Bowman, David Professor Aks String Pedagogy Spring 2012 History Of Bass Techniques
When discussing the history of bass technique, you are mainly comparing the two main methodologies. The first being the older of the two methods created by Franz Simandl and the more recent method created by Francois Rabbath. Both are the leading methods in teaching young bass students how to understand the bass. Though there are plenty other teachings and methods, these two have made the greatest impact on young players and truthfully are the most popular. I will discuss how both methods are adequate, confusing and/or simple, depending how you view it. As well as how they relate to one another and how they differ. I will also go shortly into other methods that recently began gaining popularity and how they relate much of the material to what was already done by these two men. Finally, I will briefly go into compare the strengths and weakness’s between the German and French bow. Franz Simandl was born August 1, 1840 in Blatna, Bohemia. He was both a professional bass player in the Vienna Imperial Opera and the principal bassist at Bayreuth. On top of that, he also was the Professor of Double Bass at the Vienna Conservatory. “His Method for Double Bass was written for the Vienna Conservatoire, where he was Professor of Double Bass, and was first published in Vienna in 1874/5 and has remained in print ever since...”. Eventually revised for other languages years later by Carl Fischer. Franz actually has two volumes of “The Method for
Double Bass”. “This tried and true double bass pedagogical tome methodically takes the beginning double bass student up the fingerboard, half-step by half-step, exploring all of the notes in each position and connecting the new positions with the old positions in various etude and scalar studies.” To be specific about “exploring all of the notes in each POSITION, we are talking about Franz’s complicated method of describing what we like to call first, second third position and so on. As easy as it would be to just number them of all in a grid like manner, Franz made it a little more challenging and personally I believe to be more insightful and intelligent than just setting up the positions in numbered off fashion. If you were to take the bass and just take any open string and name out all the notes going down the fingerboard, the position number goes as follows: (starting on an open G) Half position consists of the first four half steps (G-Bb), First position starts on the second half step of the first four half steps(A-C). Second position starts only a half step above First position(Bb-Db). Now this is where it begins to get a little funky if it already hasn’t begun. Second and half position starts on the fourth half step of Half position. So Second and a half position would start on concert B and goes to D natural. From here you will continue in this pattern all the to Seventh position which completes a full octave from where we started. From there everything jumps into what we call thumb position, in which we turn our whole hand over the fingerboard so the thumb can act as another finger to put down with the others. Another essential teaching from Simandl’s method is the usage of only three fingers in all positions up to atleast the end of Fifth and a Half position. (depending on where you feel comfortable to start using 4 fingers not including the thumb). The three fingers Simandl was taught to use were the index, middle, and pinky. I like to call this the 1,2,4 finger method. Sometimes when you get close to octave harmonic you will see bassit’s use their ring finger to
play F, F#, and G. From their all five fingers are truly game to use, though once in thumb position the most commonly used fingers are thumb, index, middle, and ring. The pinky isn’t really used often in that register because it can’t pivot or shift at the right angle to stay in tune when placed down on the fingerboard, though some...
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