated musical sound and how each string sets its own lilitations.

    Then putting the two hands together is an exercise in timing and coordination, whether you are crossing strings or marching up and down one string. The latter will also require an examination of your shifting technique.

    All the above is to ensure that there are no extra unwanted sounds and that you are in control of clarity of articulation and evenness of rythm, length and tone. This is all very technical and you still have to consider all things musical.

    Cheers, DP