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How I Create Ideas by Franz Vitulli

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Franz Vitulli-February2013Wow, ‘create’ ideas, sounds presumptuous, doesn’t it?

It’s been a long time since my last article here on BMM, and I was thinking about sharing something that I have been developing for the last months… how to create ideas? I mean, practicing ideas, composing ideas, any kind of idea that I can use when I hold the bass and want to play it. And it’s not by chance that I called the article “how I” instead of “how to”, which would have been more web-friendly (we all stumble upon some “how to” article on a daily basis), but the topic seems to me too wide to give a unique recipe. This is just one of my methods… by far not the only one!

Anyway, most of the time, when it’s time to practice, I start from a tune that I don’t know – or don’t remember – and begin studying it. I play the melody, memorize changes, play chords, some walking bass, some soloing, etc., until I can say that I’ve ‘mastered’ it, no matter what.

But sometimes, especially when I am studying a tune for my personal repertoire and don’t have to play it in a gig after 3 hours, I may find something that can be reduced, adapted or changed in some way. And then I realize that I can work on that on a multiple level.

For example, some days ago I was studying the Tom Jobim’s bossa nova standard ‘How Insensitive’, and the forth line of the lead sheet captured my attention. There was nothing particularly special, it was ‘just’ a minor II-V-I, Em7b5|A7b9|Dm7 followed by a Db13, and I tried to approach this part by reducing those chords to triads. I didn’t mean to play just an E diminished triad, A major triad and D minor, it would have depleted the entire progression. I simply tried to apply some basic harmonic substitutions. What I’m going to do now has nothing to do with ‘How Insensitive’ per se, I’m ‘moving forward’:

Em7b5 > G minor triad (it’s the same chord, but without the root).

A7b9 > Bb minor triad (I am interpreting this chord just like it was an A7alt built on the 7th mode of the Bb melodic minor scale).

Dm7 > D minor triad (just removed the 7).

Db13 > DbMaj7 > F minor triad (chords with 13 are often used in lieu of Maj7 chords, and F minor triad is just the DbMaj7 without the root).

What I have now is this progression: Gm|Bbm|Dm|Fm

What I just found is, actually, an harmonic sequence: we have two couples of triads, Gm|Bbm and Dm|Fm, with the same interval distance (a minor third), and the second couple is a fifth above the first.

We have a lot of options here.

For example, we can go further with the sequence, doing something like this:

||:Gm|Bbm|Dm|Fm|Am|Cm|C#m7b5|D7:|| (I created another couple, again a fifth above its preceding one, and closed with a D7 to create a refrain)

Or we can keep practicing just those four bars.

Or we can change the distance between each couple of bars and create new sequences.

We can practice different scales over each triad, ascending and discending, and find new melodies.

We can use what we find for composing a new tune, or for personal technical development (for example alternating ascending and discending triads on two octaves). When you want to practice embracing the ‘fitness’ approach, doing it with an harmonic background is so much better than playing nonsense random scales up and down the neck.

Or we can go back to ‘How Insensitive’ and use this approach to solo over those chords.

Remember that this is just ONE idea. I am not telling you to practice with Gm|Bbm|… and all those chords. The entire point of this article is about how to create ideas for many purposes and this is just a single way to do it. I am sure that if I do this, you can do something like this as well. Just remember:

  • when I feel that I don’t know what to do when I’m practicing (it’s a rare circumstance, but, you know, it happens), music is the answer. There’s so much to explore in every single existing tune that it’s always possible to find new things. You can even start from an harmonic progression (I was talking about ‘How Insensitive’ but I could just have said “lets start from a minor II-V-I… but that idea came from ‘How Insensitive’ so I thought it was better to stick with what actually happened!), either found on a book, or made up by yourself.
  • in every step forward you make, from somewhere to I-don’t-know-where, you have the power to make effective choices: you can go further and further or stick with a ‘level’. You are in charge. As soon as you find something interesting, write it down and choose what to do. Technical development? Composing? Both? Something else? It’s just your choice.

Hope it helps. As always, I would be more than happy if you comment on this article and share it on your social walls. I look forward to reading your thoughts!

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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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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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