Friday, December 28, 2012

Bass Lessons 12/27/2012

I've given up on the post naming convention of "lesson one...lesson two" because I'm lost as to where I am now. So on to using dates instead.

Last night I had her slowly take me through the major scale in thirds exercise in both one position and also the two octave across all four strings in multiple position thing. I think I get it more now. I really need to work on this. It was funny to ask her to slow it down...because it messed her up. She's so used to doing it fast it was hard for her to slow down and deconstruct it.

She emphasized that the exercise is about keeping your fingers close to the fingerboard to improve efficiency. My fingers do not want to hear that. Especially my middle finger, which seems hell bent on flying up and flipping off the audience constantly. Seriously. It is like it is on a spring.

We spent a little time talking about the blues...and about blues scales and about what the bass plays.  We also talked a little bit about pentatonic scales. I followed about half of what she said. I've pretty much forgotten it all now. I'm really not sure that any of it matters.

I keep thinking that if I just try...that I will understand music theory. But I just don't. I mean I get super simple stuff...but even that I have trouble remembering (like the intervals of the major and minor scales...or what the key signature for various keys are). But the more complex stuff totally goes over my head. It reminds me a bit of matter how hard I tried or how much people tried to explain it to me I just couldn't understand. My brain is apparently built for certain things only.

Again I'm left not knowing where to head with lessons next time. Perhaps something will occur to me by then.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Formal Notation

I lament a bunch not having taken becoming a rock star more seriously at a younger age. I knew I wanted to from about age 7...but I dicked around and listened to logic ("there's no chance of becoming a rock star"). More than anything I just didn't realize that all I had to do was...well do it. I guess that I thought I needed permission.

Anyway, I think I discount in this regret that I have actual had a formal musical education. I got a relatively late start at age 12, and it twas merely a public school education...but there's no getting around that I learned to read music and to play in an ensemble. Just facts.

I learned to read music in bass clef. I kind of knew treble too...but bass was my foundation. I played cello. Both the cello and the bass use bass clef. There is some trickiness though. Cellos are tuned in 5ths. Guitars (mostly escept one string) and electric basses are tuned in 4ths. So, even though I read bass clef and play cello...I was never able to read bass clef to play on the bass. It's a weird thing.

Mostly because I'm having trouble thinking of things to do in bass lessons, it recently occured to me that it might be useful to be able to read bass clef to play on the bass. It has very little practical use since none of the music that I play is written in formal notation. It just seemed like a good idea. So I thought I'd bring it to my teacher. But before I brought it to her, I thought I'd take a look at it myself.

So...bored at work with nothing to do since my coworkers are all out for the holidays...that's basically what I did yesterday...taught myself to play bass clef on the bass.

Kind of anyway. It is the kind of thing that requires practice. But when I got home from work I was able to play some Bach cello suites on the bass...slowly. It is a strange kind of transposition that happens in my reminds me of when I first took up bass. I was always thinking in terms of how a cello is set up and then adding or subtracting frets accordingly. I found myself doing that with the notation too. Like, on cello the top line is A and that's the highest open string. On bass that same note is on the highest string...but the string is a it is on the 2nd fret (up a whole step).  So I'd cello but up a bit.

If I wanted to I could work up the skill. I'm not sure that I want to. I just wanted to know that I could if I wanted to. I think that it could be helpful with the learning the fret board thing. It certainly reinforced for me where C and D are on the G string...something I would have had to think hard about if pressed prior to yesterday.  Oh...and that means that the 7th fret on the G string is E...up two octaves from the lowest open string. Huh. Yeah...useful.

So now I guess that I have to find something else to do in lessons now.

This chart (and other ones like it) was handy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Song of the Year 2013

I'm a little early to do this. Technically it is supposed to happen on New Year's Eve. But I'm just gonna get it out of the way now. If I change my mind between now and next Tuesday and pick a different song I will correct.

Song of the Year for 2013 shall be "Huffer" by The Breeders. Why? The whole thing just feels about right...the non-sense words...the verse...the chorus. "fuck" as a recording remnant. Yeah...that's about right. I'll say here that this is the 4th year in a row that my choice of song relates directly to substance abuse. WORD. I'm really not that quick on the reverse at all.

