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The Melody…. God Save the Queen! by Igor Saavedra

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This month’s article won’t be a long one, and it will be dedicated to emphasizing which, in my opinion, is the most important aspect within the context of a song or a “normal” musical piece: The Melody; The jewel of the crown, the queen, the point of reference, the context itself, etc. (and I would be able to add many more adjectives to try to define how I see melody within the musical context). Perhaps the last comparison I can make is just to say that if a musical piece or a song is something like a kingdom or much better, “An Empire,” the melody would be the equivalent to “Rome”… that means every road leads to it, everything has to be reported to it and has to be dedicated to it. I think you already know what I mean 😉

Being a bass player myself, I’m conscious that my instrument is mainly a rhythmic based instrument in the first place; I’ve written many articles in here about that specific topic. The rhythm is taking most of our attention while playing, but there’s something even more important than Bass… ohhh how sacrilegious I’m being hahaha! But trust me on this, because “Music” is obviously more important than Bass, and in my opinion Bass has to serve Music and not the opposite.

How I see it, everything we play as bassists has to be related to the melody; let’s see some good examples…

When the melody is actually being played…

– When it comes to dynamics we must lower our volume when the singer or any of the lead instruments is exposing the melody.

– When it comes to esthetics, we have to care about not playing busy while the melody is being exposed, just a few notes, perhaps longer notes… play simple my friends, let the melody shine!

– Also in the esthetics field, play with the proper textures that you may think will help the melody to glow, e.g. palm muting, playing closer to the neck, choosing the proper pickup configuration, etc.

But what happens when the melody was already played and now is time for the solos? Can I just forget about it?

In my opinion the answer must be a gigantic and enormous NOOOOOOOO!

Melody is an entity that should be all the time and every millisecond of the musical piece, acting as the centripetal axis of the song, and the most glorious moment to reflect that concept is on the soloing. But beware, that’ll happen only when it’s time for a really good, musical, and fully mature soloing concept!

Remember the article I wrote some months ago “Think When you Study… Feel When you Play?” well this article is somehow closely related to what I’m saying here.

When we improvise or solo on a song we should be literally “playing” and I want to stress the fact that I’m being absolutely literal here, I mean PLAYING like the kids! We should be singing new melodies and having a great time like kids do as this is not the moment for thinking about the chords that support the song.

Did you see that I said “Chords that are supporting the song?” This is very important, because it’s the main role of the chords. They are not and end in themselves, they are “helping the song,” and more specifically they are helping the melody and any melodic line. So how could anybody relate or base their improvisations on the chords or the harmony? You can immediately notice when a musician starts to do that, because you will start to hear a very identifiable type of solo, which will sound like blocks, pieces, parts of something that are clearly separated from each other, abuse of arpeggios, structured scales, sequences, patterns, etc.; you won’t be able to listen to an idea that’s a whole in itself.

I can literally tell you how I see this…

“When I improvise, I just focus on the original melody of the song, I never think about chords at all. I see the melody as ‘The Real Queen of the Song’ and the point of reference for every note I’ll be playing in my solos.”

When you improvise, you are recreating something, you are relating to a context, and that context is The Melody. While soloing over the melody’s chordal structure, if you are able to abstractly sing the melody in your mind with absolute clearness, thinking about the chordal structure becomes completely unnecessary, and believe me, this is the exact moment for takeoff in your soloing. Try doing it with your voice and you’ll see that in most of the cases it is quite easy, and your consciousness won’t be asking for the chordal structure at all.

And if the song has a special vamp for the solos that has nothing to do with the melody’s chordal structure, well then I suggest you please INVENT A MELODY IN REAL TIME AND RELATE EVERY NOTE OF YOUR SOLO TO IT!

Obviously, translating this concept to an instrument is something harder to achieve, but completely doable. You need to study a lot, play a lot of scales, arpeggios, phrases & chords, organize them, structure them, practice and practice even more. At the end of that cycle, which in average can take from 5 to 20 years, when you are playing and mostly when you are soloing you must be able to purposely “forget” or “take away from your conscious thinking” all you’ve learned.

Remember that I’m not the owner of any truth; I’m just sharing what I’ve learned from my experience. You may agree with it or not, no problem, I love you guys anyway J

Long life to the melody… respect it, serve it, glorify it, help it, love it!

See you on the next!!

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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 @meridian_guitars @adamovicbasses @anacondabasses @mgbassguitars @xylembassguitar @officialspector @edwinpaanakker @alesvychodilbasses @boyarskycg @dmarkguitars

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Bass Videos

Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

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Interview With By the Thousands Bassist Adam Sullivan

Bassist Adam Sullivan…

Hailing from Minnesota since 2012, By the Thousands has produced some serious Technical Metal/Deathcore music. Following their recent EP “The Decent”s release, I have the great opportunity to chat with bassist Adam Sullivan.

Join me as we hear about Adam’s musical Journey, his Influences, how he gets his sound, and the band’s plans for the future

Photo, Laura Baker

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IG &FB @bythethousands
YTB @BytheThousands

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Bass CDs

Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

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Album Review: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

Mark Egan, Cross Currents…

It is exciting every time I get a new album from Mark Egan as he is such an amazingly versatile player and I never know what to expect (except for excellent artistry!) In his latest release, Mark has teamed up with Shawn Peyton on drums and Shane Theriot on guitar to bring us “Cross Currents”.

