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Solo bass update

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Steve Lawson, Nov 6, 2003.


  1. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Right, it's been a while since we've heard from all you budding soloist about your latest projects, so here's a thread for y'all to post what you've been up to - Stephanie, Howard, Wulf, MKS, Wrong Robot, and anyone else who's been working on some solo or looping ideas, give us an update, ask a few questions, and we'll see if we can all learn something new!

    cheers

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
     
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I've been working out some new things, but I have nothing to present presently. What with moving to boston and all.

    I'm really going for that steve reich approach lately, I love that concept.

    I've been playing a lot of guitar lately, and hope to have something done that will incorporate looped guitar and bass tracks. I just have to wait till I get my computer, and stuff.

    As soon as I have something ready, I'll be sure to post it.

    thanks for the consideration :)
     
  3. I'd got a drummer ready to play some backup to some of my solo bass, but I really find it hard making up a solo that sounds full. Alot of them sound like they're lacking something.
     
  4. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Hi Steve...

    Still in that "taking a break" phase...and lo and behold...last week I wrote a song in one sitting! It needs some added touches, but it has a beginning and end and it sounds good, probably my favorite one yet. I haven't even written anything down, the song is in my head, but I want to record it.

    Had an unfortunate week with a family crisis :( and have barely practiced, but i am feeling a bit better and trying to let the ideas come freely again. This week has made me realize how important certain things in my life are to me and it's imperative that bass is what I do with my life. It's so hard to hold onto the dream sometimes because it seems so far away, but ya gotta keep going, right? :)
     
  5. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Joined a rock band so solo bass is on the back burner for the time being. But they were impressed with one of my solo tunes but its not really their sort of thing so I doubt we'll be playing it live.
     
  6. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Like TaySte, a lot of my music time has been taken up with involvement in various groups recently - although next time I lead worship at church I'm planning on dropping in a short piece for bass and vocal that combines Larry Norman's Christmas Time (Santa Claus is coming and the kids are getting greedy - they know it's in the story cos they've seen it on the TV...) with the jazz standard Autumn Leaves ;)

    I'm gigging tonight and it's possible the keyboard player may not be available, so I might be bringing the DL-4 along to take care of some of the more repetitive basslines while I play around with textures and colours on top. Not solo bass, per se, but maybe using some of the things I've learnt in exploring that area.

    Wulf
     
  7. Erm... I (like the others who have replied) haven't gotten terribly far with the solo bass thing of late. Lots of noodlings, but nothing concrete. It's Christmas time, covers bands are in high demand. Been worshipping in the temple of groove. :D

    HOWEVER I'm working on a solo bass version of "High and Dry" by Radiohead. I just about have the tune down, but it needs more practice to make it more slick and turn it into a performance. Nice tune. I also have a solo bass version of "Birthday" by the Sugarcubes that is in a similar boat. Bjork's vocal lines make every verse slightly different and you can get away with making a whole heap of weird noises underneath it!!

    I've been playing about with combinations of my new EDP :)bassist: ), DL4 and Lexicon MPX-200 and I've got some killer sounds to blend together. Now I just need to sprinkle the fairy dust called "structure and form" over them. I've also got an idea to try throwing drum loops from my PC through the aforementioned toys and hit "frappe". Then load the resulting mess back into the PC and process the **** out of it. Pop Will Eat Itself would be so proud... "Sample it, loop it, **** it and eat it" as they said.

    As Andre mentioned in the other thread about EDP's I think there's an awful lot I need to work on with the EDP to really get to know what it does. I'll try to post my step by step learnings as I go...

    TTFN,
    Mike
     
  8. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Oh I love that Sugarcubes song! That reminds me for quite sometime now (like well over a year LOL) I've been trying to work on my own solo version of the song "Overcome" by the band LIVE. I have the melody down note for note the way Ed K. sings it, and I have it perfect in my head, but when I play it on the bass it seems a little dull, so I've been trying to figure out what's missing. It's really beautiful the way I hear it in my head. There's a part toward the end of the song that I stray away from the vocal melody because of a cello part that I want to imitate.

    It's so fun to do isn't it?
     
  9. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    I'm in Latvia right now. I just finished a small set of concerts showcasing electric bass solos from American composers.

    The concerts were successful and the music was received with much enthusiasm.

    I have also been given the opportunity to work with several Latvian composers in the future.


    Svakes !

    Don
     
  10. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I've been mired in freelance work since the summer (see sig links) and have had to put both solo projects aside for now.

    I sponsored a local musician's group, so now my logo/banner gets to be on a T-shirt. :)

    I didn't mention this before but I have two separate projects - one with 100% written-out, theme-based songs, and one with improv'd loops.

    Perhaps in the new year I'll have more time.
     
  11. oneoftheway

    oneoftheway

    Nov 27, 2002
    In my rock band. Where playing next Friday. Im opening the first song with one of my solo peices. It fits really well as an intro. Kinda dark and spooky. Seeyas
     
  12. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Hmmnn... that ranks with my less successful ideas :) - I tried it a bit at the start of the set but it didn't work particuarly well. I think if I'm going to do that again, I'll have to work with at least the drummer first, doing some practise.

