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Simandl Positions


Last week I mentioned that I was using Simandl’s New Method for the Double Bass. I cannot find the date when it was first published but, since Simandl died in 1912, it must be a century or more old!

One of the key features of this method is the use of various playing positions. The neck is broken into overlapping chunks, each spanning three notes. A typical passage of music will require movement through several positions, with the structure assisting the left hand in coping with the tension of the strings. What is lacking in the book is any explanation of why the particular positions have been chosen. Positions 1-7 span the neck to a tone above the octave but they are not evenly spaced. The exercises move up a semitone each time; sometimes you jump up another number and sometimes you are left in an “intermediate” position.

Last night I skimmed through the book and drew a diagram to try and unpick the logic. The most obvious pattern was that each numbered position starts with a natural note on the A string. First position begins on a level with the B on that string, second position begins on a level with C and third position begins on a level with D. That still does not answer why the positions were picked but at least gives a framework to help remember the convention.

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