Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bass Class

It was our last regular class, though we have two theorectical make up classes yet to go.

He played a bunch of cds again.

Went over modes in brief. We also got sidetracked in a discussion of notation of major, minor, augmented, diminished, half diminished 7th, etc.

Friday, April 16, 2010


The next song that "the band" has proposed is Rearviewmirror by Pearl Jam. Doesn't look like anything too tricky.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bass Class and Thoughts on the Bassists Role

I was the only person who showed up to class, which is awkward. He reviewed reggae and played a bunch of cds of different styles...ska/punk, soul, funk. I was reminded that I probably ought to get a Sly and the Family Stone disk...or maybe a Stax compilation. I like that stuff.

He showed a bunch of stuff on his bass...but since he didn't have me do it was lost on me.

He did explain palm muting and slap bass to me...two things I've always wondered about.

We cut class a half hour early because it was just too painful. Then he tried to convince me to take private lessons from him...which seemed ironic since we couldn't stand to be alone in a room together for an entire class. I told him what I believe to be true...that until I learn the fretboard for myself, lessons and classes like this one won't be of much value.

It's like the last time I took drum lessons before the current stint. I wasn't ready. They didn't help me. I hadn't dedicated myself yet. It wasn't until I became committed to playing that lessons were of any use to me. It's the same with the bass.

Last night after rehearsal I had an interesting conversation with RS. He basically told me that he's had trouble with bass players in bands in the past because they wanted to play lead guitar essentially. They didn't lay down a consistent bass part. He said that he likes the root note based bass parts because "that's what pop music is."

Pretty much my experience with the bass has been to take whatever the guitar chords being played are...and play the root, 3rd, or 5th. That's why the Pixies parts came so easily, because that's essentially all that Kim Deal is doing (that and the fact that most of her parts are available in tab online). I don't yet feel like I can really call myself a bass player because this seems like a lame, overly simplistic, way to play. That said, though, I hate when a bass player tries to be a lead guitar player. I don't feel like that's their role. So somewhere in there...there is a balance.

I've been reading lots about Kim Deal and so many people say that her bass parts are awesome. This combined with RS's comments last night makes me think that maybe I'm not so far away from where I need to be afterall. Yes...I need to learn the fretboard better. But maybe I don't need to learn some complicated way of playing. Maybe the role of the I see simple. Support the rest of the band. Help the drummer. Give things a bottom. Maybe that's okay. Maybe that's a legitimate way of playing bass. Maybe that's something that lots of bands are looking for.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lessons, Week 61

I highjacked class by asking for help with 16th notes on the high hat at 157 bpm ala Everlong. We talked about getting my left hand in shape...basically copying what my right hand is doing, which is finally mostly correct technique (using fingers instead of wrist, thumb on top...I've become a fan of French grip and he said that's ok). Trying not to tense up...stay relaxed and don't overhit. He also talked about possibly lowering high hat to get to snare on 2/4. Or just trying to do as little motion as possible. And keeping hh clutched tight to keep sound crisp. Also, as I thought, playing not on edge, but more in middle of the cymbal. He also recommended putting a mirror to watch that right and left hands were playing same way. AND...this was a great idea...starting to play my basic rock beats with left hand on high hat and right hand on snare. At least until my left hand gets in shape. This is a super idea on so many levels. It will not only build my left hand coordination, but build independence in general and open up lots of different kinds of avenues for playing. He had me do this on a few songs.

I played Everlong at practice later that night, an altered version with most of the high hat stripped out. The guys didn't seem to mind. It's gonna take a while to build it into a full part. But I think I can get there if I just keep working at it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bass Class

Reviewed play out of Alison and dissected it. Then we wrote our own parts based on the chord progression and passing notes. Listened to The Way You Make Me Feel (2 against 3 feel) and Smooth Criminal (straight feel). Also talked about ways of practicing with a metronome. He was going into Reggae, but I left to go to Crackity Jones rehearsal.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Recording Class...and Classes in General

I've missed the last three recording classes and I felt guilty about that.

Last night I stopped feeling guilty. I also decided that, though there's two more recording classes left, I'm probably not going to them.

What seemed like a folksie pilgrimage to the wise mountain of R seven weeks ago now seems like a monumental waste of time and money. Maybe I'm just impatient and in a bad mood because I'm busy. Maybe I'm PMSing (hard to tell these days when that's going on). But last night was torture.

I'll point out that I arrived to class in a REALLY good mood and looking forward to it. So I was set up for goodness.

I arrived at the prescribed start time of class, 7pm. One of R's clients was there. It wasn't explained to us why. Turns out there was no reason. He chatted at us for a while and left. He also managed to act like his music was art and everyone else was just in it for the money. This, ironic, since he makes his living playing music. R and I had a sidebar about this ironic attitude later.

