1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Pivot in Classical Playing

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Natmain, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. Natmain


    Apr 18, 2010
    Out of curiosity, I have been experimenting with the pivot in my playing, and I have been wondering what other bass players thought of this technique. Do you use it? What are the pros and cons of this technique? Are there any online exercises to work on this?
  2. basso obscura

    basso obscura

    Dec 11, 2012
    Pivoting is pretty much necessary to play a lot of the standard literature. I don't know about on-line resources, but the Rabbath books are very thorough in covering this technique. Another overlooked resource for working on the pivot technique is; Henry Portnoi's, Creative Bass Technique, which is published by ASTA. After going through standard positions he combines two positions at a time and shows what scales can be played in those two positions, then follows that with a short etude in the combined positions.
  3. Tom Gale

    Tom Gale

    May 16, 2009
    I used the pivoting technique combined with the 'closed hand tech' (1,2,4)) and open hand technique (1,2,3,4) in my "Triangulation of Fingering Systems for Double Bass". It does increase the range and technique in any hand position and really can clean up difficult passages.

    Tom Gale - TBGale3@att.net
  4. Once you know your way around the fingerboard, the pivot itself is a straightforward technique to figure out for yourself. Once you know it exists, that is, it's pretty counterintuitive.

    And yes, once I heard of it I pretty much instantly adopted it. It just solves so many problems.
  5. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    The pivot can, and should be consciously trained using a tuner or external pitch reference to train the hand. It should also follow the basic rules of bass playing in general- if it hurts, stop, and figure out how to use your body more efficiently.
  6. Tom Gale

    Tom Gale

    May 16, 2009
    Pivoting vs shifting. Usually, pivoting extends and returns to the original hand position whereas shifting moves to a new hand position. Clear??
    Tom Gale asodb.org.
  7. Clear, but I think incorrect.

    Pivoting is a consequence of the concept that you index the position of your hand from where your thumb is, in all positions. Then if you happen to have your hand in Simandl shape, with thumb basically behind 2nd, that's a neutral pivot. You can have a forward pivot, with thumb behind 1st, or a backward pivot, thumb behind 3rd or 4th. And if you can reach, in higher positions forward pivoting a further semitone is possible.

    But the pivot does not imply immediately returning, you can unpivot in place without moving if you want, and move crabwise up or down the neck. I think the pivots represent hand shapes, rather than anything about what happens before or after you take on that shape.

    One of the great advantages of this is that thumb position is now not any different... you're still indexed off your thumb, you can just play notes with it as well. You can still crab-walk up and down the instrument, but you can reach further and achieve more by doing so.
  8. Not really, no.

    The term "hand position" is not the same as "position," which I assume is what you intended. Even so, it's important not to conflate hand extensions with pivoting -- they are, in fact, complete opposites.

    Pivoting allows for some measure of flexibility within a position, rotating the hand shape while pivoting on the thumb, which is fixed in place.

    Hand extensions, by contrast, keep both the thumb and hand in place while individual fingers stretch. This is usually uncomfortable and almost always a bad idea. Perhaps if you need to hold a minor sixth double stop in first position it would be necessary, but I'm typically trying to avoid it.

    Shifting retains a relatively fixed hand shape while simply moving the hand up and down with the arm, at least for the short distances which could otherwise be reasonably covered within a pivot.
  9. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Can you give some short note examples of when you place your thumb behind 3rd and 4th finger? and also when placing thumb behind 1st finger?

    When I pivot I place my thumb the same as with the Simandl hand position, that is close to the 2nd finger. Placing it behind 1 or 3/4 feels a bit awkward to me.
  10. Sounds suspiciously like an extension to me. In a pivot, your hand is operating somewhat autonomously to the thumb. In a forward pivot, your first finger may be "floating" above the thumb, but most of the time your weight would be rotated into the fourth finger.

    Pivoting back and using fourth would be uncomfortable, but it's rare that you would actually do this. Instead, your weight would be rotated back into the first or second finger, with your fourth finger hovering above the thumb's position.

    Watch this video with Hans Sturm for some visual demonstrations:
  11. DonkeyInk


    Feb 9, 2013
    You can also shivot.
  12. If your thumb is there and you're playing a note outside of the Simandl position, you're doing an extension not a pivot.

    So, think of, say, C C# D# E. Finger them 1224 on one string, with a pivot between the 2s, without moving your thumb (which should be placed as if you were just playing the C# D#). That's the two pivoted positions. Try going up and down that run fast, and see how it starts to flow really well.

    It is a little uncomfortable to hold a pivot for any length of time, particularly a backward pivot... so you may as well allow your thumb to move somewhere comfortable if there is time. However, this technique really shines when you have to do something really fast and accurately, because you retain a position reference for longer.
  13. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    I was talking more about playing for example Bb C D on the A string (major 3rd pivot). Like in the Hans Sturm video. In this case where do you keep the thumb? behind the C or B? the videos are great but there are no shots of the back of the neck and the thumb.

    In the case of Bb C D reaching the D is easy but reaching the Bb (so backward pivot) and keeping the thumb in the same place can be a bit awkward. Also with the pivot it is more difficult to get a good clean stop on the Bb.
  14. Certainly, you have more range below the thumb than above it. In this case, I'd place the thumb behind the B-natural. The thumb would be stationary.
  15. Ryanpet42

    Ryanpet42 Guest

    Aug 1, 2012
    I use it a lot in the youth symphony I play in because:

    A. I shift less and therefore work less

    B. My teacher studied with Hal Robinson

    For me, pivoting is a lot more natural than the Simandl/Bille/Nanny/etc. technique because you can play more relaxed which allows for faster, cleaner fingering. I also use a 1234 approach at fourth (or third if you are a Rabbath student) position for the same reason, it feels more natural to keep the hand fingering half steps than it is to cram four fingers in a whole step in this area of the fingerboard. This is all my opinion and I am just speaking my thoughts. Not trying to convert anyone.
  16. Most likely thumb behind B-natural (as in Simandl half position)... but it does depend a little on context, as if there's a Db on the G-string coming next it might more sense to be pivoting back to the Bb. Or play the Bb on the E string.