Etudes and Methods Used in My Lesson
(In the order of pupils' use)

Simandl, F.: New Method for the Double Bass I, II
Carl Fisher
The standard introductory method book for the double bass written by Franz Simandl (1840-1912) who studied in Prague. Best for acquiring the basis of left hand form and sense of position. Since the beginning sections of the book 1 are monotonous in terms of rhythm, I recommend to create rhythmic variations for practice of bowing in diverse rhythmic patterns. The book 2 which handles thumb position lacks consistent rules for fingering and makes too much use of the 1st and 2nd fingers, so one cannot fix the form of fingers and palm. The book 1 is still being used by double bass teachers all over the world with a yearning for a better method. (Japanese edition is also available from Carl Fisher.)

Simandl, F.: 30 Etudes for the String Bass
Carl Fisher
The standard introductory etude book for the double bass. The cover page says "For the acquisition of correct and broad intonation together with rhythmic precision."

Hrabe, J.: 86 Etudes I, II
Carl Fisher
A collection of etudes composed by a professor of the Prague Conservatory, Josef Hrabe (1816-1870) (Simandl's teacher). Best for pupils who have just started practicing thumb positions to study combinations of low and high positions. Since this book has many repetitions of the same pattern, it would be suited for repeated practice but may become tiresome soon. Since the current edition is fingered by Simandl, fingerings for thumb positions require some reconsideration.

Ruehm, O.: Progressive Etuden fuer Kontrabass I-V
Doblinger
Written by a professor of the Vienna Conservatory, Otto Ruehm. Best for pupils who have completed the Simandl book 1. Materials are picked up from various violoncello methods and arranged for the double bass. Fingerings are indicated at all important points and they are well-thought. In this book, in contrast to the Simandl book 2, the 3rd and 4th fingers are employed frequently at high positions. This book would be best for acquiring form of palm, fingers, and wrist at high positions and diverse bowing patterns can be learned through musically varied etudes. Every year, material from the Progressive Etuden is used at the audition of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

Bottesini, G.: Method for Double Bass I, II
York Edition
The book 1 is intended for low positions but written in a great variety of keys and with bold modulations. This method contains musically varied materials and one can learn various bowing patterns as from Ruehm's Progressive Etuden. Since the book 2 abruptly presents difficult pieces which use high positions, I employ this method along with Ruehm's Progressive Etuden and Hrabe's 86 Etudes. A dozen very difficult etudes for natural harmonics are also included. If you try any of them, you will find your left hand fingertips will be covered with rosin powder! (A Ricordi edition is also available.)

Kreutzer, R. - Herrmann, H.: 18 Etuden
Hofmeister
The standard violin method arranged for the double bass by Heinz Herrmann (who was the principal double bassist of Dresden Symphony Orchestra). Best for learning various basic bowing techniques such as detache, marcato, staccato, martele, jumping bow, change of string, one bow staccatos, etc. However, this book is too hard for very beginners because playing leaps and broken chords on the double bass is difficult.

Petracchi, F.: Simplified Higher Technique
York Edition
Best for acquisition of left arm position, form of fingers, and shifting at high positions. Thumb position finger forms are classified into three patterns and each of them is exercised thoroughly until it is physically acquired (the same as Streicher's method). Horizontal moves (change of string) and vertical moves (on one string) of the left hand can be studied effectively. Since this book contains purely technical exercises only, patience would be required to study all of the contents. Compulsory material for my pupils.

Rollez, J-M.: Methode de Contrebasse I-III
Gerard Billaudot, Editeur
The book 1 concentrates on training for change of strings at lower positions and accurate synchronization of the left hand and bow arm. No shifting exercises at all. Various patterns for change of string and finger movements in the same position continue over many pages. It would not be necessary to study the entire book, but I recommend to practice thoroughly only the sections which you do not play well at first. In the books 2 and 3, scales and arpeggios in three octaves are shown with complete fingerings. I think these are quite reasonable and can be used as a reference when you are not sure your own fingering. (With Japanese commentary.)

