Why do you play?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Joe Taylor, Oct 9, 2002.

  1. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    While I was sitting in the section last night I got to thinking why do I do this. I thought it is fun first of all and it is hard work at times. It makes me humble when I don't hit the passage right. I know I can't stop playing I just can't figure what I get out of it at times.

    What do you all think.

  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I play because ever since I was a child, music was the only thing I really connected with on a personal level. When I do it, I never have to ask, "what's the point of life?", because playing reminds me that the point of life is living in each moment as it happens. (Dime store philosophy? Probably....but still just as true) Over the years there have been a succession of different instruments, but playing music was always a constant. If I wasn't doing this, I'm not sure what I would want to do with myself. Whatever that thing might be, I'm sure it wouldn't be nearly as frustrating, difficult, maddening, meaningful, and FUN as the life of a musician.
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Because I have a bass.
  4. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    I agree with you all.

    Playing is something the I have to do there is no way around it. When I am playing time stands still and the whole world goes someplace else.

    A frind of mine used to call it theropy in a guitar case.

    Last night the practice went long and I did not even notice until it was over. I was amazed. I was even more amazed this A.M. when 5:30 rolled around and the alarm went off. Given the choice 5:30 A.M. would be a good time to go to bed not get up.

    I can't wait to get home to practice tonight.

  5. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    What I find fascinating about the answers you fine players have given is what we don't say. Ask a bunch of singer/songwriter types and every single one of them will say, "I play so I can communicate with the audience." I can't say, "Thank each of you for coming -- without you, we wouldn't be here etc." It's just not true for me: I'd be just about as happy playing with the same players at home.

    So, while we're ruminating, what do you think -- is this a bass-player thing? Are people who are psychologically inclined to get a charge out of playing mostly quarter-notes for fifteen minutes straight also built not to reach out past the band-stand?

    Anyway, as for me, I play because
    * Playing echoes the joy of my youth. Making that quarter-note noise and all those other beatiful sounds connects me to aspects of my life over the past twenty-eight years. It's an essential part of my internal and external identity.
    * I love connecting with other musicians. Playing is just about the only teamwork activity I do except parenting.
    * I enjoy being competent at something. I'm not as good as many others who post here, but I'd be lying if I didn't include this.
    * I enjoy learning and growing.
    * I get to play with my 11-year-old son, who plays tenor.
  6. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    To me it is a craft. I like working the bass, I like the physical feel when I am well practiced and the mechanics of playing seem well within my grasp, and I am playing something that is pretty solidly steering the ship. I like being able to lose myself in it, yet realize myself through it at the same time. I like learning from other musicians who I am honored to play with.

    And lots of other things too. I am pretty new to this DB thing, but I have played bass since I was 14, and I would be one depressed dude if I didn't play. Nothing else that I have played (piano, guitar, a tiny bit of drums) has ever done it for me like the basses (both plank and Real).
  7. What everybody said. But, get real: It's the jokes. Put a bunch of musicians together and it's f*****g hysterical. Jokes that nobody gets but another musician, and then playing your a$$ off.
  8. Touch


    Aug 7, 2002
    Boulder, CO
    Excellent comments. I especially like Samuel's words.

    I play because when I don't play I get very grumpy.

    I have come to the realization that playing is living.
  9. agree with virtually all of the foregoing. Here are two other ideas, hinted at by several above:

    1. physical pleasure, from two sources:

    tonal - the parts of the brain which analyse and confirm pitch have evolved to give you a satisfied feeling when things are right, and an uncomfortable feeling when things are wrong. Training can hone this ability even finer. This can work when just listening, more when its your own sound, and even more when your sound combines with that of others. Many of us will have experienced the joy of singing choral music (or even barbershop or doo-wop), when your the sound of own voice travels up through the bones of the head to resonate with the sound other voices coming in through the ears. When this happens, I believe that pleasure centres of the brain are well stimulated, like with a drug, or sex. This can feel really good. Similarly, the vibrations of the bass, coming in through the hands and body and through the ears can have the same effect, quite strong alone, better still when well harmonised with others.

    temporal - when sounds come into the brain, spaced over time, we can process very accurately where the sounds lie relative to one another timewise. Sounds can be too early, too late, or in just the right place. And just the right place seldom means perfect, metronomic time, but rather usually includes subtle, but specific leads and lags, for a given feel or "groove". Really great players in any genre are masters of these subtle departures from the metronome. When our minds determine that the notes are falling in "just the right places" timewise, I believe the brain's pleasure centres are also stimulated, as with tonal input, above. (Think of the joyous physical sensation which comes from hearing any Ray Brown anchored trio playing swing time, for example.) And when some of those notes are your own, and you yourself are the successful master of this pleasurable timing and its blend with other players, so much the more thrilling.

