I’ve been a fan of Adam Neely since this blog started in 2011. Some of my first posts are about his early videos – particularly his videos about proper right and left hand technique. I just discovered Ben Levin a few months ago and have been watching his theory vids (as his alter-ego, Fake Dr. Levin) a bit. Well, apparently, they’re friends and went to Berklee together – and I just discovered some collaborative videos from the two of them in which they demonstrate creative songwriting exercises for guitar and bass.
I liked the counterpoint one, in particular, because I’m a fan of counterpoint (listen to the bass on Opeth’s 2nd album!). They also got into an exercise from Mick Goodrich‘s “The Advancing Guitarist“. I read some of that after discovering it through Tom Kenrick‘s blog a while ago. They demonstrated an exercise from the 1st chapter, which was about playing on a single string. All 3 videos have interesting creative applications, so grab a snack and enjoy!
Last night when I was reading, I came across this really interesting new electronic instrument called the Artiphon Instrument 1. Its an instrument/interface that has a fretboard kind of like a keyboard and flap/levers that simulate strings. Its able to create a huge array of sounds, from guitars, basses, ukuleles, violins and cellos to pianos (with 6 octaves), drum sets and even more.
The device got going on Kickstarter and has apparently started shipping recently. The goal was to raise $75k, but they were able to bring in $1.3M. It looks like it retails for $400 and has an interface that works with iPhones and maybe Mac computers. I don’t know if an Android or PC interface exists yet. I watched a few videos of it, and it looks really impressive. A jazz guitarist in the main video even commented that he’s able to simultaneously play 2 notes on the same string in guitar mode – something that’s physically impossible with real strings. That could be really fun for players of chordal instruments.
Here are links to the Kickstarter page, the main Artiphon page and their Youtube page. I can see this taking off in some circles, especially among electronic musicians who also play real instruments.
So, last night, after watching that video from samuraiguitarist about efficient practice, YouTube suggested another video from a Danish guitarist named Claus Levin. It was about learning scales faster. I watched it, and a second video from the same author showed up in the related videos, also about learning. I found it fascinating. It proposed a different learning/practice method from what I’ve seen before – basically asking us to practice in short bursts and then try to forget what we’ve practiced.
The idea is that when we practice, we’re taking information into short-term memory. By forgetting it and relearning it, we’re telling our brains that this is information that we have to relearn repeatedly. In order to better support having this now frequently-accessed information at hand, the brain then moves it from short-term to long-term memory, where we have it forever. Claus goes into more detail, starting with a human brain/computer cpu & memory analogy that makes much more sense a few mins in.
The other video is about practicing scales by taking the notes and learning them in a random order or pattern, instead of the usual method of running up and down scales from lowest note to highest, or vice versa. In a way, its similar to improvisation. Its goal is to leave us with usable knowledge of the notes and their locations and functions – essentially enabling fretboard freedom. Claus labels the standard method as learning sequential information. What he suggests, instead, is more akin to learning a scale pattern and then using it to create licks (or for us, basslines). Its more functional and musical.
Here’s a video from Steve Onotera, aka samuraiguitarist, from Canada. It talks about 7 concepts to which musicians can refer to make practice sessions more productive. In a nutshell, these are:
- Have a clear vision of why you are practicing
- Create a practice schedule
- Don’t over-practice
- Isolate the problem
- Incorporate practicality
- Attack concepts from different angles
- Practice slowly and gradually speed up
Its that time again folks. Forget the holiday season. October 12th is Hug a Bassist Day!
Give yourselves a hug, and if you’re inclined, take a solo!
Here’s a video that shows a bunch of bass amp options available in Amplitube 4. This is from one of the paid versions, so it has quite a bit.
Also, here’s a short thread on Talkbass that discusses going ampless for people who play mainly at home. A lot of it goes into recording options, but I found this particular advice/formula from Digitalman in response #2 good to know:
The products I mention are almost irrelevant. You just need a DAW, an interface, and an amp modeler that all work together and are Mac compatible/versions.
So, last night, I came across some info about Amplitube 4 when I was looking at ways to record bass. I’ve been using the Rocksmith cable and was curious if there were other ways that weren’t pricey that would also allow me to hear what I’m playing as I play it. Right now, with the Rocksmith cable and Audacity, I play “unplugged” on my electric. I know that this affects technique on bass. I press the strings really hard, and I’m sure it affects my speed as well as other things.
Amplitube looked interesting. Its a “real time guitar and bass multi effects processor” according to the IK Multimedia website. I saw that the company makes a bunch of different types of software for musicians, has been doing so since the 90s, and also manufactures various input devices that allow guitars and basses to be plugged into computers, tablets, smartphones and maybe even other devices.
I also noticed that Amplitube has a “free” version available for Mac and PC, so this evening I grabbed it. Its called the Amplitube Custom Shop.