Bass Musician Magazine Welcomes Kevin Freeby…
First off, I would like to thank everyone at Bass Musician Magazine for bringing me in as part of their family. As a bass player that grew up reading magazines geared toward our instrument it is truly an honor to get to be part of one.
A not so brief introduction:
If you are anything like me, then Bass was probably your first instrument, ok well if you don’t count the failed attempt at starting a family band in which I was supposed to play the keys in, or the umpteen drum lessons that I took without ever owning anything more than a practice pad, then bass was my first instrument. Huh, I just realized that I’ve always considered bass as being my first instrument and clearly it wasn’t, maybe that is why I’ve never been the “8th notes only” kind of player. I’ve always wanted just a little more, especially in my earlier years, whether it was just a little more melodic interest or just a little more rhythmic subdivision, I was never content playing the “basic role” of the instrument that was so popular among the bands that I was growing up playing with. However I will say that these days I definitely respect that style of playing now more than ever, the amount of discipline and dedication that is needed to TRULY fill that role is just as high as any sort of double thumb slapping, 32nd note tapping, 4 finger tremolo type of pyrotechnical display, the only difference of course being the complete lack of spotlight, pretty amazing indeed.
I’ve been lucky enough to play bass professionally for over 15 years now. This has included everything from odd meter fueled prog-rock-fusion to exotic sounding multi-continental world music, laying it down behind female driven power pop, as well as supporting the 2 chord coffee house singer songwriter, at the same time I found myself filling in whatever cracks that were left open with a large roster of private students. I apologize if it sounds like I’m bragging, I promise that this is not my intention, in fact my intention is just the opposite, I believe that any musician can achieve these things (and a lot more) with the correct knowledge of musical fundamentals, which is what this column as well as future columns will be focusing on.
Now that we’ve been properly introduced, I’d like to take this time to address what I believe to be some potential pit falls as well as some common misinterpretations that I’ve noticed while teaching over the years.
First off, musical fundamentals and music theory are NOT the same thing, they do overlap quite often but for the most part the fundamental knowledge that is needed to be a proficient bassist is far different from any theory course that you will go through at the university level. The fundamentals that I’m referring to is information such as scales, arpeggios, harmony, rhythm etc. I refer to this information as “practical application” because if you want to be a professional musician at any level these are things that need to be understood. The word arpeggio is definitely not some fancy theoretical term, it is simply a piece of information that us bassists need to know how to “apply” in order to avoid making mistakes while accompanying any harmonic instrument (an instrument that plays chords).
Secondly, Rhythm is not some magical, mythological concept that you are either “born with” or “born without”. Rhythm can be learned, honed and perfected if you are willing to put in the time to do so.
Lastly, (this ones a bit controversial) but being a musician and being an artist are 2 different things. Obviously, the two are not mutually exclusive, there are tons of musicians that create some of the most beautiful art that a person could ever hear, however there are also tons of amazing musicians with the skills to get the job done whatever the task maybe. There is no right or wrong path, only the one that you choose to take. “Why am I bringing this up?” you may ask, because no matter what your role in the musical universe may be, having a strong knowledge of fundamentals or “basic information” will get you there, so let’s begin.