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Berklee Bass Audition Song Help/Ideas

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Ant_C, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. Ant_C


    Jul 25, 2012
    Tamarac, FL
    I have been going crazy recently with choosing my audition piece for Berklee. A little introduction about my musical interests... I am a jazz upright/electric bassist, and have performed in several jazz groups (including combos, and my high school's jazz band). I know berklee is a jazz school, so this is my main reason behind auditioning to get in there. I am more concerned with my prepared piece as I can do all of the styles mentioned (I can walk, do a 2 feel, a samba/bossa are easy because my high school band loves latin charts, the funk should be no problem at all because I have a lot practice with that, and the rock is the easiest of all), and my sight reading is pretty good (i can sight read 90% of charts that range from hard, to a simple swing tune, and I have experience as a classical bassist and bass clarinetist so reading music is a joke for me at this point)

    I have had a couple ideas regarding songs, they include :
    - Orinthology (3 choruses, head, walking a bass line, and soloing)
    - What's Going On by Marvin Gaye
    - Mother Man by Atheist/YYZ by rush (I have had these learned and perfect because my band used to cover them a lot, and I thought mother man would be cool because Athiest has a lot of jazz fusion elements and latin stuff too, and it showcases my electric bass chops)
    - I was thinking of maybe a short rendition of footprints (the one off of miles smiles because it's just such a cool idea for a chart, especially with that afrocubanish bass).

    I will be auditioning for electric bass as my principal instrument.

    Any help would be recommended.

    P.S. I decided to stay away from Jaco and wooten not because I can't play it, but it's just so overdone, and they probably heard 95 million versions of amazing grace or teen town already that day so I wanted to stand out.
  2. If you want to stand out, I wouldn't play Footprints.

    I'd pick a tune that they might not expect like Bud Powell's "Hallucinations" or Kenny Barron's "Voyage". Gigi Gryce's "Minority" is fun too - check out the Bill Evans version.
  3. Ornithology and maybe a solo over a tune that isn't played too much. Something by Wayne Shorter like Speak No Evil might be cool or a Joe Henderson tune.
  4. Ant_C


    Jul 25, 2012
    Tamarac, FL
    Love the quick replies and suggestions. I looked into Voyage by Kenny Barron, I fell in love already. I think I might do this one (Lead, Walk, Solo, 3 times total), but my main concern is getting a backing track for it. I was thinking of just making my own and playing over that, any ideas regarding that?
  5. I don't know if there's an Aebersold play-a-long for that tune, but you could make one with Band In A Box.


    Something else you might consider is playing a ballad like "My Foolish Heart" and REALLY nailing it. That would be harder to pull off though.
  6. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    What a great choice. If you can nail this (arrange for melody and counterpoint), you will indeed leave an impression. Whatever you do, if you choose an instrumental, don't call it a song. By definition, songs are sung. Knowing the musical lexicon is important here.
  7. Ant_C


    Jul 25, 2012
    Tamarac, FL
    I've been considering doing something along the lines of that. I thought about performing a version of something like Autumn Leaves, or In a Sentimental Mood, but for unaccompanied bass (similar to Dave Holland's version of Goodbye Porkpie Hat). But my concerns were that this would make me seem as a soloist more than a rhythm section guy who could solo over a few changes if needed too. I will look into this once more, as it would show my creativity and theory knowledge/improvisational abilities.
  8. tjnkoo


    Apr 19, 2011
    Metro Atlanta
    I did the audition on December 2nd. I played a arrangement of a Tony Levin tune called "Places to Go". Had a bit of slap, a few harmonics, and a whole lot of delicate groove (the hardest part). The rest of the audition wasn't bad. I was supposed to solo for one set on blues but accidentally did it over two, haha. I hope that wasn't a major fault. Real relaxed staff though, and very nice people. Just be really prepared and you'll do fine, man! I hear back on January 31st, the moment of truth!
  9. Nico Zottos

    Nico Zottos

    Jul 29, 2012
    I also did the audition except mine was December 1st, a day before tjnkoo. I actually did Ornithology just as you said, it seemed to be received well by the judges but make sure if you decide to do it you do it uptempo and really get those changes because that's where the difficulty of the piece lies.

