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Reference points and Thumb Position

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Matthew Tucker, Aug 23, 2002.


  1. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    I get the point about finding and learning physical reference points on the neck.

    Now, I’ve read a few references to using the D harmonic on the G string as a reference point. But I don’t get it; how do you *find* the harmonic without playing it? And if you have to play it, how is that useful as a reference point in a piece of music? And how can you hear the damn thing anyway if playing with a group?

    What is Thumb Position? (yeah I'm starting with a teacher next week but I'm just getting a bit of background)

    Matthew
     
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I'd be finding the harmonic, playing it, and using that to train and/or adjust for the proper spot to intonate.

    Here's how you do that:
    a) Play a D on the G string
    b) Lift your fingers so that they're barely touching the string and the string is off the fingerboard
    c) Remove all fingers except the one that was playing the D
    d) Pluck or bow
    * If you are in exactly the right spot, you should here a D one octave higher than the note that sounds when you were pressing
    * If not, you better adjust 'til that harmonic sounds!
    e) Now press back down to the board. That D should be way in tune.

    If you have a rest in your music, or if you're starting the piece, you can play a quiet harmonic and begin in tune. If you're in the middle of a jazz line and you can figure out a way to make the harmonic fit, it's a cool sound and you'll play in tune.



    Temper, temper! Anyway, harmonics don't have to be too quiet. In the hands of a maestro, they can cut real sharp. Consider the music of Jaco Whatisname and Edgar Whosimawhidjee.

    It's using your thumb as an artificial "nut," generally around the 12th position or above.

    SO: "Flat flip flies straight -- tilted flip curves -- experiment!"
     
  3. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    Refrence points This is a good thing to talk about

    Refrence point one. Put your finger at the crook of the neck and put your second finger down on the G string oppsite of the thumb. it most likely will be a d or e flat You can find it every time. At that point on the bass you can do a semi tone between each finger. you can play a f major scale with out shifting. Kind of hard using all of your fingers. If you add a pivot shift you can hit the octive harmonics easy.

    Joe
     
  4. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    Thanks for those tidbits.

    I've never had a problem playing the harmonic or any other, its just I couldn't figure out how to use that to intonate ... without playing it. I *think* I can find the correct D - spot without checking for the harmonic anyway, just by ear. But I'd need to play up to that point; What you are saying is it can be used as a check point charlie so I can just jump right on in and be in tune from the first note in that area of the fingerboard.

    What about further down the neck? I can find the third with a stretched pinky with my thumb at the heel of the scroll. But how do I find the fifth, just diving in there? Another harmonic? That one's harder to hear ...

    I'd love to hear about some other reference tips.

    Also the TP "artificial nut" fascinates me. Do you mean I use the thumb across the *front* of the fingerboard as opposed to curling around from the back? That's a real eyeopener. I never read anybody talking about that before in language that made any sense!

    Soon as these blisters calm down a bit I'll have a go ...

    Matthew
     
  5. Matthew Tucker

    Matthew Tucker Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    Owner: Bresque Basses, Sydney Basses and Cellos
    Pivot shift?????

    Matthew
     
  6. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Well, there's the octave harmonic at 12, and the neck crook . . . ultimately, you've simply got to put a bunch of time in to turn the proper spots into proper habits. And of course, use your ears at all times. Sorry I can't tell if this is much use to you.



    Yep. Guitar players sometimes wrap their thumb around the neck to play on the E and A strings. I can't begin to think of a way to do that on DB without REALLY HURTING YOURSELF BAD QUICK.

    May I be so bold as to recommend a listen to Scott LaFaro on Bill Evans' Sunday at the Village Vanguard, Michael Moore on Bob Brookmeyer's Quartet/Live at Sandy's, Stan Clarke on Chick Corea's Light as a Feather . . . there's a whole 'nother world up top.
     
  7. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Samuel, I think Matthew was referring to the common thumb position that we know and love. I use the other move you described sometimes on guitar, in order to get to bass notes I can't reach otherwise. Ugly, but effective; I can't imagine trying it on DB. Matthew, thumb position is used above the point where the neck joins the body, and the idea is to stop the string with your thumb, and play notes above the resulting "artificial nut" with your fingers. A good guide to this technique is Rufus Reid's book "Evolving Upward".
     
  8. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    A pivot shift is where you leave your thumb where ever it is and pivot the rest of your hand i.e. fingers, up or down as needed.

    The crook of the neck is the first ref point in that region of the neck The second is where you put your first finger oppisite you thumb, it is called the pinch position then there are two other called corkscrew refrence points where last one you piviot your thumb around and put your first finger on the harmonic. When I get to the point where I'm doing the corkscrew position I am ready to shift to thumb position. The nice thing about once you learn the feel of your neck you can hit the notes with out having to play the stirng at all. Also, it opens you up to a whole range of exact notes as you cross over to lower strings. I had one heck of a time with intoneation in that region of the bass now I getting much better. Also my tone has improved.

    Now about positions We all know and have used the 1/2, 1,2,3 position notation. There are at least three different versinon as to what is what position. This summer at the ASODB camp Mark Mortson sugested that we call the position by the note on the G string. In other words the onl 3rd positon becomes C opsition, and so on. This was a new concept to me I think it is great because we all can know exactly where on the finger board you are talking about.

    About using the thumb I think you can start using your thumb at anytime you want but it is not much value to use it below F position (meaning notes lower in pitch). And for you new players it takes about 2 years of playing to get that part of your thumb in proper condition, the sooner you start the process the better.

    Mark Morton has some real inovative ideas about playing techniques, They are good you can play faster and be in tune more oftern using them. His books are real good.

    Disclaimer. I am not associated with his school in any way other that I was a student this past summer.

    There have only been about 60 people who have been trained by the ASODB so finding a teacher who teaches this stuff other than in Colombus OH might be hard.

    Joe