RH technique for walking vs soloing

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by flat five, Sep 5, 2004.

  1. flat five

    flat five

    Sep 1, 2004
    I was wondering whether most people make a conscious change in their pizz technique when changing from walking to soloing. Also, how were you taught or how do you teach techniques for playing in fast tempos? Are there specific exercises that you use to develop that skill?
  2. I used to go from using the side of my index finger to my index and middle finger tips when going between walking to soloing and from medium/slow to fast tempos. Lately though I've been a little more into the sound from my right hand fingertips for everything and have devloped that. I was taught to "dig into" the string, with whatever technique I decided was for me. I don't know if that helps.
    The best advice I could give would be find a stylle that suits you and devlop it to work for walking, soloing, slow and fast tempos. You could do open string exersises to devlop just your pizz.
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I think your question is missing some 'meat', for lack of a better term. I'm also not sure that you can get really good direction unless a teacher is right in the room with you, but here are a few thoughts:

    After you get past not hurting yourself, it's all about sound v. tone v. what you need to do (i.e., endurance).

    To ask the question as you put it, you seem to indicate that there are only two sounds that you are considering getting out of your bass. There are an infinite number of articulation and timbre changes that you can make with your right hand.

    Your question also brings up the endurance v. speed topic. If you go to an electric bass-like two (or more) finger approach for faster things you are using the smaller muscles in your hand and forearm rather than the larger muscles in your back (and arm weight, etc) and you can carry the logic out on that one yourself.
  4. flat five

    flat five

    Sep 1, 2004
    Thanks for your replies. I'm sorry that my questions were worded in such a general way. I wanted to find out if people had some new ideas for ways to approach certain things I've been wondering about recently. I think that making up some open string exercises to use for increasing speed and ease on string crossings will be very helpful, so thanks in particular for that suggestion. String crossings seem to be the thing that is most taxing to my endurance at high speeds, especially going across towards the G string. So I'll zero in on that for starters.

    I can play comfortably at about 240, or faster depending on how good it feels with the drummer and the rest of the band, and I dig in fairly hard but obviously it is sometimes necessary to lighten up to keep it going. I usually practice fast tunes slowly with the metronome and gradually increase the speed while I focus on staying relaxed and comfortable. Other than that I try to adjust the volume and articulation to suit the music at hand.

    I've noticed that when it is time to take a solo I tend to dig in even harder and my sound becomes much more "present" - I don't do it on purpose, I just feel it that way. The problem is that I then have less facility at exactly the time when it would be preferable to have more facility. I was just wondering how other people have successfully dealt with this situation - is it better to sacrifice notes or tone when soloing? I certainly don't want to be thinking in the middle of a solo "lose the tone and go for those notes and hope your fingers come through" or "don't try that - your tone will suffer" so I might emphasize one or the other in practicing. I want to be able to just play when I'm taking a solo, but I sometimes get distracted by my sound. Is that weird? What should I do about it?

    What suggestions did you receive early on when you were working on speed and did anybody ever say that it was good or bad to play much louder on a solo than when you are walking? Also, Ray, in the expression "sound vs. tone" what does sound refer to? Is it just volume, or everything except tone, or everything including tone? I can't tell what you mean there.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful replies.
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Meaning walking, I assume?

    Important detail.

    Also good.

    I don't know that you want start off every solo 'screaming' Where can you go dynamically after that? Record yourself doing this and see if you're having the same experience hearing yourself as when you play.

    Without hearing or seeing you playing, it sounds to me like you're just playing too hard. Could be that your setup just isn't giving you what you want, you feel trampled volume-wise in the band, or performance anxiety being expressed in a confusing way? There are, like I mentioned above, endless articulations, tones, and dynamic levels at your disposal. Sounds like you're only using one sound each for soloing and walking. Why limit yourself this way?

    Further, being distracted by your sound means to me that you're not hearing what you're playing. Listen to yourself play and the sound will lead you on your musical escapade.

    As for 'sacrificing', this indicates too much thinking to me, if you're talking about making the choice in 'real time'. These are things to consider in the woodshed, but when it's time to play get the hell out of the way and let your practice time do it's thing and listen to the music happen.

