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Me vs. The Band Director

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by paintandsk8, Sep 23, 2004.


  1. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    I have a tough situation I have gotten myself into and the main antagonist in this story is my band director. I am the top jazz band in my high school. The director for this band stubbornly holds the opinion that the upright bass is the "correct instrument for jazz". The school owns an upright and I have taught myself how to at least struggle through a chart on it. The director is now insisting that i play it on at least half of the songs we play and the bottom line is that I play electric bass and have no desire to play upright and I suck at it. Whenever i try to talk to him about it he just says that my upright playing sounds fine to him. There are many other cons as well.

    it is a huge hassle to get it out and set up every day

    I have to change amp settings every time i switch

    The equipment is awful and i can't get decent tone or enough volume out of the upright.

    What should i do????
     
  2. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    Memphis
    Uprights are very expensive and not everyone has the opportunity to learn how to play them.

    Make the most of your opportunity.
     
  3. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Personally, I'd love that opportunity. I never got round to doing much with the upright at school because 'slab' was fine for all the bands I was in (including the jazz stuff) and now, fifteen years later, I'd love to play both instruments.

    If you really don't like it, how about seeing if you can swap with a bassist in another band? Either that or see if the band director is willing for you to work him round (gradually playing more and more electric as you demonstrate your competence as a musican)?

    Make it win-win, not lose-lose.

    Wulf
     
  4. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    That's like telling someone in jail that not everyone has a roof over their heads so they should be grateful.

    I guess the real bottom line is that when we start performing my performance would be much better on my fender jazz than on upright no matter which one is "correct".
     
  5. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I SO wish I had an upright.

    However, if you want to do the rebellious schoolkid thing then play the upright during rehearsals and set it up the night of "the big concert" but just never use it. Play your electric the whole time. What's he gonna do, run out there on stage and force you to play the upright during the middle of the concert?

    Side note: I joined the "jazz band" when I was in high school. I promptly quit when I found out they were playing a "jazz" arrangement of a BRYAN FRICKIN' ADAMS SONG!!!

    brad cook
     
  6. lbanks

    lbanks

    Jul 17, 2003
    Ennui, IN USA
    It sucks now, but at some point you'll find the experience will be useful. Hang in there.
     
  7. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    remain quiet and listen to your teacher.
     
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    You could always quit. That way the jazz band could look for a bassist that is actually interested enough in the music, it's heritage and tradition, to play the instrument that is prevalent in this music's performance into the 21st century.
    Me, I don't want to play electric, so I don't. I don't take any gigs that call for electric, I don't play any music that is built on the sound of electric bass (at least in that context, it's kinda fun to take some music that was written for electric ensembles and perform it with an acoustic group.) Rather than taking the gigs and whining about how I have to play electric bass.

    Have you tried talking your Fender Jazz into the classical ensembles? Maybe that director will listen to your arguments about how he should use it instead of a double bass "cause you sound better on it."

    Your arguments sound a lot like a two year old who doesn't want to go to bed.
     
  9. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    What should you do?

    Learn to love the upright at least till you get out of school.

    As far as the tone and volume, there are many threads in the DB forum about that. Quick hints:

    1. Stuff some foam under the tailpiece
    2. Roll off some of the deep bass EQ
    3. Try to cut some midrange at about 800Hz
    4. Set the amp up for the best DB sound then use the EQ and volume knobs on your bass guitar to work with those amp settings rather than resetting everything.

    That should help a LOT.
     
  10. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Are these supposed to be tips to get the electric to sound like a DB?

    Personally I'm not a fan of that. You can get the thud but you will NEVER get the open woodiness of a DB on an electric bass....and yes, I've played Rob Allen basses and those are included.

    brad cook
     
  11. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Nobody's forcing you to be in the jazz band. Like any other musical endeavor, if you don't like it, leave it. In the biz there are frequently band leader's, artists, producers, etc. etc. who call the shots. You do what you are told, or you leave.

    Frankly, most traditional jazz sounds more "traditional" when upright bass is used. He's only asking for HALF the show, right? Make the most of it, hone your craft, its an opportunity, not an obligation. I think once you practice at it and get as good as you are on electric, you will see the light and find it to be VERY fulfilling.

    Being proficient at both will definitely help your gigging prospects in the future.
     
  12. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    I suggest that you record performances of the same tunes on both electric and upright, and see if the director has a point or not. You have to do your absolute best on both, of course.

    When I came into my jazz group at the beginning of the summer, I purposely didn't take my electric upright to rehearsals ar the first couple of gigs. I'd only been playing it a couple of months, and figured that regular fretless had to sound better. After all, I've been playing that for 30 years, right?

    The first time I broke out the EUB, everyone in the band requested that I leave my other basses at home, permanently. They didn't care if my chops were way down, maybe they preferred that actually (hmmm....). The response I get playing EUB is phenomenal. I think the visual aspect accounts for a lot of that, but I have to say that it just does sound better for a lot of what my band plays. I did have one year's experience on upright, many, many years ago. I always had the EUB in the back of my mind, and I'm thrilled to have the chance to play it on real gigs. I'm practicing a lot more than I have in years, which is mandatory, for me at least. I also did have to throw a fair amount of coin at amplification that is to my liking.

    Bottom line: if you want the gig, you have to make an honest effort to work with the director. The guys who are talking win/win solutions are on the right track, I think. Try recording the tunes, and reach an agreement on which ones actually sound better on each instrument. Good luck, and I hope you're having fun, in any case.
     
  13. Jack

    Jack

    Sep 6, 2003
    Newcastle, UK
    Tell him how you feel. If you cant work out a compromise then either learn to love it or leave.
     
  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    No, no, they are tips on how to get a better amplified sound of the DB.
     
  15. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    If your an electric player, your an electric player. I get tired of the "upright is better" crowd. All the other bs about opportunity, heritage and tradition aside, the director is the director. Try to work out a compromise, but after that it's really all on you to lump it or leave it. Good luck!
     
  16. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    bs about heritage and tradition ? :rolleyes:
     
  17. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Although I understand the comments made and respect them, I do have to say that the Band Director does not understand one fundamental thing. The DB and the EB are different instruments. They are played differently, demand different technique, sound different. Each has a very unique quality.
    Although it is not bad to be able to double, there is no reason you should. The EB is over 50 years old, it should be afforded the same respect as the DB. Should every DB player also need to double on Tuba.

    I would also, respectifully take umbrage to Ed's comment, "That way the jazz band could look for a bassist that is actually interested enough in the music, it's heritage and tradition, to play the instrument that is prevalent in this music's performance into the 21st century." There is a lot more heritage and tradition to the music, as well .... Heroin for example. If you talk about the 21st century, then you need to be open to all the new things on the scene. The Sax wasn't invented until the early 1900's, if it was shunned, in the jazz context, the way the EB is, perhaps Bird, Trane, Hawkins and the rest would never have evolved

    I had this same argument with a Band Director of one of my students. The outcome was, as long as he could read the charts, there was no issue.

    viva la EB

    Mike Dimin
     
  18. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I was just trying to point out his bottom line, please unbunch the panties. :)
     
  19. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Excellent.
     
  20. DigMe

    DigMe

    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Oh ok, sorry.

    brad cook