A Meditation on Tone

Pizz an open D string and let it ring. Listen. This is the sound of the bass in its naked state. The string is vibrating naturally – you aren’t imposing any stress on the system. Your body, too, is probably in a relaxed state – you are occupied with listening, no stress is needed.

Now, play the open D with the bow. Try to replicate the relaxed feeling and open tone that the plucked note had. It is interesting how little you have to work to get a good tone if the ear is in command. Tension gets in the way of good tone. You probably noticed that you didn’t have to push to get the string to move – just allow and listen.

Play a scale of long notes just like this. Pizz first, then arco the same note. You can alternate up and down strokes.

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