Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Now for Something a Little Different

New years often mean resolutions, but for me this year it means trying something new. Every year my mom gives us an envelope of money to spend on something that we want and this year I decided to buy something unexpected.  I hadn't been thinking about it,  but I had.

What happened was on Christmas Day, everyone was either napping or staring at one type of screen or another, my  brother-in-law suggested that we grab some coffee and head over to his guitar practice space in an old mill. He gave me a tour of the spaces where other musicians practiced, telling little stories of them as we went along. My sister and I settled in a couple of chairs and chatted the best we could over the guitar music, sipping our coffee feeling as if we were getting away with something.

After a while he put down the guitar and picked up the bass.  He messed with it for a while, playing everything by ear. In between songs, we discussed his business of repairing used guitars and selling them. Since he and my sister had recently moved, he has been rebuilding the business in their new location.  He suggested that I give him a call if I ever decided to buy my daughter a guitar. I laughed and said that I wasn't planning on buying her a guitar...but I might buy myself a bass.

He paused for the briefest moment (contemplating his mild mannered, bookish, somewhat odd sister-in-law playing the bass, perhaps?) and told me that he could hook me up with a bass for less than the amount that was tucked into the long thin card from my mom. He then offered a small amplifier that he had sitting around. Suddenly, I had taken on a new aspiration, playing the bass. My involvement with music, excepting two semesters of guitar in junior high, and primer level piano lessons in my thirties, has been mostly one of appreciation.  I DJ-ed at the school radio station during college, playing alternative and punk, but that's about it.


Since I bought an MP3 several years ago, I started to collect digital versions of my favorite songs.  Buying CD's was a pain, I had to store them and then if I only like a couple of songs on it, I'm stuck with the whole thing and figuring out where to put all of the CD's. Downloading the two or three songs that I really like works better for me.  Being able to switch from one favorite song to the next without having to stop everything and move things about is wonderful.  My collection contains an odd assortment, mostly 70's-90's and a couple from the last few years, with a little classical tossed in.  I spent most of the early 2000's listening to Raffi, so I missed out on whatever was going on at that point.  Folk, pop, punk, alternative, ska--whatever I happen to like is in it.


When I bought my tablet a year ago, I transferred the music onto my tablet. My dog then promptly chewed my MP3 to bits. I regularly hook my tablet up to my husband's 1988-ish state-of-the-art-bachelor-era stereo with speakers that could blow out the windows of our little house, it's fun.  


Once all of the dross was removed from the record collection, a pattern appears--bass lines, lots of them. For example, a band I love The Jam (didn't get much airplay in the US). For a bass line they are one band to go to, a couple of examples: A Town Called Malice





Eton Rifles



The English Beat, Mirror in the Bathroom


 and, of course, Nirvana

  I started a folder on my tablet for songs with good base lines and realized that some of these bassists are incredibly fast.  Yikes.


I've been doing more listening than playing, than I had originally planned.  Between the time when I decided to get a bass and when it arrived at my house I had a bit of an incident. I was holding my hound by the collar and she decided to spin a couple of times twisting my fingers  in a loop so tightly that I couldn't remove them and then she panicked and pulled with all her might, crushing and twisting my hand.  When I managed to extricate myself, I immediately removed my wedding band, fearing that my fingers would swell up and I would have to have it cut off.  It was a good move.    Watch her in the video, she is one powerful mutt.


Two and a half weeks later, I still cannot get the ring back on.  I can do most things, but the most painful is grocery shopping  with all of the picking things up, putting them in the cart, taking them out of the cart, then carrying heavy bags with narrow handles and putting it all away, what ever motions that process requires really feel awful.  I'm a bit achy when I'm done practicing, but it's nothing like grocery shopping.  Here is my blue bass sitting in the kitchen out of the way, so that I can sit down a random times and practice.

I try to practice in short intervals.  I started following some bass lessons on-line, haven't made much progress yet, but that will come.  I was trying to play right handed, but I may switch to left handed. I realized that when listening to my bass selections on my tablet and following along, I was playing air base left handed. That makes complete sense, but playing left handed means that I will need to convert all instructions in my brain before applying them, which makes learning anything more challenging.  I've been doing it my entire life, I'm used to it, but it makes everything a harder.  I need to search for a youtube bass lesson program that is left-handed, almost everything else exists out there, why not that? I'll keep you posted.