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Building a Solid Improvisational Concept Part 2 by Igor Saavedra

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So, what about the “poetical” and “lyrical” aspects of improvisation, and how important are they within the improvisational context?

I already mentioned on the first part of this series that in my opinion “Improvising is composing in real time”, so what about “The Content” of this real time composition? What about the “story” you want to tell? Or maybe you haven’t noticed yet that what you really want to “tell” when you improvise is how good and skillful you think you are? If so, please consider removing this aspect from your artistic statement. 😉

In my opinion even though scales, licks, chops, techniques, etc., are such an important thing to manage, the lyricism is something even more important, because you can perfectly manage all the techniques and all the information available, but if you don’t know what to do with that “nothing but notes will come out of your instrument!”

There is a mountain of information regarding those lyrical and poetical improvisational aspects that I would be able to share with you, but I don’t want to extend too much and I’d rather go for the ones I consider the most important.

1)    Express something to the audience: If you want to play for yourself stay at home, there’s nothing wrong with that anyway.

2)    Consider the context, context is the key: There’s always a moment for everything, so you can start very slow and generate motifs that you’ll gradually develop through your improvisation. But depending on the circumstances, consider just “going for it” from the beginning as an option. So be aware of what’s happening around you.

3)    Question and Answer: Generate melodical and/or rhythmical motifs taking them as “questions, and then “answer” those questions with another melodical and/or rhythmical motifs. Let your feelings take care of that answer…they never go wrong.

4)    Amplify/Simplify: Take any melodical and/or rhythmical motif and expand it or compress it. The best example I can give you (while being in a quarter note time signature), is playing some melodic idea made out of triplets and then play “the very same idea” again using eight notes so to “Expand It”, or using sextuplets to “Compress it”. The sky is the limit for that, because many polyrhythmic and polymetric situations will start to show up when you begin to explore this specific aspect…, that imply you’ll need to develop extra rhythmical abilities for being able to do that proficiently.

5) Add/Rest:  Take any melodical and/or rhythmical motif  and add or rest some notes to it without varying the actual time signature. If you decide to remove some notes, let this empty space “breath”. This empty space will serve as a womb and also as a launching platform for your next idea.

6)  Interpolation of the Melodic & Rhythmic contexts: It may sound complicated, but the concept is quite simple indeed. A) While improvising, take any recognizable rhythmic motif on the music piece you are playing (Rhythmic Leitmotiv) and start playing it with different notes and different melodic approaches. (One Note Samba is a good tune to start with) B) While improvising, take any recognizable melodic motif on the music piece you are playing (Melodic Leitmotiv) and start playing it with different rhythmic lines and different rhythmic approaches, I suggest short melodic lines for this case. (Footprints bass line is a good tune to start with)

7)  Varying or modifying: First of all never forget that “Varying is not only adding or modifying, it’s also taking away!!” That being said, I’m referring specifically on this point to small nuances like vibratos, slides (glissandos), and bendings. These nuances can make a HUGE difference on your speech and have the power to “steal a tear” from somebody in the audience, or from yourself.

Next month, or better said, “next year”, on the last part of this series I’ll be addressing the esthetical and psychological aspects so to close this circle that intends to help you out on building a solid improvisational concept.

I wish you all a Happy New Year’s Eve, and also a Happy New Year!!

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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 @zonguitars @shukerbassguitars @bite.guitars @adamovicbasses @mayonesguitars @bassbros.uk @capursoguitars @overwaterbasses @saitiasguitars @ramabass.ok

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New Gear: Elrick Bass Guitars Headless Series

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New Gear: Elrick Bass Guitars Headless Series

New from Elrick Bass Guitars, Headless Series added to Custom Lineup…

Elrick Bass Guitars is excited to announce the addition of a headless option on hand-carved series bass guitars. Initially previewed on the 2023 Gold Series SLC MkII bass of prolific solo bass practitioner and educator Steve Lawson, a headless bass option is now available to all. According the Elrick, “The excitement surrounding Steve’s MkII SLC bass at 2024 NAMM confirmed that the time is right to add a headless option to our extensive range of custom options.” To date, Elrick instruments have only been offered with traditional headstock construction but, in response to market demand, custom features will now include a headless option in 4-, 5- and 6-string models.

Headless bass guitars share these features with the traditional headstock series:

24 frets + zero fret
exotic wood top
hand-rubbed oil finish
2-way adjustable truss rod
custom Bartolini pickups
custom Bartolini 3-band preamp
fully shielded control cavity
Hipshot bridge
Dunlop Straploks
Elrick Fundamental strings

The headless option can now be selected when submitting custom order requests via the form on elrick.com, contacting the Elrick Sales Office directly, or working with your favorite Elrick dealer.

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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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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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