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This solo bass stuff ain't that easy is it.

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by TaySte_2000, Apr 24, 2002.


  1. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    So as I said I would I tried, had a few limitations though my multi FX pedal will only sample 8 secs and when using the sampler you can't use any of the echos or reverbs so kind of tackes away from the soundscape idea.

    I could really do with some tips on how to get some good sounds out the gear oh i'm playing a four sting btw. It just seems kind of boring when I play all the chords I play seem to sound like what grungy guitar player do.

    I tried layering sound I did a really dirty fuzz loop and then a clean chorus over it and it sounded quite nice apart from my boring playing.
    I just can't seem to come up with a bass loop and then a line over it that you could play for 8-15 minutes like you do it would probably be ok for 3 minutes or so.

    How do you make your music interesting, what do you do on stage to make people want to hear more.
    What sort of people come to view your shows, do you find they are mostly bass player or are there alot of people off the street that would normally be listening to the latest number one hit. What sort of venues do you play in and to how many people on average

    Please help me if I can get a good sound that people really want to hear I could start giging here because there is no one who plays solo bass (Maybe thats an indication people don't want to hear it but what the hell), and if i'm giging I can by lots of new toys like the line6 dl4
    :D .

    Oh yer can you use a reverb or echo on the line6 while haveing the lopper playing back or recording.

    Cheers
     
  2. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    8 seconds is not a long time :(

    What that means is that you'll have to do a lot more live playing of multiple lines, like a classical or folk guitarist does - and that takes quite a lot of work.... It's certainly going to make drifting soundscapes difficult, especially if you loose the echo and reverb when doing the loop.

    However, you can still do certain things. For example, how about playing the bassline to 'Walking on the Moon' by The Police (or something along those lines). That should fit in 8 seconds and you could go for hours over that (certainly as a tool for your own practise times). Or take just a couple of chords and explore what works over, under and between them (see the seperate thread on this forum about ambiguous chords for ideas).

    You could also practise 'stealth looping'; every now and then use the loop to capture a particular phrase, play over it for a bit (before anyone even realises it's a loop) and then turn it off and move on. Think of the loop as a way of temporarily growing an extra 'pair of hands' rather than just in terms of building a backing track to solo over.

    Regarding the DL4 box, you can control delay time, repeat duration, speed and depth of the chorus effect and loop volume while in looping mode. You can also double or half the speed of the loop (depending on whether you started in half or full time mode) and throw it all in reverse (and back again). Definitely a useful box ;)

    Wulf
     
  3. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Thats some really useful info. Got any ideas on how to liven up a show because 14 minutes instrumentals aren't every ones cup of tea, what do you think a little dance some flashing lights :D

    I'd love to start giging with this music so keep the ideas coming everybody.
     
  4. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Tayste,

    don't feel like you have to do hugely long tunes - if you have a listen to Max Valentino's stuff, he manages to say all he has to say over a tune in a sensible amount of time. Some of my tunes are much Shorter than the 15 minute mark!!!

    Try to come up with loops that you can change the harmony of - if you use chords with 2nds instead of thirds in them you can switch from major to minor, or you can start with a very simple harmony loop, and then change it by adding another layer to the loop that takes it somewhere else.... it helps to think of the performance process as evolutionary - starting with a cell of an idea and expanding - verse/chorus stuff is much more difficult to do with out much more gear (Michael Manring does it with two JamMans...)

    keep the ideas simple and focus on playing them in such a way that you can listen to 'just' the loop for two minutes without it getting boring - I know that sounds impossible, but aim for that, work on tone and phrasing, it'll be the best lesson you ever had...

    what's the effects unit, BTW?

    good luck!

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  5. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    It's a korg ax1000g designed for guitar but fantastic on bass i'd really recomend one. It has a few down sides such as the octave and the compressers pretty much useless and of course the 8 seconds of looping time but what do you expect from a unit that cost 150 pounds.
    I also have a korg ax1b which is pretty much useless planning on replacing that as soon as I can.

    Steve I don't surpose you've got any plans of doing a gig in the manchester area near christmas time have you?

    Thanx for telling me short tunes are ok I was sweating it abit trying to play for 10 minutes or so with one 8 second loop. (Starts drilling into your head after abit.)
     
  6. wulf

    wulf

    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It's an interesting exercise to play a short loop and leave it going for a long time. Listen to it, have a break and leave it in the background, really listen to it, and see how it sounds after time.

    Sometimes, you'd swear that the looping box was messing with the tune! It's a bit similar to scanning through a section of a dictionary. The initial letter starts to look really strange.

    Or maybe it's just me :rolleyes: ...

