i already got one

A classmate of mine and I are both preparing “Three Short Stories” for Double Bass and Piano, written by Bill Mays and recorded by the composer and John Goldsby
on Goldsby’s “Tale of the Fingers.” The first two “stories” of this suite both involve challenging arco sections (both written and improvised). Because of this, the idea of jazz arco playing has been at the fore of my mind for some time.

Goldsby and Lynn Seaton gave a great pair of demonstrations on the subject at the Aebersold camps and I’ve been working to apply some of their principals (particularly in the blowing section) to this piece (and my playing in general). I’ve had three great classical bass teachers over the last several years and considered the right-hand portion of this piece a given; not quite the case.

The anecdotal evidence seems to be that jazzers prefer German bow to French and I find myself among the presumed majority. All things relating to the German bow and it’s earthy grip pique my interest; there are myriad ways to unlock the musicality of the larger-frogged stick. The PBDB blog’s “Great German Bow Guide” took me to a website I’ve bookmarked but not yet explored: Robert Oppelt‘s personal site. On his “Get A Grip” page, he outlines eleven different grip-types for the German bow and, next to the demonstrative photo, explains what he considers the weaknesses and benefits of each grip. Among these is a Streicher-style grip and my predominant grip (#11). I would have preferred he more detailed descriptions of each grip, including their origins and names, but this serves an an excellent resource that was not available when I first picked up the bow.

Whatever way you choose to play your double bass, I would highly recommend Paul Brun’s book “A New History of the Double Bass.” In it, he outlines one of the most nagging questions in the string family – why in the world do bassists play with that funny-looking bow?!

By the way – while you’re at Bob’s site, check out his tips.

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