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Zimmerman Books

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by TomGale, Oct 3, 2005.

  1. TomGale


    Jul 31, 2005
    American School of Double Bass
    Several players have mentioned Zimmerman's exerpt books. Keep in mind these books were written mostly in the 40's when the standard setup was gut G and Ds, wound gut A and E. Very thick and lacking flexability. To compensate, the nut was much higher than today's setup and so was the bridge. There was an advantage in using all 4 fingers in a block fingering style to hold down the string, shifting was held to a minimum and playing in the lower positions was easier than the upper ones due to the thickness and stiffness of the strings. Can you use these 40's fingerings today? Sure - and they are easier on the new setup. Are they still the best available today? Probably not. Just be careful in taking all the fingering suggestions as gospel.
    Tom Gale
  2. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Hello Mr. Gale,

    I understand you're an advocate of both open hand fingerings and using thumb position below the G harmonic where they bring value to the player in executing challenging lines successfully and I think that's great thank you very much!

    Little Johnny
  3. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Martha? Is that you name? Your profile says you are a Male. Is that correct? Look at a few profiles here on TB. The ones fully filled out help us to understand who we are chatting with.

    I don't think fingerings have changed that much but adjustments are always made by players to get the job done. BTW, not all the Basses are the same either as far as the Neck/Shoulder relationship so somethings there are altered to taste as well.

    EDIT: OOPs.. Just saw you name at the end. Sry Tom.. BTW, I just got Levinsons Book of Agility and it too uses the Thumb below the octave. Time to re-learn a few things and un-learn a few as well.
  4. I agree. Fingerings and bowings can be updated if needed. The great thing about Zimmerman's books is that so much repertoire is so easily available.
  5. Having experimented with the old gut setup, I think besides fingering ease, the old Simandl style fingering concepts maximized the tone quality of the gut strung bass. It is hard to get a gut A string going with the bow much past III postition because it is so thick - It just doesn't want to get moving. The tone of gut strings past the neck block is fairly unusable too. With steel strings, there are many more usable locations for notes so other fingering paterns become available.

    As far as fingering difficulty goes, a bass with Pirastro orchestral strings and good orchestral string height still requires a lot of strength to finger firmly because the strings are so tense. Gut doesn't require that much more strength as one moves up the neck, it's just that the strings, being so high tend to go sharp and there is a physical time lag because of the greater distance to the fingerboard. Also, there are bow clearance problems in thumb position on the two middle strings.

    That said, Nanny does explores four-finger technique in his book I, and even Simandl includes excercises that cover the lower strings in higher positions, so the need for these techniques has been known for a long time before the advent of steel strings even if they haven't been the first choice.

    I don't think Zimmerman's fingerings are bad necessarily; There are just more convienent and possibly better sounding alternatives now. I've always felt that one should learn all the reasonable fingerings for excerpts and solos so they aren't limited by fingering habits and can instead make an educated decision based on the requirements of their own bodies, their equipment, the particular music and playing situation.