Monday, April 29, 2013

CTS Intervention

The next installment of my bassist blog comes with a deteriorating left hand, finally succumbing to the persistence of carpal tunnel syndrome. Yes, for a musician who is attempting to write about one of his great loves, to be debilitated by this nagging ailment is irony at its best. But I’m gonna persevere with the assistance of a somewhat able right hand. Besides, I type like 5 words per minute when I am at %100, so I’m not stopping for all 37 of my loyal readers!

It was recommended by a close friend that I offer up a quick ‘music speak’ vocabulary lesson. That seems fair. I’m no music theory ‘Nazi’ and I certainly want to make this user friendly. The importance of these writings is for you to get the same level of joy and excitement that pulses through me! So here’s a quick music verbiage flow chart.

Melody:  The main musical “theme” in the song. Sometimes accented or propelled by the bass line.
Alternating pattern: Often a pulsing bass line on multiple strings and played differently as the song progresses for variation.
Lower register:  The low notes you feel as well as hear- also called “the bottom end”.
Higher register:  These are higher notes on the bass meant to “stand out” and often are used as bass fills (see next description).
Bass fill: Breaking from the pattern to add a flourish of notes that add tension or liberate certain parts of the tune.
Picking: Using a hard (or softer) plastic pick to hit the notes. Usually adds a harder attack depending on the style of music.
Finger-style: Alternating between index & middle (sometimes ring) fingers to play notes and is often viewed as the most common in a variety of musical outlets (but we could argue on that one too- that’s someone else’s blog!)
Slap & Pop: Using the thumb and then index & middle as a percussive tool to create rhythm’s with a funkier edge. Often used in many styles but allowing for the music to groove, based on what notes are hit and ‘popped’.

Still think bassists are the lonely guys in the corner with their backs to the crowd? Ha-ha… You never thought that, did you?!

My hand is saying “Please stop”, so I’ll chill for today. Look for next week’s piece, as I have a growing list of bassists and albums that caused a great stirring in me (still do!). In no particular order: Muzz Skillings (Living Color), Karl Alvarez (All, Descendents), Andrew Weiss (Rollins Band) Dirk Lance (Incubus), Rick Skatore (24-7 Spyz) and the completely under-rated Monty Colvin of Galactic Cowboys. That one will be a pleasure to write and I’ll need to add to the verbiage for sure. Thanks and stay tuned!

Often “Unheralded”, but no longer overlooked…

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