24.4.10

Now for something completely similar!

It never quite seems to end. While my flu is gone, I am pretty sure that I now have some mild tonsilitis. Bah.

But onto more happy things: I do my part of recording for the d'Archangel demo tomorrow, and that should be good times. Recording is rough work, but is very worthwhile. We also have a show coming up this Thursday in Toronto at Rock & Roll Heaven and that should be a very good show.

The improving weather is also making me happier. While I'm not normally someone whose moods are directly proportional to the weather, sickness and busyness will bring that out in me.

I am also enjoying one particular song way too much: Curse you, Guild! How dare you make a song that catchy!
For that matter, I also curse the Gorillaz. Stupid catchy tunes....

17.4.10

Misery

This has not been the greatest week ever.

I got whacked with a nasty Flu last Saturday night, and it still hasn't fully cleared out. That, combined with a failed interview, missing get-togethers, and having to sit out of recording this weekend and the lame weather has made me very sour.

The only real bit of good news I received was that I would be getting an income tax refund. It was VERY good news.

But really, this sickness was amazingly inconvenient. Why couldn't it have come last week, when not much was going on? Or the week before when even less was happening? The only good thing about it hitting me this week was that it should clear up over the weekend so that I won't be sick for the d'Archangel set next week.

10.4.10

Canadiana

Though I missed the Centennial, I realised a while ago in a short seven years I will be alive for the Canadian Sesquicentennial. This comes to mind partly out of doing the math, but mostly out of thoughts coming about after reading the news. I am not a huge fan of the current government in parliament right now, or of modern politics in general. There is too much division at work in political discourse. Unity has been a defining part of Canadian politics off and on, but mostly what I realised is that(like many post-colonial nations) we lack a certain defining nationality. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what "Canadian" means despite many attempts to do so.

This may be one of the reasons I am a big fan of Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Cafe. From the well written and heart felt stories about Dave and Morley, to the promotion of young Canadian musicians and artists, to his highlighting of local histories, Stuart is easily the premier producer of Canadiana. I have a few of the books, and recently started downloading the podcasts to listen to regularly. The guy is definitely the Garrison Keillor of Canada.

Every time I read one of the stories or listen to the show, I feel a strong sense of "Wow. This is Canada." To follow in the footsteps of other CBC journalists, this guy would make a great GG. The dude knows Canada, and could inspire unity and progress like no current politician could.

1.4.10

Bass fundamentals

Being a bass player means that you need to be part of the rhythm section. You need to be the rock that allows the leads to do their thing. Even if you find this siffling or boring, just remember the immortal words of Victor Wooten: "You can't hold no groove if you ain't got no pocket."

But do not fret(pun totally intended)!You can be creative as part of the rhythm section, you can throw your own flavour into what your playing, you just need to be solid as you do so. The thing to be aware of, though, is that different styles require different levels and styles of groove.

Rock
This is one of those situations where you are generally needed to spam the root of the chord, which can be fairly boring. The trick to embellishing here depends on the kind of rock. More classic rock means adding some blues walk, pop means more specific riffs, punk and hard rock means speed and high action. Good general stuff to do: passing tones, 5ths and octaves. If you have lots of room, adding some slap and pop works well too.

Blues & Jazz
Jazz is very varied, but for the vast majority of jazz and blues, you will find that you are the time keeper as opposed to the drums. The horns, piano and such will be listening to you for their timings. This means a lot of quarter note walks and riffs. Creativity here lies in the subtle changes to the walks(a slight swing, finishing the octave rather than the blues scale, etc) and adding little bits of dissonance(tritones, minor seconds, etc).

Funk
You will likely have some specific riffs to be rocking out, but given that they are funk riffs, they should be pretty fun. Lots of creative timing, slapping, octaves, swing, etc. You likely have license to have fun so long as you do one supremely important thing: Hit the 1 on 1. That is the pocket in a funk tune.

Country and Folk
Bass generally doesn't do much in this style of music. Much more guitar/voice oriented. Most likely, you will be doing bars of roots. Not a whole lot of room for creativity. Maybe throw a 4th or an octave in.

Reggae
Reggae is one of those genres where the usual arrangement is reversed. Here, the guitar will be the rhythm, often with offbeat upstrokes, while the bass does the lead riffs. The same rules as funk generally apply, but reggae tends to be a little tighter with its riffs and looser with its timing.

Personally, having learned bass from a bluesy/jazzy/funk standpoint, I tend to incorporate those styles in my playing(as d'Archangel can attest to), and even when playing a cover of a tame bass song, I like to add flavour. So take this knowledge and go out and add some low end! But always remember to get that pocket if you want to hold a groove.