Thursday, May 19, 2011

Finding the rhythm

I'm starting to think I've got a bum set of ears. I've been working on tabbing out some bass lines for a couple of Lucero songs based (pun!) on the guitar tabs found on the ones found on this magnificent Lucero tab blog. I haven't had much trouble identifying notes, but I'll be damned if I can work out some of the rhythms.

At first I thought the bass just copied the rhythm guitar, but with a little volume, I was able to tell that wasn't the case. A few live videos (which had horrible phone camera sound quality, which conveniently butchers the bass) also had me convinced that something else was going on. From the few glimpses of Lucero's bassist, John Stubblefield, I was able to get, I realized a few things.

First off, he doesn't play it the same way every time. What am I supposed to do with that? How can I be playing it "right" if there's more than one way to do it? Is the way it's done on the record canonical? What about how it's done live? The important thing, I think, is to play a version that sounds good and supports the song. That might be eighth notes sometimes and other times it might be big fat whole notes.

Second, less can be more. In this live video, I noticed that a whole note filled up space while the rhythm guitar and drums drove the rhythm of the song. It's not always up to the bass to own that rhythm, especially when there's already a lot going on. Sometimes you just need big fat root notes to support the rest of the band.

Finally, I've learned I'm still pretty uncomfortable winging it. If I were to take one of the songs I was working on to a group of people to play, I feel like I need to have a more definitive answer for the rhythm than I do now. Either way, I do know that I want to start playing with other people ASAP.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

You must focus. Focus very hard.

Bass playing has been happening, although my learning pace has been reduced. Blogging has taken a backseat to getting practice time in though. My initial plan for keeping a mix of a practice journal and a learning resource site has fizzled somewhat. I was planning on swinging towards the learning resource site, but I there are plenty of great sites like that already. So, a journal about my learning process?

I've continued with (almost) weekly lessons. I've been practicing at least 5 nights a week, even if some of those practice sessions aren't all that inspired. Practice has tended towards songs lately-- I think more technique and metronome practice is probably required soon.

I feel like I'm about ready to start playing with other folks, but my current lack of a high wattage amp puts a cramp on that. I've almost purchased several heads/cabs over the past month, but Ebay is a cruel mistress. At this point, I've decided to wait until after my move in July before purchasing something new. I'd rather have a little bit of extra cash on hand for unexpected moving expenses than a hundred pounds of extra stuff to move.

To recap, I need to remember to blog more.