The Crab TechniqueAs described in playing technique I, the three-finger-technique has been an accepted method since the middle of the18th century. The advantage it offers, namely that notes are reached relatively easily, is offset against the fact that there are merely three notes. If one wants to play a note outside this whole tone range, one must shift one’s hand, and of course the arm as well, which means a shift of position. This is risky because one must not only get exactly the right position but the interval between ascending notes gets less with each position. It is therefore not surprising that the objective of good intonation when playing the double bass can only be achieved by a rather tough practice method that, despite many years of practice, carries no guarantee of success.
François Rabbath has discovered that it is not necessary to shift the arm to reach a note more than two half notes away, provided one ignores the classical prohibition against performing hand and finger joint movements independently of the arm. In this way – when the thumb constantly remains in in the same position – the range of notes can be considerably extended. The fingers make full use of their capabil-
ities to reach other notes rather in the manner of the sideways locomotion of a crab or shrimp. This technique not only extends the range of notes but also improves intonation because the smaller the movement, the more exactly
it can be performed.
Rabbath stands the classical technique on its head by bringing an entirely new concept to the thumb position, which in the "Nouvelle Technique" incidentally does not just apply to the octave but to almost all positions. With this method the thumb loses its basic support function - and at the same time its rigidity. This in turn considerably extends the range of notes that can be reached and the intonation is also improved. However this can only be achieved if the respective finger can take an optimal playing position when the weight is fully transferred, something that is only possible with a "liberated" playing technique. A positive spin-off is that the thumb itself almost becomes another valuable playing finger.
Read more about François Rabbath and his Crab Technique