    When you do this with a loop, you start to hear all sorts of nuances you originally missed and also hearing new ideas for what could run alongside it - I guess the brain gets bored with too much of the same thing and starts playing around with the signal ;)

    BTW, I'm not suggesting you inflict this 'deep listening' on an unsuspecting audience, but it's a worthwhile exploration and might yield some approaches you hadn't considered before.

    Wulf
     
  7. Try listening to some Steve Reich : "Music for 18 musicians", "Electric Counterpoint" or somesuch. Technically quite difficult to play, but his "loops" are quite short. What builds is the texture. The chords "evolve". You would need to plan things carefully... Another fine example IMHO is The Orb's "A Huge ever-growing pulsating brain...". 22 minutes of the same riff/loop, but faded in and out with other interesting stuff dropped into the mix. Rather long maybe, but it might give some ideas about how you can vary short loops and make them more interesting. Also, if you hear "Whateverwhatever/momentum" from Steve's new album [GRATUITOUS PLUG] he loops a nifty percussive line. You don't always need to loop up the harmonic, riff based stuff.

    Just watch that what you're playing doesn't become "widdley-widdley-look-at-me" stuff. ;)

    Go for it.
    Mike
     
  8. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Listening to loops for a long time is a cool exercise - the longest I've run one is (I think) about 14 hours, but that was with a break to sleep in the middle (muted it over night, started it up again in the morning... :oops:) - you do indeed hear all kind of nuances.

    the Korg that you have doesn't allow overdubs, does it, Tayste? It'd be worth investigating either the Line 6 DL4, Boss RC-20 or Akai headrush if you want to get seriously into solo bass stuff... the ability to overdub and layer parts is pretty vital for developing a performance set...

    have fun!

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk

    BTW - there are a few threads about my new CD over at the dude-pit - check out http://pub41.ezboard.com/fthedudepitfrm16 - I know it's called Al's Nudie Bar, but there's nothing untoward going on... :oops:)
     
  9. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    The korg doesn't allow for overdubs but when I bought it I didn't even know that I could loop on it.

    The setup I want is my korg using stereo out into a line6 mm4 into a line6 dl4 into the boss rc20. So it would all be stereo up to the boss and the I'll have the boss on one side of my stereo amp that i'm having built but might wait abit because I'd really like the a stereo looper so i'll see what future releases from boss hold.

    But i'm not forking out any more money for gear until i'm sure I can play solo bass well enought to make some money back.

    When I get my new computer I'll be able to record some of my ideas for you guys to listen to and tell me what you think. (Should be around july or so.)
     
  10. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    Thanks very much, Steve. That is such a nice thing to say. I believe I read soemwhere that brevity is the essence of wit.....
    On that note, I would like to point out that loop time, and more of it, does not equal greater musicality. The ability to create good and musical loops comes from the ability to think musically. No, 8 sec. is not a long time, but if that is all you have right now then make the most of it. Most of my loops, especially in performance situations, are no more than two measures, and as such considerably shorter than 8 sec.
    Within a single short repeated loop is a wealth of musical material to be mined. Consider, if you will, a single chord. If we take for granted that it is a simple, triad based harmony with (at least) 3 notes, then it has the possibility of being "named" three different things. A C chord, with out root on C is a C chord...but what if we think of it stacked from the E or even the G, with the extensions, and therefore other possible harmonies, implied.....geez, this open a universe of harmonic and melodic ideas based on just one chord! Miles Davis, when asked about how he was able to squeeze so much from so little replied that he could make any note work with any chord, and vice versa. It was all just a matter of how you percieved the notes and chords, and their function in the greater whole.
    So what I am getting at is that you needn't think that more loop time, nor dancing girls and flashing lights, will add a deeper layer to your solo bass endeavours. The looper is merely a tool for you to use, as is the bass, to help you bring forth the sounds and music within you. And, on that same note, the study of theory and harmony are just that...studies...which give us a system for working through the myriad possibilities of harmonic and melodic thought.
    Look for the music within you...and use your tools to extract that. Don't be fooled into thinking some piece of gear or hardware will magically bring the music to you.
    Flashing lights and dancing girls (or bears, or elephants) all bring us into the showbiz side of things. The state of contemporary music is that the superficial aspects of what we do have taken preceedent over the music...the actual art, which is much deeper, has lasting value, and can actually move people. There is nothing wrong with the entertainment value of music, don't get me wrong. But when music only exists for the shallow entertainment...well, sooner or later someone will exclaim that the Emporer has no clothes. And it is possible to do this (music, and specifically solo bass) with out sacrificing your ideals or ethics to the baner standards of musical enteratinment.
    For what it is worth..I play shows ranging from just a couple of people (and bless their hearts) to several thousand (tho they don't al come just to see me!). Much to my own chagrin I have made a career of being a solo bassist, and I have become successful at it,even without a plethora of equipment (a JamMan ain't exactly state of the art!).
    If the music is truely within you, and judging from your posts I can see no reason to suspect otherwise, then the only thing you can do is, to paraphrase Robert Fripp, go an submit yourself for public ridicule.
    Oh...BTW, I studied under Steve Reich in college. Fascinating man, who strongly believes in accepting one's limitations, whether that be financial, technological, or sociological, as a form of inspiration. His first recordings, "In Think It's Gonna Rain" etc...were done on a simple two and four channel reel to reel (1/4" at that) and a single mic!

