A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Mother Man exercise

I’ve not been practicing as much as I need to recently… that a trend that’s lasted about 4 1/2 months. Last night, while wifey was at class (she’s juggling our first pregnancy, a new job and her 2nd master’s at the same time – yesterday I had to cook for myself and find my own socks!), I decided that if I’m not going through the IIB stuff regularly, or any other material, I’d at least do something short and get some exercise out of it.

Well, over the last year, I’ve found that Roger Patterson (RIP) from Atheist is fast becoming my favorite bassist. I’m a huge fan of Alex Webster, Steve DiGiorgio and Jeroen Thesseling, but Patterson has been quietly and posthumously climbing past them. I’ve been driving with the remastered Unquestionable Presence (among some other CDs) since at least last summer and still can’t stop playing it. His fingerstyle playing just blows me away. Its such a tragedy to the bass world that he died so young. I read somewhere that someone basically said that he was the extreme metal equivalent of Cliff Burton, and I’m inclined to agree with that assessment. He has so much feeling in his playing, yet makes it fit into a metal context. Its been about 20 years since he was killed in an accident, and I’ve only now begun to grasp at his proficiency and really hear what he was playing. I love his style.

Anyhow. Before I gush too much – I’m nowhere near as skilled as his little finger – here’s something I messed with a bit last night and again this AM after I took wifey to the train. I’m going to see if I can sneak in some more practice (even if its purely physical) between client stuff today.

This is a tiny snippet from somewhere around the beginning of Mother Man, off of Unquestionable Presence. I always loved how this sounds, even though it only lasts like 30 seconds, and I’ve found that at my level of inexperience, its one hell of a workout.

Transcribed By: Lassi Nurminen (aka, Epitaph)

The first 4 notes at the beginning are E  F# G  C#. The 4 notes that start the 2nd half are E  F  F# C. This is important because it means that by not relying on the tab above (which I provide more as a reference) you can play the riff from other positions on the neck. I was practicing on the fretted 6-string and played it from the 5th fret of the B string (E).

This is what it looked like using the 6-string. A 5-string bass could play this way as well:

Play that first part 4 times, and then the 2nd part 4 times. The entire thing repeats twice, but I just use it as an exercise for now, and I’m not playing it to speed. That first part requires a slide of 1 fret. The 2nd part can be played from one position (5th position on the B string).

Now, that wasn’t the part that made me really call it an exercise. It was kicking my butt last night because someone else tabbed it a little differently. I found this variation first, and it proved to be a real workout because I was trying to not shift and was using my ring finger a lot:

Transcribed by : J. Litvak, converted and corrected by : Coypu

If you play this from 1st position on the E string, that first part (the top part) really beats the hell out of your ring finger. You’re basically playing it as Ring, Middle, Ring, Pinkie and repeat. The pinkie finger is up a string, which makes that part a little easier since its a bit shorter than the other fingers, but the constant return to the ring finger is grueling. And this is probably just 15 seconds, total.

That 2nd part also has you hit the ring finger hard. Its Ring, Index, Middle, Ring and repeat. That 2nd ring is up one string though, so you end up hitting the ring finger twice in a row each time its repeated. This is what led to me writing out the notes and looking for another position to play in, BTW. 😉

This version and the one up above are basically the same. The main difference is that for the top one (Epitaph’s), the “root” is an E note. For the one below (J. Litvak’s), the “root” is a G. That one note makes all the difference in intensity of the workout though… and it does make me see that people do hear the song differently and transcribe/tab it out differently. That’s something that the Talkbass community points out frequently.

Here’s a link to the actual song, from an earlier post. There are 2 versions here. The first is a track that really highlights the bass. The 2nd is the studio version, with everything at normal levels. Enjoy!

[edit 11.11.2015] Here’s an attempt at the first variation of the exercise (the one from Epitaph, above)


4 responses

  1. gary m. callahan

    Hey man, its awesome that you recognise Roger’s talent. He woulda been stoked on his influence on the next generation of bass players. There’s a good reason he’s becoming your favorite. He was better than the other great ones you mentioned. I’m a little partial, because I was friends with Roger the last three years of his short , but brilliant life. Saw him practice almost every day. He was a fucking beast on that four string. It didn’t matter if it was at practice or at a show. One of my favorite memories of that time was watching the band write the record Unquestionable Presence. It was a long process being the music was so technical and all. He’d play shit on the bass that Kelly or Rand even couldn’t play. It hurts to hear Unquestionable knowing he didn’t get to play on it. He put so much hard work into it, and not to get to play on it was devastating to everyone he knew. The remastered version has the demos he was on. I always tend to listen to that first, before I listen to the rest. Anyway, take care and keep listening To Roger, you can’t go wrong there. Long live Roger Patter
    son. Yours truly, Gary M. Callahan.

    November 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm

  2. vishalicious

    I’m certain that I’m not the only person to recognize his talent. I hope others did when he was alive. He was extraordinary.

    I have to ask – when you saw him practice – can you tell us a little about that? Aside from the songs that were being written, do you know what his practice regimen was like, and what he practiced on his own? Did he read music, study theory or focus more on physical proficiency? I’m sure every fan of his who has ever touched a bass wants to know what his routine was like. 😉

    Also, do you know what he liked to listen to, and which bassists he was impressed by? Thanks in advance!

    November 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm

  3. Pingback: Adding some recordings | Ugly Bass Face

  4. Pingback: Practice: 11/18/15 – HLBM 36 | Ugly Bass Face

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