    Some sounds are faster to make than other, some sound are also more expensive on the endurance front. The original quote, which you didn't get all of is, "sound v. tone v. what you need to do.", and in this case I meant 'sound' to mean volume and 'tone' to mean timbre. Sorry about the confusing terminology.
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I agree with Ray, but not completely - your sound is an essntial element of your playing, like your voice, and while you can make it do different things, it's still basically the same set of vocal cords vibrating. That said, I agree wholeheartedly with the statement, "These are things to consider in the woodshed, but when it's time to play get the hell out of the way and let your practice time do it's thing and listen to the music happen." Once you're actually playing, it should be all about realizing the sound you're already hearing and trying to make it become reality. There just isn't time for anything else.

    Personally, I try not to change my technique too much unless a drastic change in sound is called for. One of my pet peeves is when players get a big, fat, grooving tone when accompanying, and then "switch" to a thin, undefined much more "middy" sound by standing their fingers upright in order to play faster when soloing. Most of the time, I'd rather keep the same basic voice and work within what it can do at that point in time than switch to a "falsetto" so I can "sing" higher and faster. Others feel differently, of course, and feel that the (fast) gesture is worth going for even at the sake of losing the articulation. I don't hear that myself, but if I did, then that's what I'd play.
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I have no quarrel with that at all and feel the same way. I wasn't really touching on that above and probably should have. What I was addressing was all within 'your sound' rather than outside of it.

    For example, within my sound-scope I have PPPP-FF(FF), staccatto, legato, bright, dark, percussive, on and on. Now, if one's sound is simply 'as hard as you can pull the strings all the time', then you have to take into consideration that you're not going to develop a lot of facility being crippled so physically by the exertion. Also, you're playing is going to be on the mono-tonal side.

    At a certain point, playing ampless so much in NYC, I had gotten to a point to where I was playing FFFFF all the time. Pretty ugly, but audible sound. I've been working quite a bit over the last 6-7 months on backing off and while doing this have 're-discovered' dynamics and articulation that weren't possible when at full-tilt all of the time. I'm also getting a larger, projectier sound by 'goosing' the bass for my sound rather than over-playing (but I'm starting to get off track here).

    Without seeing him play I'm not able to tell what his situation is and was just airing out a few ideas for him to consider.
  8. Jason West

    Jason West

    Aug 25, 2004
    Kamas, Utah
    I've gotta ask...what is PPPP-FF and fffff?

  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Quarduple pianissimo to finger-bleed.
  10. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    It's what you hear after eating at Taco Bell.
  11. flat five

    flat five

    Sep 1, 2004
    Hi guys, thanks for the additional input. I think my analytical ability was compromised by a lot of frustration at the time I made the original post. I just wasn’t getting what I wanted out of my bass sound-wise no matter how hard I worked. I didn’t mean to give the impression that my two goals were loud and louder and I don’t think I actually said that. I do have some dynamic range, maybe not pppp-ffff, but certainly somewhere around pp-ff, or maybe ppp-ff. More than one bandleader has told me that I sometimes exaggerate dynamics on the p side of things too extremely relative to the rest of the band when it says p – they suddenly can’t hear me anymore.

    Anyway, I decided for the heck of it, to raise my action to see if that would help anything and it most definitely did. I recorded myself playing a transcription before I raised it one full turn and then recorded it again. It wasn’t as bad sounding on the recording as I thought it would be the first time. I do play with dynamics in the phrasing but it’s not necessarily on purpose – it’s how I feel it. I deliberately tried to play more blandly the second time so that it I wouldn’t be able to credit any favorable dynamic differences to it just being the second time through. The range of phrasing dynamics in the first recording was subtle, but more pronounced than I actually expected, and the phrasing in the second recording was even more pronounced even though I was trying to tone it down. The sound overall was louder and the tone quality was much more consistent and had more clarity. The bass feels so much more responsive and I found out that, amazingly, I don’t need to play as hard now, and since there is less string motion it seems to be easier on my LH, even though the action is higher. I can tell it’s higher, but it feels less strenuous somehow. And since there is less play in the string it should be much easier to play faster stuff. I’ll check that out next.

    So although I initially was even more depressed by some of the assumptions that were made, it ultimately had a good result and I really appreciate the time you all took to help me get where I am now, which is happy and excited!
    :D :hyper: :D
    And in the spirit of this thread, maybe I'll even go to Taco Bell to celebrate. :meh:
  12. Dynamics is a forgotten art (Thanks, 'Trane.). It can have great impact.