Zander Zon: Bohemian Rhapsody
Zander Zon makes his long-awaited return with another fantastic bass arrangement.
“Arranging ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is one of the hardest things I’ve done in music! I’ve spent a lot of hours over the past few months learning, arranging, practicing and performing this song, and almost gave up about a hundred times. It was quite a journey so I wanted to give an insight into the process,” Zander shared.
Zander shared a lot more on this arrangement:
“After choosing the tuning, it was on to the most challenging task: learning all the notes. And there were quite a lot of them! I don’t read music on the bass; I mainly play by ear. So, I learnt the notes for this rock opera arduously: by watching, and listening, to piano tutorials on YouTube and then working out the notes on bass. The advantage to watching a piano tutorial as opposed to, say a guitar tutorial, is it’s very easy to see which notes are being played due to the layout – all 88 notes on a piano simply ascend in a line from low to high. Still, at times, in the most complex sections, like the ‘operatic section’, learning around 10 seconds of the song took up to an hour!
“After working out the notes, it was then about trying to make it interesting on the bass. That’s where the creative process comes in. I’ve always felt there’s a lot of ‘composing’ when arranging music for the bass. On piano – which many would say is the finest solo instrument – it’s a lot more straightforward, in my opinion. But there is actually a good amount of creativity and problem solving required when arranging for solo bass – especially the four-string bass – as you have to figure out how to play harmony, melody and rhythm at the same time, while also having various techniques and sounds to choose from. This is very different from the piano which much more easily facilitates harmony and melody being played simultaneously, but doesn’t have the bass’ range of choices when it comes to tone.
“When arranging music on the bass, I have found that limitations can breed creativity, and overcoming the challenge of playing melody and harmony together can result in something that is, simply, musical. This song was no different. For example, one passage necessitated harmonics just to play it correctly with the melody ‘singing’ over the chords, and therefore two purposes were served: firstly, the expressive melody was able to be played over the harmony notes, and secondly, the tone of the harmonics added a different timbre to the passage, making it more musical. A lot of the techniques that you see in this video – for example, two-hand tapping, chords, etc – were born out of necessity, as opposed to what conservative audience members may view as ‘showing off’.
“I’m proud of what the bass can do, and I’m proud to be a small part of changing how others might perceive this instrument. If you like the video, please give it a like and share it around, so others can perhaps see the bass in a new light! And finally, one last thing:
“Is this the real life?
“Is this just fantasy?
“Caught in a landslide,
“No escape from reality…”