Those Magical, Musical Moments.

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Making progress on the bass end of things, in spite of time constraints.
I haven’t got a lot to add recently, because I haven’t been able to squeeze in very much practice time. Because of that, I’ve been working pretty exclusively with the bass (it may be time to admit that I just plain find bass more fun than guitar. lol), just sneaking in some song practice and a bit of work on the lessons section. Most sessions have been sadly under 30 minutes. (Real life, why must you get in the way of my fun time?) Even so, I’ve tried every available song at least once, I’ve reached 100% accuracy on 3 songs, I’m in the 90+% range on several others. Half or more are over 60%.  Now, I haven’t memorized any of them. I haven’t worked any of them with master mode. But, 100% accuracy means I can keep up, I can play these songs, and it’s just a matter of playing them enough to memorize them.  That’s good news, and good for the ego.  Yay.

Lessons are a bit more cumbersome, but this is mostly a matter of developing speed, memorizing the progressions. The tremolo lesson, for example – the switches toward the end are fairly quick.  Since I’m still counting frets, especially higher on the neck, that slows me up a lot.  It’s just time and lots and lots of practice that’s going to make identifying what fret I’m on and which one I need to get to at a glance quicker.

I’ve been reading the bass for dummies book in bits and pieces, too, but I’m basically sneaking five minutes at a time. When my free time is limited, I’d rather play than read, but I’m working on it. Not much to discuss there yet, as I’m still only scratching the surface of the book, so not much to discuss on that front just yet.

I’ve also dried out the rose petal I caught at Friday Nights Vamps/Like a Storm concert in NYC, and crushed it up to make myself a memento.

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Crushed Rose Petal? Or Magic Potion?
It looks a bit like a magic potion, but one might argue that the line between music and magic is thin, blurry, and maybe doesn’t really exist at all.  It was a great concert, and worthy of a very special, one of a kind memento – even if I had to use the herpes of craft supplies (glitter. it’s EVERYWHERE.) to make it.

I’ve been doing some casual reading of lists.  It seems people into music really like listing and categorizing people. And then relisting them, and recategorizing them.  And, I’ve read a few interviews.  It’s all pretty random, but the same questions keep coming up, things like “who inspired you?” and “when did you know…?” etc.  It creates a sort of mental block for me. I imagine how long the interviewees might have thought about it until they had an answer that sounded good.  Music has never been one thing for me, it’s been a series of perfect moments that just sort of accumulate on top of one another into something that has to be the definition of joy. There’s no one thing that I can really point at and say ‘THIS is the reason I wanted to learn an instrument.’  There’s no magic formula.  And, all these interviews make it seem like there’s a roadmap you can follow to see what makes this musician this way, and that musician that way, and it all just seems far too simple. Maybe it is, sometimes. I don’t know, but it’s something I find really curious, which brings me to Amanda Palmer’s ‘Judy Blume’ (this line of thought has that song stuck in my head, particularly the opening line:

“People keep asking me why I do things that I do,
In all of this measuring influence I forgot you,”

The things we forget about shape us just as much as the things we remember. It makes me wonder what goes through the heads of these rockers AFTER the interview. That moment when they walk back out into the world and go ‘ah, I should have said…’  Missed opportunity, that. 🙂

So, I think it’s a good time to open a dialogue. To the musicians, or artists, or other creative types who might be reading this, when did you decide ‘THAT’S’ what i want to learn. Do you find yourself struck by an influencing act, a singular show, or was it all these little things that you didn’t notice right away that just accumulated over time until the compulsion was too strong to avoid.

For myself, I’m in the latter camp.  I went through a lot in my 20s that left me haggard. When I found myself coming out the other end of it, I think I was desperate for something to grab onto that might give me some happiness in life, something to learn without a destination, but just for the joy of learning. And, that led me back to the only thing that had never let me down: music.  I’m still at the beginning of this journey.  I barely know anything, but I have an unquenchable curiosity for knowledge, and I think it would be fascinating to hear a bit about your ‘a-ha!’ moments, if you feel inclined to share.

Until Next time – less typing, more playing! I have an appointment to keep with my bass. Rock on!

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4 thoughts on “Those Magical, Musical Moments.

  1. For me (and I don’t really consider myself a “creative” type, although others would argue otherwise), I often don’t realize I want to learn something until I’ve already sort of learned it. Or, someone else will see the potential in me and plant the seed. But mostly, I learn things because I just have an innate curiosity in things. I don’t want to guess, I want to know, to experience.

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    1. Yeah, I have a very bad habit of wanting to learn ALL THE THINGS. Lol. And very little patience for reaching an advanced level at one before moving on to another. Hence, the blog-to keep me focused on the task(s) at hand.

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  2. I think it was 2 things for me. The first might be a little cliché, but I remember seeing Cliff Burton from Metallica taking a bass solo, and the effect was absolutely mesmerizing to me. I remember telling my friends afterward that every time I thought about it again, it came up in my head like he was playing with blue lightning coursing down into his bass and a lightning show on top. To this day, when I think of him, I remember that, as unmanly as it sounds.

    The 2nd was when I was at a local show at The Lowdown in Mt. Vernon. The place is gone now, but some of my friends’ bands played, and then this band called Idiot Syndicate came up. Their bassist just floored me. He was all over the neck, not just in one spot like all of the others I saw. I ended up buying my bass because of him, and then, I ran into him and his girlfriend at Tower Records, I was wearing a shirt from his band. I blubbered about how he was so awesome and was the reason that I bought a bass. He told me to wait right there and then he left. He came back and gave me stickers, a CD and explained that what he did was the result of locking himself up in a room all day listening to nothing but Black Sabbath.

    This past December, I found him on Facebook. I ended up contacting him to see if he’s interested in giving lessons, because he actually lives somewhere in Yonkers, like me. He was flattered, remembered me from that time in Tower, and was willing to meet and talk shop, although he said he couldn’t do lessons because he doesn’t read music or know theory.

    I told him we should wait until the weather is better (which it now is, now that I think of it) and then grab food and shoot the breeze. I want him to be the first bassist I interview for the blog, and then I want to talk to Ross Dolan from Immolation as my 2nd.

    But yeah, Cliff Burton and the guy from Idiot Syndicate in the 90’s. And I still haven’t really learned how to play…

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    1. I wish I had stories like these! I honestly feel this sense of shame that I don’t even have a favorite bassist. I feel like I’m supposed to; everyone else does. But, I also feel like I know so little that I’m in no way qualified to even say what makes a good bassist, let alone name examples. I know I love Dan Andriano’s bass lines (Alkaline Trio), but does that make him a “good” bassist? Compared to who? I don’t know the answer to that yet.
      Maybe as someone who’s got a lot of interests, and is playing around with a few different instruments, it’s normal to not have this one moment where you go ‘I want to play like THAT’, maybe it’s a lot more fluid. Or, maybe those moments just haven’t quite come to the surface yet that I’m consciously aware of/remember them. I just sort of have been prioritizing the instruments that seem to suit my basic nature/personality best, I suppose. Playing around with whatever is the most fun.

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