The vomit exercise

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Andy Mopley, Sep 28, 2017.

  1. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Hi all

    I understand how this exercise helps in reaching for the next pitch, but what I don't get is why the sliding part? Isn't is as effective, and possibly closer to real life playing, to do the same but say starting on an open g and then hit the next pitch, without sliding, eg keep the open g string going?? and repeat on other strings?

    No doubt we have all our favorites.

    Regards to all
  2. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    The main purpose, as I understand it, is to learn how to shift without having to leave the string, thus creating an efficient transition from one pitch to the next. Hopping around from note to note makes a greater chance of missing the target note. Your left hand might as well be in outer space.
  3. The sliding may also help in making sure you don't squeeze when making the movement. In order for you to make that sliding my movement to each note, your left needs to be relaxed.
    DaveAceofBass and Adam Booker like this.
  4. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    But it still remains a practice that works in a jazz setting (where sliding is in most cases an embellishment) as opposed to the "quietness" expected between notes, in a classical setting, no? And it is not a case of the hand being in outer space, but rather for it to be far away enough from the strings so not to hear the slide but still hit the next note, at pitch. I think.
  5. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    I try to minimize the "slide" effect. For beginners, it's helpful to have a slower slide so they can hear when they hit the pitch. But I try to shift to the upper (or lower, as the case may be) note fairly quickly. And a big part of vomits/shifting drills is bowing so as to maintain consistent volume between the different pitches.
    Tom Lane likes this.
  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    And you guyz accuse us of having weird threads.
  7. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Yes, AND...I believe that there is a kinesthetic learning component at play here as well - maintaining contact with the string while shifting, enables the body (arm/hand/fingers) to (over time) accurately "measure" or "feel" and "recall" the distance of the shift. This is most noticeable in shifts while ascending and descending (North/South) on a single string, but it also transfers to across the string (East/West) movement/shifts, as well.
    An exaggerated lifting of the LH fingers (or "leaping" of the Left Side arm/shoulder, etc.), often results in some degree of pitch or "memory loss" as the fingers search for the correct path back to to the string.
    Playing long tones, Arco, Molto Legato, including Large Intervals on One String, with slow, deliberate slurs, will surely improve the LH (and Left Side) mechanics, though it may sound Nauseating at first.
    Thanks - Great Topic. IMFO.
  8. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    The slide is to aid in learning the motion (as per Don's post above) and the distance. Then, you have to practice the shift without the slide. If you do nothing but the slide all the time you're missing the point of the exercise, IMNSHO.
    the_Ryan and csrund like this.
  9. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    you have to practice the shift without the slide...the point I have been missing.

    Thanks all.
  10. Co.


    Sep 10, 2006
    You always have to do the slide, but in a real musical situation, you have to hide the slide with adjusting left hand pressure, bow speed and bow weight. How you apply this techniques makes the difference between glissando, portamento and just a good smooth singing transition.
    Adam Booker, gnypp45 and Dave Reichle like this.
  11. Co.


    Sep 10, 2006
    Don't practice hopping to the next position. It will always throw your bow away from the string and you won't be able to apply, what you have learned to another bass with slightly different scale length.
    Watch that Joel Quarrington video!
  12. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Watch that Joel Quarrington video!..

    link? Txs
  13. shadow_FIX


    Feb 23, 2010
    The presence of the slide in performance depends on style. Portamento (the slide) is desirable as an effect in romantic literature, but it's something you'd mask in, say, baroque or classical rep.

    Experiment to get the sound you want in all contexts!
  14. Co.


    Sep 10, 2006

    It's not directly about the vomit exercise, but he is talking a lot about shifting.
    And the vomit exercise is basically a shifting exercise.

    By the way: It has nothing to do with Jazz playing and sliding around as a special effect. When I think about the vomit exercise, the first player that comes to my mind is Gary Karr.
  15. In all the above I take it that you are using "slide" for "glissando", holding the string down the fingerboard as you do the Vomit exercises so that the changing pitch is clearly heard. This is the way I recall Hearing Gary Karr demonstrate them.

