Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What I'm learning from playing the bass

I just got a bass, with the idea that I could use it for some home recording. But I'm having so much fun with it, I'm seriously thinking about doing some doubling on it. Of course, switching from guitar to (electric) bass (I'm nuts, not CRAZY!) has more to do with changing your head than your hands. I mean - you have to play on every friggin' beat!

Last night had my first jam on the bass, and realized a number of things. Including - it's kind of like driving a truck after you're used to driving a compact car. Doesn't handle the way you expect it to. Everything takes a little longer. You really have to think when you take curves. The notes are BIGGER and last LONGER, you really have to tame it. There are also some more musical, as opposed to simply practical, things that I'm learning and hope to learn. They are:

1) Time. Kill the time. On guitar, as a soloist, even comping, you can float. I mean, I try to dig in and play time, but on bass, you're responsible for the time. You really have to place the notes. This kind of respect for time will, hopefully, carry over into my guitar playing and make it more in the pocket.

2) Love the triad. It's all about triads. I realized just how much I *think* about scales when playing. Scales kind of sound crappy when walking a bass line. Triads sound good, appropriate. This leads directly to my next point.

3) Don't be afraid of the obvious note. Whenever I would try something fancy, like anything other than a root on a big chord change, it would sound lame, ambiguous, just kind bad. Again, I've often had the experience transcribing solos that things that sound hip are often simpler than I thought they would be. Simple bass is good bass.

These are all quite the sea change for my thinking, and hopefully it will pay dividends. If nothing else, I'm having tons of fun. And now I have caluses on my fingers on both hands.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Music for my funeral

Not really as depressing a topic as it sounds. Listened to a song this morning and thought "I'd like this to be played at my funeral". There are a few others that I'd had that thought of in the past, so I figured I'd collect them. Not that I'm planning on needing to make use of this list any time soon, mind you.

Aquas De Marco by Stan Getz, with Joao and Muicha
I Want To Talk About You by John Coltrane from Live at Birdland
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat by Jeff Beck
the slow movement from my String Quartet #1
my Prayer for Tenor Saxophone and SQ (Billy Gagliardi's performance from my Masters' Recital)

Not sure about the order, probably Aquas De Marco last. Just a thought. Really, not nearly as maudlin as it sounds.