Simandl, F.: Gradus ad Parnassum I, II
Hofmeister
Material after finishing the Simandl book 1. A collection of etudes that combines various patterns of finger moves, string changes, and rhythms. Since one single pattern continues 2 or 4 pages with modulations, this book can be fitted to develop basic physical strength of the left hand, concentration, and stamina, but would become tiresome soon. Fingerings in high positions should be reconsidered.

Findeisen, T.: Der Lehrer des Kontrabass-Spieles I-V
Hofmeister
Like Otto Ruehm's Progressive Etuden, this book instructs the use of 3rd and 4th fingers frequently at high positions. Best to learn the correct form of palm, fingers, and wrist at high positions. I pick up some cantabile passages at slow tempi from this book as exercises for vibrato and slow bowing. This book, although containing various musical exercises, is a little redundant because it presents too many diverse patterns of etudes.

Nanny, E.: Dix Etudes-Caprices
Alphonse Leduc
A most demanding collection of etudes composed by a professor of the Paris Conservatory, a double bass version of Paganini's 24 Caprices for solo violin. About this book, players often complain "two facing pages are filled with semiquavers" or "when a melody comes, it is full of double stops." Only a few of my pupils have ever reached this level.

Bozza, E.: 8 Etudes pour Contrebasse
Alphonse Leduc
A collection of double bass etudes written by a French composer. The etudes have rhapsodic character and sound like cadenzas for concerti. There is no other book that contains complicated irregular time at such fast tempi like this one.

Rabbath, F.: Nouvelle Technique de La Contrebasse I-III
Liben Music Publishers
The book 3 is a scale book which explores the possibility of all kinds of fingering in three octaves and all keys. Its manifold fingering patterns are literally overwhelming. Moreover, Rabbath instructs the reader to combine all of the scales with 282 (!) bowing variations and to practice a new combination every day without repeating the same one. His foreword referring to "what is playing the instrument?", "what is practice?", "what is difficult?", "how to improvise" is interesting. Also, his original fingerings and way of string crossing contained in books 1 and 2 are worth trying and photographs in each book that show his unique way of holding the instrument, his position of arms and fingers are interesting.

Other Methods and Etudes I have studied

Bille, I.: 24 Studi-Capricci
Ricordi
A collection of studies containing technically demanding figures such as arpeggios and leaps in high positions, etc. Not playable without applying the method of Petracchi or Streicher.

Cerny, F.: Technicke Studie pro Kontrabas
Editio Supraphon Praha
An almost scale-like double bass method written by a double bassist who, along with Hertl, represents the Prague school. Somewhat boring.

McTier, D.: Daily Exercises for Double Bass
McTier Music
Highly technical exercises such as scales with third, fifth, and octave (!) double stops, etc. The exercises are only in 12 patterns but commentary on each of them is concise and to the point.

Streicher, L.: Mein Musizieren auf dem Kontrabass I-IV
Doblinger
Explanations of how to hold the bow, how to hold the instrument, etc. in the book 1 are accompanied by photos and are easily understandable to beginners. Like the aforementioned Petracchi's Simplified Higher Technique, finger forms at thumb positions are classified into three patterns and each of the patterns is thoroughly exercised. Contrary to Petracchi's book, this method progressively presents a lot of varied etudes at each position from the lowest one. It could be a little redundant. (In Petracchi's book, even the first etude demands a climb up to G at the end of the fingerboard and will be physically hard if you are unaccustomed to playing in high positions.) Streicher's book contains a lot of excerpts from solo literature and orchestral parts and indicates how to practice difficult passages concretely; very informative. (Japanese edition in two volumes available from Ongaku No Tomo Sha Corp.)

