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Adam Nitti Technique Series: A Recipe For Delicious Time

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Meet Adam Nitti –

From: Adam Nitti’s Kitchen Of Groove
Prep: 5 minutes
Work: 20-30 minutes a day
Serves: Audiences worldwide

Ingredients:

1 bass player (preferably YOU)
2 fresh ears, cleaned and listening
1 bass, properly slapped and shredded upon
1 metronome or drum machine
1 mental ‘knife’, used to slice time in halves

Directions:

Ok, folks. Today we are going to learn to make some great time the old fashioned way… from the inside-out! In other words, we are going to spend some quality time developing our INTERNAL clocks. Simply put, our internal clocks are what give us the ability to keep time and create a groove. They are the heartbeat of the music that lives inside us. Our internal clocks are what allow us to play music in time without the aid of any other device or player. Over the years, you have undoubtedly spent some time practicing or performing some things by yourself. If these musical performances or rehearsed parts utilized anything more than a single note, then you had to have relied on your own internal clock to give them some sort of relevancy to time. However, some of us have developed this skill more than others, and I want to help you to make your internal clock even stronger. When your internal clock is strong, then you naturally play with a strong and convincing groove. Groove is what makes you and the listener want to move to the music. It is that undeniable, almost intangible force that connects people to the sounds they are experiencing. The greatest players in the world all have this ability to groove in common, and they exhibit it regardless of if they are performing with other players or not!

Now, a lot of us have spent a lot of time working with metronomes and drum machines in order to improve our time. Metronomes, drum machines, and even drummers are examples of what I refer to as EXTERNAL clocks. To state this another way, an external clock is a time source that we FOLLOW. It sets the time, and we fall into its pulse in order to play along with the time. Now, just in case you think I am headed in a peculiar direction, let me emphasize that I am not going to argue the value of practicing with an external clock source at all! In fact, I spent many years as a young player working with a metronome to try and fine tune my timekeeping abilities while challenging myself technically. Those years absolutely helped me to elevate my technical abilities. However, as I became a little older and more mature as a player, I discovered a very important point. Depending solely on external sources to hone your timekeeping skills brings about diminishing returns. In other words, you can only go so far depending on an outside source to keep you aligned with the time. If you can’t rely on your own inner clock, then you are going to have a lot of trouble grooving.

There are many factors that can get in our way when we try and rely on our internal clocks. Anxiety, nervousness, expectations, ego, and arrogance are all examples of ingredients that will make our time taste horrible. Before you start preparing this recipe, make sure that your ingredients are fresh and of the highest quality. I recommend seasoning your time with humility, unselfishness, generosity, and love. Folks won’t be able to get enough of your time when you serve it up that way!

Now that we have a basic understanding of what it is we are trying to create here, let’s work on an exercise that will help you to strengthen and rely more on your own internal clock. This exercise is very, very simple, but it is also very challenging. What we are going to do is play a groove to an external clock source, but as we work through the exercise, we are going to progressively wean ourselves off of it, while relying more on our internal clock.

NOTE: For this exercise, it will be most effective if you have a metronome or drum machine that can be programmed to play a click at VERY slow tempos. I recommend programming a click or sound that plays on a whole note subdivision. That way, you can create clicks with long spaces in between.

INTERNALIZATION

To start, program your metronome or drum machine so that it only plays on the whole note subdivision, or in other words a single click or pulse on beat 1 of each measure. (We’re going to stay in 4/4 time for this particular example, but the sky is the limit with time signatures here…) Now, set the tempo to 200 bpm and start it playing.

NOTE: Although you have the tempo set to 200 bpm on your metronome or drum machine, it will sound like 50 bpm, since you have the click set to a whole note.)

Listen to the click for a while, allowing the time to internalize. While it is playing, without touching your bass, think about a groove that you can play to the click that will fit nicely into the time feel. With your ears and your mind, imagine yourself playing this bass groove perfectly within the time. Notice that I have you first spending time listening to your groove being played inside the time even BEFORE you start actually playing it!!! This is a key objective in working on your time. Internalization is step 1 to being able to play a groove convincingly, because it proves that you are already grooving even before you play a single note! Continue imagining yourself playing this groove for at least a couple of minutes before moving on.

EXECUTION

Now that you have your groove internalized and can already hear yourself playing it, now pick up your bass and start playing that groove. If you have internalized effectively, then you should come in right on time and be playing solid time from the moment you strike your first note. (For some of you, this may be a huge light bulb moment from the get-go. Many players have never before attempted to internalize the time before starting to play, and subsequently have had trouble in the past locking with a groove from the first note forward…) While you are executing your groove, don’t stop internalizing! Some of you when you start to play, will have a tendency to want to try to mentally time your notes so that you can predictively match the pulse of the click. This is what I would consider playing from the ‘outside-in’. In other words, you are not playing as someone who is an actual part of the music… Instead, you are playing your part ‘at the same time’ as the music… I hope you can understand the huge difference there. Internalization allows you to actually become the music being made, as opposed to timing what you play to match the music. There is a huge difference in how these two approaches come across to the listener. Listen from the ‘inside-out’. That means getting to a place where you trust your internal clock enough to depend on it.

