Yesterday’s blog from Dresden was realy good, or so I thought, until I noticed it was empty, and that I had in fact forgotten to write it. Well, tough luck, you can’t have everything, always.
My life as a bass player has been interesting these days. We are now playing in some big rooms. Generating low frquency audio signals with some Kilowatts of power in such a room is like farming dinosaurs: they just will not do what you want them to do, and anyway, first you have to train the sheepdog, which is about the size of two sperm whales. Of all these boomy creatures I am probably the least intelligent, and not ‘adapted’, as Darwin would put it, for works on this scale.
The goal of the bassist, as he or she is called, is to somehow organise these great mountains of air into a form where they can be understood as ‘music’, whatever that means. Traditionally the bass player got the job not because of any musical ability, but because he (as it was back then, until Suzi Quattro and Carol Kaye) happened to own a Ford Transit van, by far the most important bit of equipment for a young band. No Transit, no gig.
The biggest part of the bassists job is to not make any mistakes, because mistakes on this scale are BIG, and tend to upset other members of the band. Let me put it another way: the aim of the job is to not upsetÂ your colleagues. Is that it? Is that all? Better not to have bass at all I sometimes think. But there IS a positive side to the thing, which is that the bass is there to hide the mistakes that the other members of the band make. You can shovel a ton of mistakes into any simple bass figure. In fact, the simpler the figure, the more mistakes it will hold. This has to be balanced by a need not to simplify so much that the audience goes to sleep: they like a bit of Dinosaur action, and can sleep later.
Next week: the role of the Fender Bass in the cave rituals at Lascaux.