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Brian Bromberg's Technique (right hand)

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Libersolis, Jan 20, 2006.


  1. Libersolis

    Libersolis

    Sep 9, 2004
    Austin, TX
    Ok regardless of if you like his tone, musical ideas ect, the man can flat out shred. I know his bass is supposidly set to almost bass guitar like action, but does anyone know if he is using just two fingers? If so pretty incredible, but I would be interested in hearing from someone who has actually seen him play.
     
  2. Sumguy7787

    Sumguy7787

    Jan 12, 2006
    I can never find him touring ever. I think this spring I'm going to go see him at the Washington DC jazz festival.
     
  3. Two fingers and thumb and probably the other three fingers at some points. The notes come so fast from him in spots that I'm sure he has to use all five.
     
  4. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    I had the great fortune of seeing Brian play live at the IAJE convention in Manhattan. He was three feet in front of me playing some solo bass by one of the convention booths. For what I saw he used two fingers. He was using an upright electric and the action looked low but I think the "guitar-like" thing people say is an exaggeration (maybe it makes them feel better about themselves?). Anyway, he shreds his a** off and on top of that he's a helluva nice guy. He autographed some cds for me and was very pleasant.
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I recently got done transcribing both choruses of his solo on "Dolphin Dance" from Wood, and although I can't play it yet, I'm pretty sure most of it is playable with two fingers (adding the thumb when the IV to I double stops occur). There's one G Majorish passage in the second chorus which might be a "NHOP style" three finger thing on the repeated notes, but that's about it as far as I can tell. He uses a lot of hammers and pull offs, which I suppose is where the "bass guitar action" comments come from, but I find this extremely inspirational instead of a drawback - I really like the fluidity this gives the lines, and am finding that with a little (ok, a lot...) practice in changing my arm weight, it's a reasonable technique to practice even in TP. I'm practicing all of my (pizz) TP scale exercises both with an attack on each note and slurred at the moment, and finding it pretty smooth going except for some of the descending pull offs, and I trust that these will come together in time and with a lot of slow practice. And my very stiff strings are set at 7mm (G) to 10mm (E).



    [rant]

    I've been biting my tongue for awhile now when I read someone saying that it's all flash and no substance, but after doing this transcription, I'm more convinced than ever that, like his sound and style or not, the man seriously knows his **** when it comes to playing changes - and not just easy ones, either. When I read the "I don't care for his tone and/or style" comments, well.... that's personal taste, and that's totally kosher. But when I hear people say that he's not playing anything but flashy pentatonic licks, I just roll my eyes and think, "Sour Grapes". There's some serious **** going down on those two acoustic records, and I'm going to do my damndest to learn as much as I can from it, because some of that stuff hits me right in the gut, and I'd like to be able to expand my technique and my ears in that general direction.

    [/rant]
     
  6. Pcocobass

    Pcocobass

    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    I couldn't agree more. Sometimes it's easier to dismiss something one can't understand as not pertinent than it is to try and understand what's going on. Brian is a serious musician and there's no bull about him. Just listen to "Wood" or "The Acoustic Project" and tell me the guy doesn't know his stuff...
     
  7. bassist14

    bassist14

    Oct 17, 2005
    Germany
    as far as i know brian bromberg is a registered user of this forum, so it might be possible to ask him directly via pm about his technique?
     
  8. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    I'm not sure how regular of a visitor he is, bassist14. I think he registered basically to end a (rather large) row that was going on in the Bassists forum a little while back.
     
  9. Libersolis

    Libersolis

    Sep 9, 2004
    Austin, TX
    The man is a badass and one of my favorite bass players. I know many people who dis him are people who have actually never listened to his stuff, or just haters, though there may be people who geninuely do not like that sort of playing which is fine. Not me though I love it lol :)
     
  10. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    I thought of this at work tonight, and it really bugged me -- Chris, how are you transcribing something you can't play? Are you doing it on the piano? Software?
     
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Straight from headphones into Sibelius through a MIDI keyboard. For parts of this one I had to use "Transcribe" (transcription software) to slow it down to get all of the details. Normally I would only use that to proofread, but in the case of Brian's solo and the Randy Waldman solo before it, I had to use it on the initial pass in many places. Those guys play their butts off on this cut, and the rest of us get a free lesson. Win-win, what? :)
     
  12. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    So you are still using your ears, putting the music into Sibelius with the MIDI keyboard though, right?

    Interesting note that I'm not sure I agree with -- I was at a theory masterclass with Jim Lewis (I seem to recall you saying you taught him in graduate school?) and Campbell Ryga. Campbell Ryga nearly got into a fit about the concept of slowing down a solo to learn it, because you "lose the spirit of the solo," and it "sounds like an etude or technical exercise." He says he can alwasy tell when one of his students has slowed down a tune to learn it. Far be it from me to argue with his experience, and while I don't slow things down simply because I don't have the software (or one of those swanky CD manipulator machines for $300) to do it, I find that sentiment of his a bit strange.
     
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Right. Usually I'll sing each fragment until it feels right and solid, then enter it throuh the keyboard, but with the sound turned off. Then every 8 bars or so, I'll let Sibelius play the results back to see how close I was. Sometimes it's nails, sometimes it's more like a thumbtack, and sometimes it's a total trainwreck. When I'm in a hurry, I'll do the same with the keyboard sound on, but I think this is a much less effective form of ear training.

    Jim Lewis was here for grad school a couple of years ago, and was one of the best students I've ever had the good fortune to be around - way more like a peer than a student, in fact. But he was in my graduate theory class while he was here, and we had many discussions about this topic, since I require the students to transcribe a chorus a week in that class (this year's class gets to transcribe that cut off of Wood as one of their weekly assignments). There were a few in the class who shared Campbell's sentiment, and while I can kind of see the point, I think it's nitpicking in a way: in my view, you don't necessarily slow it down to learn it, but rather to notate it, and the notation is nothing more than the first step of the process. Once it's notated, then you can learn it from the record and by singing it with the notation serving only as a memory aid for the details.

    Listen to that solo on "Dolphin Dance" - even supposing you could "learn" everything that Waldman and Bromberg play in their collective four choruses, how long do you think you could actually retain it? Speaking only for myself, I couldn't for very long at all. Certainly after a few months had passed, only a few snippets would remain, and I would have to go relearn it again if I wanted to revisit it. I know that some frown on written transcription, but I think of it as the greatest ear-training exercise ever invented, and a wonderful way do really get deep into the details of a player's soloing concept. Clearly, if you transcribe it and then only attempt to "read the ink", you're missing the real point of transcribing, but that isn't the fault of the notation process itself.
     
  14. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    Very cool, Chris. Sounds like a great method for transcription. I'd encourage myself to try something similar, but I'd be able to play those snippets on bass far faster than on piano! ;)

    PS: A chorus a week? Ouch. Also, I'm not sure if you know this, but Jim is now the theory teacher at the University of Toronto, which has the best jazz program in Canada along with McGill University. To be honest, if I actually get into UoT, I wouldn't be surprised if Jim did something similar as far as transcription assignments.