CHOP IT IN HALF

Now that you understand the intricacies of ‘internalization’ and ‘execution’, we can get to the meat of the exercise. This is the part where we are going to rely more on our internal clocks to keep us in time! Right now, you are playing at 200 bpm. Spend at least a few minutes playing at this tempo. Then, then cut the tempo in half, to 100 bpm. Once again, before beginning to play, internalize the time and the groove. Hear yourself playing the same exact bass groove at the same speed, but at the new metronome setting. You will only hear clicks played half as often, so you will have to spend more time in between the clicks relying on your own internal clock. After you have successfully listened to yourself playing inside the time in your mind, then pick up your bass and start the groove again. Really strive to still hear the subdivisions of the higher metronome setting even though they are not audible from the device. The smaller the beat resolution you can hear on your own, the easier it is going to be to play in time, regardless of the situation.

Continue playing at this halved tempo for at least 3 minutes successfully to continue to reinforce your timing. Then, cut the metronome tempo in half once again, from 100 bpm to 50 bpm. See where we’re headed here? Now you are going to have even fewer clicks to align to. You have no choice but to rely on your internal clock. This tempo will be more challenging because there will be more ‘dead’ space in between the clicks. Once again, first internalize the groove over the current metronome setting before starting to play.

If you have done well so far, take it to the next level! Cut the tempo in half one more time to 25 bpm and see how you fare. This tempo is super-challenging, but is not impossible. In fact, if you have successfully internalized your groove over the previous metronome markings, then you might be surprised just how close to the time you can get right out of the gate! As with the previous tempos, first internalize and imagine yourself playing the groove before you start to play. NOW you’re making delicious time!!!

Obviously, you’ll want to practice this approach repeatedly with a variety of different bass grooves and tempos. Don’t ever get into the habit of working an exercise like this one-dimensionally. Challenge yourself daily. Make this internalization philosophy part of your practice routine, and don’t just limit it to metronome or clock work. Internalization will apply just as significantly to your improvisational or technical skills. I also strongly recommend recording your practice sessions when you work on these exercises. If you will journal your progress in this way, you should be able to hear an improvement in your time and groove playing as you move forward. Positive reinforcement will do wonders for your confidence and prove to you that this is all time well spent!

MENTAL PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

I hope that this simple approach to working on your internal clock will help you to overcome any obstacles that are preventing you from grooving with confidence and purpose. Like so many things in life, often it is a mental challenge that needs to be overcome before we are able to execute things physically. You want to get to a place where it becomes second nature for you to internalize and groove. My hope is that as you progress as a musician, you will continue to discover how powerful a communicator you can be simply by allowing your heart to speak through your hands.

Until next time, keep it bassy!!!

Gear News

Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)

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Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)

Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)…

Flemish Master Pieter Bruegel the Elder probably had many things in mind when painting his Hunters in the Snow in oil on oak wood in 1565. This masterpiece tells plenty of little stories about winterly pastimes and precarious livelihoods in the Early Modern Age. What Bruegel presumably did not have in mind was that this painting would, several centuries later, become one of the most popular ones in fine arts globally, displayed in a permanent exhibition at Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) Vienna. The painting’s popularity was lately taken to a different level as it was replicated by hand to design an exclusive BITE bass.

An international art collector and bass player who regularly visits Vienna to immerse himself in the wonderworld of Kunsthistorisches’ Bruegel Hall asked BITE to replicate the painting on a bass body. BITE Guitars, an Austrian premium manufacturer exporting most of their basses to the US, has become renowned for colorful artwork basses, offering a range of manual and digital techniques. The firm’s art director Peter, a trained scenic painter of Oscar and Palme d’Or rank, specializes in photo-realistic reproductions. He also painted the bass for Robbie Williams’ 2023 world tour by faithfully replicating Robbie’s own stage design onto the tour bass.

Peter copied the Bruegel motif onto the bass body in minute detail, little twigs even by one-hair-brush. Positioning the rectangular image section on the body shape proved to be a special challege that he met by repositioning little elements, a bird here, a horse and cart there.

It all came together in a memorable video shooting in front of the original painting in the Museum’s Bruegel Hall: venerable fine arts, premium handicraft and groovy jazz tunes.

View video at the museum: www.youtube.com/shorts/2evdqfR6gUE

What’s the conclusion of BITE’s client, our Vienna, art and bass lover? “It’s a magical bass! When I touch the strings, I feel warm inside.”