    Like it's been said, the audition is super relaxed. Made me sort of feel silly for worrying about it so much but I am glad I did because it taught me a lot more about my instrument in a way. Sight reading is one of the least important parts of the audition so if you feel comfortable now with it, don't worry too much about it while practicing. Just focus on some simple ear training, improv, and call and response.

    Like tjnkoo, I'm waiting to hear the decision. Only 9 days!

    ....but who's counting?
  10. Ant_C


    Jul 25, 2012
    Tamarac, FL
    Thank you both for the input. I've been freaking out over this to the point that I've spent the majority of my time working on soloing over changes in an uptempo bebop song (I will more than likely be doing Voyage by Kenny Barron as I have worked out the head, and am able to walk a line on fairly easily). I guess I shouldn't stress this much, but this audition has helped me analyze the weaker aspects of my playing and how to improve myself as a musician. I assume for the sight reading part it wont be harder than a simple funk bass line at the hardest.

    On the website it discusses styles like a samba or bossa nova. I was wondering if this was something they auditioned people on, or just something I should know (I do know how to do both as one of the combo groups I work with does a lot of samba, afro-cuban, and bossa).

    Best of luck to the both of you, I would be extremely nervous if my audition results were going to be coming out that soon.
  11. Nico Zottos

    Nico Zottos

    Jul 29, 2012
    You're correct about the sight reading...hardest was a funk with some 1/16th notes thrown in.

    As for samba or bossa, its part of the improv section. For me the guy told me the key and had me improv in a certain style, playing along with me on guitar. They aren't looking for anything super flashy, I think you'll do great, man.
  12. tjnkoo


    Apr 19, 2011
    Metro Atlanta
    Early Decision got their results today by the way, and I got in!!
  13. Ant_C


    Jul 25, 2012
    Tamarac, FL

    Hopefully I will be accepted as well. My audition will take place on the 27th of February, been working on my prepared piece every chance I get (been doing so many gigs with my combo group lately, and that is all upright bass work so have only had about 2 hours of electric bass practice every day, but my walking lines/solos are sounding pretty good).
  14. Tonegasm


    Mar 22, 2010
    That's awesome. Congrats.
  15. Nico Zottos

    Nico Zottos

    Jul 29, 2012
    I got in as well! Congrats tjnkoo!
  16. tjnkoo


    Apr 19, 2011
    Metro Atlanta
    Thanks man, and congrats to you too! PM me or something, I guess we gotta start getting to know the class of 2017, haha. And now to begin searching for student loans...
  17. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    Better to do the Motown. You'll have to play over changes as part of their audition material anyway, so better to do something that is more apt to show maturity, tone, and feel on the instrument. Jamerson is a great way to do that.
  18. Ant_C


    Jul 25, 2012
    Tamarac, FL
    Thank you for the input, lately I've been rethinking my prepared piece a lot, and I need to get something definite within the next week or so.
  19. Kobaia


    Oct 29, 2005
    Denton TX
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amp Gruv Gear and Mono Cases
    Its not nearly as difficult as a lot of people make this out to be.
    I guarantee you if you're truly prepared to study at Berklee, its not going to be based on your prepared piece. It's going to be on your reading, ear, and ability to make music. those 3 things are going to make you stand out more than any prepared piece you think you should do.

    If you show up, REMAIN CALM, and just nail D'Angelo's 'Feel Like Making Love'. It'll do more for you than any Rush, Charlie Parker, or what ever tone you try and stumble though. Remember you're going to a music college. Making music will always trump chops.

    I'm a 2009 Graduate, I volunteer for the Admissions Department of Berklee conducting the Interview portion of your audition. I've interviewed about 100 students in the past 2 months here in LA. I've also sat in on an Audition as a fly on the wall, and picked the brains of the two people conducting the auditions. Their biggest pet pieve is when people play a song they have no business playing. They have to do this for 4 days 8 hours a day. If one person comes in and plays 'MUSIC' it makes their day, and they will favor you in the ratings.
  20. Lichtaffen


    Sep 29, 2008
    Rhode Island
    Was Danny Morris one of the interviewers? I've been taking private lessons with him the past few months and my playing has been totally transformed. What a great guy too. I'm no where near the level of Berklee students, but it's great to be able to pick the brain of one of their best professors.

    Good luck on your audition!