Bassist Ed Lucie on Why Is Music Important…
Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Ed Lucie. I am a professional musician who plays electric bass guitar. I am also a professor at Berklee College of Music. “Who am I?” is an ongoing journey… I am one who is loved and trying to love.
Who are your primary musical influences?
Jaco (Pastorius) is by far my strongest influence on my instrument… along with bassists Steve Swallow, Ricahrd Bona, Anthony Jackson and Jimmy Johnson. I also love the original Allman Brothers Band, John Coltrane, among many, many others.
What are you listening to musically, in the past 12 months that has enhanced the way you think about music and your craft?
I’ve been listening to Richard Bona, Bobby McFerrin and Wayne Shorter. Each of these artists have enhanced my playing through their freedom, relaxedness, joy and spontaneity.
How does your personal musical voice directly relate to the function of the basses? Also, what are your main instruments?
My sound is everything! I strive for a deep, strong, rich, resonant sound that is critical to my playing.
My main bass is a ’63 Fender Jazz Bass. I use a Walter Woods amp and Epifani cab’s with 12” speakers. I also have a ’66 Jazz and a ‘73 Jazz fretless. These are my main instruments.
Describe your musical composition process.
I am a member of a trio that is committed to playing together at least once every week. This provides me with a great forum for my writing. I tend to write when inspired. So, I don’t regularly sit down and write for 2 or 3 hours a day.
I often have a harmonic idea that develops as I write. The idea generally consists of 3 tonal system; or unusual substitutions, modal interchange… Or, something like that. I have also been writing a lot in odd time signatures. My most recent composition is based on rhythm changes in 7/4 that modulate up a minor third for the last A section!
How does music affect your culture and immediate environment?
Music brings beauty and depth that cannot otherwise be seen as we go through life in the moment. Music is culture and environment, and it is the result of our humanity… but it is also a part of the power that makes us human.
What would you be, if not a professional musician?
What is the greatest sacrifice you’ve ever made while in the practice of being a musician, and how did that sacrifice affect you?
I do not consider the choices I have made to be sacrifices, necessarily. I play music because I am driven, compelled to do so, and I absolutely love to play. I did not choose it as a career choice in the way people choose business or engineering. I keep my lifestyle very simple and basic, which (therefore) allows me the freedom to continue to play… even if the financial rewards aren’t there.
Describe your standing practice regimen. Also, what technical (and musical) aspects of your playing are you currently working on?
I try to practice everyday, usually about an hour or so – more when I am preparing for a new project or a gig. I regularly play up to 6-8 hours a day considering teaching, rehearsals and gigs.
I usuall begin with a few moments of silent meditation or prayer. From there, I’ll play absolutely free and random for a time. Then I go through a regiment of scales, arpeggios, sequences, right hand exercises, etc. Then, I play through things I am trying to memorize, ie; Bach Cello Suite movements, standards, melodies, and so forth. The aspect of music I am consciously working on right now is phrasing, and having a natural, relaxed, free feeling within the time.
What does music, and being a musician, mean to you – at the deepest level of your being?
Music is really not something I do… it is who I am. I am most myself when playing. I am proud to be a musician, I love it, and it is an experience that cannot be found in any other way of life. It continues to inspire and motivate me to improve, and it is a privilege to share music with others.
How important is it to understand the Language of music?
I think understanding music is very important – especially if one intends to be a professional. The Language of music is how we communicate and share our ideas and intentions. It is similar to any other profession where language exists. I would be lost if I was among a gathering of doctors! But I am completely engaged when it comes to music… even if it is challenging at times.
How do you collect the series of seemingly random influences and articulate them through music?
This is not done consciously… Articulation through music is the mysterious process whereby the practice and study of music prepares and refines one to express our hearts and souls in ways that others who are listening also experience their own heart and soul. Music allows me to find myself, and lose myself, at the same time. I do not intentionally try to express anything. I simply live my life and try to play at the highest level I am capable of.
Can music ever truly become commercial? Why, or why not?
Obviously, the business and commercialization of music is a completely different subject. I must admit that I am the worst business / promotional musician! I do, however, believe musicians should be able to earn a living at their craft! The fact of life is that music is created all the time simply for profit. But I am interested in creating, playing (and listening) to authentic, honest, and challenging music.