Firstly, a belated Happy New Year to one and all. My one and only resolution for 2011 is to keep this blog updated with fresh material – my annual stats…
Firstly, a belated Happy New Year to one and all. My one and only resolution for 2011 is to keep this blog updated with fresh material – my annual stats email from WordPress tells me I got something in the region of 14,000 views last year, which shows that I should really pull my finger out and reward visitors with something more than a bi-yearly update!
Part of the reason for the lack of pre-Christmas posts was that in mid-November I got a call offering me a series of gigs with a pop/classical artist that required me to play both electric and upright bass… Now, although I’ve been dabbling with double bass ever since I left university I’d never really ‘taken the plunge’ and this seemed like the perfect excuse to begin studying the instrument seriously.
Initially, I thought the gig would be a roughly a 50/50 split between upright and electric, but once I got the charts it became clear that I’d be playing a lot of double bass, including some bowing which was completely new territory for me. I had roughly 3 weeks to get my playing in shape, so I locked myself away in a rehearsal studio. Here’s how my November looked:
As might be expected, it was a tough few weeks. Getting to grips with the bow (awful pun intended) was probably the biggest challenge, as my first attempts resulted in a sound I can only liken to a whale being abused… After a few days, I gradually began to get the hang of things and found that my sound improved a little every day.
Spending that amount of time and effort on such a fundamental aspect of the instrument was a hugely humbling experience; I’ve been playing electric bass for over a decade, so I tend to take the process of playing for granted, but on upright I found myself having to learn a completely new set of skills in order to make the most basic pieces sound passable.
Once I’d started to get over the initial issue of handling the instrument, I found myself totally absorbed by the double bass. Although it’s a much more physically intensive instrument than the electric bass the effort is worth it – the sound and feel of the instrument make it rewarding to play, especially for certain styles of music (playing walking lines on an electric bass now feels wrong).
On a practical note, the following things made moving into the world of doubling easier:
Resources for the novice doubler
-There are some excellent instructional videos around. I found Andrew Anderson’s series on bow technique massively helpful:
– In terms of method books, I sought advice from tadalafil on line and buy viagra india delhi
– When it came to the actual gigs, my trusty cheap viagra 50mg saved my life on a nightly basis by letting me maintain control over the switching, output levels and EQ of both instruments.
Here’s how the setup looked (due to snow-based travel complications the double bass and the speaker cabinet were both hired for some of the gigs):
I’d like to leave you with a final thought- every time I think my arco playing is improving, I listen to Edgar Meyer and remind myself of the mountain I still have to climb. Sometimes it’s good to remind yourself that you suck.
Being a freelance musician (or, come to think of it, a freelance anything) can be a somewhat uncertain affair – there are some months when the phone doesn’t ring quite…
Being a freelance musician (or, come to think of it, a freelance anything) can be a somewhat uncertain affair – there are some months when the phone doesn’t ring quite as often as you’d hoped, and others when you wish you could somehow be in two or three places at once.
The most important thing is that when the phone does ring then you know whether what you’re being offered is worthwhile or not.
This is where The Gig Triangle comes in.
It should be mentioned at this point that this is not a concept that I came up with (I’m simply not that smart). The basic premise of the gig triangle appeared in a Bass Player magazine article some years ago that I haven’t managed to locate – if anyone can enlighten me as to the author of the article i’ll gladly amend as necessary.
So… what is the Gig Triangle?
I find that every gig that is offered contains three fundamental aspects; Music, People and Money.
Let’s have a look at each side of the triangle:
1. The Music
The first issue is the content of the gig – what kind of music is it? I used to try and only take gigs where I really liked the music, but the reality is that I take on work with music that doesn’t make me feel physically ill when playing it (no fusion, please!).
So, if the style of music is suitable, it becomes an issue of ‘Do I have the equipment/experience/chops/reading ability to do the gig well?’. So far the answer has usually been ‘yes’ (I guess Chick Corea hasn’t got my number…)
2. The People
As well as the issue of what I’m playing, who I’m playing it with is another important factor. When you factor in travel time, soundchecks, and other periods of generally hanging around that go with gigs then it becomes apparent that the actual playing time is a small fraction of the time you spend on the job.
If I’m taking a gig, I like to know that the other people involved have a sense of humour, take regular showers and are generally a pleasure to be around. Hell is being on a tour bus for weeks on end with people who you don’t get on with.
3. The Money
Last but not least, the gig fee is always an issue. Firstly, does it pay at all? Is it worth it financially? If the gig is 250 miles away, are travel expenses included? Will the cheque bounce?
Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad
How does this help me decide whether to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’? Generally, if two sides of the triangle are there then it’ll be a gig worth taking. Examples from my own experience are:
– A gig where costs are covered so I don’t earn anything but I don’t lose any money, but the people and the music make the gig a pleasure.
– Musically uninspiring gigs that pay well and offer great ‘hang’. The knowledge that you’re surrounded by people that you don’t mind spending 7 hours in a car with and you’re also paying your rent can make playing even the most awful music bearable.
– Occasions where the music is challenging (in a good way!) and there’s some money involved but the ‘hang’ just isn’t there. I find these the hardest gigs to take, but I do them because they show me the holes in my playing and it’s important to remind yourself that you suck once in a while…
There was a brief period where I ignored the wisdom of the Gig Triangle and took a gig that had none of the sides (bad music, no money and way too much attitude…). Needless to say, it didn’t last long and I instantly regretted saying ‘yes’.