"Na na na na na na
Ta ah ah ah ah
Ah-ah, ah-ah, ah-ah
Da da da, da da da
Da da, da da da

Toil, toil, toil 'til I get sick
I try reverse but I'm not that quick
Chained to the ground, no flyin' for you
If you want it bad you gotta steal your own fuel

Torn (up)
Toil and troubled (up)"

Here's the usual background:
Since I was 14 years old I've had a New Year's tradition of picking a song to represent the coming year. Sometimes it is a pessimistic song...sometimes it is an optimistic song. Sometimes I am not even sure why I pick the song...but they almost always end year have been an excellent representation of the previous year.

The song is supposed to be the first song that I hear in the New Year (and the previous year's song is supposed to be the last song that I hear in the previous year). Of course, logistically this is not always possible, but usually it is.

Why do I do this? Who knows! But no sense in ruining a perfectly good tradition...

1985 Kids from Fame I Still Believe in Me
1986 Go West Don't Look Down
1987 Outfield Taking My Chances
1988 Police King of Pain
1989 U2 Where the Streets Have No Name
1990 Erasure Hideaway
1991 Aztec Camera Stray
1992 Erasure Home
1993 Kirt Kempter Standing on this Bridge
1994 John Wesley Harding End of Something
1995 Poi Dog Pondering Postcard from a Dream
1996 Indigo Girls Watershed
1997 Poi Dog Pondering Complicated
1998 Michelle Shocked The Hard Way
1999 Ani DiFranco Fuel
2000 The Nields Giving it Back to Susan
2001 Barenaked Ladies Falling for the First Time
2002 The Nields This Town is Wrong
2003 Fleetwood Mac Landslide
2004 Barenaked Ladies Go Home
2005 Barenaked Ladies For You
2007 The Motor Primitives Favorite Dream
2009 Barenaked Ladies Testing 1, 2, 3
2010 Barenaked Ladies Maybe You're Right
2011 The Breeders One Divine Hammer
2012 Anna Vogelzang Heart Beat Faster
2013 The Breeders Huffer

Friday, December 14, 2012

That Thing You Do

For reference

This is only a few of them...there's a whole page of links. Who knew?

Bass Lessons: Sometime After Week Two

Well I suck. I bitch about other people starting blogs that they don't stick to...meanwhile I completely forgot to blog the last 4+ months of my bass lessons.  I only managed to blog the first and the second lesson (and a preamble).  I'm not sure how many lessons I've had since then. They are supposed to be once every two weeks...but we've had to skip some due to schedule conflicts. If July 12th was my first theory we COULD be up to 12 or so by now...but it feels more like maybe 6 or 8. I really have no idea at this point.

We haven't really settled into any kind of pattern with lessons. I come in and ask whatever questions are on my mind and she tries to address them. I don't actually play much at all. It is mostly talk. I'm ok with that...because I feel like I never have a chance to ask music questions of people without feeling dumb. So I ask her all of my dumb questions cause she's nice.

This week we talked a bit about building speed by keeping fingers close to the fretboard. We've talked about this before. She suggested playing things really slowly and deliberately to create a solid and good technique foundation. She also suggested playing really fast...faster than I have to...because then you just CAN'T play with bad technique.

We talked about finger patters for major scale exercises where you alternate 3rds.

We talked about 7 chords and dominant 7 chords and 9th chords...and some other chords...and adding those scale degrees to bass lines.

I said I struggle with learning things by ear sometimes. She said knowing theory can help you figure stuff out...but sometimes you just have to go painfully slow and find the note.

She suggested we work on jazz stuff but I said I hate we'll see if it comes up again. We're also debating teaching me to read music for bass. I don't think that I need to learn this...but I'm oddly curious about it. I should be a quick study because I already know how to read music...including bass clef...I've just never done so for bass.

We're drifting a little bit and I probably need to come up with a plan of attack.
  • I think that I really need to be working on playing major scales (and the associated 3rds exercise) with a metronome EVERY DAY. I think this can help with all that I struggle with...speed, knowing the relative positions of notes on the fingerboard, getting used to playing all over the neck. She's already given this advice, but I need to apply it.
  • I think that more important than jazz...I might ask her to help me to know more about blues. I hate blues too, but walking blues bass lines are so useful for so many things. And pentatonic scales...I really don't understand those.
  • I think that I would like to know more about reading music for bass. I could probably teach myself this but I won't.
  • Asking for her help on whatever it is that I'm working on and struggling with at the time. Right now I'm not working on any new songs, so that's a bit why I feel like I'm drifting too.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What's in a Name?

The ska band finally has a be known here thus-n-forth as SVFD.

Monday, December 3, 2012