Left Hand question

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Tnavis, Jul 10, 2003.

  1. Tnavis


    Feb 25, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    Quick question... The standard left hand fingering for DB is 1-2-4. Is 1-3-4 the "Italian Style"?

  2. Alex Scott

    Alex Scott

    May 8, 2002
    Austin, TX
    yes, they reason that the higher half step is bigger, therefore it makes sense to use the third finger instead of the second.

    Any Italians out there still using the Italian fingerings like that? I think that is how that Petracchi book is fingered.
  3. TeachMe


    Aug 29, 2003
    Help! I teach orchestra but did not have adequate Double Bass methods in college:( How many positions are on the DB and where are they?! Can someone TeachMe??
  4. I personally never studied nor ingrained the position numbers; none of my teachers thought they were important, and moreover, there are several different methods, each using a somewhat different numbering system.

    The closest to a "standardized" position-numbering system, I would think, is the Simandl method -- also still the most popular bass method, easily obtainable through most music stores. Basically, it goes up the fingerboard chromatically, assigning each ascending position a complementarily successive number.

    Hope that helps
  5. imo, the whole position thing is a bit silly. I've never really learned any of it because none of my teachers have used it. I have played with people who seem to be obsessed with it though, and I must say it seems a bit distracting. I think learning to play by chromatics and intervals is simpler, and a lot more musical way to play the bass. Plus, I think it tends to develop the ear more, rather than laying out a set 'position' that the hand is suppose to be in which leads to playing out of tune. Just my two cents...
  6. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    That's about what I'll give anybody for the argument that learning proper technique is whatever negative adjective you want to use. The point of technique is that you eventually don't even think about it. A note appears on a page or in your head, and you get it in the proper way, taking into account the preceding and succeeding notes.
  7. I have to chime in with Don here. My dear Toman - if you play the double bass, you are using positions. If you have not made any effort to learn something from one or more of the widely used and taught left hand position systems and theories, then chances are, you are using bad positions.

    No one is saying these days (if they ever did) that there is one and only one position and fingering for a given note. But even if you want to base your concept of the notes you are playing in a "chromatic and interval" sense, you still need to find graceful, efficient, effective musical ways to execute.

    Between them, the originators and great teachers of both the more traditional left hand position systems such as good ole' Simandl or Bille, and the more modern approaches of folks like Petracchi, Rabbath, Streicher, Morton/Gale, etc, have spent countless hundreds of man-years developing effective ways to execute whatever "chromatic and interval" series of notes you'll ever encounter. Anyone who wants to get very far on the bass would do well to study several of these systems.

    Of course it is fair to say that a person who obsesses on the selection of a certain position for a certain passage as the be-all and end-all of bass playing is missing the point. Its about the music, after all.

    But as long as your left hand is on the neck playing those chromatics and intervals, it is in some "position" (lower case "p"). Rather than re-invent the wheel, who would not want to spend a bit of time (a lifetime!) learning about Positions (upper case "P") as taught by the greats, plus how to finger in a given position, or extend from one, and shift from one to another.

    Or have we misunderstood your meaning?
  8. Hey guys... I think I've been a bit misunderstood. :p

    What I mean is this: I understand very well what you both are saying, and I don't disagree. In my experience, there are a lot of bass players whos left hand technique is based entirely on the concept of what 'position' the hand is supposed to be in to make which finger go where because thats what their teacher has told them. While that's probably a good way to teach grade school violin, I hardly think it's the best way to learn progressive, musical bass playing because it leads to playing by just throwing fingers down where they're 'supposed' to be without listening to and feeling what you're playing. I know way to many musicians who have never learned to actually listen to what they're playing.

    IMO, every person and every instrument is different, technique needs to accomodate that. Technique is not a one size fits all, and thats what I think a lot of teachers try to make it. Unfortunately, you can't just stuff musicians into a mold and have perfect players come out.

    I feel that studying those rigid techniques is no doubt good for you, and will open your mind to new fingering opportunities. But when I hear someone ask "what are the positions for double bass" as some sort of generic question on how to play the instrument, I get the impression that they might be more inclined toward paint by numbers than music. Why not go out there, study as many techniques as you can get your hands on, study with as many teachers as you can meet, play all the music you can, and develop a technique that fits your person, your instrument and your music instead of forcing yourself to learn some mindless routine in order to please 'the people who know'?

    I'll stop ranting now, and I hope this makes sense. I'm not trying to bash anybodys technique, teaching method, or anything else. I'm simply trying to promote music, not mindless schools of bass playing robots and closed minded teachers who feel the need to create miniature clones of themselves out of their students. :-D
  9. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    I understand, and I think you don't; hence, adjectives such as "rigid". Technical proficiency is totally liberating, allowing immediate expression of any musical thought that comes to mind. No one can play any better than his technique, no matter how hip his ideas are. I have never heard your argument made by a bassist who had great technique. Do you believe Red Mitchell would have become the bassist he did without mastering technique? Absurd.
  10. basserino


    Apr 28, 2000

    you use the word proper. i wonder if you could expand on your iseas of proper technique and proper ways of playing? look forward to hearing back from you.

    the basserino
  11. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    New Jersey
    I avoid those loser books like Simandl and Nanny to keep sounding young and fresh. You're not going to catch my playing growing stale and monotonous with technique.
  12. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Streicher, Rabbath, Karr, Simandl, et al. Pick one, I don't care, and then master it.
  13. Loser books?

    Method books (like Simandl, Nanny) are about how you play (technique), not what you play. Without technique, which comes from method, your playing will be stale and monotonous, and mostly out of tune.

    Clarification: When we talk 'position' here, we're talking about where the hand is on the neck, not its shape, or which fingers are used.

    I think positions are a learning tool. They tell you "F note half position", rather than "F note, little finger, D string, third semitone from the nut". They describe, simply, where on the neck your hand should be and which string you should play. Whether you're playing a written part or improvising a walking line or a solo, learning to think in terms of positions will allow you to make a sequence of sensible shifts, rather than playing yourself into a corner that requires a huge, awkward leap to get out of. I play very little arco, but left hand position also results in easy/ awkward string crossings with the bow.

    My left hand technique is far from perfect. I think of it in terms of percentages- If 85% of my playing is in tune today, and 86% is in tune next week, I've improved. Thinking and playing in positions, whatever name or number you give them, is essential to this improvement, IMO.

    My .012 Cdn. (.02 US)

    (BTW, admirable restraint there, Don.)
  14. sean p

    sean p

    Mar 7, 2002
    eugene, oregon