That Frustrating Tired-Muscle Moment

Well, I was tackling the Rocksmith Legato 101B (Bass) lesson again. Early in the practice, I’m always more sensible. I ran through it three or four times, and then I listened to my hand when it said ‘I’m going to do worse and worse at this until you get mad, unless you give me something else to do.’

So, I said ‘alright, hand, we’ll go do something new.’  So I popped over into ‘Learn a Song’ and decided to try Pantera’s ‘Cemetery Gates’ for the first time. I did alright, I suppose, but the intro was a complete disaster and the rest of the song was really just kind of mediocre. Whatever. It was the first time out, and songs with a lot of changes, the first time out my eyes are always set on making a fool out of me. They just stare at the screen and send the data up to my brain at a remarkably slow speed, so by the time that message gets to my hand, too late, and my eyes are trying to process new data.  Sometimes, the best thing to do is just let the riff pass on by, take a second, and wait for the next one.

I did notice a really strange thing tonight that’s never happened before. Having only done a bit on Legato, halfway through the Pantera song, my bicep started to hurt. Not bad pain, more like tired muscle pain.  I haven’t done anything particularly anatomically taxing today – just a light jog/walk to the bank and back, certainly nothing that would make my bicep feel like it’s getting a workout.

In any case, I wasn’t going to let it stop me, though it definitely slowed me down.  But, at the same time, I knew I couldn’t continue indefinitely (both because of the muscle soreness, and because it’s 8 pm on a Sunday, and I still have laundry to iron – ah, the mundane little bits of human existence that leak in. 😉 ).  So, I moved back to the Legato lesson. I’ve been stuck at about 93% for the past few days, so I told myself ‘you know, it would be really nice if I could get to 95%.

One note?! Argh! So close!
On the one hand, It was awesome to get to 99%. Only one note missed! On the other, I cursed and fought with my hand for the next 15 minutes because I wanted to complete the bass legato lesson once and for all (and pretend I don’t have to eventually get back to it with the guitar, and the guitar in general), and never look at it again.

I didn’t complete this lesson tonight. I still have the bass out, but there’s a pretty low possibility that I’m going to.  I don’t know why my arm is tired, but it is. And I think the rest of me is, too, a bit.  I had a busy weekend, and I think my body is starting to notice that it hasn’t had a good ‘chill’ day in a while. (The state of my house is starting to notice, too – truth be told.)

On the guitar front, I’m still struggling with motivation. I had a very short break for lunch though, and decided to kill the time watching something on youtube. I didn’t know what. Youtube knows what I like, so when I typed, I was equally likely to be recommended comedy, cats, DIY projects, cats, guitars, or cats. 😉 (The internet has an insane amount of cat videos, okay?  There is therefore a statistically higher chance that Youtube is going to suggest cats.)   Well, the first thing my eyes fell on was this:

So, I think I’ll spend a little time working on the finger exercise in there, while chilling in the evening, and see if it helps.  I do especially like the point he makes, though, about getting each chord pretty much down cold before trying to switch between them.  This is so relevant to my practice, because even though my brain knows the C chord, my hand says “I don’wannnaaa!!!” And even though my fingers and my brain know the G chord, my wrist says ‘fuck this shit.’  So I’ll be backtracking again, a little. It sort of doesn’t count as backtracking, since all attempts to move forward have ended with me flat on my guitar face anyway. Progress is slow, but I’m still working at it.

Until Next Time, progress is progress, and tired is tired, and the one that wins isn’t always the one I want to.

10 thoughts on “That Frustrating Tired-Muscle Moment

  1. Cowboys From Hell was a great album. That was the 1st Pantera I bought, way back when. I don’t look at guitar videos much, although there’s a lot of wisdom in them that applies to bass. That was a good exercise that Nate shared though. It reminds me of one that I used to do for flexibility that I actually misinterpreted from a book.


    1. I honestly am not a huge pantera fan. I don’t dislike them, but I also don’t really go out of my way for them. But, I’m a little more punk rocker than metalhead. 🙂 It was technically interesting though. I think a lot of the metal and alternative metal stuff is like that – more complex than a novice would expect.

      And, yeah, a lot of the generic exercises for flexibility and strength translate well between bass and guitar. Because when you’re doing that, it doesn’t matter how things sound. It actually works accuracy on the strumming hand too, a bit inadvertently, since he’s only striking the two strings he’s fingering on the fretboard, and the way he does that is something I haven’t seen before – using the pick and one of his free fingers simultaneously to get the strings to sound. So, it gave me some stuff to think about.