    However, I did remember another place where I do the solo bass thing a bit more successfully. At church, there are often points during and after the service when some 'texturising' from the bass is just the thing. They're not 'look at me' moments but definitely provide a place for creative expression supporting the mood of the moment.

    Wulf
     
  13. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    haha! Wulf gets caught in the 'I didn't realise my timing had glitches til I tried looping with a drummer' trap...

    Looping unsync'd with a drummer is probably the hardest aspect of looping. And something I generally avoid. Hand percussion is easier, or playing with a drummer who is looping as well and is sync'd to you. Or at least with a drummer who understands that they are going to have to adjust to what you're doing...

    I've tried it with varying degrees of success and failure in different configurations - the two trios featuring Rick Walker worked OK most of the time - Rick on drums and either Michael Manring on bass or Andre LaFosse on guitar. Some things went off, but most of the time we were all sync'd so it worked fine, and even then we were all doing something that was intentionally loop-based, so that became the primary focal point for our concept of rhythm.

    Other situations have not been quite so successful - a fairly recent jam with a couple of session guys in London ended up with me trying to loop fusion lines in 7/8, while the drummer played some insane polyrhythmic thing on top. Not going to work. Not ever. Shouldn't have bothered trying...

    ...actually I take that back. It was well worth trying. You don't know til you have a go, and nothing much was lost, besides a little egg on my face after talking up this looping business before hand... ;)

    So the best bet, as you say, is to hook up with the drummer, just the two of you, and see what you can get happening. And work on how to get out of a bad loop without it messing up the music. Stopping and starting again while the rest of the band carry on and the audience are oblivious to whatever else is going on is a vital skill...

    cheers

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
     
  14. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Actually, on the recording, I couldn't really hear the bits where I was looping - I need to listen more closely, but if definitely didn't derail things too much. Maybe I should have had more confidence and let the loops run for longer?

    Of course, most of the time in this context it's not a vital skill as we do have a keyboard player and so my role is much more about creating a grooving foundation with plenty of space rather than filling in with textures anyway.

    Wulf
     
  15. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    Back in the 80's I did looping but the technology was rather poor which drove me away from that technique.

    I have adapted my solo playing to emulate looping and have toyed with the idea of getting back into the electronic aspect of looping but at this point in my career I'm afraid I'm behind the curve on learning to use the technology.
     
  16. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Can you share which techniques you use to do this to best effect? Thanks in advance :)

    As far as loop-synching goes, the problem for me is really my switching technique, which is still pretty crummy. The switch on the DL4 isn't the best to begin with, and I have a bad tendency to hit too hard and/or rush the "switching" beat.
     
  17. Justyn

    Justyn Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2002
    Richmond, VA
    Having discovered this looping wackiness fairly recently I've been dealing with getting used to how the technology works and how I need to adapt/refine my technique to work with the new tools. Sold off a few other bits of kit to afford some lovely used gear (Carvin LB76F and a DL4) and I've been shedding like a maniac in order to get my technique up to speed on both. Nothing, and I mean nothing, shows all the flaws, both rhythmic and intonation-related like playing with the DL4. On the flip side, it's about the most fun I've had playing in years and I'm repeatedly inducing mad fits of giggling with the stuff I'm coming up with.

    Alternately, I'm just going barking mad, but whatever...

    The real trick is not so much in coming up with ideas as it is translating those ideas into complete tunes. It's one thing to sit down and come up with something cool when there's no one around to hear the wrong notes, but it's another thing entirely to make it flow naturally without any long awkward bits while I'm trying to work out parts.

    My goal is to have a five or six song EP done by the Summer, with the first tune or two done by Christmas and up on a website which I have yet to put up.

    So much to do, so little money to pay other people to do it for me...

    But yes...new looping bass antics should be available for review, criticism and enjoyment soon. With any luck it won't sound too terribly much like I'm blatantly ripping off Monsieur Lawson.

    Which, admittedly, I am, but I'm working on it:)

    Cheers,
    j.
     
  18. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    All this talk of loopers makes me wish I can afford one, but I am stuck with the raw essentials. :(

    Is it possible this day and age for a solo bassist to get by with just a bass and amp? I'm liking the stuff I come up with alright but I still wonder to myself if it would hold an audiences' attention, being there's no effects or fancy stuff.
     
  19. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Stephanie... see it this way - with all of 'us' doing so much with processing, your straight sound is going to seem like a breath of fresh air in the solo bass world (solo bass world? who am I trying to kid... :D solo bass semi-detatched maisonette...)

    There'll always be a place for interesting original music well played, no matter how it's exectuted. And there are other guys out there doing the 'just bass' thing too - FWIW, I've never see Stu Hamm use looping, and he always seems to command pretty huge crowds at NAMM etc...

    stick at it - I for one am really looking forward to hearing where you end up...

    Steve
    www.stevelawson.net
     
  20. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Thanks Steve. :)

    The type of music I'd like to create is like an ambient/space kind of thing. I can probably achieve the sounds I want a lot easier with some kind of effect. That's probably why I spend so much time "exploring", trying to see if I can get those spacey sounds I want with just a bass LOL. Just sitting there plucking one note and seeing what images it stirs up in my head.