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Auditioning with both an electric and upright bass

Discussion in 'Ask the Berklee Bass Department' started by hsaxon, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. hsaxon


    Sep 15, 2018
    Boulder, CO
    Hey Berklee Bass Department! I have a question about auditioning as a bass principal.

    I play both the electric bass and upright bass. While I have more chops on the electric bass in general, I also love playing the upright. Going through the audition flow, I was thinking that maybe I could do my prepared piece and improvise on the electric and then switch to the upright for the 12-bar blues.

    While I think my desire to play both electric and upright influences my ability to be a positive addition to Berklee, I'm not sure if the group here feels like the instrument switch would be a distraction since there is already so little time to show you all what I can do during the 15 minutes or so that I'll have to play for you all.

    So all in all, should I stick with just the electric for my audition? Or try to find a way to work in the upright? If so, does the 12-bar blues happen consistently enough in auditions for me to rely on it as a vehicle to exhibit competency on the upright?

    Any feedback would be appreciated, thanks y'all.
    Cheez likes this.
  2. Danny Morris

    Danny Morris Berklee Bass Department

    Feb 15, 2013
    Thanks for the inquiry..You certainly have time to showcase yourself as a doubler during the audition... for the prepared piece segment we ask you limit the time of your piece or medley/pieces to five minutes. As a suggestion why don't you upon meeting the audition team suggest to them that you'd like to play both instruments. Have a song worked out on the electric to showcase your ability to play song form, bass parts, and improvisation over changes..Pick a song in a style that showcases you best..whatever it is, we are up for hearing you and what you're about!! Then switch to the upright and play a blues...either with one of the audition team, which is always cool as it showcases your ability to jam and connect with another musician in a live setting..or in the case that the team would prefer to hear you with a track, have a playalong track ready to go for the blues.. Politely ask if they would be into playing a 12 bar with you.. Either way you'll be in good shape. It is real cool that you feel you want to showcase both instruments...go for it...make magic in that room...let your groove resonate with the music, and let your sound and voice on both instruments speak to your musicianship and skillset...

    There will also be an improvisation segment where you'll be asked to jam over a song or vamp..sometimes with one of the audition team, and/or with a prepared track that the team will provide....listen and contribute a part..think about it, the word improvisation means to create something brand new to fit the occasion...have fun, make music..

    Be on time..get in the warm up room prior to your audition time and when you come in to the audition room, be tuned up, have your playalong tracks ready to go..(either on phone or computer as a mini pin adaptor will be there for you to plug into a sound system....)

    the rest of the audition will be ear training in the form of call and response..this is to glean from your playing and singing how your ear functions...we look for students who will be successful studying in our core classes (ear training, harmony, arranging)..also some rhythmic call and responses to comment on your ability to pick up rhythm and groove will be asked..

    lastly, a reading segment where you will be asked to read material (mostly 4-8 bar vamps) that you'll be able to check out in the warm up area prior to the audition..all in all we want to meet you musically speaking..and it'll be a pleasure to hear you..

    following this, you will interview with someone from admissions..talk with them about why you want to study at Berklee and about your back round and preparation..

    good luck, and hope to see you around campus when you come visit...please feel free to come sit in on a class, lab or ensemble of mine...you are most welcome....take care, Danny Morris, Professor Bass Dept. Berklee College of Music
    hsaxon and Cheez like this.
  3. hsaxon


    Sep 15, 2018
    Boulder, CO
    Hey @Danny Morris, thanks so much for the incredibly detailed response on not only my question but the audition process in general :) The idea of having backing tracks prepared for a 12-bar and rhythm changes in case the judges can't jam or would rather just listen is a great idea. Be prepared for all situations I guess. Thanks for the encouraging words about just letting it groove, that's what it's all about man.

    I have been practicing my ear training on Ear Training, taking the quizzes on identifying intervals, chords, scales, degree of notes based of the root in a chord progression, etc. Hopefully that will help with the call and response section. I need to find a similar app for reading/repeating complex rhythms as that is definitely an area where my skills need some refinement.

    I'm glad that you think it will be advantageous to showcase myself as someone who doubles on electric and upright. Given that, I have one follow-up if I may... I'd love to audition in Boston (to meet the bass staff, sit in on some classes, listen to some ensembles, etc), but lugging my electric and upright from Colorado to Boston seems somewhat prohibitive. I see that Berklee does auditions in Denver, which would make it really easy to get to with both of my instruments.

    If I can make it to Boston with my electric, is there perhaps a way that I can borrow an upright? Perhaps there is somewhere in Boston that I could rent a nice, well-setup upright that you could suggest? Or do you think I should just bite the bullet, rent a flight case, and pay for the oversized baggage?
  4. Danny Morris

    Danny Morris Berklee Bass Department

    Feb 15, 2013
    the audition in Denver sounds a lot easier..if you do make it to Boston, contact me, and I will try my best to have an upright available for you..I dig your energy! best to you, Danny on IG #dmoplaysbass
    hsaxon likes this.
  5. hsaxon


    Sep 15, 2018
    Boulder, CO
  6. Lfsbera


    Jan 4, 2015
    @hsaxon please let us know how your audition went!! :thumbsup::thumbsup:
    And good luck!

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