All entries for Thursday 16 September 2004

September 16, 2004

Bass playing and the Art of Looking Cool II

Follow-up to Bass playing and the Art of Looking Cool (with 4 strings) from Hollyzone

Riff A                                
   Cmaj7
G-|- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
D-|- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
A-|-3-3-3-3 - - - - 3-3-3-3 - - - - - |
E-|- - - - - - 3-3- - - - - - - - 3-3-|   

Riff B
Dm7/9
G-| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
D-| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
A-|-5-5-5-5 - - - - 5-5-5-5 - - - - -|
E-|- - - - - - - 5-5 - - - - - - 5-5-|

Riff C                             
   Gmaj7
G-| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |
D-| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |
A-| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |
E-| - 3-3-3-3- 0-1 - 3-3-3-3 - 0-1 - - |   

  Riff D
 Ebmaj7
G-| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |
D-| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - |
A-| -6-6-6-6 - - - - 6-6-6-6 - - - - -|
E-| - - - - - - 5-5 - - - - - - - 5-5-|

Now I know what some of you are thinking. And I know what the rest of you are thinking.

Some of you know what the above writing is about. The rest of you either want to know or would rather I went back to complaining about the trains the whole time (that may well happen so careful what you wish for).

What that random writing is is a bass guitar tab, music written for guitar users. Now, I can read music but I never read it on a conventional stave for guitar because this form, tabbing, is so much easier. Basically each line corresponds to a string on the guitar, usually lowest string at the bottom, although they are often labelled, and the number is the fret that's held down and played.

And that's it really, nice and obvious. Any tab website, like my personal favourite mxtabs.net, could tell you as such.

But they don't really tell you how to get started. They are a library but it's often about learning to use the library (as a history student this similie makes perfect sense to me) and that's what I found a bit tricky.

You are not going to be able to play the Red Hot Chili Peppers after only 5 minutes.

Start with the easy stuff that you know and like. It's much more rewarding to play along to songs that you enjoy listening to and playing along to. In my case I discovered that my favourite band, the Manic Street Preachers, are prone to quite simple basslines which can be easily played. As a result I was able to start playing quite easily.

The trick is to try something a bit different to what you already know and learn what you like to play. I can play Red Hot Chilli Peppers' songs, albeit after much practise, but I don't really like to (except Otherside and Californication) because I find them a little over the top and self indulgent. They're also so rigid, there's not much room to improvise as Flea fills all his basslines with little bits and pieces of his own. I like to be able to play something a little differently to what it is on record, it makes it more fun.

I like to play along to bands like Elastica, Interpol and Muse, all interesting basslines from bands I like. But, as any half decent music teacher will tell you (ad infinitum) practise practise practise. Annoy your housemates or buy headphones or play quietly in your room or do what I do and play in the kitchen when no one else is at home.

Or call me and I'll give you lessons for a wonderfully extortionate fee.

Thank you and goodnight.

(PS There is a prize of a cupcake to anyone who can identify the bassline at the top of this piece. Clue: It's in 6/8 time).


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