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Why Is Music Important? by B.A. Johnson

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Describe your musical composition process.

Composition, for me, usually begins with a melody line – about 80% of the time. Other times, it begins with a completely random sound, or series of rhythmic noises – like a breaking semi, or hearing a train in the near distance. Other times, still, it’s a bass line or rhythmic figure that I’ll then work with until I can articulate the sound I’m hearing.

From that point, I’ll either begin searching for a sequence of upper register chords on the bass guitar. Or, I’ll begin working with a keyboard. My process is very organic and a lot like painting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve attempted to write one piece of music, only to see an entirely different piece of music into fruition! Again, its all about expression and tone. I’m a tone freak!

Music allows me to articulate my environment beyond words! I’m not attempting to suggest a feeling to another person as much as I’m attempting to speak to something deep within myself.

How does music affect your culture and immediate environment?

My teenage daughter and I were laughing about a commercial, and she mentioned that the first stanza of the WHO’s “Teenage Wasteland” would have been a ‘perfect’ way to capture the mood the commercial was failing to present! She was absolutely correct from my perspective!! Music continues to be the medium through which my family and I communicate ideas to one another. My children are very secure in their ideas (and imaginations) as a result of being life-long, avid music listeners! Humorously, both my children tilt their heads when they’re listening deeply – to sounds, conversation, as well as to music. I do that.

What would you be, if not a professional musician?

A music critic, or a music teacher in Academia! (Laughter) Actually, I’ve not thought a lot about it. I believe that musician is something you are… not something you do. I’ve met a lot of musicians who are in a life-struggle to do music and it is painful to watch! It’s like watching someone do loving…

Describe your practice regimen. Also, what technical aspects of your paying are you currently working on?

I practice playing “Hattie Belle” and my 6-string fretless almost every day. After running through scales, modes and arpeggios, I play through solos and pieces of music I’ve learned. At this time, I’m running “Donna Lee”, “Spain”, and Gary Willis’ “Speak” regularly. I also think its important to spend time just playing the instruments. Often I’ll play to drum sequences and “dance it out”! I’ve never been sorry that I rolled tape while sketching in that way!

Technically, I’m really working with my plucking hand approach in hopes of incorporating more of that articulation Matt Garrison and a few others are able to execute so profoundly! As in all things I attempt, it’ll have my stamp on it… and it certainly will never be a direct copy of anyone’s technique. Music allows me to work with my hands in a way that becomes my self-expression more and more.

What does music, and being a musician, mean to you – at the deepest level of your being?

More than a great deal! Beyond my faith, and my relationship with my wife and children (through which music and my personal musical concept has been invaluable) music is the immediate “next need” in my ability to cope with the world and all the potential negatives that constitute that idea.

How important is it to understand the Language of music?

Absolutely necessary – as much as possible! That is not to say that a person should become a “theory geek” to articulate their ideas. No. But, in working with music on a deeply intrinsic level, we can understand music beyond words. Having said that, I have personally found benefit in hearing music and understanding somewhat its composition from a technical standpoint. For me, life is a “sound quest”! The first time I heard the Beatle’s “Here Comes The Sun” I had to learn why that E7 chord affected me so deeply! Placement! Viola! That chord, and the subsequent G6 / Dadd9 / G6 / Dadd9 / A7 passage made me want to make those sounds! I was 5-years old and I remember it vividly!

Was I destined to become a musician? Or, does music speak that deeply to all children?

I love watching young children respond to music. Any music! I never want to lose that feeling of awe that I remember having while listening to the constantly present radio, or my parents’ record player. All revolutions are plotted to music, and that’s how important music is!

How do you collect the series of seemingly random influences and articulate them through music?

Listening. Listening always happens first. Like many musicians, I listening as deeply as I can to everything I can. From there, it becomes about “making that sound”, or articulating that vibe…

Can music ever truly become commercial? Why, or why not?

I don’t believe so. Music can be used to label a commercial movement. But, sooner or later, the music will change and the movement will be left – particularly negative movements against humanity. Sooner, or later, pop music will change its mind about everything it’s become over the past decade. We evolve, and music evolves with us.

Who do you feel would have great answers to these questions?

Let’s find out…!!

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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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