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Stu Hamm "Stopped Listening to Other Bass Players"?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by mcblahflooper94, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. mcblahflooper94


    Aug 31, 2011

    Interesting article, indeed, but what I found the most interesting was this little snippet:

    "First, a disclaimer: There was a time in my musical career when I stopped listening to other bass players. In my quest to craft my own individual voice on the instrument, I simply tuned out as many players as possible."

    I'm curious about that. I wonder if that would possibly work, and if this is something many people do, or just him. I wouldn't be able to stop listening to music, but I could stop seeking inspiration. What do you guys think?
  2. spacebassed


    Jan 31, 2009
    If I was going to do that I would have to stop listening to music, because I can't listen to music without hearing the bass player. One thing I've noticed about being a musician is that I can't really listen to music as a whole anymore - I pick it apart. Whether that's a good or bad thing is up for debate.

    I take the opposite approach, I like to listen to as many players as possible and absorb only what strikes me and adapt that into my playing. Like Levon Helm sang "You take what you need and you leave the rest."
  3. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Bajo Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    Maybe he meant he stopped listening to what they had to say?
  4. Casting Thunder

    Casting Thunder

    Oct 7, 2012
    I've don't compare myself to other bassists, I'll never be them so what's the point?
  5. mcblahflooper94


    Aug 31, 2011
    That's not what I mean. I mean taking ideas, licks, or styles from other people that reflects in your bass playing.
  6. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Bajo Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    I'd say that's great for him, and it makes sense. When such a large portion of the bass playing world just goes around saying "dont play fast, thats not bass playing, groove only, thats not music, " then yeah...I can see why he would have just stopped listening to other bass guitarists.
  7. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    He doesn't say he stopped listening to music, or even to music with bass in it. He says he stopped listening to other bass players for a time. I think what he's saying is that he had been trying to improve by imitating what other players had been doing, and then he hit a point where he felt he had to stop doing that, forget about "influences," and develop his own style. Presumably (since he says "for a time"), once he felt he had found his own voice he felt free to listen to other bass players again.
  8. sven kalmar

    sven kalmar

    Apr 29, 2009
    i can understand him. if one works a lot with music over years one can get to this point.
    And hopefully get over it. Ive been there. I dont listen to much music these days..
  9. bassdude51

    bassdude51 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Thanks for your comment! I'm glad to hear someone put it to words. I've had the thought but never put it to words.

    I also can not listen to music as a whole. I also pick it apart by listening to each musician and not to the band as a whole.

    My ears are always focused on the bass and I can't stop it.

    I've gone to see bands where the guitarist is the main feature of the band and I still give my attention to the bassist!

    Human beings always pass down down their talents and art and we are all influenced by others. There's no way around it.

    Whoever invented the double bass or the first bass instrument, started the chain, the first link of influence and all other bassists connect starting at link #1.

    I think it was Duke Ellington that said something like..........."learn how to do it the right way, then do it your way." This advice can help all be individual bassists.

    Levon Helm's advice is also excellent.
  10. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I can see what he means...it's hard to develop your own sound/style if you are trying to copy everyone else...even if it's unconsciously. I think I have my own sound/style, people can usually tell it's me playing. However, they can also hear the licks/influences of other players in my playing. I'm OK with that.

    I was playing a jazz gig and did a little lick in a tune and another guy in the group said it sounded just like Nathan East. I'll take that as a compliment any day. Unless you are a real innovator, I think yo are going to sound like compilation of players you like and listen too...how can you not.
  11. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
  12. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    He probably meant he stopped "studying" other bass players...which sounds like sound advice.
    I have heard a few say they "listened" (studied) to horn players vs. bassists...'cause, among other things, many bassists seem locked into a pentatonic thing.
    A horn has different phrasing (because breathing is part of it)...too, the intervals played "easily" on a horn = some finger-bending on a bass (which gets your hands outta the "bass" muscle memory).

    Rhythmically? Many will cop ideas from drummers/percussionists.

    In short, you hear something you like...break it down & file away...no matter who/what made the sound.
  13. AaronMB


    Aug 17, 2012
    Central Oregon
    I can understand this sentiment but I think this is more about focusing with as much "internal clarity" as he could find at the time. Really, not listening to bass players/music for a short time may help one focus, internally, but it can't undo any of the influences that he's been subjected to over his life.

    A writer can stop reading in order to write his own, 'unique' piece of writing - but it will never be done in isolation, without the influence of every moment of his life playing a role. All exposure is influential, whether one consciously attempts to copy 'it,' or simply absorbs it unconsciously.

    In other words: no level of creativity is done in a "vacuum" - but focusing on what's already inside, while attempting to minimize "new/fresh" influences...that's logical and understandable.
  14. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Sometimes you come to a point that you can listen to music and stop concentrating on the bass. I can listen to music and just not retain the bass work. It's hard to not hear it above everything, but you can make it just another part of the music instead of the focus.

    I don't know if this is what he was talking about, but when you stop studying every song, you can just let it become background music.
  15. I've stopped listening to Stu Hamm because he just doesn't sound like me... ha ha ha.
  16. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    Jaco did that as well. I remember an interview in Downbeat in 1976 where he said that the birth of his daughter Mary inspired him to stop listening to Music and go within himself to find his own voice. I've heard of many players who stopped listening to this or that influence to try to not sound so much like them.
    Personally, I cycle with this. There was a time that I didn't listen to or study any bass solos (BG or DB) but instead sought out horn players, guitarists and pianists. It was a pretty valuable learning experience and one I highly recommend. Now I'm back to listening to everything.
  17. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    Just my two cents, but I think if u are a bassist u can never really tune out the bass...but not make it your primary listening focus. Jaco and victor have stated that they listen to pianist, sax players...even singing birds for musical bass inspiration. So I think he was kinda saying to make other instruments your primary focus while ur other part of your brain is picking up the groove. I agree that I find myself guilty of always listening to the bass line, and it is something that's is programmed in for now to eternity....we as bassist even if we quit playing for 10 years will have that bass trained ear....for good or bad relating to listening enjoyment. Next time u are listening to a song, tune out the bass and listen to all the guitar parts, the high hat, whatever....its hard as bassist not to go drifting back to the bass....but can be done. So I think old stu was just purposely listening to other instruments purposely for inspiration. Did he ever truly quit listening to the bassline, even subconsciously.....doubtful.
  18. Casting Thunder

    Casting Thunder

    Oct 7, 2012
    I agree with what others have said, it's impossible to pick up anything someone else has done before and not in some way copy them.
  19. jaxstarke


    Nov 6, 2010
    I quit playing bass for close to ten years and during that time I learned to appreciate the whole song and not just the bass lines. It wasn't a conscious effort or anything, I just started to hear everything as a whole with no care in the world what each individual was doing. Now that I've been playing again for 5 or so years I'm back to where I was: picking out bass lines first and foremost. It can't be helped. Funny thing is is that I notice I listen to waaaay less music when I play compared to when I didn't. It seems like my listening palette shrinks considerably when I focus on the music.
  20. phillybass101

    phillybass101 Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    I know exactly what he means. I'm in the same boat. I'm going to play and sound like me. No one else. David Dyson told me a story about when he won a talent contest when he was younger. A guy walked up to him and said that he had done very well, he sounded great, Just Like Stanley Clarke. David mentioned that those words really hurt his feelings. He wanted to be noticed on his own accord. he said he went back and worked on his own thing. not trying to play or sound like anyone else. The reason he told me this is because I had mentioned to him as a player he's got his own thing going on and would be hard to copy or imitate. He really liked what I said and thus told me the Stanley Clarke reference story.