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JACO-beginning of "Birdland"

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by nirvanafan13, Jan 30, 2002.


  1. nirvanafan13

    nirvanafan13

    Apr 14, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I have been trying to figure out how to play the beginning of the song "Birdland" by Weather Report for about a month or two (off and on, whenever i put the CD in i try to figure it out) and cannot figure out what he is doing.... i have figured out the last harmonic in the first lick is on the 5th fret on the G string..... Could ANYONE explain to me what he is doing?? i would be very much obliged... Jaco is genuis on bass and an amazing musician...

    Thanks so much,
    Evan
     
  2. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Maybe you will have more responses in "Miscellaneous."
     
  3. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    The entire intro is played with artificial harmonics.

    You fret a note in the first octave of the fingerboard(let's say the 5th fret) and then you use your right hand thumb to capo(touch) the string and pluck really hard with your right hand index finger. Or you can use your index finger for the capo like I do(learned that from Steve Bailey) and pluck real hard with your middle or ring finger.
     
  4. nirvanafan13

    nirvanafan13

    Apr 14, 2000
    Austin, TX
    so... to go to a higher or lower pitch, do i move up and down on the fretboard, or do i move my thumb?
     
  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Both. Your right thumb has to move with your left hand, and it has to stay 1 octave(12 frets) above your left hand.
     
  6. Aaron

    Aaron

    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA

    Not always. The octave above the left had is just the half way point. False (Artificial) Harmonics are just like regular harmonics (you just divide the string into fractions), but the fingered note becomes the nut. The thumb lightly touching the string becomes the left hand finger used to lightly touch the string.
     
  7. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    California
    Yes, but it's more of a "Technique" question.

    10 bucks sez this thread gets moved to "bassists". :D

















    cyke.
     
  8. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    I'm not sure if I understand you. The place that you get the harmonic is always 12 frets above where you are fretting the note with your left hand. Notice how the frets get closer together as you go up the neck? The 12th fret up the neck from where you are fretting is always the halfway point between the fretted note and the bridge.
     
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think PoT is right - Yes the octave above is 12 frets above, but there are other harmonics besides the octave. So in the piece in question - Jaco plays the line first at the octave position and then moves the whole thing up by playing the same thing with his left hand, but by shifting his thumb position up nearer to the bridge.

    So - just as you can get natural harmonics at the 5th and 7th frets (amongst others) as well as the octave at the 12th fret - you can also get usuable notes at more than just the octave with artificial harmonics.

    As PoT said - its is just a case of continually subdividing "speaking" string length.

    [As a PS
    I know from experience that some combinations of basses/strings are better at this than others!]
     
  10. PoT is definitely right! I play the intro to Birdland at the 14th fret (A) on the G-string. My thumb cuts the string at just about the halfway point (between the bridge and the 14th fret - see pic below) for the first part, but then the harmonic pitch rises. I'm still playing the same frets, but now my entire right hand has moved much closer to the bridge, and my thumb 'cut's the string at a higher point.


    [​IMG]
     
  11. nirvanafan13

    nirvanafan13

    Apr 14, 2000
    Austin, TX
    AWESOME!! thanks so much for the replies! i understand now and have learned a new skill (it may take a long time to master but every little bit i learn helps) now i just need to practice and suck on my sore thumb for a while (moving it around the strings hurts at first!)

    Thanks so much again,
    Evan
     
  12. Aaron

    Aaron

    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    IMO, it is best to learn harmonics as the 1/2 point harmonic rather than the 12th fret/octave above because that will remain true for all harmonics, True and False.

    Also, IIRC, the second part to the intro of birdland is at the 1/4 point (which is two octaves above the fingered note, so the first note for the second, higher, part is 4 octaves above open A.)

    The classical method (for DB) is quite a bit different. The left hand thumb fingers the note, fingers on the left hand play the harmonics, and the right hand is normal.