This collection of eleven tracks transports me to the Gulf Coast (New Orleans specifically). Mark’s fretless basses lay down a solid groove and lots of juicy solo work for this rootsy collection of funk, ambient, swamp-rock, second line, ballads, Cajun and even Indian Raga.

This trio is super-tight and the musicianship is flawless as each member has ample opportunity to shine. Even though each player is very talented in their own right, I feel that the collective energy is greater than just the sum of the players on this album. Each musician contributed to composing music for this project but the lion’s share are Mark’s original pieces.

I spent the summer of 1981 in New Orleans and this wonderful music takes me back to those fond memories. I participated in a wacky raft race on Lake Ponchatrain and this opening track elicits images of fun, sunshine, music, and great food.

This is another superb album that everyone will enjoy. Get your copy today! Cross Currents is available online at Amazon.com. Visit Mark online at markegan.com.

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Gear Reviews

Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

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Review: Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp

Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp: A Tribute to 90’s Iconic Sounds

Disclaimer: This pedal was kindly provided by Joyo for the purpose of this review. However, this does not influence our opinion or the content of our review. We strive to provide honest, unbiased, and accurate assessments to ensure that our readers receive truthful and helpful information.

In the realm of bass preamp/DI pedals, capturing the essence of iconic tones from the 90s can often feel like an elusive pursuit. However, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp emerges as a great option for bass players seeking to replicate the signature sounds of that era, particularly the revered tech21 SansAmp. With its robust feature set and compact design, the Tidal Wave offers a faithful homage to classic rock tones and low-gain distortions, all while providing modern conveniences for today’s bassist. Let’s delve into why the Joyo Tidal Wave stands out as a versatile and budget-friendly tool for both stage and studio.

Specs:

Measuring at 130 * 110 * 50 mm and weighing 442g, the Joyo Tidal Wave strikes a balance between portability and durability, making it ideal for gigging musicians and studio enthusiasts alike. With a power consumption of just 100 mA and a working voltage of DC 9V, the Tidal Wave ensures reliable performance in a variety of settings.

Controls:

At the heart of the Tidal Wave’s versatility lies its comprehensive control set, allowing bass players to sculpt their tone with precision. Key features include:

– Level: Sets the overall output volume of the pedal.

– Blend: Blends the dry signal with the cab-emulated signal, offering seamless integration of the pedal into any setup.

– Presence: Controls the dynamics of the high upper-mids, crucial for shaping drive tones.

– Drive: Introduces low-gain distortions and classic rock sounds into the clean tone.

– Treble, Middle, and Bass: Provides a 3-band EQ with frequency selectors for bass (40Hz – 80Hz) and mids (500Hz – 1KHz), offering ample control over tonal shaping.

– Middle Shift and Bass Shift: Allows for further fine-tuning of midrange and bass frequencies.

– Ground Lift: Helps eliminate ground loop noise in certain setups.

– DI Attenuation Switch: Adjusts the level of the DI output signal.

– LED Light Switch Control: Allows users to customize the ambient lighting of the pedal.

Performance:

True to its inspiration, the Joyo Tidal Wave excels in delivering classic rock tones and low-gain distortions reminiscent of the tech21 SansAmp. Whether you’re seeking gritty overdriven sounds or pristine clean tones, the Tidal Wave offers unparalleled flexibility and sonic versatility. The inclusion of a headphone out, XLR DI out with cab simulation, and throughout for the original bass sound make the Tidal Wave a versatile tool for both stage and studio applications. From practicing silently with headphones to crafting quality recordings in an ampless setup, the Tidal Wave delivers on all fronts with clarity, definition, and unmistakable character.

Pros:

The Tidal Wave boasts an array of advantages that set it apart from its direct competitors:

– Headphone Out: Transforms the pedal into a convenient practice tool.

– Size and Weight: Compact and lightweight design for easy transportation and setup.

– Rugged Construction: Durable build quality ensures longevity and reliability.

– DI and CabSim: Offers professional-grade direct recording capabilities with authentic cab simulation.

– Familiar Tones: Faithfully replicates the classic rock sounds of the tech21 SansAmp.

Cons:

While the Tidal Wave excels in many aspects, it does have a few drawbacks:

– Plastic Knobs: Knobs may feel less premium compared to pedals with metal controls.

– Cab Simulation Only on XLR Output: Limited cab simulation functionality may require additional routing for certain setups.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of classic rock tones from the 90s. With its faithful homage to the tech21 SansAmp, comprehensive control set, and modern conveniences like headphone out and XLR DI with cab simulation, the Tidal Wave offers bassists a versatile  tool for sculpting their sound with precision and finesse. Whether you’re seeking to replicate iconic tones from the past or forge new sonic territories, the Joyo Tidal Wave Preamp is sure to inspire creativity and elevate your playing to new heights.

Available online at Amazon.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 @cb_basses @alesvychodilbasses @odiengcustom @ramabass.ok @mauriziouberbasses @mgbassguitars @capursoguitars @thebassplace @adamovicbasses @ishguitars

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