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Passive vs. Active Circuitry?
Ask Damian Erskine

Passive vs. Active Circuitry?

Q: I’m just getting back into the bass and there’s something I’ve always been curious about: the differences (as well as the different kinds) of passive vs. active circuitry. What are the main differences between them, why are there only active and passive circuits, and what does it mean to have either in a bass? A: Although I am not...

Ask Damian Erskine: A Series of Questions on Promotion and Life as a Musician
Ask Damian Erskine

Ask Damian Erskine: A Series of Questions on Promotion and Life as a Musician

I was recently emailed a list of questions by a student working on their dissertation. I enjoyed the dialogue and thought they might be useful to the general public as well. With his permission, I’m going to make this weeks post our quick Q&A. 1. In your experience what has been the most effective way of self-promotion? A: The only...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

Practice Technique: Note Isolation for Improved Intonation

There are countless ways to improve our intonation, both at our instrument and away from it. Here’s one strategy, to be done at our instrument, which can help open our ears and stabilize a key center. It involves isolating and spotlighting a single pitch every time it appears. The technique works well with music of any tempo. You can isolate...

Ask Damian Erskine

Ask Damian Erskine: Chord Voicings

Q: Can you help me get away from the standard root position chords that I already know? A: Hopefully, yes! The following will presume an intermediate level of understanding of chords and basic theory. But, if you’re working on this stuff, you’ve probably already got at least enough of a grip on it to follow along. Give this a shot!...

Columns

Seeing Through Hearing

I’m an ear player… By that I mean I’m good at hearing something and responding intuitively to it on my bass, without necessarily knowing exactly what I’m doing. This has been both advantageous AND a disability to me. Below I’ve listed some of the pros and cons of being this kind of a player. See if you identify with any...

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Ask Damian Erskine

Ask Damian Erskine: Saying Less With More

Q: I’ve recently found myself really inspired by guys who play a lot less notes and leave a lot more space in the music, in particular Charlie Haden. I was wondering how you would approach playing less/leaving more space yet still creating a bass line that is interesting, enjoyable and challenging to play? I was also wondering if you thought...

A Review of “The Stanley Clarke Band”
Reviews

A Review of “The Stanley Clarke Band”

In The Stanley Clarke Band, the great bassist has released a record which is the heir to the halcyon days of School Days, Stanley Clarke and Journey to Love. There are some extended, electric fusion pieces and a range of fresh sounding music. As the title hints, it’s very much a band record: Stanley’s line up features exciting young players...

Ask Damian Erskine

Speaking in Longer Sentences

Q: How should I go about developing longer solo ideas? In my solos I’m having trouble playing fast lines for more than a couple bars or so. I feel like I can really let the conversation flow by using lots of long notes broken up by short (maybe 4-ish bars at most), quick “chopsy” phrases. When I try to keep...

Practicing for Performance
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Practicing for Performance

When we are first learning a new work, we might spend many hours putting it together. We can easily spend days, weeks or even months working on small sections, phrases, passagework, navigating specific chord changes, or other musical and technical items in a piece. We do this not only to perfect individual sections and assure technical fluidity, but also in...

Reviews

Gear Review: DPA 4099B Clip Microphone for Bass

One of the ultimate struggles for a gigging double bassist is getting proper amplification without losing the sound of your instrument. Using a microphone is a great way to preserve your tone, and recently I got my hands on the DPA 4099B Clip Mic for bass to test it out. The Details The 4099 is not a new solution bassists....