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Having real trouble with the bass!

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GregShelton

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Hi,

I am trying to get my fingers around the bass part of a tune called "Back To Bach" in the Mel Bay French Tunes For Accordion book. It's a simple 'java' tune in 3/4 based around arpeggios with a relative easy bass, except for one quick switch in the bass. There is a 4 bar section I am struggling to play the bass for properly, it goes: bar 1: A Major/A, bar 2: A Major/E, bar 3: Bb Major/Bb, bar 4: A major/A.

My problem is that, as the switch from A to the Bb is so far, evening when trying to use muscle memory, practicing with the bass-side only, slowing down and repeating this jump over and over, I can never quite guarantee I will hit the right notes. I just don't see how it's possible and what's worse, the wrong notes sound very wrong and I find it hard to get back onto the right progression whilst keeping the beat.
Also, I find the as I am forming a triangle to play the alternating bass of the first 2 bars, I have to switch finger shapes to play the single bar of B flat and I then have just one bar of A left so I tend to use 2 fingers instead of a triangle. The shape changing is also hard to achieve.

Is there a practice regime I can adopt so I can say for sure that I will hit that B flat and not the F or Eb?!

Thank you,

Greg.
 

george garside

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its just down to practice. Just keep working (separate from the tune) at jumping 5 diagonal rows. You are probably already jumping 4 eg C to A so its only one more and as far as A down to Bb if you feel the indented C as you pass over it next stop so to speak is Bb.

If you are not used to jumping start with 3 jumps then when this works on auto pilot practice 4 and then 5. and keep at it as it takes time!

george
 

BobM

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GregShelton said:
My problem is that, as the switch from A to the Bb is so far, evening when trying to use muscle memory, practicing with the bass-side only, slowing down and repeating this jump over and over.

It sounds like you’re approaching it from the right direction. The semitone LH chord jump is the Stradella’s Achilles Heel, not easy, like on the Piano..




GregShelton said:
Also, I find the as I am forming a triangle to play the alternating bass of the first 2 bars, I have to switch finger shapes to play the single bar of B flat and I then have just one bar of A left so I tend to use 2 fingers instead of a triangle. The shape changing is also hard to achieve.

Why do you have to switch finger shapes to play the Bb? I guess this a direction in the Mel Bay book?

I’m guessing that you’re using a 3:2 left hand fingering, right?

Make sure that when you make a big single chord jump that you keep the wrist in the same height position for the A, and play the Bb with just a pivot of the wrist.

And try practising it on it’s own, with the radio or telly on, or staring out of the window, sounds strange but it works for me. But there again.. :)
 

dunlustin

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Do you keep a light touch on the bass buttons as you "jump?" ie not really a jump more a brush.
When the Index finger gets to C, the Bb is reachable under the Ring finger.
Does that help?
 

JIM D.

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If you have a 120 bass you can find the note Bb three rows up from A . It's the counter bass of F# and you could hold it for the measure or tap it in tempo. JIM D.
 
G

GregShelton

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Thanks very much everyone!
I had feared that I might hear that the solution would be to keep practicing and that is no miracle cure but at least it means it is achievable!
I didn't take the advice about switching finger shapes from Mel Bay, it's just that the first 2 bars of A have an A and E in the base so I play it in what I'd call a 3-fingered 'triangle' (is that what you mean by a 3:2, sorry?) then I move to one bar of Bb so I just use 2 fingers.
I will definitely try locating the Bb with my ring finger by first finding the C with my index and I'll experiment with the Bb in the counter bass too.
Thanks very much.
 

george garside

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JIM D. said:
If you have a 120 bass you can find the note Bb three rows up from A . Its the counter bass of F# and you could hold it for the measure or tap it in tempo. JIM D.


as indeed you can with on long 48 (12x4). 60 or 72 bass box

george
 

Glenn

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JIM D. said:
If you have a 120 bass you can find the note Bb three rows up from A . Its the counter bass of F# and you could hold it for the measure or tap it in tempo. JIM D.
I think Jims idea is a good one to experiment with. I do it sometimes if I can get away with it.
 

george garside

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and its worth remembering that many bass 'arrangements' are not set in tablets of stone in so far as they may have not been part of a tune as originally thought up. Therefore the bass can often be part of a subsequent arrangement or re arrangement of a tune.

There is no law stating that you can't modify/rearrange some of the bass ( unless it is part of an exam test piece) and of course in the example given this would be required by anybody using a 6x8 48 bass box. It is also a useful learning exercise ( and fun) to experiment with a partially different bass arrangement as this improves the ability to play half decent bass on the hoof if working either by ear or from a melody/treble only score.

So there is something to be said for not getting hung up over long jumps and going for something morfe convenient that sounds ok - whilst of course practicing the long jumps for future possible use

george
 

BobM

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I think that the semitone jump thing is always going to be there, you may as well bite the bullet and get it sorted.. Go for what you want, it definitely gets easier.
I was recently playing in a band with a well known “senior” player and he never missed a semitone shift, not one. I asked him about it, he said just to keep doing it.

BobM.
 
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GregShelton

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Thanks everyone.

I received some great tips and I will try and get more out of the counter bass and look at more convenient re-arrangements of bass parts.