Specs highlights:
Bass model: BITE Evening Star, the proprietary BITE premium model with inward curved horns
Pickups: 2 x BITE 1000 millivolt passive split-coils (PP)
Neck: roasted maple neck and roasted flamed maple fretboard

Price tag incl. insured door-to-door express shipping:
New York: 4726 USD
London: 3645 GBP
Berlin: 4965 EUR

Full specs available at bite.guitars/old-master-bass/

Bruegel Hall at Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna: 
khm.at/en/visit/collections/picture-gallery/the-best-of-bruegel-only-in-vienna/

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Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

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Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

Bassist Ciara Moser…

Ciara and I sat down for this interview a few months after the launch of her debut album, “Blind. So what?”

Blind since birth, she is a powerhouse of talent; she is not only a professional bassist, but also composes music, and is a producer and educator. I am just blown away by her talent and perseverance.

Join me as we hear about Ciara’s musical journey, the details of her album, how she gets her sound, and her plans for the future.

Visit online:

www.ciara-moser.com 
IG @ moserciara
FB @ ciara.moser

Photos by Manuela Haeussler

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Gear News

New Gear: Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar

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New Gear: Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar

Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar…

Black Ice Enterprises introduces Black Ice Boost and Black Ice Distort, small, battery-free devices that can be easily installed in a bass or guitar.

Black Ice Boost offers two selectable stages of up to 7 dB of boost, broadly concentrated in the midrange frequencies to add humbucker-like qualities to Strat®, Tele® and other types of single-coil pickups. Black Ice Distort is an overdrive module that can be configured to offer anything from slight overdrive to distortion. Both models are compatible with all passive guitar pickups and electronics (they’re not compatible with battery-powered active pickups).

Black Ice Boost (SRP: $119.95; MAP, $79.95) can be installed using several wiring options, including a simple “stealth” install that utilizes a single push-pull pot, and a dual-switch option that allows users to select between two different levels of boost. For those using the boost along with Black Ice Distort, a second push-pull pot or switch can be used to select a clean or distorted boost.

The Black Ice Boost module is approximately 2/3 the size of a 9-volt battery, and can be easily installed in most instruments with no routing or permanent modifications required. The tone of the instrument remains completely unaffected when the boost is bypassed.

In addition to use with popular single-coil pickups, Black Ice Boost can also be used with other pickup types. Use it to fatten up a P-90 style pickup, or add girth to a low-wind humbucker. Jazz Bass® players can use the additional midrange content provided by Black Ice Boost to produce a sound that’s reminiscent of a P-Bass® or soapbar-type pickup. Black Ice Boost is not recommended for use with high-output humbuckers and other dark-sounding pickups.

Black Ice Distort (SRP: $27.95; MAP, $21.95) is an overdrive module that can be configured for just a touch of grit, or a more aggressive grind, all the way to a 1960’s-flavored fuzz. While its battery-free circuit will never replace the more refined sound of a well-designed pedal, it provides handy, there-when-you-need-it access to a variety of fun old-school flavors, and is a great way to add additional textures to an already overdriven amp or pedal. Bass players will especially dig its raw dirty grind.

Like Black Ice Boost, the sugar-cube-sized Black Ice Distort provides a lifetime of tone with no maintenance or power source required. A variety of wiring options are included that let you activate the Distort via a switch or push-pull pot, or by easily converting your guitar’s tone control into a control for the Black Ice Distort circuit. It can be used in conjunction with the Black Ice Boost for a wide variety of useful tones.

Black Ice Boost and Black Ice Distort are now shipping.

Visit online at www.blackiceoverdrive.com

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

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TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @loritabassworks @meridian_guitars @alpherinstruments @phdbassguitars @mgbassguitars @mauriziouberbasses @utreraguitars @sugi_guitars @branco_luthier @blasiusguitars

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New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak

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New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak

D’Addario’s New Humidipak Absorb Protects Instruments Against Excess Moisture…

Utilizing two-way humidity control technology, D’Addario’s new Humidipak Absorb protects against damage to wooden instruments in environments with too much humidity. 

Humidipak Absorb allows players to safely return an instrument and case to the ideal relative humidity level. Using Boveda’s patented two-way humidity control technology, Absorb automatically soaks up excess moisture at a safe rate, re-establishing the right humidity level and eliminating the guesswork of revitalizing your instrument. 

Like all the Humidipaks before, using Humidipak Absorb is easy—there’s no dripping sponges or manual adjustments. All players need to do is put the humidification packets in the included pouches and place them in the instrument case, close the lid, and relax. The instrument and case will remain at the optimal 45-50% relative humidity level for 2-6 months. 

D’Addario’s other Humidipaks, Restore and Maintain, are still available for those who need to increase and sustain the humidity around their instrument. 

To learn more about Humidipak Absorb, visit ddar.io/absorb-pr 

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