For Christmas last year, I got a bass guitar, a lovely sunburst finishVintage model. What with a busy college schedule, and needing to get cables and other equipment before I could really start playing, I only really got my teeth into this summer, and have practiced a lot over the last few weeks particularly. It’s been an interesting experience – I already to play two other instruments, both of which I’ve played for a long time. Though I’m by no means at professional level on either of them, I’ve been competent and proficient with them both for many years. Starting the whole process of learning my way around a new instrument has been at times frustrating, and at other times rewarding. It’s difficult to pick up the instrument, look at the sheet music for a piece you know well, and be completely unable to find the notes. On the other hand, I’ve long believed that learning an instrument gives you a unique way of thinking about music – and with each new instrument you learn, you add a new dimension to your capacity for musical thought. This has certainly been the case for learning the bass – I’ve developed a new method of thinking my way around the notes. Spending time with the lower register of songs has also been beneficial to me compositionally, as I find I’m writing more interesting parts in the bass registers my own music.
The primary reason I took up bass is that I really wanted to be able to play more pop and rock music. While I play keyboards already, some of the styles of music I wanted to pursue weren’t particularly suited to keyboards, and I knew plenty of guitarists but not very many bassists. Though I don’t agree with the common notion that the bass is an inferior guitar – it’s a distinct instrument with a very distinct style of playing – it’s probably true that a lot of bass repertoire is more accessible than guitar repertoire. This way, I’d be able to start playing music with people faster. I also have had a great love for the instrument for a long while – from the first time I really listened to Flea I’ve had an appreciation for the bass as a distinct and important part of rock music. Continue reading