bass playing

Within this low E lies a world of expression.

As bass players, let’s slow down for a moment and think about what makes every note so special.

As bass players, we spend most of our time building lines and phrases one note at a time, each one followed by the next—or by strategically placed silence. The notes we play don’t live in a vacuum, though; they define the shifting harmony in the context of the other instruments, establish the rhythmic pulse with the drummer, and work together with other notes to create the emotional heft and physical feel of the music.

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Anthony Tidd backstage in Denmark with his custom Martin Petersen-built Sei bass.

In this introductory installment, our new columnist Anthony Tidd considers his own path to discovering the most important role of the bass—and it’s not lightning-fast technique!

In a world where Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube are literally saturated with teens and younger kids who have bass chops capable of scaring most grown bassists into an early grave, the prospects of ever becoming the next to achieve Jameson- or Jaco-level status seem bleak. Last week, a friend sent me a video of a very young girl ripping through John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” solo as Coltrane played along in the background. She sounded great, and so did Coltrane! I, too, learned that solo in my late teens, so I know firsthand how hard it is to play up to speed, but she did it with a smile and made it look easy.

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