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Styles Archives

The Lightbulb Moment: Compare And Contrast
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: Compare And Contrast

It is a lifelong goal of mine to understand the subtleties of music — the sound of records coming from particular eras and locals, the specific timbre of different instruments, and the nuances that reflect the personality of every player. There’s no better way to hone in these subtleties than by comparing and contrasting songs and catalogs that are of...

Talking Style: Mardi Gras Mambo
Talking Style

Talking Style: Mardi Gras Mambo

Mardi Gras Day, also known as “Fat Tuesday” is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday and is the last big blowout before Lent starts and fasting begins. Mardi Gras is actually a season in New Orleans, Carnival Season. Interesting factoid – the word “Carnival” loosely translates to “Farewell to the flesh”. An iconic song played during Carnival season is “Mardi...

Talking Style: I’ve Got To Use My Imagination
Talking Style

Talking Style: I’ve Got To Use My Imagination

One of the things that I love about doing this column is that I sometimes find unlikely pairings – like this one. I didn’t know that Bon Jovi’s Hugh McDonald played bass on this extremely funky joint, “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” as performed by Gladys Knight and the Pips. The song was written and originally performed by Barry...

Talking Style: Bruno Mars vs. Collage
Talking Style

Talking Style: Bruno Mars vs. Collage

Like everyone else who was hip to late 70’s/80’s music I was instantly transported back to the golden age of 80’s electro funk the moment that I heard Mark Ronson / Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk”. However, even though the aural aesthetic certainly reminded me of some of the best times of my life and certainly some of the best music,...

Talking Style: New Jack Swing Part 2 – Poison
Talking Style

Talking Style: New Jack Swing Part 2 – Poison

Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” is one song from the New Jack Swing era of R&B that has certainly stood the test of time. People who weren’t even living when the song was brand new hit dance and sing to it like it came out yesterday. Two really cool things about this bass groove are that it easily serves as a...

Talking Style: New Jack Swing
Talking Style

Talking Style: New Jack Swing

“New Jack Swing” is an era of R&B that mixed jazz, pop and electronic dance music sensibilities with hip-hop production techniques. The “sound”, pioneered by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (former keyboardist and bassist for the Time) and Teddy Riley consists largely of synthesized bass lines, swung hip-hop beats created by the TR-808 drum machine and the SP-1200 sampler with...

Talking Style: G-Funk – Part 2
Talking Style

Talking Style: G-Funk – Part 2

I want to continue the “G-Funk” exploration in this episode by taking a look at the 1995 cut “Safe & Sound” by DJ Quik. This song is a prime example of having a part from a record re-played as opposed to sampling it. This gives the producer so much more freedom in terms of what elements can be added or...

What Makes a Good Bassist?
Ask Damian Erskine

What Makes a Good Bassist?

Q: I was wondering what – in your opinion – makes a good bassist? A: This will be the most subjective article I’ve ever written, most likely, and I imagine that many of you will have a different view by one degree or another. There are many valid view points to be shared. I think that phrasing is important. In...

Talking Style: G-Funk
Talking Style

Talking Style: G-Funk

G-Funk is a sub-genre of Hip-Hop that came out of 1990’s West Coast Gangsta Rap. Some characteristics of G-Funk are Parliament-Funkadelic-inspired, with mid-tempo grooves, melodic synths (high pitched “Gangsta Leads”), deep bass, and male or female vocals on the hooks. G-funk often consists of fewer, unaltered samples per song as opposed to the altered samples that are more prominent in...

Talking Style: Oh Freedom
Talking Style

Talking Style: Oh Freedom

I’ve been wanting to do some Gospel episodes but wasn’t sure where I wanted to start until now. The first song that we’ll look art is the post-Civil War spiritual, “Oh Freedom”. In particular, I’m going to show you some ideas on how to “hear the changes” , an extended Gospel-style turnaround and how you might approach this song if...