      1. Its funny you should mention the way he plays 2 strings together that are separated by other strings (I’ve seen that in flamenco guitar technique). My wife was just messaging me from work and was looking at piano sheet music. She’s thinking of picking that back up. The music she showed me had a bunch of double-stops in the bass part, and it got me thinking about how much easier it is for pianists to do those and chords in the bass register than it is for bassists to, and about the way we’d have to play both strings for double-stops, especially if they were separated by another one.

        I liked Pantera a lot in the early 90’s, but its been years since I listened to them. I’m mostly into heavier types of metal, but I listen to a bunch of other stuff as well – including punk. Its funny though. I remember when I first started listening to both and couldn’t tell them apart. It was actually from WSOU, who I’m sure you’re familiar with, back in the early 90’s. I thought it was all metal, and I though the punk stuff was just poorly-played metal. 😉 After a few years, I discovered that punk was its own thing, and learned about hardcore, industrial and a bunch of other stuff… and about a bajillion metal sub-genres.

        Metal is also what got me into jazz and classical, and a bunch of stuff people would just shelve as “world music” but I found interesting because of cultural associations. I have all this shamanic music and Tuvan music and joik/yoik and other stuff. Its always intrigued me to hear what people sound like from different places, and from different times. It used to weird my friends out, years ago. I’d have mix tapes for driving and I’d have like a Deicide track followed by Loreena McKennitt, but it was the contrasting vocal delivery, coupled by oddly similar uses of space and buildup that tied them together for me. Well, that and an entirely misspent youth.

        What I love these days is metal from other countries/cultures. I like seeing blends of sounds from other types of music tied into metal – especially in death metal.


      2. I’m a bit all over the map, too. I call myself ‘more of a punk rocker’, because the two moments that stand out as a kid when I realized that there was this whole world of music I didn’t know, but loved, were the first time I heard The Ramones on the radio, and then the clincher, when Green Day hit pop radio in…what? around ’93-’94 with When I Come Around off of the Dookie album. The early 90s for me were flooded with Green Day, Stone Temple Pilots, and Alice in Chains. I’ve since branched out and also have a love of the blues, lots of varieties of rock, and I have classical that I somehow got into in college, and also Loreena McKennit and Singh Kaur – who are both fantastic vocalists, and I discovered during my New Agey phase in college. lol. Then folk jumped into the mix via Ani DiFranco, that was also college, it’s impossible to be a woman in college and not somehow stumble across the feminist scene, and as per my usual, it’s the music that I found. Andrea Bocelli landed in the mix courtesy of my Aunt. Add cabaret and punk cabaret from the Steampunk scene, Renaissancey stuff from THAT scene, etc etc etc. My roomie says anyone who doesn’t know me who hears my ipod on shuffle would think I’m schizophrenic. lol. Punk, pop-punk, and alternative are still my first loves, but there are many other loves, too.
        I have absolutely zero knowledge about piano, but it seems a bit like the mother of all instruments. Like, all the reading and notation we know for bass, or guitar, all started from piano notation. Maybe I’m totally wrong about that?

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      3. The early 90s for me were completely different. I had just discovered death metal and grindcore and fallen completely in love with it. There was a period of around 5 years when I couldn’t even listen to other types of metal, because they didn’t do anything for me anymore. It started with Fear Factory’s 1st album, then Carcass, then Napalm Death and Brutal Truth and then a hundred other bands. That’s what led me directly into harsh industrial, Japanese noise and oddly enough, jazz fusion.

        In 1993, I stopped listening to popular radio. I still don’t, so there’s a lot of pop stuff that I’ve never heard. I was something of a fanatic and it made me really mad that MTV and “rock” radio wouldn’t play metal. It was like a deliberate blackout, so I turned away from it all. Much Music was new to the scene as well, and I ended up really liking them for a while. I think there was a show called Loud that I used to enjoy watching. It was where I first saw Strapping Young Lad and discovered Devin Townsend.

        Sometime around then, my younger brother’s friend picked up guitar and actually got really good. I introduced him to some of my friends and bands were started. They ended up forming their own bands (mostly hardcore and metal) and joining other bands – some were with people who were like 10 years older than us and had been playing for a long time, so we met a lot of people in the local scene. All of my weekends were spent at shows for years. A lot of weekdays too. I think I’m too old to manage that anymore, between work, the baby and no sleep. During the late 90s, we pretty much always had bands practicing in my garage. My parents were ok with it, because they knew where we were, and it was funny to see West Indian parents interacting with this big bunch of metalheads, hardcore kids, punkers, goths and whatnot that would rotate in and out of the garage. I miss that a lot. A lot of them grew to like Indian food because of my mom. 😉

        We always had all of this equipment and stuff piled in the garage or living room, and when I worked at a store my dad had in Little Ferry – out in Jersey, we converted the back room into a practice room. We always had friends who played different stuff ride over to Jersey with me and spend the day. They’d practice in the room. People from the town would come in after we were closed and hang out and listen. It was fun. It turned out that our neighbors across the street had grown up with Danzig (they were a bit older than me, I think at least 10-15 years, and I think were originally from Lodi) and would come by with their guitars and also tell us funny stories about the punk scene in Jersey in the late 70s and early 80s. They had a hundred funny Danzig stories.

