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Simandl Positions (Reprise)

I was recently talking with my brother, Magnus, about the Simandl positions I mentioned earlier this month when I was blogging about my efforts to learn double bass. I had picked out a pattern for remembering the position names (the sequence of natural notes on the A string) but remained puzzled by the logic behind this.

Apparently the same positions are also used on other members of the strings family. Picking the A string doesn’t seem to make much sense on the double bass (or violin), where it is one of the inner strings. However, cello and viola are typically tuned CGDA. Setting the positions off the highest string does make more sense.

This probably explains why Simandl does not explain his reasons; he was simply passing on an established standard rather than stepping back to first principles. The answer is not completely satisfactory but will do for now.

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