Thanks Dunlustin, the idea of using one finger to help another locate the right note has been a huge eyeopener. I had only ever worked with one finger, so introducing another has reduced the size of the jumps I have made significantly, though it will take some practice for I remember which finger to play the note with!

Thank BobM for making me think about finger shape. I had stuck rigidly to the same finger shapes for certain patterns. It never occurred to me that I can play the same patterns and notes with different fingerings. It has really changed my approached to figuring out the smoothest overall bass sequence. I switch between fingerings as it suits each point of the song and I am already noticing an improvement.

Cheers!
 

dunlustin

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Only glad to be of help.
I spent years trying to get better at "jumps" then read about the idea of running a finger along the buttons - as you say an eyeopener.
I think it was in a book by a French Accordionist - Manu Maugain?
 

george garside

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running the figner along is fine when there is a bit of time available to make the jump but when playing faster stuff or even slower stuff that has a need for a quick jump there is not usually sufficient time to 'run along' so whilst this is useful for starters it is not a substitute for getting the hang of jumps up to maybe 5 diagonal rows.

A couple of things that may help

- keep the bass strap reasonably tight and the hand well through (strap on wrist where a watch strap would be) so that wrist stays put and hand pivots up or down by 5 diagonal rows

- practice using treble and bass at same time eg bass jump A to F play A & F on treble at same time, then try eg D to Bb etc etc on both ends.

george
 

dunlustin

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Well, as a compulsive buyer of music, guess what - I had a copy of the book.
JIMD’s solution is fine but I think your main question is really a general one about precision.
If you want to practice the move to the Bb, that final bar could be played as an Abass which just so happens to be on the diagonal counterbass from Bb. The run from g# could then be used to get your left hand back to the Dminor position and the triplets.
Re my suggestion from Manu Maugain:
I don’t think he sees it as a beginners’ stopgap but rather as a technique to help answer your question. (Worth bearing in mind that he is a Professional with 3 teaching books under his belt – Learning the…, The Practice of …and Jazz for.. I find them patchy but I’ve yet to find a complete method for anything)
This is not him but having thought about it I also use:
The E indent ditto giving B and F#
The E indent with index to position the A
Moving say from E minor to its related G major,I target C with my ringfinger giving G under finger3.
This means you are no longer making blind leaps which one day might be predictable. Instead, each time you know what you’re trying for and how you’ll know if you achieved it – the indent.
 
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goldtopia

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These awkward quirks of fingering crop up now and then. It can cause one to stumble which disrupts the timing, creates mistakes and makes one very cautious of playing such tunes to an audience. Often I would find substitute chords which although may not be quite right is better than making noticeable mistakes. Playing privately, I would still persevere with it like an exercise.
 

george garside

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goldtopia said:
These awkward quirks of fingering crop up now and then. It can cause one to stumble which disrupts the timing, creates mistakes and makes one very cautious of playing such tunes to an audience. Often I would find substitute chords which although may not be quite right is better than making noticeable mistakes. Playing privately, I would still persevere with it like an exercise.


I think Bill has made an extremely important point here. A great many people take up the box with the idea of playing the type of tunes they like and with the prime intention of actually enjoying so doing. For them if a bit of alteration to the written bass makes life easier, the tune sound better ( cos its played without stumbling) and it produces a satisfying but happy experience then dont feel there is something wrong in substitution

on the other hand if agonising over the correctness of every treble and bass note/chord and taking for ever to perfect a tune is what floats your boat then fine, do just that!

Both of the above are in effect quite different approaches to enjoying making music on the box. Both are correct and neither is wrong or better or worse than tother.

However my personal opinion is that it is pointless to play a box if it is not enjoyable or indeed fun! If agonising over detail turns you off, dont ! . Equally if not being able to play something exactly as thought up and written by somebody else causes you irritation enjoy agonising over the detail!

Me, I sit somewhere perhaps best described as a bit left of centre - a lot of enjoymnen and a bit of agonising!

george ;)
 
J

Jim the box

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Personally if I am performing and find difficulty with a bass sequence I find a workable alternative which may involve playing the counter bass and not the chord say if I have to jump from BbM to A7, I will always go back and practice the jump when at home.

Anything in the bass that is different and takes brain power to accomplish is difficult at the best of times, it gets really interesting when it happens at the same time as something difficult on the right hand :?

As I have said before, it's just a matter of practice, practice and more practice :tup:
 
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Hetty

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This has nothing to do with the bass, but with learning anything new. I don't know about you, but I find that if you keep practicing anything difficult, it seems you never get there and then suddenly it seems to happen. Doesn't mean you never do it wrong, but the progression is not in even steps, you work and work and never get there and suddenly:voila! In other words, keep practicing because that moment may be just around the corner and all the practicing will have paid off. I am sure in the past I often gave up just before I got there...
Hetty
 

george garside

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agree progression is not in even steps, more like a step or two and then a plateau and then another step or two - sometimes down instead of up! - et etc. However if the practice seems to be going nowhere it can often help to leave the bit you are having difficulty with for a a week or two , particularly if the steps are down!. Quite often on resumption after a rest period all goes well, probably due to the autonomous actions that have been continuing, unbeknown to you, in the brain in the dead of night so to speak. In other words give it a bit of time to fester all by itself!

george
 

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