D ow n lo ad the B a s s
app for extra co n tent
APP EXTRA
UPRIGHT CITIZEN
TUITION
strings: if you're playing at any
reasonable speed, it's easier
if you play the fifths pressing
both sets of fingers down at the
same time, so on fifths you are
essentially double stopping with
the left hand. With fourths, you
can barre across two strings
by flattening the fingers across
them. It's far more effort to play
a 1, 1 or 4, 4 fingering across
two strings by raising them off
one string and pressing down
the other. At speed, it's nigh on
impossible!
Now let's look at sixth
intervals. As regards fingering,
these are more or less the same as
thirds, but with the big difference
being that you're skipping the
middle string. Look at
Example 2
to see what's on offer. With the
top fingering we're going up in
discrete hand shapes, using major
and minor sixths, and grouping
pairs of notes together. However,
going up we change at the last
three pairs: A-F, B-G and top
C-A. This means a semitone shift
across the top adjacent strings,
although you can play them
together if you use extension fingering, although you'll need to leap for the top A from the C. Mind you,
you can cheat for the top A and play it as a harmonic on the D string (1st finger, 4th position).
The descending fingering shows what you do if you decide to cross three strings all the way up and
down. Here the first four notes of the descending scale are in thumb position, then down as before
with major and minor sixths, playing across three strings but skipping the D string in the middle. The
lower fingering offers a different approach once again: grouping the notes in fifths across the beat and
playing on two adjacent strings instead. Which is best? Whichever one you feel more comfortable with,
of course.
Example 3
looks at seventh intervals. Once again on the upper fingering, we're crossing three strings.
Minor sevenths can be 1, or 4, 4 (or even 2, 2 if you think about it), although barre-ing across three strings
will be rather difficult unless you have strong fingers and a low action. Major sevenths as you can see will
be a 1, 2 or 2, 4 fingering. Notice that we're going all the way up the fingerboard again to the thumb position
above the A-G interval. Note the alternative fingerings on the way down to show options once again.
With the lower fingering, we'll group the sevenths again as sixths across the beat. One fingering again is
not inherently more difficult or indeed that much different from the other: it's a matter of perception, and
again the more different ways you can look at an exercise, the more your mind is stimulated to come up
with ideas.
Of course, you could always try sixths and sevenths with position jumps and play on two adjacent
strings:
Example 4
is the result with sevenths. As you can see, even with open strings on the G and D,
this is very intensive stuff, and you may be asking yourself what the point is by this time. Do not tune
out, however: this exercise is very useful for those annoying but inevitable times when there's no other
recourse but to leap big distances between intervals. We can work out all sort of ingenious methods to
approach large intervals by moving across and up and down strings, but sooner or later in the heat of the
moment you could be caught out. In the classical world it's a bit more common. One example is Beethoven's
7th Symphony, where the last movement has two octave jumps between low F on the E string and high F
on the G. So you have to cross all four strings and move from half to 5th position! Even on a five-string bass
it's problematical, and across five strings at that.
Try
Example 4
: it'll help you practise your position shifts and give your ears a workout as well, checking
that you actually are in tune between each interval. After a while running through these, you'll notice that
your tuning gets better and the leaps more accurate as muscle memory takes over, and that's all helping
your ability, strength and fingerboard navigation.
• Improved Performance
• Enhanced Playing Experience
• Extended and Refined Range • Great Tone - Long Life
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