Nanny, E.: Vingt Etudes de Virtuosite
Alphonse Leduc
A little easier than the abovementioned Etudes-Caprices. Suitable to reinforce left hand agility required to run up and down the fingerboard rapidly.

Montag, L.: Kontrabass-Schule I-IV
Editio Musica Budapest
A method written by the Hungarian virtuoso Lajos Montag. Basic rhythm patterns and basic bowings are introduced progressively, and excerpts from orchestral parts are included as exercises. Fairly effective book if you pick up materials from it tactically.

Starke, A.: Moderne Technische Studien durch alle Tonarten fuer Kontrabass
Hofmeister
Contains fingered two-octave scales. Fingerings for transitional positions from the neck joint to thumb positions require some reconsideration.

Schneikart, H.: Skalen und Akkordstudien
Doblinger
Contains scales (both melodic and harmonic minor) in all keys and almost all types of broken chords including major triad, minor triad, dominant seventh, augmented triad, diminish seventh, etc. Can be used as a reference for fingering.

Zimmermann, F.: A Contemporary Concept of Bowing Technique for the Double Bass
Leeds Music Company, New York
This book illustrates the bow movement patterns for change of string in various orchestral excerpts. However I do not think the bow movement charts help development of skills. The several pages of exercises in the middle of the book are worth using because you can practice only the string change motion in the same position. Rollez's book 1 contains almost the same exercises in much more abundance.

Miscellaneous

Nagashima, Y.: "Asaren Kontorabasu"
(Written in Japanese. [Students' Morning Exercises of Double Bass - Daily 30-minute basic exercises])
Zen-on Music Company
This book provides the answers to primitive questions (rosin, bridge, maintenance, etc.) young double bass beginners would have. How to hold the instrument, how to hold the bow, left hand, pizzicato, etc. are explained briefly with photos.

Inagaki, T.: "Wakariyasui Kontorabasu Kyousokubon" - A Practical Method for the Double Bass
(Written in Japanese with English translation by Victor C. Searle.)
Kosei Publishing Co.
Inagaki who is a double bassist, composer, and conductor explains his way of playing plainly with his own etudes and photos. Orchestral excerpts with fingering are also contained in abundance.

Takanishi, Y.: "Teion Daiteikin Kiso Kyouhan Kan Ichi"
(Written in Japanese. [Elemental Method for Double Bass, Book 1])
M&H
Like Nagashima's "Asaren Kontorabasu", it is a manual for very beginners.

Hertl, F.: Elementarschule fuer Kontrabass
Editio Supraphon Praha
Although his sonata is wonderful, this book is rather full of successions of scales and arpeggios, and it is musically boring.

Flesch, C. - Reinke, G.: Das Skalensystem
Ries & Erler/Berlin
Scale book for the violin arranged for the double bass by the Berlin Opera's former principal double bassist Gerd Reinke. To study of all the book, fairly advanced technique is demanded especially in high positions. However the written bowing patterns can be good material to practice if you limit yourself to within your familiar registers.

Trumpf, K.: Compendium of Bowing Techniques for the Double Bass I, II
VEB Deutscher Verlag
The book 1 contains fingered two-octave scales, thirds sequences, and broken chords. The book 2 presents exercises for various types of bowing such as detache, staccato, portato, martele, sautille, ricochet, etc. with explanations. Kreutzer's first variation is also quoted and types of bowing to be used are explained in detail. However I feel there is a limit in written words; it would be more understandable if you ask a violinist you are familiar with to play the piece and observe him/her.

Mengoli, A.: 20 Concert Studies
York Edition
This is an admirable book for advanced players and contains varied, expressive, beautiful melodies and requires various rhythm and bowing patterns. Petracchi's fingerings are well thought out.

Caimmi, I.: Advanced Technics of the Double Bass (20 Studies)
Ricordi
Extremely difficult etudes written by Caimmi (Petracchi's teacher). This book, like Mengoli's, is for advanced players.
 
 



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