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Position Shifts

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Johnny L, Feb 3, 2006.

  1. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I was sightreading through a couple of the songs Rufus Reid has his bass lines written out for in the middle of his book (Autumn Leaves, Have You Met Miss Jones)...well, because Rufus Reid's lines are cool and I haven't done any bass line writing exercises yet (still learning the chords and keys right now).

    So in Autumn Leaves his lines move you all the way up to thumb position and back down pretty cool but it got me wondering about shifting. I want to remember that somewhere, someone said that when you shift up you've got to shift up with your first finger and when you shift down you've got to shift with your fourth finger...and the fingerings you use need to facilitate this "rule". Dang I just never paid attention to this idea, I just ape whatever fingerings are written on the music or let my hand do whatever if the music doesn't tell me.

    Are any of you faithful to this rule or do you see any value in it?

    I've been trying to pay attention to Rufus' left hand in his DVD, but I always get distracted by what he plays instead of how he plays it LOL
  2. When I first started taking lessons, my teacher stressed these rules. Don't shift up 4-4. Dont shift down 1-1. And don't shift in the middle of a slur. Those were his basic rules, and at the time I followed them as well as possible. However, today, those rules are merely guidlines....but not ones that are really worth following precisely. They're good rules for beginners, but not really important later on. The important thing is to make whatever it is you're playing sound as good as possible. And bending technical rules around each of our playing styles is essential to developing character. So, to answer your question, no, I don't see much value in those rules, except in teaching beginners. Once you know how you want something to sound, just make it sound that way.
  3. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Hey ClassicalBass thanks yeah those are the ones!

    The more I learn the more I regret not paying better attention to my teacher LOL

    I'm going to think about them as I think about different fingering strategies for the Rufus lines
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Use your ears as your main tool. Really listen to how the shifts sound. If a particular shift kicks your butt, go over it SLOWLY a bunch of times and then you'll be able to execute it cleanly. If the shift doesn't make musical sense then find another way to play a passage.

    For improvised music bass requires a lot more forethought than a lot of instruments. As I work on my shifting strategies I find that I can slowly work my way to a part of the bass that allows me to avoid 'emergency' shifts, based on what I think might be coming up in conjunction with experience and practice on different sorts of shifts.
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Another thought that I had is that it's good to practice common intervals, which include string crossings (2 strings) as well as shifts; 6th, 7th, octave, etc., and 2 string-crossings and shifts; 9ths, 10ths, 11ths, 13ths. Both major and minor.
  6. The only problem with not having a rule to work with at first is that every time a shift comes along you have to make a decision - or if you don't you are by default creating your own rules which may not be efficient. These begining rules may be a pain but they weren't invented to make life difficult - just the opossite. Having to make concious choice on the fly though gets in the way of any music making - concious choice is for the practice room IMHO. Rufus's book must have been updated since my edition, but in his 'Evolving Upward' - out of print and amalgamated in his new book apparently, Rufus is a stickler for how to finger and develop moving up and down the fingerboard below through and above the transition to thumb position and certainly does not leave it to whatever you fancy. He might have changed his views but I would doubt it becuase in my experience they work and have worked for others. I'd reccomend it but it might not be for everyone.
  7. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    For me, this has been a real struggle...to be guided by my ears and let my body do its thing without so much concentration, rather than being able to concentrate only on what I hear (maybe someday)

    Yeah it's like you say keep working through the hard stuff nice and slow. That's how I have to do the hards stuff if I do it at all anyway LOL

    Yeah he mixes it up and even offers thumb position exercises below the octave harmonic.

    Pulling the string more in that range too was a big revelation for me...it really makes playing the thumb position lines he wrote more exciting (not to mention easier) to hear.
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