    I liken shifting to using car disc brakes. Your thumb on the back of the neck and your fingers pressing the strings down are like the brake calipers, and the neck and strings are like the disc. Up and down the same string the shift is perhaps in three parts. Releasing full clamping pressure to begin moving, darting to the next note in a very shallow arc with the string held not quite down on the fingerboard , and confidently "nipping" between thumb and fingers to stop on the next note. The combination of thumb on one side and finger(s) on the other measures distances traveled by the hand. You are also moving between definite hand/arm settings (Position to Position). The nipping action of stopping the shift can also roll the hand over into the start of vibrato.

    I think in terms of three sizes of shift. Small is within the span of one tone, eg on the G string A(1) to B (2) and C (4). Medium are walking shifts, eg A B Csharp D (1 4 2 4). And Bungy Jumps (Death Defying Leaps, Leaps of Faith) such as huge jumps into and out of Thumb Position. Only then will my fingers and thumb let go completely and I try to concentrate on reaching the pitch of the note, not how I am going to get there, and trusting the memory for the two hand settings.

    So, I agree with Don above. There is both a technical and a musical benefit from doing the Vomit Exercises. You are polishing your shifting technique to move towards dancing quickly and easily between notes without audible glissandos and no jerks or fumbles (here it helps enormously not to have a sweaty varnished bass neck or sticky strings). Musically you are honing your listening and memory skills to confidently pitch intervals, reach for notes and return accurately to the tonic.
  16. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Respectfully Disagree - (for the Left Hand/Side) - playing walking 1/4 notes, (pizzicato/jazz), is/should be the same as playing Legato/Arco - connecting the notes with maximum fluidity, smoothness, consistency and sustain, (but with minimal "gap" during shifts), is the goal in both cases.
    Adam Booker likes this.
  17. Co.


    Sep 10, 2006
    You are right.

    I was replying to this sentence by Andy:
    "But it still remains a practice that works in a jazz setting (where sliding is in most cases an embellishment) as opposed to the "quietness" expected between notes, in a classical setting, no?"

    Smooth and efficient left hand technique is beneficial for all styles of string playing.
    Still, it is only partly an exercise for the left hand. It gets really interesting, when you are focussing on the bow, especially when the intervals get bigger. Hitting the notes in tune and doing this smoothly is one thing. Adjusting bow weight, position, speed, note shape, dynamics, hiding or showing the portamento (when, how long, much much),... that's what the exercise is really about, IMO.
    All of this doesn't really apply to pizz playing.
  18. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Respectfully Disagree, again.
    If we substitute Pizz Weight for Bow Weight, and, Pizz Position for Position, the listed parameters (above) DO apply to pizz playing. IMO.
    TMI - 40 years ago this year - I found that this method of conceptualizing/implementing "shifting", while playing both/either Arco & Pizz, was perhaps the most important concept that I learned from my 2nd teacher, James VanDemark.
  19. Co.


    Sep 10, 2006

    Weight: In pizz, you can't change the weight durin the shift, after you have played the note. Only, when you play the next note.

    Position: Of course you can change the pizz position, but you don't have to and most players won't do it anyways. Ron Carter and his students who put velcro on the side of the fingerboard don't do it.

    Pizz speed: Do you change it, when you play higher or lower notes, or do you only change it for dynamics?

    Note shape: You can't change the shape of the note after you plucked it with your right hand. In pizz, you can only do it with the left hand.

    Dynamics: Of course you can.

    Hiding or showing the gliss: In pizz, not with your right hand. Only with your left hand.

    I'm not trying to argue about the value of pizz playing vs arco playing, or jazz vs classical. I've been playing jazz related styles professionally for more than ten years now.
  20. It is not a shifting exercise, or at least not an exercise about clean shifts. It should be done arco, as with the bulk of your other practice. You can use any number of exercises to to work on shifting. What you find as you go along is there are only additions to your practice, nothing gets replaced.
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