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Couple questions

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by odie, Nov 2, 2002.


  1. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    First off thanx for being a contributing artist at TB.

    I was wondering if you've done session work, and what your timeline is regarding being a bassist. Band experiences that has brought you to where you are today.

    Second question which I need help with. Ive been playing bass a few years now(its my second time).
    My playing was mostly covers and some originals in the Metal/Alternative/Funk category. I can play the songs well and they are somewhat challenging as far as Rock goes. But I have no theory, and would like to get to the point of playing all the ideas I have my head.

    Now i know the standard answer is find a good teacher. Well Ive looked and they are of the standard burnt out metal head types. What do I do to progress??

    Thanx.
     
  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Your very welcome

    I have done some session work, there is not much in my area. I am not sure what you mean about "timeline". If you are referring to the pivotal times in my development. I would say there are a couple of things

    1. I grew up in a very msucial household. My family truly valued the arts and it has been an influence since very early on

    2. My family was very supportive of my going into music. Although my Mom would have liked me to be a doctor.

    3. Hearing Jaco

    4. Going to Berklee. Berklee was a wonderful place that allowed me, for the first time, to truly experience the music. It gave me inspiration and planted the seed for my development. Most importantly it started me on the development of the solo bass arrangements of jazz standards (check out the lessons page at www.michaeldimin.com for examples)

    5. Playing in numerous bands over the years from jazz, to world music to funk to blues and polka gave me the necessary skills to play with other musicians. It is what I call "listening chops". It is about hearing the entire band and hearing yourself as a member of the band (as opposed to out in front of the band). I liken it to removing yourself from your body and being able to be an audience member.
    6. The death of Jaco. I lived in th mountains of Vermont developing chord melody arrangements for bass with absolutely no need or desire to get my stuff out there. Jaco's death made me realize that what I do is nothing unless I share it. That is when I started to codify my ideas for solo bass into a book.

    7. The Bass Frontiers gig. The writing of the solo bass book led to me getting a gig as a lesson columnist for Bass Frontiers magazine, which led to... and... and .... and ...., etc. It has been a great ride. Being fully immersed in the music world has really allowed me to refine my art. I can pretty much gig as I please. The magazines and internet have allowed me to share my music without having to go too far from home (I have 2 small kids). I have met some of the greatest people of earth (like my fellow ask the pros here, Watt, Lawson and Manring). I see so many young players really focus on their own playing chops with little or no regard to the music or their fellow musicians. This is a real sign of an immature player. It is truly what seperates the real pros from the bar band players and amatuers!


    The study of music theory is just one more tool in your toolbox. Music theory is not specific to any one instrument. Take a msuci theory class at a local community college. Check out some of the really cool theory/bass books. Especially the ones by Gary Willis. Musicians Institute also has some good books. The Jazs Theory Book by Mark Levine is great (although pinao based). I am curently writing a book that deals with this issue as well. Start analyzing some tunes. Really look into the tune and see what makes them tick. See how the bass line relates to the harmony, figure out the modes and scales that the bassist is using. Expand your listening habits. Buy music you would not odinarily. Transcribe music - further develop your listening skills. The fact that you want to progress is the key. Frustration is a great thing. It gets us off our a**!

    I hope that I've been some help to you. As you move forward please feel free to ask whatever questions you might have.

    Mike
     
  3. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    So music theory of some sort would be the best place to start. I'll look into that, since that is the biggest area I'm missing. I may look into a workshop for beginers. I know some scales etc, but they dont mean anything to me and maybe this will clarify things for me.

    Thanx for sharing your past experiences.
     
  4. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Great advice Mike, I just wanted to emphasize one of your points:

    Just wanted to empasize the importance of this! It seems simple enough when you read it, perhaps even obvious, but it's *so* easy in a band to just slip into your own world, playing your own fancy lines (or fancy chords in my case, it was as a piano player in a jazz band that I discovered the importance of this), without realizing how you (should be) fitting into the overall sound picture. Then you hear a recording of your band, and you realise how it *actually* sounds :D As Mike says, if you listen to the entire band as if you were in the audience, you can put your part in the context of the whole picture, and allow your playing to complement the rest of the band.
     
  5. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    "Listening Chops" are both the most important and most difficult part of being a player. 90% or more of my gigs, now, are solo bass gigs. I lose the "listening chops" first. I find that when I have a gig with an ensemble, I start to listen to myself. I have to make a conscious effort to really listen to the ensemble and me as part of that ensemble.

    Mike
     
  6. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    One way to develop and maintain "Listening chops" is to make sure that in hearing songs by other bands you not only ask "What is the bass line?" but also "How does the bass line fit with everything else going on?". In other words, resist the temptation to only zone in on the bass to the exclusion of the song.

    Once you've done that, you can also start to apply the same theory when listening back to recordings of your own work and - the ultimate test - applying it while playing and making on the fly adjustments to what you're doing.

    At band practises, I often stand away from my amp and watch what the other musicians are doing - this helps focus my ears away from just hearing what I'm doing.

    Hope that all helps.

    Wulf
     
  7. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Wulf,

    you bring up a great point - standing away from your amp. The way we commonly set up is that we are standing directly in front of our amp. Usually between the amp and a ride or crash cymbal. It makes it much more difficult that way. A wireless is a good (but expensive) way to hear the bass. A long cord is another way to get away from the din

    Mike
     
  8. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I go for the long cord option... just watch out you don't make spaghetti, especially if you persuade your bandmates that THEM not standing in front of THEIR amps might also be a good idea ;)

    Wulf
     
  9. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Personally, I have found that inexpensive wireless' <$500 or so compress my signal too much.

    Mike