Newbie Tries Live Looping Using Ableton Live

I am that newbie, and boy do I suck at this. How many times do I have to suck before getting it right just like those folks at the BOSS Loopstation Championships? Gotta shed some more wood on bass? Piano? Ableton? I guess that would be everything.

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Bassists Matter

People who ask whether bassists matter or not are just plain ignorant.

Again, I will repeat this: people who ask whether bassists matter or not are plain ignorant.

Every time you take out all the bass frequencies in any piece of music, it will sound bare. It’s as if you took out a person’s spine.

Some people try to further ponder upon the question, :Do bassists matter?” by examining isolated bass tracks. That is probably one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever seen on the Internet.

Here’s a better challenge to those who question whether or not bassists matter: Try to listen to tracks of any of these artists without the bass tracks:

  1. Rush
  2. Primus
  3. Iron Maiden
  4. Return to Forever
  5. Bela Fleck and the Flecktones

Any person who would say that bassists don’t matter at all after hearing bass-less tracks of these artists are idiots.

Dealing with the Six-String Bass Guitar

The electric bass guitar certainly has a very interesting history. If it were a person, you would know that one of its ancestors was the orchestral double bass and from the other side is the electric guitar. Most people would know a bass guitar to be a four-stringed instrument, but as bass players wanted to extend the range of their instruments, instruments with more than four strings have been developed, the five-stringed version with the low B being very popular. However, I have chosen to go one string further with a six-string bass.

I started playing a four-string bass when I was a teen and then I went up to five, and then more recently the six-string bass. While there are those who hate the six-string bass by being too much to handle, I personally love the instruments flexibility and range. I’m assuming people didn’t realize that the six-string bass was supposed to make people’s lives easier. If you’re surprised that I’m saying that, try playing a two-octave arpeggio over a four string. I’m quite sure that it’s a stretch. On a six-string bass, you can play the same arpeggio over just a span of six frets. If I use the four-string technique on the six-string, I could cover three octaves.

The way I chose my tuning is a matter of convenience. For a while I was playing my six-string bass in the standard fashion: all fourths from B to C. It was wonderful at first. But being a guitarist as well, the C at the 1st string can sometimes be off putting. I could manage with that C well, but I wanted my guitar technique to translate into my bass playing. This is why I decided to tune my bass like a baritone guitar (an octave lower of course) and so the tuning is (from 6th to 1st string) is B, E, A, D, F#, B. It’s a step higher than the Guitarron Mexicano. The great thing about this tuning is that I could use my guitar techniques, one of the most important is the CAGED system. I could also use certain techniques I’ve learned from fingerstyle guitar i.e. classical/flamenco-style tremolo, barre chords, etc. Rather than putting energy into learning techniques specific to the standard six-string bass tuning, I’d like to concentrate more on writing and making music and so the baritone guitar tuning helps a lot by saving up my neurons for something else. It’s just more efficient for me that way.

Given the size of the neck, the six-string bass guitar can be unwieldy. Thus I am not surprised why John Myung wants his six-string bass guitar to have a neck width comparable to just a five-string. At this point, I really can’t have a choice on that matter. It’s rather difficult to find a six-string bass guitar in the Philippines unless you have one crafted for yourself, so I’m very fortunate to have found one at a budget price. All in all, the six-string bass guitar has been of great help for my music.

Franck Hermanny of Adagio Provides Feedback Regarding “Nuit Blanche” Transcription

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I was experiencing a week without any sort of new project to work with. It was one of those times in a freelance “behind the scenes” musician’s life that is free. To occupy myself while in the middle of applying for and acquiring new projects, I decided to exercise my music transcription skills by going the Steve Vai route: transcribing a rather difficult piece of music and sending it to the composer himself. While Mr. Vai back in the 80s worked on Frank Zappa’s music, I decided to take on one of the songs by virtuoso bassist Franck Hermanny.

To anyone of you who are not aware of who Mr. (or should I say Monsieur?) Hermanny is, he is the a French freelance musician most popularly known as the bassist of Adagio, a progressive metal band. While Adagio’s music primarily sounds like Ludwig Van Beethoven and John Williams playing in a progressive metal band, Mr. Hermanny’s solo work has a great dose of jazz fused with Frank Gambale style sweep picking and neoclassical shred ON A SIX-STRING BASS! This bass player sounds like he can play anything under the sun ranging from Rocco Prestia funk to Geddy Lee prog.

Back to talking about the transcription itself, I decided to take on the song “Nuit Blanche” because I recently acquired a six-string bass myself and I wanted to learn more about Franck Hermanny’s technique and music. I spent nine work hours over a three-day period working on the score. If you have watched the video of Nuit Blanche, you’ll see and hear that it’s no simple feat to transcribe:

“Nuit Blanche” was just perfect because of it’s pedagogical nature, given that I usually transcribe sheet music for music education purposes (mainly guitar). After completing the draft, I had the “cojones” to send it to Franck Hermanny himself and ask for feedback. So what did the bass master say about it? Here it goes:

  • He appreciated the time and effort I spent working on the piece.
  • There were some mistakes here and there, which is a given because of the piece’s difficulty.
  • I should have written it with a doubled tempo (around 160 BPM in half notes instead of quarter notes). In this case, the note values will be doubled, making it easier to sight read (reading 8th notes at a faster tempo is easier than reading 16th note runs because of simpler beat divisions)
  • Overall, he said I did a really great job.

I’m quite happy with the notation I did for “Nuit Blanche” although I can still do better as he had suggested. Since I have an upcoming transcription project I need to work on this coming work week, I would not be able to perform the necessary edits for the Nuit Blanche score for now. If I get the time, I will edit the score based on Mr.Hermanny’s feedback.

So, for anyone who is interested in getting the sheet music for “Nuit Blanche”, feel free to contact me. Please remember, however, that this sheet music is still in draft form and is in no way final or official…that is unless Mr. Hermanny would ask me to create an official version with his guidance and blessing of course ; ) (and in that case, you would have to buy the score rather than get it for free).