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Playing in tune? Handset?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by theodore, Jan 11, 2006.


  1. theodore

    theodore

    Dec 14, 2004
    Toronto
    I'm wondering if other bassists here have some tips on how to play in tune and what it means for them to do so?

    I'm particularly interested in
    -how to execute a shift properly
    -how to keep your LH shaped properly in lower positions
    -how to keep the LH shaped properly in thumb position
    -different spacings of the LH and also LH fingers and thumb both in upper and lower registers
    -use of the LH with crab technique

    What kind of exercises can one do to improve intonation?
     
  2. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Well Simandl is considered the Bible. The Bille books are nice but the 3rd finger replaces the 2nd in that method. The Bottesini Book is melodic and progressive. The Levinson Book is great if you have completed all the positions in the Simandl. You need a teacher to correct bad habits and point out your intonation flaws. There are so many opinions out there today, one can go crazy trying them all at the drop of a hat. I suggest getting a professional Symphony player to teach/coach you and keep you on track. Then all you have to do is practice alot, play alot, join an orchestra and then see where you stand. The proof is always in the Pudding!

    Do a search in 'Orchestral Technique' forum and read into this a bit.
     
  3. ToR-Tu-Ra

    ToR-Tu-Ra

    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    Hmmm... I think the answer to all of that is:

    Practice, practice, practice and a whole lotta practice

    It's about developing muscle memory and OF COURSE a good ear (two of them if possible ;) )
     
  4. theodore

    theodore

    Dec 14, 2004
    Toronto
    Thanks for the replies. I guess to clarify a bit more on my original question, say that you are usually in tune while playing, and then a certain note or passage is out of tune. What possible causes would you identify (faulty ear, improper shift, etc)?

    If you have a passage to play that requires your hand falls into a certain position ie thumb position +123 gabc, how do you make sure each finger lands on the same note every time?

    Theo
     
  5. ToR-Tu-Ra

    ToR-Tu-Ra

    Oct 15, 2005
    Mexico City
    If you can tell it's outta tune, then I'd say your ear is working fine and what needs work is your left hand. It needs some time to get used to fall in the exact place.
     
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Lead with your ear. You have to hear the pitch clearly in your mind's ear and then just play it. As soon as you think about it you're going to blow it. The truth is that you're always going to miss notes to some extent, as there are so many variables that go into the production of pitch -- especially arco. If the note is strong in your ear your hands with fix things before they sound bad. If you listen really closely to Edgar Meyer, arguable one of the most in-tune bass players around, you hear him adjusting all over the place. Small adjustments, and not as frequent as the average bear, but there nonetheless.

    If there is a particular shift or passage that you tend to blow, isolate it and fix it. Then apply the sentences above.
     
  7. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Your ear definitely has to hear pitch very well. To increase the odds of playing pitches correctly a well formed hand position is recommended. Use a mirror to check that you can maintain correct half-step spacing between 1,2 and 4. If that varies you're fighting an uphill battle IMO.
     
  8. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I want to say that practicing my singing has helped me with my intonation but I don't really know.
     
  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I believe that this is a shorter path to hand problems and actually does little to help you play in tune. No having your hadn all wierd is definitely a plus. I prefer the left had to be loose and fluid -- to the extreme -- so that small, quick adjustments are more possible.
     
  10. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I understand what you're saying but I've never had any LH problems. I assume that you mean injury. I think that you can have a loose and disciplined hand form. When I have tried to have a more fluid hand form I didn't really gain any facility and my intonation got wobbly.
     
  11. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    To be honest I don't know how to do this properly either. All I've ever done is the vomit exercises and scales over and over and over (still doing them)...maybe one day I'll get this shifting thing down
    I try to keep my fingers arched. My teacher had this "c-shape" that for him was the defacto standard for left hand position. It looks a lot like jallenbass' left hand in his avatar...gotta play on your fingertips. Myself, I try to keep the fingers arched high enough so that they let the adjacent strings ring sympathetically and the bass sounds richer for it to me. But through an amp it sometimes comes across as feedback LOL...like when I play the low C on the A string I can hear the G harmonic ring in sympathy...it's just something I like to achieve acoustically.
    I try to stick with keeping the fingers arched and playing on the fingertips here too...no collapsing of the fingertip knuckle and playing on the flat of the finger. But I've seen string players do the latter and not suffer (Yo Yo Ma, for example, doesn't seem to care and he's awesome). It's just that I picked up Ed Barker's solo CD on a whim in a record store and he fingers lines so solid you can hear the "snap" when the string contacts the fingerboard, I want that sound, and flat fingers don't make it happen for me.
    You're miles ahead of me on this one I'm still working on getting the scales in tune when I'm playing across the strings in TP right now

    Scales scales scales scales scales and it sucks sucks suck it's boring boring boring. So far, I've been watching closed-caption TV to help me tolerate it and looking for baseball games (I've heard one violinist confess he would secretly read comics as a kid while he practiced scales on a show I saw on PBS *LOL*). I've been doing them for several months now and yes it has helped me with shifting and intonation and general facility immensely.

    I've learned that as a beginner (myself included) it's best to get inflexible advice regarding technique and general instruction. But when my own teacher would play things to let me hear how something was supposed to sound (I didn't know what basses were supposed to sound like at the time man I was so green), he just played it and got'er done how he wanted it done...and of course it sounded awesome and would just stun me. It's like when Brad Pitt makes fun of this other actor in the movie Troy during sword-practice, "When you know how to use it, you won't be taking my advice."
     
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I did have pretty bad tendinitis in my left wrist, so I generally jump when I see advice -- almost all of it standard advice -- that I feel was part of my demise.
     
  13. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Hey Jason thanks that's a great idea I'm going to start doing this!
     
  14. JayR

    JayR

    Nov 9, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Movable Do sightsinging helps a lot with intonation. As soon as I started college music theory a couple of years ago and started having to get used to sightsinging (something I never had to do before) my intonation got a lot, lot better. Knowing the relationship between notes and how each interval sounds is most of the battle.