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Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Samie, May 19, 2005.
What is your policy when it comes to open string arco playing solo. Do you usually avoid them?
I used to avoid them like the plague. But, since I have come to think that they can really offer something. You just have to decide what kind of tambor you want out of the note.
For example, open strings sometimes sound great in the Bach suites because they offer a little more body and sustain than the stopped note.
Really its just a question of making good, musical decisions.
In Fast passages or where you are not in position to close them easily, Open is just fine. You can even use Vibrato on an open string if you like. Put your finger just on the string over the nut as you bow it and use vibrato.. Sounds similar to a closed note for the most part.
I checked out the american school of double bass and their simandl plus method. It offers a consistent aproach to fingering and other benefits. Its a good starting point. They have a workbook you can download for free with some guides and examples that explain this aproach. (check in simandl-plus, workbook)
Its interesting that a few months ago I rejected this same method because I found it to complex. Back then I was only playing simandl!!
I found these tip useful on the bach chorales I am working on. I came up with some un-espected figerings that actually sound quite good (ie. trying to play on adjacent strings even if its an octave leap-- there is a lot les variation on the sound texture although its harder to do).
Anyways, i shared this with the spanish db online community and the found it useful.
Were you guys aware of this method?
That was a good link - never seen that before - I liked this quote about Simandl "Plus" :
"The traditional interpretation of Simandl-style fingering is the notion that the ideal fingering is one that requires the fewest shifts and clings as close to the fingerboard nut as possible. This approach was undoubtedly the most beneficial in Simandls day, due to the coarse and rough gut strings set rather high off the fingerboard. But, with the advent of the louder, smoother, and more responsive steel strings, set just a few millimeters away from the fingerboard, the idea of minimal shifting and hovering near the nut is dated. In fact, it handcuffs the player, creating a key obstacle to producing a consistently more elegant musical result. We are long overdue in updating our technique to fully exploit this technological advance in the double bass."
I am not sold on that 'revised' Simandlish method, if you can call it that. I would like to hear that guy play with all 4 fingers and see what his intonation is like. I prefer to pivot instead. I think, for me at least that the 4 finger method causes too much tension in the wrist, hand and tendons in your fingers. The Bass is hard enough to play without this. I have watched Hal Levinson play the Rossini Duo and the Trout. He seemed to do just fine with the regular fingering method on the light speed passages. That's good enough for me.
That guy's (I assume you mean Mark Morton) intonation is excellent. I've heard him play several times and each time, I am just amazed that anybody can get that good.
On another note, I take lessons from the "other" guy at ASODB and he doesn't teach Simandl Plus.
There, that should settle the debate
That settles nothing. Just because a few Guys try and get good at something doesn't mean the rest of the world is going to follow.
I know a couple of cats who think Mark Morton really screwed up the sound of the Columbus section by insisting on those fingerings.
I think that 4 finger playing is a "to each their own" type of thing. I know a guy who plays for chicago lyric that can just wail through some tough stuff with ease because he can use all four fingers, but I know other people who just fail miserably when they try using an extended hand. I personally can do it sometimes, but I try to find something better and save it as a sort of last resort. Usually I think using the thumb in a lower position on a fatter string is better than extending your hand a great deal. I don't really think there is a "right" answer to this one, but I do think that if Mark Morton insisted that an entire section use a 4 finger method, well, that is just a shame.
Of course it settles nothing. Like I said if you read my post, my teacher who works along with Mark doesn't teach the fingerings. From now on I will indicate sarcasm with this <sarcasm></sarcasm> instead of this
And just because lots guys are successful doing things in the traditional way doesn't mean it's not worth noting when someone is successful trying something a little different.
There many ways to skin a cat. (and so many cats to practice on.)
The method is nothing like as simple as that - it suggests a number of "fingering strategies" which can be used in context and gets you to work these out theoretically beforehand - i.e. why and when you would use anything other than Simandl.
So it includes thumb in lower positions, early shifting etc. etc. - not just 4 finger (open hand) playing.
I have been studying the Simandl method with my teacher for three years, and never have I seen, read or been taught anything that would lead me to "hover near the nut". I do not feel in any way restricted in the way I approach something, or where I play it, because of my method.
I do think of the method as one of minimization of wasted motion of the hand and fingers.
I don't think you could say it minimized shifting. A true four finger technique would minimize shifting, and any of the "rocking" techniques would somewhat minimize shifts, but I don't think Simandl could be accused of that.
