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Franz Vitulli on The Importance of Reading Music for the Modern Bass Player

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Reading music (and in our case bass lines) has always been important for musicians. First of all, it’s a matter of principle. Music is a language, and a good student has the duty to nurture the understanding of how the language he wants to master is formally written. From a practical point of view, it helps the communication between musicians: if you and your bandmates can read music, you can “speak the same language”, and this has a lot of good implications, for example when you are arranging a new tune, you want to tell the drummer how is the kick drum pattern you have in mind and you want to tell it unambiguously, writing it on a board or on a piece of paper, not just singing it.

But I think that today we have to see the matter from another point of view: reading music is even more important for the modern player, even if we all know that internet is full of messy tabs written by we-don’t-know-who.

Before the digital age, most of the didactic resources you might find on the shelves of a bookshop were written with double staffs (traditional notation and tabs), because the publishers usually thought (and still think) that the presence of the tabs would have encouraged the selling of the book, expecially among amateurs. If you visit a bookshop and look for bass books, you will still find books with tabs. Actually, I’m essentially talking about books for beginners, but sometimes I have found the tab staff even on books for advanced players.

Nowadays, with the possibility of self-publishing on the web (Kindle Store, Apple’s iBookstore, Scribd, not to mention blogs and personal websites, et cetera), authors can produce and publish their own ebooks without dealing with publishers, editors or anyone else: we are just at the beginning of this ebooks era, and since most of the music teachers are reasonably against the tabs (which are, by definition, confusing and incomplete), I think that we have to expect a flowering of new tabs-free resources available on the web. And you don’t want to be excluded from enjoying these new resources, do you?

Acquiring the necessary skills to read music is very difficult without a teacher, but you may want to begin learning the fundamentals of reading music before applying to a music schools or while you are looking for a good teacher. These are my suggestions:

  • Memorize notes on the lines and spaces, like a nursery rhyme. The more you practice, the less you have to repeat yourself G-B-D-…!
  • Take care of the rhythm even apart from the melody. There are a lot of books out there that have been specifically written for the snare drum that can be used with the bass. They really can help you to develop a strong rhythmic sense;
  • A computer can tell you how to read tricky rhythmic patterns. If you’re not sure about how to read a measure, just write it in a software like Finale or Sibelius, and let it sound;
  • Find an easy bass line of a song that you know and like (I would recommend James Jamerson’s “My girl”), and try to read it with your bass. Slowly and without your metronome – you are studying, NOT performing.
  • If the bass line you’re trying to read is written on a piece of paper, use highlighters, pencils and erasers to highlight tricky passages or to write down notes and guides;
  • It’s quite common that a song has a specific pattern that comes almost throughout the whole song. Focus on that pattern and play a first, poor but solid version of the song, then add fills, phrasings, et cetera.

As usual, I look forward to read your thoughts about this article: tweet it, share it on your Facebook wall and tell your friends about it!

Franz

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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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Travis Book

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Interview With Bassist Travis Book

Interview With Bassist Travis Book…

Bluegrass music has had a very solid following over many years and I am always happy to hear from one of the pioneers in that genre.

Travis Book plays bass for the Grammy award-winning band “The Infamous Stringdusters” and has recently released his first solo album “Love and Other Strange Emotions”. As if he wasn’t busy enough, Travis also hosts a podcast, Plays a Jerry Garcia music show with Guitarist Andy Falco, and is constantly gigging locally in his neck of the woods.

Photo, Seyl Park

Visit Online:

www.thetravisbook.com
www.thestringdusters.com
FB @ TheTravisBook
IG @ travisbook

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