A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Posts tagged “music history

The Girls In The Band

Here’s something interesting from a cultural and musical vantage that I found when Jackie from Lindsey Tree Music posted in the Bass Blogs group on FB. Its a trailer for The Girls In The Band, a documentary with and about women from the jazz/bebop scene who were excellent musicians, but because of the influence of patriarchy, were marginalized and not given the credit they were due as amazing players – something that has repeated since in other styles of music, as well as areas outside of music. Some of the women were also black, so they had a double-whammy to deal with as this predates the civil rights movement in America.

The Girls In The Band 


UCSB Cylinder Audio Archive

UCSB Cylinder-button-Playlists

Here’s something really cool that I heard about on the radio when I was getting wifey from the train this evening. University of California, Santa Barbara is digitizing old wax cylinders with music recorded onto them. These cylinders could only be played up to a dozen times before they wore out and were unreadable again. The recordings are from around 1877 to 1929. Some are voice – like a message from Thomas Edison. Others are music that was recorded at the time. UCSB is making the digital recordings freely available for streaming and download. They’ve already built a library of around 10,000 recordings and just added 150 more. The recordings are generally between 2-4 mins in duration. They have around 3,000 more left.

Here’s the project’s playlist page. There are currently 16 genres grouped together such as Early Hillbilly & Old Time Music, Central European Mix Tape, Tahitian Field Recordings, Squeezebox: The Accordion on Cylinders, American Vaudeville, Early Black Artists and Composers and more.

This is the Wiki page about phonograph cylinders, which is what this technology was called. The common name for them was records – which we think of today as the flat, vinyl discs, which were apparently a competing technology which one out.

Site Updates 3

Escalation_I’ve added a new page to the menu at the top of the blog called Bass Blogs on FB. It links to the blogs that are part of the bass & music Facebook group that I’m part of. Check out the group, if you’re on FB and also go visit the blogs themselves. Most are already either on my bass blogroll or music blogroll, but this one has pictures. Ooh, shiny!

Shane Embury’s Record Box

Wifey sent this to me this morning. Shane Embury is the bassist for Napalm Death and Lock Up. I love him. He’s not the most complex player, but when it comes to grindcore, he has such groove. 😉

Here’s a great video with Lock Up that I posted a few months ago. I still watch this every few days. Its really fun to me:

Anyway, I’ll let the page description speak for itself about what this link is:

In the fourth of our series of Record Boxes commissioned by The Space, Shane Embury from Napalm Death explains how grindcore came into being, exploring the elements of its genetic make up with records from John’s own collection.

Shane Embury explores John Peel’s records

Shane Embury Record Box

He mentions a lot of cool bands in his trip down memory lane, and I found one that I wasn’t familiar with: Slab!. As a big fan of Justin Broadrick and Godflesh, I found myself really digging their sound. They seem like the prototype for Head of David, Fall of Because and for Godflesh.

The page also includes details about the bands and albums that Shane speaks about in his talk. I love it. 😉

Unsung Heroes of Bass Guitar: #2 James Jamerson

Here’s a fantastic write-up of the one-and-only James Jamerson from Cut me a notch at 125Hz. It goes over his history, technique and selected songs from the vast catalog of his work with other artists. I actually haven’t watched Standing in the Shadows of Motown yet. Its been on my list for a long time (at least 4 years), but I haven’t gone and ordered it yet.

The video for the bassline for “For Once in My Life” is interesting. It really shows just how busy Jamerson’s lines could be, especially considering the claw technique described in the original post. Its fun to see the brevity of his use of space when setting up chromatic runs or drops onscreen.

A lot has been said, posthumously, about Jamerson. For those who aren’t familiar with his work, here are some useful links:

Cut me a notch at 125Hz


As with the first in our series, Carol Kaye, you may not know the name of today’s subject, but you will certainly know their work. And what a body of work it is too.

James Jamerson played the bass on a huge amount of Motown’s hit records between 1959 and 1972 and his playing style has influenced generations of bass players since. From the classic opening to The Temptations’ ‘My Girl’ via Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ to ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’ by The Supremes, Jamerson’s legacy is monumental in the pantheon of popular music. Like many artists touched by genius, his was a tortured soul and, tragically, it wasn’t until after he died a depressed alcoholic, having not worked for years at the age of 47 in 1983, that he gained widespread acclaim for his work.

James Lee Jamerson was born January 29 1936 in…

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Unsung Heroes of Bass Guitar: #1 Carol Kaye

Here’s a great piece on Carol Kaye from Cut me a notch at 125Hz. It gives a brief history and some highlights of her long-running career. I’m looking forward to more in this series of unsung bass heroes. 😉

For a little more info about Carol, have a look at these two posts as well. I used to refer back to the interview from Bass Player all the time. It still really holds me.

Cut me a notch at 125Hz


There are a handful of bass players, unknown to the majority of the general public, who were hugely influential in the world of pop, rock, blues and soul. They played on literally thousands of hit records from the 1950’s onwards.

This is the first in a series of blogs where I aim to shed some light on some of these players and show some examples of their top notch work.

I thought that the best place to start would be with one of the most prolific session musicians of the past fifty years, Carol Kaye.

Born in 1935 in Everett, Washington USA, Kaye was born into a family of musicians. When her parents divorced, Kaye and her mother relocated to California. Her mother bought her a guitar aged 11, and by the age of 14 she was playing jazz gigs semi-professionally and helping her guitar tutor teach some of his…

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Site Updates 2

I’ve been meaning to do a few things since the last time I updated the non-blog-entry parts of this website. Chief amongst them was to add a blogroll for music blogs that aren’t specifically bass-related, because there are a lot out there that are really interesting, from a technical, creative or social standpoint. So, tonight, I went and did it.

On the right-column of the blog, below the bass blogs, there’s a new Music Blog blogroll. Take a look at the sites when you have time. They’re great sites maintained by interesting people. Some are teachers or other educators. Some are musicians and composers, others are just weird, creative and musically-inclined. Some are even medical doctors who also happen to write about music!

I’ve been following some of these since I started blogging in 2011. Others, I only discovered this year. A few, I can barely comprehend, but their writing spark ideas, which are the true currency of creativity, so enjoy.

Also – over the past few months, I’ve added a site or two to the Bass Blogs blogroll. Take a trip there too. It only costs time and electrons.