I understand Mortan's fingering system, I have read through it's guidlines and I agree with much of it, but I was simply referring to the four fingered part of it.
The Simandle teaches you the basics. You can play the same excercises with pivots instead of shifting between half a position as if playing a scale across the strings like a guitar except not using your third finger. It takes years of training and experience to see a piece of music and the fingerings in your head as the Bow touches the String. You can also use the Simandle Book I and take it up one octave and play everything the same in Thumb position using your thumb as the open string and your 3rd finger instead of forth. Try it exactly as written in the positions in Thumb Pos. after you can play them well in the regular lower octave.
As far as hovering over the Nut, on some notes, usually held notes ot whole notes, you can use vibrato at the end on the Nut where the string comes off it instead of shifting up to finger it or just playing a colorless open string. Try playing just the F, Bb and G major scales in half and first position and use Vibrato on the open strings to see what I am talking about. This is your free lesson. I don't give to many..
The best place I have found for using open string vibrato is definatly the ode to joy theme. I think closing the same note sounds good a lot of the time but in the ode, it just keeps the character so much to stay on one string.
I have tried simandl plus advice on using figers 1 and 2 when ever posible instead of 3 and 4 as simanld would suggest(1/2 F major scale for example).
Using figers 1 and 2 in 2 strings octave scales, has greatly improved my intonation. It sound a lot more musical also. Fingers 2 and 1 have a lot better muscle memory than 3 and 4. They are also quicker to fine-tune on the notes. Great advice.
When playing jazz I focus on "the sound" so i hardly use "frets" 1 to 7 on the G string. Shifting is absolutely not a priority.
Simandl does place way to much importance on shifting, it sort of assumes your are tone-deaf with very weak mussle-memory. It takes years before you reach the higher notes.
What I do now is simple. I study simandl but I do not use the g sting at all in practices at home. This forces me to play higher notes and lots of shifts, which is great!!! Eventually I will not use the d string either.
perhaps I'm missing sth.? I didn't understand your first paragraph. Where do you use 1&2 instead of 3&4 (in my version of Simandl, the 3rd comes into play at the octave and in thumb pos)? How do you play the fmaj-scale in half-position only with 1&2? Do you shift or do you have that big hands?
You used my post in your quote, but I don't understand your post, or how it relates to what I posted. I also don't understand your fingering references.
I certainly don't buy the idea that somehow it is easier to maintain good intonation if you use 1 & 2 instead of 2 & 4 (2 & 3+4). I use both depending on what I just played and where I am going (it is all about the specific technical challenges of the phrase at hand).
If you are really using 3 & 4 (separately) in half postion, then more power to you, but that isn't the Simandl I know.
Yes like all practical methods, Simandl aknowledges that there is a disadvatage to exessive shifting. Usually (in orchestral playing or solo classical playing) one plans ones fingerings to avoid unnecessary shifts, unless this conflicts with musicality of the passage. That said, the rocking techniques, eliminate more shifting as do the true four finger techiques.
As far as two string scales, I have always practiced my scales both ways, as this is the only way to become confident when you must play only closed strings. It is all about the sound that is required for a given piece of music or passage. It also has alot to do with how your instrument sounds high up on the thickest two strings, and your own techique with the bow up there.
when I said 3&4, I mean 2&4. I always make that mistake.
The half-position is for simandl technique. Simandl plus shifts and uses fingers 1&2 instead of 2&4 in the mayor scales.
Shure, finger 2 fine tunes faster than finger 4, that is for sure. Its much stronger. So when you play 1&2 you have a lot more control than when you play 2&4. When I play an open string mayor scale on one string, if I end if 1&2 its a lot easier. Then again, I am fairly new at DB. Progress has been very fast, but I am still light years away from controlling fully the instruments. Eventually it might not make a big diference which finger I use.
I never use finger 3. This methods suggests using it on fast passages etc. I might be using it without being aware in fast jazz passages, who knows.
Its help me to develop some of my own rules on open strings. The method is probably best for advanced players and solo stuff.
Sorry about the confusion.
I meant to say that shifting is not that big of a problem. While playing jazz standards and improvising I am already all over the neck, without even thinking about it.
Simandl is thus a little dated on the shifting thing. It takes way to long to move down the neck. I started in january with the DB and i am around position IV with my simandl teacher(he says I am way ahead ). On the jazz scene and at home with the bow I hit the firsts T-positions months ago. With my little experience, I find my intonation way better using finges 1&2 up there.