Using the Third Finger in ALL Positions? – Interview and demonstration by Marcos Machado

Using the Third Finger in ALL Positions? – Interview and demonstration by Marcos Machado


hi it’s Geoff Chalmers here from
discoverdoublebass.com now that is the home of online video double bass lessons
and courses we’ve also interviews gear reviews there’s a whole load of stuff
over this if you’re a double bass player please visit our website i’m sure that
you’ll love it now I’m really excited because today I’m
joined by a brand new tutor to the website and he is a professor of music
form within the University of Southern Mississippi he’s also a celebrated
author of a series of books called the Tao of Bass just to hand here and he is
an amazing virtuoso double bassist he’s been over in the UK filming a series of
lessons on left hand technique and we thought that we’d have a bit of a
discussion about it and the use of playing with all four fingers so using
the third finger in the lower position so let’s welcome Dr. Marcos Machado
welcome great to have you here Marcos thank you it’s great to be here fantastic well
first of all tell us about your book that I’m holding here Volume one you
you’re obviously really excited about left hand technique so yeah how did you
get involved in this how did it come about well this book is a result of many
years I would say more than 20 years of research experimentation and trying
different approaches for the bow bass left it’s not Volume one deals with left
hand but volume three will be only the bow and I’m very happy if the book is is
being very well received I saw the book in more than 40 countries it’s already
in its fifth printing so I’m very proud of this work and is a result of years
and years of with research absolutely I mean I bought a copy of this which is
how wait yeah that’s great thank you it’s really cool and there’s a yeah
there’s a huge amount of material in here and of course with Marcos being a
real expert in left hand technique I wanted to ask him a few questions about
it and particularly this use of the third finger in lower positions because
this seems to be one of the really contentious issues in double bass
playing it seems to be French be German bow, dots on the fingerboard and
anything to do with the third finger they blow people’s minds
so what are your thoughts I mean you know
how do you approach things you were you know 1,2,4 Simandl guy or do you
kind of do a bit more? why don’t you tell us about your
approach? Well, I never liked the national approach you know the following
I played German school because I’m German I play French in school because
I’m French I have a tendency to see what works better
what’s more natural third finger is very popular in Italy they use a lot right
the finger rather than the traditional one okay so I’m very comfortable with
too low low positions with three in low positions and I’m true believer that
each finger should be treated equally they should be equally strong equally
independent I always show a trill exercise where I can demonstrate that
that you should be able to true with any finger equally with easy and relaxed
such as Wow so I’m an advocate of all fingers
but in a relaxed manner so and this is including the lower position because I
think I tend to fall into the I guess a lot of players are like me well we tend
to be Simandl, you know 1 2 4 let’s say that in the lower positions and then
perhaps include the third the third finger somewhere around the neck heel
potentially… and from then onwards it’s just you know thumb
position I tend to be fairly standard with my Petracchi based approach you
know but for you you really using the third finger when you’re playing say
excerpts and yeah have you repertoire in the lower register – oh yes I used all
the time for for example if I’m playing let me show you this in my scale so it’s
very easy for people to see that if I’m playing a C major scale I will use a 3rd
finger for that leading tone hey but if my playing dominant scale where I have
the flat 7 I will use 2nd for sure okay so I interchange a lot between
second and finger whatever is more comfortable what is near to my first
finger or to the finger I’m going to if I’m going to the fourth finger and I
have a leading tone I have a tendency to use three if I’m going to a first finger
and I have a half-step I have a tendency to use two so they are interchangeable I
use them all the time equally did you find other downsides of using the third
finger because there are some things that it works so well so for instance
fourth so we were talking or you were demonstrating playing the fork technique
where you’re playing yeah fourths that way which is if it feels very natural
but playing more chromatic passages or perhaps scales in one position it feels
more complex I mean it all for you is it all just the same thing is the same I
think with proper training it should feel the same you should feel very
comfortable playing let’s say a chromatic passage or traditionally essentially everything should sound the
same and then for musical reasons I’m I opted for second finger third finger but
usually is the music that they decide it decides my fingerings is not Simandl or
Bille or any of these this traditional school I respect all I use it all I just
kind of integrated everything together in my own my own way of of playing the
bass maybe you could play some excerpts that demonstrate this or sudden we were
playing the Mahler yeah the Mahler solo is a classic example that I will use
three because of this relation whole step half step yeah and it’s very
natural if you I always tell my students if you measure the double bass here is
the same size as a cello and they are gonna use fingers eight different
fingers for each half step so something like the mala I would play one three
four perhaps but I’m comfortable – which one – for one two three and so forth it’s I’m basing my my
choices on relaxation and how the line sounds it’s it’s a really interesting
approach because you do have such a wider range of options and in terms of
phrasing and developing your musicality and original voice and avoiding awkward
ships that maybe accent put the accent in a strange place that’s definitely
something that seems really powerful that’s a that’s a great point at
groupings you know when you have all fingers at your disposal you can phrase
much more naturally respecting their actual grouping of the passage you’re
not fingering with a school-based fingering but fingering very musically
following what the composer wrote this is really something that you’re using
all the time in Orchestra as well as for solar plane and this isn’t you know
you’re able to respect the line that’s been written and the phrasing that’s
been written and it gives you some your playing shows art earlier yeah I’m just
hearing that with some interesting that’s a classic example where I that’s
a great example because on that except I actually interchange yes in a small
excerpt two and three like you demonstrate that a little bit so what I’m doing here I’m ascending
with the third finger thus ending with second so this is a classic example of
how both techniques they coexist what are the key components then of
utilizing the third finger seems to me or certainly using all four fingers is
the use of the pivot and I know that you studied with Francois Rabbath so I’m
wondering whether you can speak a little bit about whether the pivot was
something you learnt directly from Francois or was something that you
already were exploring before how did that come about well I was very lucky to
study with Milton Masciadri the senior this is a bass player from Brazil who
was a former the principal double bass with Porto Alegre Symphony Orchestra and
on my first lesson he actually showed me the possibilities of pivots and shifts
and he also told me about Francois Rabbath so when I started I already had that
name and that energy and I was very lucky when I moved to the United States
in 1995 to study with Masciadri son who is also called Milton Masciadri, in
Georgia that year Rabbath was a guest there so immediately I connected with
Francois and I started a long long relationship with him we’re very close
and of course he showed me many things that opened my my mind and I took his
concept absorb it learn it and but I made it my my own interpretation of it
and what I did I added the third finger on his technique he uses mainly pivots 1
2 4 and I use people 1 2 4 1 3 4 1 2 3 4 yeah it’s he seems to have had such an
impact on the world of the double bass that’s really you know it’s got this
ball rolling and everybody like yourself is kind of jumping on it and doing
different things so would you say that your is do teach Rabbath technique that
or do you think that you’re when your teaching your students you’re teaching
many different areas of techniques it doesn’t seem to be quite as
one way you know a lot of people what I’m getting is I tend to speak to people
who are you know a Rabbath vs Simandl and all its but it’s one or the other
yeah there’s no kind of I think I think they coexist I think if you look at for
about the first volume it’s very similar like it’s just a very melodic similar
where I would put this way his volume one is beautiful but it always didn’t
want too far technique I think people forget that sometimes there is a core
what I call a core technique and then depending of the student I can use 1 2 4
or 1 3 4 as the departure technique because I have some students who are it
train it in the Italian school then they use 1 3 4 so we started from that but
gradually I start showing other possibilities so I don’t teach with only
one book of course I use the Rabat book I use my own book but I use many other
books I use many books balay see mundo hair – all these I think oh this is
great we have all of this material at our disposal you know I I would would be
ashamed not used to all this because all those guys were dedicated they dedicated
their whole lives to the art of double bass playing so I think we should loop
with car care and love these these old school old old methods that’s what I do
well I’ve not fantastic place to finish here Marcus it’s been a real pleasure
talking to you today and it’s been a real joy to hear you play it really has
it’s we’ve been having a lot of fun filming here in Leeds it’s been yeah
it’s been a really great experience and of course thank you so much for watching
at home for checking out the video and if you’d like to see more from Marcus
he’s filmed a full-length course that will be available on Discover Double
Bass all about left hand technique and I’m sure we’ll be releasing some videos
to share with you and hopefully we’ve given you some ideas and take you
further on your journey with with the double bass and perhaps in the new
direction too so thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time

