The “eastern positions” for the double bass are a way to execute the micro tonality, or ‘quarter tones’*, that are in use in Middle Eastern music’s modal frameworks, making it possible to play the double bass in an ensemble and also to bring the double bass into prominence as a solo instrument in this genre.
The positions were first suggested in my master’s paper at JAMD, under the guidance of Prof. Taiseer Elias and Dr. Michael Klinghoffer. This paper is currently being rewritten as a comprehensive Middle Eastern double bass method book, and is focused on the details that will allow western players to begin playing, in a short time, from the repertoire of the classical Arabic music in the appropriate stylistic manner.
From the preface to the eastern positions chapter:
To incorporate the musical elements of Arabic music and to correctly express Arab maqamat* on the double bass, the positions for playing the intonation of the maqam need to be instilled in us. In other words, we need a strong mental tool, like the western methodologies, which will allow us to repeat the execution of subtle intonations with great accuracy every time.
The western positions are a strong tool in that they create a mental map of the notes on the fingerboard for the musician.
The eastern positions maps some of the notes between the notes we know, and are based on the western positions we are already familiar with, so we don’t get lost – in each eastern position we will always keep at least one finger in a familiar western position.
The following video is an example of using these positions. This is a duo arrangement of mine, performed by myself and oud player Loay Khlefi. The piece is “Samai* Hussaini” by Turkish composer Tatios Efendi.
The maqam is “hussaini” and its notes are D to D with E half flat and occasionally B half flat. Before the last part comes an improvised taqsim* by me.
* Terms explained here