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Is Bass playing a more Mental or Physical activity?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Blackbird, Apr 15, 2002.

  1. Mental

    144 vote(s)
  2. Physical

    17 vote(s)
  1. Blackbird

    Blackbird Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
  2. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    I remember when I was going into my first lesson. I told my teacher "Yeah man, I just need to know some theory, I gots MAD finger skillz!" (Or something like that. :)) He laughed at me, and I was rightfully humbled when I stumbled through a two-octave scale, trying desperately to keep in time. The physical aspect isn't so second-nature when you're not wanking around. ;)

    However, I voted mental. Knowing the best part to play (if there is such a thing) is probably the most important skill. Knowing your theory and mentally owning a song will lead to the proper physical technique. But that's just me.
  3. my answer is "both".

    There are times where playing for me is a mental exercise and I have to concentrate hard to play well. There are also other times when I am playing songs that I know like the back of my hand and I dont have to think.
  4. Dave Castelo

    Dave Castelo

    Apr 19, 2000
    where's the BOTH option and the CARROTS GIVE ME MAD BASS SKILLZ option
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Funny you should post this... just this week I was contemplating writing an essay for any new students on this very subject so I don't have to keep repeating myself.

    Obviously, the answer is "both", but that's an oversimplification. I think that the biggest mistake most people make in their musical studies is that of incorrectly identifying what it is that they should be working on - and this distinction between "mental" (I prefer to think of it as "aural imagination", but that's semantics) and "physical" (technique) is often at the center of a lot of wasted practice time.

    The bottom line is: if you ain't hearing nuthin, you ain't gonna play nuthin. You can have all the technique in the world, but if you only use it to wank, you're still wanking. On the other hand, once you are actually hearing something that you want to play, you'll find a way to get it out. The best teacher I ever had taught me a long time ago that the music has to shape the technique, and NOT the other way around. If you're hearing a great sound, you'll find a way (sometimes, you'll find the ONLY way) to get that sound out eventually. A good teacher can help you do both of these things. A great teacher can help you find the answers from within yourself, and teach you the process.

    Technique itself, although very important, is only the grunt work. Any moron can learn technique. Any dedicated moron, that is. The question is, what are you going to say with that technique?

    On the other side of this argument are those people who claim to have a lot of really great ideas that their technique won't allow them to realize. To those people, I would say, "show me"...which means start grunting and get to work.

    So, the answer is "both" with a definite nod to "mental".
  6. Blackbird

    Blackbird Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Sometimes, one cannot just ask for "more options".

    Such is life.
  7. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Hey Boss, I definatly agree that the answer is both.

    Once you get the material that you're learning down. Or whatever ideas you're hearing in your head down. Your subconscience mind pretty much takes over and you dont have to think about what you're playing. Making it more of a physical thing than mental.

    Of course when you learn something new or try to get another idea out of your head again, it becomes a mental thing once again, then the whole process reapeats it self over and over.
  8. lesfleanut

    lesfleanut Guest

    Sep 25, 2001
    Syracuse N.Y.
    Such is MANGO!!!
  9. I voted mental.

    The physical aspect of playing bass can be compared to the physical aspect of painting. The stroke of a brush, the pluck of a string...

    But it is the mental side that creates art.
  10. I don't know why, you told me to answer fast, so I did.
  11. Kraken


    Jun 19, 2001
    Aylesbury, England
    I Voted Mental

    Quite nicely summed up by Mr Fitgerald as to why!
  12. Ask Jeff Berlin, and he'll definitely tell you mental. Thats why he laughed at dexterity exercises and all that. :)

    But I'd have to say both.
  13. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio!

    Jul 3, 2001
    Santa Ana, Calif.
    Former Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Ninety percent of bass playing is half mental. ;)
  14. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Technique is important, but taste comes from the mind, not the fingers.
  15. Well, I disagree with this. I hear pleasant, wierd noises in my head all of the time (too much Radiohead, possibly), and so far I have yet to produce anything like ANY of them.

    That's becuase of a little entirely physical problem - I can't afford the electronics.

    Mental understanding of what music should be and what bass should be are vital, but the ONLY important thing in the end is that vibrating column of air. Without the sound, the rest is pointless. Well, not pointless, I've entertained myself on many a boring bus ride by imagining unreproducible alien opera in my head. But you know what I mean. Maybe.

    Let me put it this way, you can't play good bass without a working brain, but you can't play any bass at all if you don't have fingers.
  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Sure you can. I have seen one man band guys play bass with their feet.

    And there is a guitarist that has no arms, who plays acoustic guitar with his feet. Tony Melendez.

    You just have to think outside the box.
  17. Erlendur Már

    Erlendur Már

    May 24, 2000
    This is exactly what I would say.
  18. FalsehoodBass


    Jul 22, 2001
    Denver, CO
    Both... Writing music is mental.... you hear it in your head before you play it.. or you let your creativity make it up, and you decide what sounds good... all in your head.

    Playing music is physical.... at least for me... i'm in a band where our songs are originals,, and everything is pretty much set... no improv or anything...
    By the time we play our songs live, we better have all the parts ingrained in our minds... so there isn't any more mental aspect, it becomes physical. Jumping, moving, getting in to the music. An audience will not like you if you're playing decent music and not moving around... so at that point i belive it becomes physical.
  19. Without the mind, there is no music. I like polls with just two choices. Makes things a lot simpler.

    Mike J.
  20. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    What PHLEGMBUSTERS said. I just read an article about Evelyn Glennie, who is perhaps the only professional legit percussionist in the world to have a self-sustaining career as an orchestral soloist. She's been completely deaf since childhood, and plays barefoot on stage so that she can "hear" the time of the ensemble through the soles of her feet. If you really want something badly enough, you can find a way to overcome just about anything.
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