18 thoughts on “Using the Third Finger in ALL Positions? – Interview and demonstration by Marcos Machado

  • Awesome lesson, especially for an italian player like me who often also plays 124. Incredible player, by the way has he ever played an out of tune note?

  • Using your third finger? That's illegal! I'm calling the police!

    JK. I've been watching too much Davie504 recently.

  • Geoff thank you so much for this interesting video. I met some Italian bass players who used the 3rd finger in lower positions and it always struck me. I tried it but felt uncomfortable so I definitely would have to work on it. I'm picking up this book and hitting the shed after this video!

  • Thank you for sharing this. We recorded so many videos and I completely forgot about this one. There are a few concerns in social media about using these fingerings in big basses. I should have mentioned in the video that I use pivots, not extensions. I developed all my technique in big basses, mostly a 7/8 bass. So, yes, the technique works in any sized bass. Monday I will make a video with a big bass to demonstrate it. Cheers!

  • I love how Marcos reiterates 'relaxation'. I have wrecked my left hand in the past due to tension. Wish I would have learned proper technique years ago. Thank you, Sir! 🙂

  • I got to participate in a master class with Nicholas Walker not too long ago and he uses third finger to sound more in tune with certain intervals particularly major 2nds and it also does make barring much easier

  • Me as a new bass player: (Uses third finger)

    Bassist friends: What the heck are you doing, is 1 2 4
    Me: Is more comfortable
    Friends: That's not what Simandl says
    Me: Cry… Till now

  • Truely inspirational playing. Very surprised to see I was only the third person to "like" this video. Maybe other db players are too busy practising? Perhaps I should be doing more too, instead of watching YouTube!

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