        I got into bass sometime during all of this. And drums. I never really got into guitar as much, although I like hearing it and used to really enjoy watching Spanish guitar players and flamenco players (especially John Williams). Being left-handed though, I couldn’t really do anything, even when different friends offered to show me things on their basses. I eventually got my 1st bass from a local place in Yonkers which is now gone called The Music Store.

        Crap. I just realized that I’m writing a novel, and its veered from stuff I listen to. Sorry about that.


      4. Totally fine! Where we end up comes from where we started, so it’s all relevant to the process. I had a circle of friends who were all about z100 in my teens, so it wasn’t until the alternative and pop-punkers hit the top 40 that I even knew about them, or really got excited about music. When your friends are listening to Hansen and the Spice Girls, and you’re getting excited about your Green Day, and Metallica’s self titled album, and discovering Pink Floyd, you don’t get swallowed up as early; no one to talk to about it all. So I also had a ‘mellow’ mix of common ground within the top 40 -bands like Weezer, Matchbox 20, Third Eye Blind, Our Lady Peace where my friends and I sort of met in the middle.
        I remember as a kid loving the sound of the guitar riffs from the 80s – those screaming solos that fell to the wayside with the rise of alternative and grunge, so I think that’s where the guitar comes from (so naturally I’m focusing on rhythm. Lol, but it seems a better place to start, foundationally.)
        Around the same time as I got into music, I also got into karate. I had friends into karate, but none into punk rock (though I discovered Black Sabbath through a karate friend-Iron Man is big among karate guys, apparently. Lol), so I ended up taking a really long detour. Even now, I have really no friends to get excited about music with. It’s kind of a lonely road.
        I do remember in my teens, every time I saw someone wearing a patch of a band I liked, making note of their other patches. I discovered Bad Religion and NOFX that way, others too, I’m sure.
        I gave up on pop radio, too,but I can’t wholly avoid it at the office. Still, I can’t deny that pop radio in the early 90s is how I discovered a lot of the bands I would follow long after pop radio had forsaken them.


      5. Anyway. I’m mostly metal, with a bunch of other stuff swirled in. I read too much music stuff and only just started trying to apply it with any consistency. My biggest draw outside of metal is experimentation. Blending sounds from different genres or cultures really gets me. And within metal, its the rise of culturally-infused stuff and stuff with women that have grabbed my interest in the past decade or so, because the vantage is different than the usual Western or European sounds that have dominated the scenes since the beginning. I actually got my wife into it and now she’s writing academically about the female/feminist aspect of it. I started blogging a little about diversity in metal, but have really neglected it in favor of bass. I should probably give more attention to that other blog sometime.

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      6. Yeah, I find a lot of the bands I like getting classed as metal, when to me they seem more hard rock. The lines are blurring. I think metal and punk have a lot of similar stereotypes. There’s a sort of supposition that it’s crashy with a lot of screaming, so labels don’t want to use the terminology, which leads to misuse of the ‘alternative’ and ‘rock’ labels as an avoidance tactic, but that also lends itself to genre-merging.

        It’s funny you mention your other blog, because I always presumed this would be the less active one. But, since I’m much more loose in the posting process here, and it’s more conversational, it’s the other that ends up neglected, because each post requires more work there, where here I just toss out whatever crazy thing I’m thinking at the time.


    1. lol. I honestly have no opinion on it one way or the other. I like it well enough when it’s on, but I don’t really give it any thought when it’s not.
      I’m having way more fun with ‘Fang Island’ by Chompers right now. I’m finding the more…bouncy?? rock songs are just plain more fun to play.
      Songs like Cemetery Gates are interesting though, there’s a complexity to the bass lines that you wouldn’t expect, because the bass gets “buried” by the screaming guitars. Definitely requires some skill, though. Things on the metal end of things get downplayed as ‘a bunch of screaming’ by mainstream audiences, I think, but they’re actually some of the most complex melodies I’m coming across. All learning is good learning. But knowing what I know now, the next time someone acts like metal is ‘just a bunch of screaming’, I will give them my best’ you idiot’ look. lol


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