Double bassist Daphna Sadeh-Neu on teaching techniques for jazz, Indian and Middle Eastern music
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All bassists seeking to broaden their repertoire will benefit from an initial solid grounding in classical technique. This way they have the tools to play accurately and sensitively, and to avoid muddiness. The bass is a demanding instrument physically, and it is essential to have strength and reliable tuning in the left hand, and good bow control in the right as a starting point, in addition to a good general level of stamina.
Many of the techniques described here are a personal response to working alongside musicians playing jazz, Indian and Middle Eastern music. Perhaps because it is largely improvised, it is vital that players listen, watch and imitate such players as François Rabbath for inspiration, and are open to experimentation to find their own ways of expressing themselves as they develop.
A strong left hand is crucial. Build the strength of the muscles in the palm of the hand so that it can support the fingers, otherwise the hand is likely to get stiff and tense.
Hammer technique develops the strength of the palm, which in turn is good for vibrato and trills. Pizz the lower note, then ‘hammer on’ the second note without plucking, as in exercise 1:..
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