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Analysis of Clave-based Bass Movement on “Con La Conciencia Tranquila”

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The Latin Pulse with Michael Lazarus: Analysis of Clave-based Bass Movement on Paulito FG’s “Con La Conciencia Tranquila” Title Track (audio + transcriptions)


by Michael Lazarus


As I mentioned in the introductory article of this series, my objective
is to present to you, the BMM community, several approaches used in
contemporary Cuban dance music (timba) for creating clave-based bass
movement. Our first targets of analysis are the mayor trends in the
bass work of Joel Domínguez on Paulito F.G.’s classic timba album Con La Conciencia Tranquila. The album has been discontinued but it is available as a digital download on www.LatinPulseMusic.com.


CON LA CONCIENCIA TRANQUILA – BASS – Audio tracks 2 & 3


Tune your bass to an A 440Hz with Audio Track 1.
Listen to the bass & piano montuno with Audio Track 2.
Listen to the bass & piano montuno variation with Audio Track 3.


Several key concepts are revealed by placing rumba clave directly below
the main bass movement for the opening and title track of Con La Conciencia Tranquila.
While this is not the typical way of notating clave, it is displayed in
this manner to vertically align each beat. Notice that the chords are
NOT displayed. This is not the type of music where you play ‘tumbao’
through chord changes. Note selection is secondary to the rhythm and
its relation to clave.

TIP: Tracks 2 & 3 have the
exact same bass movement playing against two different piano parts. For
those who like to play with the audio immediately, start your practice
with Track 3, as Track 2 is extremely tricky because it’s easy to lose
the 1, being that the piano part is harmonically displaced. On the
actual album, the piano movement of Track 2 opens the song and the
piano on Track 3 appears later, during the bomba section of the tune.
These same piano tumbaos will be covered in our upcoming timba piano
series.

The bass concepts here literally set the tone for the rest of
the album. There are several key strategies used to emphasize selected
beats within the clave. Before explaining these, first notice the
general trend, the duality of the movement. The standard salsa bass
movement, commonly known as tumbao, can be classified as a
clave-neutral pattern, where the same rhythm is present for both sides
of the clave. The bass movement for Con La Conciencia Tranquila
is more ‘clavefied’, with the 2-side landing downbeats and the 3-side
throwing upbeats, following the fundamental tendency of the clave
rhythm.


Example of clave-nuetral tumbao


The first strategy to express this rhythmic duality in a bass movement
is to selectively place the 1. As the 1 is the main beat, its very
presence, paired with its absence in other measures, is a clear
giveaway of a clavefied musical passage. Notice how the 1 is played on
the 2-sides and absent on the 3-sides.


Selectively placing the “1”

The second, and in my view more
effective, strategy to express the rhythmic duality is to stress the
notes of the 2-side of clave; the backbeat (the second stroke of the
2-side) and the slap (the first stroke of the 2-side, which corresponds
to the slap on the conga). The key here is to leave space in the beat
following the note you stress. Notice how, in the following example,
there is a rest immediately after each highlighted note.


Bass movement with 2-side alignment

Playing on the bombo, the ‘and of 2’
or middle note of the 3-side, is part of the traditional bass tumbao
and remains an integral part of a clave-based movement. In this example
notice that bombo is present in the first measure. However that note is
a set-up note, functioning the same way pick-up notes do at the
beginning of a song, leading to a hard quarter note on the backbeat of
the first 2-side.


Playing on the “bombo”

The traditional clave-neutral tumbao
locks in with the most important open tone played by the conga, the
ponche, or beat 4. By NOT playing this note on the 2-side, and at the
same time, leading up to it with a series of upbeats on the 3-side, you
are not only clavefying but funkifying the bass movement in a way
reminiscent of 1960’s Motown. Notice how rumba clave offsets the last
note of the 3-side to the and-of-4.


Leading up to the ponche (with upbeats)

In the next issue’s segment I’ll analyze
some other tracks on the album to show reinforcement of these mayor
trends. Stay tuned mi gente.


credits:
– Audio tracks used by permission from Pyrale Music.


Transcriptions used by permission from Kevin Moore, editor-in-chief of http://www.TIMBA.com
– Article excerpts from TIMBA Style Bass Vol.1, an eBook I published on www.latinpulsemusic.com
– All content ©2009 Michael P. Lazarus




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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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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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