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Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by ray, Nov 13, 2003.

  1. ray


    Feb 2, 2000
    What kinds of technique do people look for in playing scale?
  2. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    O.K., I'll bite.

    I look for good intonation in playing a scale to start with. Dynamics, rhythmic variation, and accents come next on my list. Articulation would be last, I suppose, because I consider it the finishing touch.

    If I ever got in a rut with all this I'd resort to different fingerings.

    I'm sure there's still something new to learn about scale technique that I haven't discovered.
  3. I'm guessing you might need to play some for an exam or audition or something? I think the big points are going to be intonation (obviously), tone, and the fluidity of whatever fingering you're using. Basically you want to play it as musically as you can, at a good dynamic level to bring out as much tone as possible, and play it cleanly. Use all of your bow, play with nice solid vibrato, and play it fast enough that you don't look like a chump but slow enough that you can make it sound good and you don't look like a showoff... :bassist:
  4. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    If it were me, I'd play a scale like F# or B, with no open strings. You can exercise equal control and tone on every note.
  5. With scales that don't have an open string I think it's important to have a tuner to double check your intonation. It's easy to start a little sharp or flat and play the scale in tune but the 'resonant tones' (not sure if that's the correct term) won't speak as they would if they were in tune.

    Do all of you guys play scales with vibrato? I've been taught to play them sans vibrato when it's for a jury or audition. My teacher's reasoning was that by playing without vibrato there's no way to cover up minute intonation quirps that vibrating can make dissappear (more or less).
  6. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    SCALES the most improtant and the most boreing.

    My teacher has me playing scales like this:

    I start with e major scale and play it every way I can think of open strings closed strings. Long whole note and slow.

    Then do all the modes of the key. So, keeping with 4 sharps and start on F#

    The next series would start with f major and then do all the modes in that key.

    Also. you need through in the chromatic scale as well. And some pentatonic sutff as well. And, don't forget the arpiggios that go with each scale.

    Then if that is not enough for you you can do the "vomit" exorcise. You start with, say g# then play a then go back to g# then go to a# then back to g#, all the way up the finger board with your first finger then do it all over again with all the other fingers. (I usderstand that Gary Karr starts out his bass camp with everyone doing this until their fingers catch fire or they vomit.)

    After you can do all the above perfectly you can to down to the music store and by the drummers book "Stick Control" and use the rythems in the book to soup up the scale playing a bit. Go slow at first and get the rythem right then crank up the metronome.

    I pick one scale at a time and work on it. With 12 semi tones and 8 modes pluss all the other types of scales and arpieggos it too much for me to work on more than one at a time.

    If your ear is not the best, like mine, I use my electronic tuner to help me get the pitch right, it helps.

    I have heared tell of a technique where you get a tunner that can play all the pitches and turn on the root pitch and play the scales with it going so you can learn what the intervals sound like. I have tried this with a and it does work.

  7. basslife


    Mar 23, 2004
    Joe, All your ideas are great discipline.
    Here's another way.
    Find the most "in tune" quality piano you can.
    Whatever scales you want with whatever metronome setting you want to practice; record the piano comparison of what you want to practice on bass. After recording the piano, play along with the tape of the piano playing what you want to practice. Reason being is obvious; tempo accuracy and intonation accuracy.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I've done the same thing with my microcomposer - i.e. programmed in what I wanted to practice, maybe with a basic drum or click track as well.

    This is far more accurate than my own piano playing!! ;)
  9. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    Good idea.
    I key the scale in the music notation sofware progarm and play along with the computer. the sound card in mostly in tune.

    Something else to try is get a note going on the root of the scale and play the scale aginst the root drone. Lets you hear the inervals. If you just play a scale you hear only a m2 and M2 interval shift most of the time. The Gary Karr "vomit" exercise does this also.

  10. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Somebody has beat you to the punch, and it's a wonderful product.

  11. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Other options for a drone tone:

    • Band In A Box -- I use the guitar tuner window and get it to drone at a HIGH ENOUGH volume
    • Cheap *ss keyboard (like a little Casio toy) -- tape or weight down the drone tone and let 'er rip.

    I like playing scales and arpeggios with the drone tone but I find after a while it makes it too darn easy to play in tune. For a little humility-building I turn off the drone and hear everything in the blinding light of solo truth...
  12. Bubbabass


    May 5, 2004
    Along the same lines, if you have something as simple as the Soundblaster Live Value card in your PC, you can record scales with a decent sounding virtual keyboard (in the card) and the Creative Recorder. Power Tracks is an inexpensive program for
    DIY accompaniments if you want a click, or Finale Notepad (freeware) if you don't need a click.

    Nobody will fault you for playing in tune with a piano, and these will help you do that. I'd suggest also playing your daily scale in double stop 3rds and 5ths. Do each note separately, then together. Adjust until all beats are gone. This will teach you a combination of just and pythagorean tuning which I believe is called mean-tone. Chords will sound better with this.

    Murray Grodner published something years ago called "An Organized Method of String Playing" with lots of double stop etudes. Carefully approached, it will help you tackle Bach with confidence.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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