Anyway, there was general chatting...and at about 8:20pm (yes, that's almost an hour and a half into a two hour class) R actually cued something up on the computer for us to look at. It's not clear to me what he was trying to get across with this as he didn't explain. It was a recording of the guy we'd just met. Acoustic guitar and vocal with additional vocals and bass overdubbed. He talked a bit about how, when there's 5 mics in a room, that the waves will cancel or add sometimes, and that part of mixing is correcting for this. He also showed us some plugins...which he's showed us before. He talked about moving things to buses...which he's showed us before...and explained how bouncing is difference than moving things to buses. At 9:10pm (class is supposed to end at 9pm) myself and another student got up and said we had to go home.

I did get a free copy of some mixing software. And one of the other students gave us a packet of tips for correcting live sound problems (he's an electrical engineer and works at a theatrical tech company).

I've long known that I am a poor student. I do much better teaching things to myself than taking lessons or classes. I get impatient and irritated and bored in classes/lessons. I've had this problem in the bass class too...but it has waxed and waned in the bass class. The recording class seems to be deteriorating. He repeats his same opinions over and over...digresses into stories that have nothing to do with recording or even music sometimes. He starts late and runs over. His studio smells bad and is uncomfortable. I do think that he has tons of wisdom, but he hasn't organized the class in any fashion, which ends up wasting lots of time.

I wish that I was able to be more patient and just soak it all in...but right now it's hard to do that. If I'm going to waste my time, I'd rather do it at home in front of the tv where I can relax. Being an introvert, I need time alone to recharge. I'm around people ALOT if I'm not getting a benefit from all that time around other people...I'd rather bail. I feel bad that I spent $170 on this class...but I feel like I did get something out of it the first few weeks...and then there's the software too.

I think that surviving a year of drum lessons made me think that I was ready to take classes, but I think what it really means is that 1) I've been really committed to the drums and 2) EN has just the right approach for me. His personality is just right for me and he has a good balance of structure and flexibility.

I should think twice before I take another class. A couple of hours at home with a $12 instructional book (which I already own for the most part) would do me just as well or better once a week. I just have to hold myself to the discipline of it. Then, at least, if I can't keep it up I've only myself to blame and I don't have to be mad and frustrated by a disorganized or annoying instructor.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hate and War Intro

Quirky as it is, I'm finding MuseScore an excellent tool for transcribing from ear. The fact that it fills in the remaining notes of the measure really helps. Here's the intro from Hate and War that had been giving me fits for weeks...I think I've got it mostly right here (click to make larger):

Here's the recording:

Using MuseScore

I used MuseScore today to transcribe Everlong. It takes a while to learn the quirks of the program, and it DOES crash alot. But today it behaved pretty well and I knew to constantly save. I spent several hours working with it and I think it crashed like four times. It really doesn't like when you delete lots of stuff or mess with text. Most other things it'll survive.

I've still got lots of fine points to work on with this song, but I definitely have a better idea how it goes now. Some of the triplet-esque fills aren't notated correctly here in particular (couldn't figure out how to do triplets in the pattern changes slightly each time he plays it and I'm not 100% what it is, but what is here is approximate). Click on image to make bigger (though it won't get to full size...picture is just to give an idea).

I will have to break some muscle memory and build some independence...not to mention a little speed...but I think I can learn this before next week's rehearsal. I believe the recording is played at about 157 bpm, which isn't crazy, but is a good clip for 16th notes.

Lessons, Week 60

We went over an accent heavy solo called Speed Trap. We also played along to a Stanton Moore version of a Led Zeppelin song that was heavy on buzz rolls. He reminded me of the triplet feel of continual buzz rolls.

Monday, April 5, 2010


I keep hearing songs and thinking, "if I can learn to play THAT drum part...THEN I'll actually be decent." Then I either forget about the song...or learn it...and then it doesn't seem like such a big deal. And I still don't feel like I'm any good.

I proposed that the new grunge band learn Everlong by Foo Fighters. I hadn't really listened to it very carefully before making the suggestion. It's kind of hard.

I've spent some time with it now and I at least think I know what he's doing. I'm still working on being able to do it though. It requires both good independence and endurance.

Here they are playing it on Letterman

And another live version...there's tons of videos out there.

The drummers for Foo Fighters have been William Goldsmith and Taylor Hawkins. I think that it is Hawkins in both clips, but it looks like maybe Dave Grohl played the drum part on the recording. Wiki says "Although Taylor Hawkins appears in the video as the drummer, Dave Grohl actually plays the drum track on the original album recording, as Hawkins had not yet joined the band."