    Max
     
  11. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Thanx man thats really insightfull you guys really know your stuff.

    Have any of you tryed the electrix repeater that looks like a realy good deal removeable memory, up to 8 minute loops, four tracks per loop, effect loops, midi, all for $500 any one tryed it.

    I was listening to michael manring's enormous room the other day I know he plays it on his hyperbass but does he change his tunings through out the song.

    Oh and max where could I pick up your cd or at least here some samples.
     
  12. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    Thanks...there are thre tunes posted at mp3.com:http://www.mp3.com/max_valentino
    otherwise...you can e-mail me directlyekstasis1@hotmail.com
    And I will give you all the details.
    And..yes, I have tried out the Repeater, and it is certainly a wonderful tool. Right now I am going backa and forth between getting a Repeater, or being like Steve and grabbing up an EDP...hmmmm
    decisions, decisions.....
    Max
     
  13. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Max,

    care to share some more of your time studying with Reich? was it in a masterclass or was he a tutor? where was it??? He was one of the first contemporary classical composers I ever listened to, and his concepts of minimalism greatly shaped my writing when I was about 17 - I wrote various minimalist pieces for cello and marimba etc... Looping lends itself to minimalism really well, especially shifting textural stuff if you've got a pedal with a feedback control, or have two pedals to cross fade between... I got into this shifting textural idea when we did the solo bass tour - using your DL4, with the other borrowed DL4, and the JamMan and the Mpx loop function gave me the option to record four parts and then stop playing and mix between them behind Rick and Michael... so thanks to you and your extra DL4, I've taken a bit of a right turn in my music... :oops:)

    minimalism is a great place to start with solo bass as it subverts the solo bass=chops fest approach that is so often assumed - if you're playing one chord and trying to morph the tone as you go along, just with your hands, or laying down two notes in a loop and reharmonising them, it's pretty hard to incorporate monster slap and tap stuff in there... :oops:)

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  14. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Hey Steve have you tryed your dl4 with the expresion pedal? If not why not?

    Whats so special about visual volume pedals I can't seem to find anything one them.

    Cheers
     
  15. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    I have used an expression pedal - haven't got one yet, not sure why not... I used Max's on the solo bass looping tour last year, and borrowed one from my buddy Gene Simons in LA as well, so I had two DL4s both with expression pedals. I had both expression pedals set up just to control loop volume, so I've not tried any of the crazy stuff that's possible with them yet... I'd rather like to have three DL4s, in addition to the rest of my set up... :oops:)

    The Visual Volume pedal is very smooth, very quiet and has got lights on it. Very cool idea, but I don't think the company (visual sound) could source the parts cheap enough to keep making them to that standard and make it worth doing - they still do other effects though...

    cheers

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  16. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    Steve; Both Steve Reich and Phillip Glass were, if I remember right, Professor Emeritus' at NYU during my stay there. They both taught compostion, although quite irregularly.
    Reich was involved with his many marimba based experiments....and Glass, well, was out there!
    Although, I might add, I have never heard a better keyboard player in my life...just fooling about he would quote, and eloquently, Satie, Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky with ease.
    Both shared simialr concepts of mininmalism and the use of repetitons in music. Reich especially was researching how when using repetitive polyrhythms, played by humans, the parts would drift in and out of sync..kinda like our unsync'd loopers...which would make a part, or single sound, leap out into focus only to return to its textural bed.
    At this same time, at Columbia, experiments were being made on the first sequencers. Neither were too interested in sequencing per se...but NYU did have a Moog Model 1 Modular synth (so many modules it filled a room! and was monophonic!) and both enjoyed how the oscilators would slip....
    Those studies with Reich and Glass...as well as a few lectures by none other than John Cage, helped shape my own concepts of composition greatly.
    And...since this is really about looping...I have noticed how much those two have shaped the works of our Looping Bretheren...geez ya think Mr. LaFosse listened to some Reich back in he day?
    Max
     
  17. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Why modulus what do they have the others don't?

    What other basses do you own?

    At what age did you start playing bass?

    Erm thats about it for now but i'm sure I can think of more questions you've been asked 5000 times :D

    Oh Max I heard some or your stuff really cool.
     
