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How to Study… What to Study?

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That’s a very important question don’t you think so? Well, I think the same, so in this month’s article I will mention very briefly the subjects that I consider the most important for a bassist to learn. Obviously the intention of this article is just to serve as a guide for your study and not to be the subject of study itself, because for something like that we’d need about ten thousand articles more….

Rhythm

In my opinion this is the essential subject for a bassist, the first one to address and the first one to care about. Here are my suggestions:

1) First of all understand the most important concepts like Rhythm, Beat, Time, Tempo, Time or Meter Signature, Measure, etc.

2) Then it‘s important to start developing the sensibility for being able to keep a steady speed with the beat. This is the same as when a person starts learning to drive a car. At the beginning when you are trying to keep a straight line, once the car starts slightly to move to the left you won’t notice that immediately, and when you notice that it will be usually too late, so you’ll have the tendency to over-correct the steering wheel to the right and eventually your “straight line” will look like a “snake”.

Practicing hard with a metronome will help you out with this task like no other device or weird way of practicing will, and this is because this device will help you to develop your internal sense of pulse which is controlled by your nervous system that in charge to develop a so called “Micro Circadian Sense of Time” within your body.

3) Learn to subdivide a beat. That means subdividing it in 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 etc. parts and make connections (slurs or dots) within each of those parts. I suggest starting to manage the subdivisions of 2 and 4 fractions of a beat and then continue with the other subdivisions to eventually be able to play Triplets, Quintuplets, Sextuplets and Septuplets too. Learn then how to subdivide more than one beat, like 2 beats subdivided in 3 parts etc. The limit is the sky here.

4) Study the different time signatures by learning how to build “groups of beats” separated by a strong accent, obtaining on this process the different “Meters”. That means you must be able to understand and feel the sensation of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 etc. groups of beats by accentuating on the very first beat of each group that have a pair number of beats and also (but softer) over the beat that’s right in the middle.

On the groups that have an odd number of beats (apart from accentuating strongly on the first beat) you’ll need to get use to accent (softer) over the beats that are right on the side of the “center” of that group of beats (measure).

5) Get used to recognizing the different rhythmic figures and get use to their different time value depending on the time signature gradually increasing your reading speed.

Melody

1) Study deeply the main concepts involved within this subject, like Intervals, Key Signatures, Scales, Modes, etc.

2) You have to go through a profound study of the main scales we use to play in occidental music. I suggest putting the most of your energy on studying The Major Scale, The Melodic Minor Scale, The Harmonic Minor Scale and The Pentatonic Scale, each of them with all their respective modes.

3) Practice recognizing “by ear” all the possible intervals, and also (if you don’t have an absolute pitch) try to get use to singing a C note (or any other note) whenever you want to use it as a reference to be able to get any of the other notes “by the interval”.

3) Learn to sing any scale and interval you play. You must develop musicality in the first place… please never forget that.

4) Get familiar with terms like Inversions, Alterations, Extensions, Triadic Chromatic Approach, Displaced permutations, etc.

5) Get used to recognizing the notes on the staff and on the fretboard gradually increasing your reading speed.

Harmony

1) The intervals are the main topic to manage on this subject too, so when you study them never forget that this will help both your melodic and harmonic knowledge and skills.

2) Study all the chord species (Major, minor, diminished, etc.), all the extensions, all the Slashed Chords and Polychords. Obviously you must learn to identify and to write the proper notation for every chord.

3) Try to play all that chords on your bass identifying the different voices, and trying to sing them. The vast majority of the chords can be played on a 4-string bass.

4) Study the relation of all the different chords with each of the modal scales.

5) Understand the progressions and the many ways to connect a chord with another chord. Get familiar with terms like Secondary Dominants, Substitute Dominants, Tritones, Extended Dominants, Secondary Relative Minor Substitutes, etc…

Technique

(Assuming you are a right handed person)

1) Start to build your technique from the right hand to the left and not the opposite.

2) The open strings are just enough to build a good right hand pizzicato technique. In relation with that, please always consider not repeating the fingers, and sweeping every time you can, don’t hit the strings just push them, always look for the minimum movement (the smallest possible) so helping you out with increasing your speed, but never compromise the sound, prefer the floating thumb technique, and finally avoid bending your wrist as much as you can.

3) Diversify your technique study and also practice slapping, palm muting, harmonics, and the different kinds of tapping techniques, but always take into consideration what technique you’ll be using the most depending on the music style you wish to play. After assessing that put the main energy on that specific technique. What I’m trying to say is that it is not necessary to spend crazy amounts of time and energy on a technique you will never or almost never play, affecting with that the practice time of the techniques you will be using a lot.

4) Consider always your anatomical characteristics before “buying” anything you read (including this article), because something that can be proper for person A won’t be proper for person B… please never forget that. There are concepts that are applicable to everyone though.

5) Regarding the left hand, never forget the Lower Pressure Point, keep your elbow close to your waist and escape as far as you can from those teachers that want you to apply “Upright Bass Left Hand Techniques” to the Electric bass.

6) Finally… relaxation is the “Holly Grail” of Technique… if you don’t start by controlling this aspect.., all the other aspects will be completely useless.

Integrating and Applying

Once you feel you can manage all this information at a certain level that you feel confident with, you must start integrating all these subjects and focusing on other topics that are just as important as the main subjects.

Focus on mastering topics like Dynamics, Agogics, Improvisational Resources and Concepts like Q&A, Chordal improvisation, Melodic Improvisation, etc… communicate with the musicians of the band while you are playing, develop creativeness through the constant singing of original melodies (doesn’t matter if it’s while you are in the shower), always practice different rhythms tapping with your feet and hands, (it doesn’t matter if it’s on the surface of a table, over your thighs or wherever). You really don’t need your bass all the time to be able to develop musical skills… don’t forget that!

See you in my next article my friends… and don’t miss the great articles of my colleagues too!!!

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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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Bass Videos

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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