Why would Ray Brown.......?

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Andrew Jones, Jul 26, 2003.

  1. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Inactive

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    I have a good friend thats a piano tech. He does all the big Jazz gigs in Boston at reggata bar and scullers.

    He say's that when Ray would come through he would request the Piano to be tuned to A438.

    Why Do you think this is? His bass sounded/played better at that tunning? He could hear better there? Its just sounds Funkier:cool:?

  2. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    New Jersey
    He kept his bass at A440 and wanted to make sure the bass lines could be heard clearly.

    I don't really know, but I'd believe that Ray Brown would do what was possible to cut through the ensemble and be heard as much as possible.
  3. Well he certainly had the biggest sound of any bassist I've seen live. I dont mean loud, I mean h u g e ....
  4. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby

    Is it conceivable that he had learned a way of dealing with his intrument's way of resonating? Maybe it made the big bad wolf go away. He tunes to the piano, the tunes are mostly in those horney flat keys, and he likes the sound of his bass better when things are shifted down 6 cents.

    Stab in the dark. Be interesting to know the answer.
  5. bass_means_LOW


    Apr 12, 2004
    Las Vegas
    There is a certain concept out there that middle C comes from 1, or the universal note. Let me explain; octaves are always evenly doubled from the octave before: 1+2=2+2=4.......256+256=512. Some would say that middle C in the most original sense without taking into account tuning each pitch an equal distance apart would be 512. This would make A about 432.
    I'm sure Ray's request, though bizarre must have had something to do with a wolf tone or where he heard the music. Who knows, but if that's what it takes to make that big of a sound like Ray, count me in! Elde Young, (bassist with Ramsey Lewis and Young, Holt Ltd.) told me that Ray could blow out a candle when held by his F hole. True fact though I thought it to be folklore at one time. I suppose you guys knew that already.
  6. A saw a stripper do that once.
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    With a ping pong ball?

    Just some trivia, experiments have shown that dogs and people can't really hear the difference in pitch until you get about 6+/- cents away from the pitch. Even folks with perfect pitch hear 434 to 446 as "A".
  8. I mean no offence by this, bmL, but I think there's some chain-yankin' goin' on here.

    As much as I love Ray's playing, I find it hard to believe any bass is capable of moving that much air. Is the bass body suddenly reduced in internal volume sufficiently to pump that much air out the f hole? Not without reducing it to splinters.
    Or does the air enter by the opposite f hole and leave by the one with the candle in front of it? Being an engineering-type guy, I doubt it's physically possible.

    I've experienced noticeable air movement in front of massive folded horn type PA bass bins, but even at thunderous sound pressure levels I doubt they'd blow out a candle.
  9. I doubt it too Eric but BML should have said extinguished not 'blown' - why go brit nit picking as Foghorn would have it? - coz you can put them out with a presure/shock/sound wave - perhaps he gave his bass a whack on the back as the candle approached?
  10. Since no one said anything about the size of the candle, let's assume the candle is a common birthday cake candle. In my experiments of A0/B0 matching, I use a sine wage generator with an amplifier and speaker to direct a specific frequency at the bass body to set it in motion. I have observed many times that when the instruments resonance frequency is found, the instrument literally "pumps" air in and out. You can feel the air pumping with your hand near the ff holes. With that in mind, I propose that you could indeed blow out a birthday candle with the air coming from the ff holes IF you played the note that was at the exact resonance frequecy (A0) of the bass. That will usually fall somewhere in there range of 55 to 80 cps. That is not to say that any bass could do it, but I have no doubt in my mind that many basses could do it.
  11. I've never done this sort of test so I don't know about the signal levels involved. Bob, do you think a bowed A string would drive the bass' top with the same intensity as the tone generator/ amp?
  12. At those frequencies, I'm sure that bowing would generate enough energy to do the job. It isn't necessary to have the sine wage generator/amp/speaker at very high levels to find the resonance frequency.
  13. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I don't know about the candle or tuning story, but years ago, I had the priviledge of attending a clinic/lecture Ray gave. He simply had the biggest, fattest tone I have ever heard a bassist get in person. His sense of swing and time was unreal.

    He was a wonderful, down to earth person who cut right through the BS to give sage advice.

    He is sorely missed.

  14. I couldn't agree more. I only met and talked with Ray once, but he lived up to all of my (forty years of) expectations and then some.
  15. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I think blowing out a candle is indeed possible.

    Sometimes the day after a gig in very smoky bars playing the first few notes makes smoke come out of the f-holes of my bass!!!
  16. Well, 50 years of smoke and alcohol vapours makes a good marinade for a bass. If I leave my old Finnish bass to a room
    and leave for a short while, I sure can recognize the smell when I come back...


  17. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    Never mind all this bass stuff, I want to hear more about that stripper! :hyper:
  18. bass_means_LOW


    Apr 12, 2004
    Las Vegas
    Maybe I was naive and Elde was yanking my chain, but it's a great story about a great man.