    2. spiritual pleasure, even bliss:

    (okay, don't laugh on this one) I am not a particularly religious person, and I normally don't spend a lot of time thinking about this, but some part of me believes that there is some kind of deeper truth or profound beauty out there - call it God, or the meaning of life, or what you will. Music, for many people can somehow give us little glimpses, and occasionally a real eyeful (earful) of this beauty. I think that musicians have the luxury (and the responsibility) of sitting close to the window which opens out to this deeper beyond, of getting our hands on the curtain and drawing it open for some good hard looks at this deeper truth. There is bliss in doing this just for yourself, as Sam has observed, as well as in giving others a glimpse. I think many classical composers (from JSBach to Steve Reich, and countless persons in between) understood this, as do many conductors and some players. I think many Jazz players also become very good at this aspect of music, some deliberately (think Coltrane), others just naturally. Armstrong has always struck me as a sort of natural-born Bhudda, a master of perfection and simplicity and truth.

    Anyway, just my amatuer philosophizing. I warned you to try not to laugh ! But once you get a strong taste of this - whether the physical or the spiritual - its hard to quit, eh?
  10. addendum to the above

    I would think all of the above holds for most music and most any instrument. but I wonder if it holds more strongly for the double bass.

    for me, I think yes, but analysing why would be another silly little essay, probably best avoided. Suffice to say, some people seem to be natural-born to a certain instrument - mine is bass.
  11. I play because I need to.

    I picked up the bass to let go of depressive feelings that plagued me. It was something different, something that in some ways was just meanless playing (I forgot everything I just created). Although what I did back then matters just as much as what I continue to do now with the instrument.

    I love the way I can lose myself (As many of you have mentioned) in the beat and melody and just have a good time experimenting with the endless number of notes left on my bass. It something I find happening with less and less frequency and I think it's the main reason when I leave bands I'm in. I find myself frustrated and for the first time getting "writer's block"...something I thought was ludicrous when I first started.

    I will continue to play.

    And I will beat back any rut I will get into. I will develop my own structure and they will call it.........."the Anthony Style". Oh yes, it will happen. :)

    Thank you for all your posts I enjoyed reading them.

  12. Link


    Jul 6, 2002
    Latrobe, PA
    seems like many of the reasons I play have been covered... main reason I play any instrument is it's my escape from reality-
    Why the bass specifically? It seems like my 'main' three instruments are the more "dark in tone" (F horn, viola and bass). The bass is large in size and low in tone... it just has this feel to it. THere's nothing like the sound and feel of the bass.
    To simply put it... "Sanctuary!"
  13. mje


    Aug 1, 2002
    Southeast Michigan
    I started on drums, played percussion all through high school, and started classical guitar during that time, too. During grad school I got into old time and Celtic music and picked up banjo, fiddle and mandolin. I played electric bass off and on in bands, as there was just something about that low, earth-shaking tone.

    The thing about the db is that it's a BIG instrument you can really wrap yourself around. You can FEEL the sound You're a part of it like no other instrument, except maybe bagpipes and we won't go there. There's something you feel when you pell that strings and the bass just GROWLS at you and talks back to you.
  14. I agree with all of the above, I play because all of my life I have felt the pull of music. I would see people on TV and dream it was me up there making the music. My favorite toy as a kid was a guitar that my older brother bought but didn't play. Sorry to say that instrument was laid to rest by the time I was 8.
    But the main thing for me is the feeling of sharing energy with the other people I paly with, which becomes even greater when we paly in front of a crowd who is feeling and digging what we do.
    Plus all of the other things that have been said in this post apply too.
  15. I'm new to this DB thing, and i've only been playing EB for 2 years, but ive played music since when i was a little kid in elementary school, But with the bass, i dunno, i just play, somedays just by myself for 3 hours. One would think that would get boring, i mean basslines, right? It doesn't work that way for me, I Get on the bass, and I'm in love with the thing. I can't stop sometimes.

    For me, music is the drug in life. I get high on life through the music.
  16. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I'm with SMASH (post 13). It's just something I've done forever, and the fact that it's turned into a nice living for me is really just a fortunate accident. I sure love going to work.
  17. When I started playing bass in high school, I found that it gave me an identity, and a positive one at that. Before that, I had no identity whatsoever -- I wasn't a jock, a brain, a cool dude, a burnout or whatever clique or group we were lumping each other into. Now, I was a musician -- a band geek.

    Today, I have a bunch of identities -- husband, father, working man -- but I still identify MYSELF primarily as a band geek, er, musician. Specifically, a bass player, hopefully a GOOD bass player.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I've had these thoughts as well - but the crucial thing for me in your post was "sitting in the section". So I can understand completely why people play bass in rock/pop/ funk bands and how small band Jazz is incredibly satisfying - BUT :

    Every time I go along to Orchestral concerts - like on Saturday night I wonder why Double Bassists do it?? :confused:

    So - you have these people sitting over one side of the strings, with huge unwieldy instruments that are very hard to play completely acoustically in very tough music and they are hardly ever noticed.

    So on Saturday night I was watching a big orchestra play Walton's 1st Symphony - great performance, incredibly moving and a completely overwhelming climax!!

    But - there were two very loud tympanists and a big brass section - loads of horns, trumpets, trombones and tuba. So I hardly heard the basses - OK I have no doubt I would have missed them if they weren't there - but still!

    Even when the horns were quiet the basses were more felt than heard.

    So I end up thinking all this effort, musical skill and dedication going into peformances that are rarely heard - I suppose I would love to be part of that "sound", but somehow I think it would be so much easier just to join a choir and sing bass rather than playing it! ;)
  19. D-Ed Fuqua-ing Right!


    - Wil