  18. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Why Modulus? I bought my first modulus because it was by far the best sounding and feeling bass in the shop in my price range (it was reduced in a sale... :oops:) - I loved the feel of the Graphite neck, the tone was awesome, and even though it was a hideous bright red colour, the shape was really cool... I recently (two years ago) had it stripped, a maple top put on it, and Lane Poor pickups installed. it's now perfect... :oops:)

    When it came to choosing another bass (a 6 string fretless) I played a lot of basses, many of which I really liked (especially MTD, Zon and Sei) - what sold me on Modulus was that a) I was already familiar with their designs, b) the neck profile on their 6 string basses really fitted well in my hand c) i really like the people who run the company (actually, I really like Joe Zon, Mike Tobias and Martin Peterson as well, but there you go - bass builders are generally cool people... :oops:) and d) they have a policy of only using sustainably farmed wood, are in partnership with the Rainforest Action Netowork and are seeking to positively influence the way we view tropical hardwood. I really don't want my gorgeous bass to be made at the expense of the world's rainforests, so it makes a big difference to me to have that policy. Modulus make stunning bass, with great tone, to my spec (the basic model is a Oteil signature bass, but I wanted it fretless, with Lane Poors, a granadillo fingerboard, different inlay and a different finish), and are all great people - the people who work there seem to be big fans of music and instruments, and are players, which is great.

    What other basses? right now, I only own two basses - my fretted Q4 and my fretless Q6...

    I started playing when I was 14, and was seriously rubbish for about three years after that... :oops:)

    ta ta

    steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  19. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Hey TaySte_2000... no it's not easy at all is it!!!

    Mind you it doesn't exactly sounds easy does it!

    When I first got Steve's CD (the only solo bass CD I own at the mo) I was most impressed by the fact that it was recorded live! I was REALLY put-off solo bass by Stu Hamm and havent really ventured into the realms since ...but Steves CD has been growing on me... mostly the more atmospheric & ambient type tracks. I like the idea of creating interesting music and textures, solo. Just being able to sit down and play a whole piece of music is v-v-cool.

    I've been experimenting with loops on my PC - more as a learning experience than a mission to write pieces of music and I've come up a with a few loops I'm really proud of recently, but I find it hard to take them in any particular direction. I get muddled with my ideas.

    I find it hard to layer sounds without them getting too muddy. Also, I find that my loops have strong melodies which I find it hard to get away from, build on, or change the direction of.
    I dont often have too much trouble stepping away from a vocal or guitar melody when playing with the bands I'm in - probably as I have other players input to bounce ideas off of?

    Mucho practice and learning required!!!

    One thing I do find helps me is to use a drum loop as a backing. Obviously this completely obliterates the idea of solo bass (Doh!), but I've found it makes it easier as a beginner.

    cheese
    H

    PS... Steve. The solo bass=chops thing is such a hideous stereotype... (Damn you Stu Hamm). My hard-rock band are living proof of musicians being too closed minded to give anything out of their preferred genre a try. Everyone can be close minded at times, but these guys... sheesh!

    I agree on the comment about minimalism... bass guitar can have such a beautuful tone that just one sustained note can sound absolutely amazing. Whereas too much, IS too much.

    ...and a very good point about the tropical woods. It is kind of sick really... the wood is made more exotic by the fact that it's in short supply. Exactly the same as those medicines made from bits of chinese tiger, but people dont think of it the same way.
     
  20. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Howard,

    it's true, the feeling of sitting on stage on your own and playing something complete without needing backing tracks or other musos is pretty cool... :oops:) My first solo gig was SUCH a buzz!! Glad the CD is growing on you... the next one is looking like it'll be much more in the textural vein, but we'll see...

    Focus is really difficult, when you're used to contributing your one part to someone else's song... we can look at this in your next lesson.

    the tonal thing is a big problem, and one I spent a lot of time working on, to get the separation between the parts - I some times have up to about 9 bass parts going on at once!

    you can always do the percussion parts on your bass - Max's CD is a great resource for percussive ideas on bass.

    I know, and it's weird how musicians are more judgemental and narrow minded than listeners!! I'm not sure it's totally fair to blame Stu Hamm - his late 80s output is a product of its time, and as a pioneer he was inventing the ideas as he went along... I'm not a huge fan of that kind of fusion, but I do appreciate the new ideas that he fed into the bass community.

    indeed - i've just heard a CD by a singer from the states (can't remember her name - will post it here soon) that is recorded just with voice and double bass. Stunning stuff, and a beautiful exercise in letting tone do the talking.

    yeah, it's crap, but what can you do? buy certified wood, that's what... :oops:)

    cheers

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk