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[science] the weasels learn bass

offline EpicMegatrax from Greatest Hits on 2017-11-27 21:27 [#02538524]
Points: 9980 Status: Regular

this thread will document my approach to learning bass

enough deliberate, conscious practice, and any skill can
become automatic, eventually.

something like bass guitar is most easily broken up into a
set of sub-skills: [hitting the right frets, plucking,
muting, ... , etc]. many of these sub-skills can be broken
up into sub-sub-skills: hitting the right frets includes:
[scales, muscle memory, ... , etc.] and then again: scales
and muscle memory are their own complex little topics.

my start is this: a roommate is like, always, playing
acoustic guitar. he's playing right now. there was an
acoustic bass lying around and i began grabbing it to join
in. i step up with a resume that has bullet-points like "i
know what an autechre is" and so, clearly, i just listen to
what he's doing and add abstract rhythmic plonks and

these are met with fairly decent reception... but, i get
bored of it. i fumble around for the root note and begin
attempting to actually play along. this is intolerable to
roommate, because most of the notes are wrong. i know they
are wrong, and this is intolerable to me also.

so he teaches me a-minor. then a-major. at 2am we get into a
deep discussion about how the real thing here is to grow a
mental grid around the frets of the bass guitar -- re-usable
patterns that map in infinite loops -- and at that point,
you can do anything.

the grid i've been growing has the first strings down pretty
well, now. i still have some trouble shifting the scale
patterns to keys low-down on the frets -- you know, the
point where the grid begins to wrap around the other end.

doing this while listening to someone else play is much more
complicated and i don't have enough space left in this post
so now i'm going to go back to work. my real job, not bass


offline umbroman3 from United Kingdom on 2017-11-27 21:29 [#02538525]
Points: 2811 Status: Lurker

Great :)


offline RussellDust on 2017-11-27 21:36 [#02538528]
Points: 12374 Status: Regular

I think that’s how Chris Squire and Charles Mingus
(amongst many greats) saw it too.


offline EpicMegatrax from Greatest Hits on 2017-11-28 01:27 [#02538538]
Points: 9980 Status: Regular

my strange beweaseled resume also includes: finger algorithms,
rhythmic multiplexing, refactored muscle memory, four years of robot dancing,
and a couple years of fussing around with a bass guitar i
eventually got bored of and sold before i had any of the
other stuff i just listed.

so, essentially, this is my second try, and i am like, nine
million times better prepared for it. approximately. it is
all soaking in extremely fast, but there's no rushing some
things -- my finger strength/callousness just needs regular
practice. same with typing, it's a feeling of "stupid
fingers! do what i told you to do!" yes, this is much

there is a lot going on. press the right fret in the right
spot -- hard -- and pluck the string. then mute the string.
repeat. juggling which finger needs to be where is something
i don't have much to say on at the moment, except that now
i'm starting to be able to feel comfortable with three
fingers instead of just one and a half. on top of this there
is the scale, the key, and doing all of this in a regular
sort of coherent rhythm.

trying to do that while listening to someone else play is
much more complicated and i don't have enough space left in
this post so i'm going to just melt into the ceiling.


offline EpicMegatrax from Greatest Hits on 2018-01-14 05:51 [#02542362]
Points: 9980 Status: Regular

i took like four semesters of music theory in college, and
most of it has drifted off. oodles of voice leading homework
exercise. i'm sure a bunch of it crept into the way i write
music, but in a practical/deliberate sense, i generally have
only used it when i've painted myself into a corner --
twelve layers of synths on the computer, what notes do i
want? i'll sit there and work it out. usually i don't need
to; i can just fuss around and find what i want and it's
faster than working it out on paper.

playing bass guitar along with one or two other people
playing acoustic, though -- i find myself reaching back for
this stuff. the bassist is supposed to take the chords
happening and walk along the bottom of it. my ear works
decently enough; i'll walk up and down scales and a natural
sense of timing will land me on the right notes at the right
times... but there's a growing awareness of the structure of
what i'm doing. like... that worked, and there's a reason
why, and if i sit and think on it i can often figure it

it is starkly reminiscent of where i was in like 2007. i was
programming these complex tapestries of midi on piano rolls
and it was massively overbuilt and i was sick of it, and i
started to get into hardware. i was terrible at it at first
-- having to do stuff live when i was used to programming
everything -- but i felt like it was good for me. it forced
me to get good at rhythm.

but i was still mostly programming the harmonies in advance,
even if i was playing them live. predetermined patterns.
getting my fingers in the right place at the right time...

pretty much, suffering through being terrible at bass will
make me a stronger musician, just like ditching plugins for
the old-skool 80s hardware approach did.


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