Lesson 2

​Mixing advanced techniques: scordatura, harmonics, portamento, ponticello, loops and others.

It is not very usual to play, on double bass, some techniques as described below.

The example is based on a beautiful Joni Mitchel´s song called "Both Sides Now" .

I based my arrangement for solo double bass on  the  amazing Vince Mendoza´s orchestral version.


Some techniques used:

- "Scordatura": is a tuning of a stringed instrument different from the normal, standard tuning.

In this piece, the IVth. string is tuned to D, instead of the usual E.

- "Harmonics":  the string is lightly fingered at a nodal point to produce a "fluted" sound.

At the beginning of the piece, I´m using harmonics on strings I, II and III.

They are played on the 7th and on the 12th "fret".

Here you have the transcription of the beginning "loop".


Both Sides Now - Gonzalo Tejada
00:00 / 00:00

- "Pedal Loop":  I´m using a standard Boss pedal loop.

As you already  know, you can record a musical phrase, it repeats again and again, and you

can also record over the loop different things. You can clearly hear the "clicks" of my pedal.

- "Ponticello":  I played some harmonics and regular notes "sul ponticello". 

That means to play with the arco very near to the bridge, producing a characteristic "glassy" sound,

which emphasizes the higher harmonics.

- "Motivic development": I built my arco solo in a "cantabile" or vocal way using a lot the idea of motivic development.

That means to play a musical phrase, or motif, and try to develop it in the following musical phrase.

Of course the idea of "motivic development" is more complex and is crucial in improvised music, and this is only an example.

- "Portamento" & "Glissando":  the use of the portamento gives to our arco playing a lot

of expressivity and also helps in tuning.

Portamento is a little pitch sliding to a note .

Glissando means a bigger sliding between one note to another.

- "Vibrato": it is used to add expression to our playing with arco or pizzicato.

Vibrato is typically characterised in terms of two factors: the amount of pitch variation ("amplitude")

and the speed with which the pitch is varied ("frequency")

- "Tremolo": is a rapid reiteration of a single note as a trembling effect. You can clearly hear

this effect at the end of the piece.


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