1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

What to play for a university audition?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Johnny7, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. Johnny7


    Jan 10, 2017
    Evening low end friends
    So it's university time, my applications have been sent off and I'm in the midst of waiting for the responses, so what better time to start rehearsing audition pieces? What songs would you guys recommend to show a varied array of techniques, or what pieces helped get you into your uni? Been playing for 4 and a half years now so I'm up to take on a challenge in the name of getting into uni, but weak points include percussive-heavy slap and polyrhythmic tapping, so either very little Claypool and Wooten or none, cant risk a bad audition no matter how hard Primus sucks. Courses are all popular music performance, so jazz and classical aren't a worry, cheers guys!
  2. MD


    Nov 7, 2000
    Marin Co. CA.
    I went to a general, liberal arts college, so an audition wasn't necessary for admission.
    When I decided to enter the music program, I had already been in the orchestra for a couple years, and was known around the dept. My audition consisted of a short cello sonata and a few jazz pieces. At that point it was really a formality.

    I read a similar question a while back, and the most often issued piece of advise was "don't play Portrait of Tracy!"

    Good luck.
    twinjet likes this.
  3. Johnny7


    Jan 10, 2017
    Update, got an audition at the hardest one to get into, whats the take on Mr Big? Would we call some Billy Sheehan cliché?
  4. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC

    At most US colleges, the music department will have a web page with a link to their audition requirements. With possibly a few exceptions such as Berklee, most schools don't offer a music performance degree for electric bass, but may have a jazz studies program or something similar. So you may have to do some digging, but I suggest making sure you're at least aware of whether there are any specific requirements.

    When I started college in 1982, it was a small 4-year school, and I auditioned for the jazz band, on electric bass. I got in, along with another bassist, but he dropped out after a few weeks. It was informal enough that I didn't have any prepared repertoire, but mainly the teacher wanted to see if I could sight-read.

    If there's no info online, I suggest calling someone in the music department and talking to them.
    lfmn16 likes this.
  5. Johnny7


    Jan 10, 2017
    I've checked the audition info, and it says it should be from "contemporary genres such as pop, rock, jazz, etc" and that i should "avoid classical repertoire and musical theatre songs"
    Also "These pieces should show off what you do best and reflect your abilities and personality"
    So it seems like more or less an open book of "Show off whilst playing a comfortable style to you"?
  6. Aside from showing your chops, be sure to keep time while playing. Nothing worse than speeding up and slowing down and never setting up the groove.

    If you want to learn some Jaco, that's typically appreciated. Do you need to play entire songs? Many get repetitive quite quickly.
    Leo Smith likes this.
  7. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    How about creating your own basslines instead of lifting other people's work?

    If I was in the admissions department, originality would always win over plagiarism... I mean over the lack of creativity.
  8. steve_ss

    steve_ss Shiny, let's be bad guys. Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2016
    Southern NJ, USA
    How about adding a few bars of the school's song, if they have one? Show your team spirit...

    Good luck and keep us informed as things move along.
  9. Johnny7


    Jan 10, 2017
    I know this might be the only thread on here you'll see this, but i never really got into Jaco. Appreciate the immense talent, but just always been more on the entwistle side of things
  10. Johnny7


    Jan 10, 2017
    Trust me, that's gone through my head many times, but I've never been top of the list when it comes to creating a complex solo composition worth showing off with, I've got a month so i reckon i could try to transfer one of my piano compositions onto my fretboard if i keep at it enough
  11. I have one Jaco album, I think it came with my bass player card, and rarely listen to it. Its good stuff, but not my style either. However I did learn some signature phrases from a couple songs, and if I'm checking out a bass and play that, I always get positive reactions from other bassists. So for a bass audition, learning some Jaco might be worth the effort. ;)
  12. Johnny7


    Jan 10, 2017
    From a man with Jaco experience then, any suggestions? I've heard Teen Town before, but that's the furthest I've ever successfully tried my hand at jazz, it shames me to say.
  13. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't a university a place to expand your knowledge? If you are able to create complex, solo compositions worth showing off with, then why would you need to further your education?

    Stick with something that you wrote yourself and that you are comfortable playing.

    On a side note, I am going through the exercises in the Bass Aerobics book. What I have done is take a single exercise and transcribed it to Guitar Pro 6. After searching Google, I found 20 drum tracks for GP6. I will then find a couple of bars from a drum track and have it "loop" through the exercise...

    Here is the point: instead of a musical sounding bass exercise, it sounds like music when drums are added with the bass.
  14. BassAndReeds

    BassAndReeds SUSPENDED

    Oct 7, 2016
    Free Bird!

    Yea, looks like I'm that guy.
  15. jasonmatthews


    Jul 10, 2016
    Atlanta, GA
    My audition for my school of jazz studies was about 12 years ago, but I'm sure some of this might still apply.
    • Familiarize yourself with what the school wants, and who is running the audition
      • In my case, the director of the jazz program was a really straight-ahead jazz guy and was the one running the auditions. What this meant to me was that he prefers upright bass to electric bass any day of the week. As an electric player, this meant I had to be cautious of my tone and be willing to use more neck pickup than I'm used to to get a rounder, more upright sound than I might otherwise use.
      • I was studying with Adam Nitti at the time, and he went to the same school, under the same guy, and he told me the exact same thing. He was like, "you should probably play up near the neck because all he really cares about is that upright kind of sound." That was good advice.
    • Play tunes that show a variety of technique, but don't make yourself look stupid
      • My school wanted one solo piece, two standards, and then sightreading and walking lines were the other part.
      • For my solo piece I chose an Adam Nitti tune called "Broken, Part 1," a tapping piece. I love that tune and it's not particularly easy to play, but I did it anyway. I was good at that tune. However, in retrospect, I shouldn't have because the guy couldn't care less about bass players who know how to tap. Later I learned that he is absolutely blown away by "Portrait of Tracy" and I totally should have played that instead.
      • I chose one straight ahead standard called "Blue Bossa" because it's easy, it's straight, and shows you know how to be a bass player. I played the head, two choruses of walking lines, and the head again. Simple. They dug it.
      • I also chose "Donna Lee", which most bass players know. It's bebop with lots of changes and fortunately most bass players learned it the first time they heard the first Jaco record. I played the head, one chorus of straight walking over the changes, a chorus of a kind of hybrid "walking-solo" thing, then the head again. They really dug that one. I remember him saying "that was good... really good actually."
    • Learn to read, both notes and charts
      • The sightreading was a two-parter (again this was for a jazz program)
      • He plopped down the real book and opened it to "Ladybird." He sat at the piano and was like, "okay, play through the head one time, I'll play the changes." So it was sight-reading not just notes... but those notes were treble clef. This is one of many reasons I tell jazz people that they HAVE to know how to read, in both bass and treble clefs. It was fine, though. Luckily I was more than comfortable with all clefs.
      • I don't remember what he put out for sight-reading changes. I'm sure it wasn't too difficult. I've never really had trouble reading through changes and walking over them so I'm sure it was fine.
    They'll ask you questions probably, maybe about what you like to play and, most importantly, what in the world you want to learn. Schools want people who are good at playing, but they also want people who are there to learn.

    You'll be fine!
    Leo Smith likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.