A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Updates since April

breakfastSo, its been 5 weeks since I last blogged (and this one’s doing well – my other blogs have been dry for months, even though I have lists of stuff I want to write about!). An equal amount of time has passed since I’ve touched a bass, but, interestingly enough, while helping our daughter with piano lessons, I’ve messed around a little on it – in the bass register – and have noticed that its really fun to play basslines on it while she plays all over the rest of keys.

Also, I turned 41 a week ago, so there’s that. So, here are some updates, both musical and not:

Jeffrey Thomas 

Jeff is a teacher who plays guitar, bass and ukulele. He contacted me around the time of my last post asking that I add his website to the list of bass resources on mine. I’ve meant to review his site for inclusion for several weeks now, but only got to it now, so – sorry for the delay, Jeff!

For the rest of you, here’s a blurb from his website:

Jeffrey Thomas makes his living as a music instructor. Lessons are taught in person or through webcam. Accepting students of all ages and levels has exposed him to vast genres of music. Traditional Classical to Punk, Black Metal to Praise & Worship, Flamenco to Radio Disney Artists, Blues of many forms, Hip Hop, Reggae, Folk, Shred, Bluegrass, Motown, Rock, Grunge, Indie, Pop, R&B, Funk, Rockabilly, Latin, Country, World Music…

There are links on his page to in-person lessons, Skype lessons and more. The key section he wanted to share here was his bass tablature, but there are sections for guitar and ukulele tab as well. The bass tab is dominated by classic rock, but there’s a smattering of jazz, pop, reggae, light metal and even some theory exercises. Go have a look!

Wifey’s stuff

women in rock & metalI’ve been editing the wife’s thesis, on-and-off, but still have a ways to go. Its focus is on Women in NY’s Extreme Metal Scene, and from editing, I’ve learned a bit about feminist theory and met other metal academics. Some are journalists and writers, others are educators – including several with PhD’s in various music and cultural backgrounds who have written books about metal. There’s an amazing academic community surfacing around metal, which amazes me to this day. I’m glad to be even a tangent to it.

Anyway, so wifey has been speaking at panels & conferences and even organized one of her own at Barnard College a few weeks ago which focused on women in rock & metal in the NY area. She sat on 2 panels out in Seattle recently. I rambled a bit about it on my metal blog.

The thesis is coming along more slowly than she’d like, which is largely my fault, because I’m been dividing time between it and a bunch of other stuff.

HouseCall

I started my tech support company. We’re an LLC. I’ve mostly finished a website for it, but haven’t made a hard launch yet. I’m going to do that in a few days. I’ve been learning a bit about advertising and about business in general at my snail’s pace. We’ll see how that goes though.

Home

I spent the last 2 weeks cleaning out the basement in a massive purge, getting the roof fixed after a family of raccoons holed up in there, which led to extensive water damage, and generally repairing and maintaining stuff. Its been exhausting. There was stuff down in the basement that’s been sitting for 30 years, including a projection screen TV that was bigger than me, a gigantic stereo system and… 44 boxes of junk mail. All of it was residual stuff from my parents, who help out a lot by watching the baby, but who we also shunted off to Arizona to visit my sister and her kids for 2 weeks so I could get rid of tons of clutter without interference. Since their return, we’ve had one big blowout about it, but its been quiet after. Really though, 44 boxes, which doesn’t include all of the other stuff that’s down there. It was excessive. We’ve literally regained an entire room’s worth of space, and I don’t feel as unsafe with the baby trekking down there now. Speaking of which…

Bopps

Bopps at Barnard

Bopps preps for panel @ Barnard

Bopps has been going to piano lessons on Sundays, although we missed 3 when we came back from Seattle because I was exhausted, and then stuff came up two times. Its amazing though. She caught right back up when we returned. Not only that, she’s figured out part of Ode to Joy, NIB from Black Sabbath, the solfege song, and even made up a song of her own that she calls “Half of the World”. We don’t even know where a 3 1/2 year old gets a concept like that from!

This past Sunday, we were the only ones at piano class. I think the other kids & parents went to a Saturday makeup class instead, so we had 1-on-1 time with Miss Chia, her instructor. While I filled out some paperwork for next semester, Bopps sat with Chia, and instead of starting with her lesson, she played all of the stuff I mentioned above. Chia was impressed. 😉 Bopps has independently learned all of this stuff by ear (and also Hot Cross Buns, from watching a YouTube video). She recommended that I enroll in the summer session with her, something I was thinking about skipping, because I’m just so damned tired. But, I think I might make the sacrifice and do it. Its 8 weeks for me, but I’m sure it can translate to a lot more growth for her.

I’ve been having fun with her when we practice at home. I sit on the left side of the seat and figured out parts of basslines from Brutal Truth, Atheist and some other stuff, play them, and she makes these melodies on top. Sometimes, they even sound like music! That’s probably more on account of her than me though.

I’ve found that its actually fun to figure out bass parts on piano, and it makes it more clear about what’s being played. I have yet to bring it to bass, but now that I’m slowing down with house stuff a little bit, I plan on tearing through wifey’s thesis and also sitting down with my bass.

Bass

I’d planned on taking a trip to Adirondack Guitars and getting myself a lefty acoustic bass for my birthday if I made it through a bass method by then, but it didn’t happen. Still, my aim is to work through the Hal Leonard Bass Method and Building Rock Bass Lines, both by Ed Friedland, and get myself an acoustic. I might even be able to make time tonight, if all goes well.

I also grabbed and experimented a little bit with 2 software packages that might be useful to you other bassists/musically-inclined folk out there. The first is called Reaper. Its a powerful DAW, or digital audio workstation with a free trial. Its basically for recording and mixing music. The other is called Hydrogen, which is a drum machine. Its also free. Once I dedicate more time to them, I want to use them to create drum beats to practice bass with and eventually mix things together so that I can create rhythms that the wife (or the baby!) can even play piano parts on top of.

Ok. There’s probably other stuff I wanted to write here, but they’re not coming to me right now, so if I remember, I’ll blog about them later. For you bassists – if you can get your hands on a piano, or even a keyboard/synth, see if you can play some of your bass stuff on it. Its an interesting juxtaposition, to see how notes are arranged linearly on the piano and segmented on the bass, if you stay roughly in a single position. But also – its fun!

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