The Big Letdown
When I was fifteen and just started playing music, I had no idea that I would become a solo bass player. Quite the opposite. I had absolutely no interest in becoming a bass player. I wanted to be the next Kurt Cobain. The only kids I knew that were also interested in music were two brothers. One of them played guitar and the other one drums. Hesitating at first, I decided to pick up the bass. My desire to playing in a band was bigger than playing the guitar. What sweetened the deal was the fact that they didn't have a singer. So I got to sing and play bass. Which had much nicer ring to it than being only "the bassist". Ask Lemmy Kilmister, Sting, Paul McCartney, Les Claypool, Mark King... the list goes on. In the beginning I thought I was going to fill in on the bass temporarily. As soon as we would find ourselves a dedicated bass player to do the dirty work, I'd be playing guitar again and fulfil my dream of becoming a true rockstar.
In the beginning playing bass was quite a letdown. Back then, I thought the electric bass was one of the most boring instruments in a band. A drum set is impressive alone by its size, the guitarist gets all the solos and the singer gets to stand in front of the stage. The bassist on the other hand hardly gets noticed. I've even heard of people that don't even know this instrument exists.
About Mischa Marcks
Hey Basslover, my name is Mischa Marcks and I made it my mission to provide you with a soundtrack to your journey of self-discovery.
In short: Strictly Bass is solo bass for the mind, heart, and soul. Read more...
My First Bass
I remember the day I got my first bass like it was yesterday. I got it handed down from the original bass player of the Scorpions. His first bass, a 1972 Fender Telecaster. Not that I had any appreciation for that, back then. I just wanted to start practicing. Anyhow, he gave me the bass and I got really excited and told him: “I already know how to play a song: Brainstew by Green Day." All I really knew was how to play it on guitar. So I replicated that on the bass. Playing power chords on the bass with a big proud smile in my face. Only to be crushed, right at that moment.
“Dude, you don't play chords on a bass. You play one note for each chord the guitar plays.”
This instrument was not easy to fall on love with. It already had two strings less than a guitar and on top of that you only get to play one note at a time? I couldn't believe my ears! I felt like I was tricked into playing bass!
Thanks to Lars Lehmann this perspective was changed quickly, though. I got really lucky having him as my first teacher. He showed me another side of the bass and introduced me to bass players like Victor Wooten, Jaco Pastorius and Les Claypool.
To be fair, I wouldn't have called myself a bassists for the first 3-5 years of my musical career. I played an instrument called bass. Never aiming to fulfil its function in a conservative fashion. My first band being a progressive metal band, it was basically asked for. Which was amazing, as I was able to try out everything I could think of. All we wanted was to sound unique. Doubling the guitar riff was a sin. The more complex the bass part, the better.
Form Follows Function
Only years later, when I started getting into jazz, funk, blues and reggae I discovered the beauty of a simple and solid bassline. The bass and its role in music is generally very functional. It is comparable to Bauhaus in design. “Form follows function”. A bassline is seldom the decoration of a song. It's the foundation that everything else rests upon. A foundation should be rock solid. Something you can rely on. It needs the right materials in the right spot or the building will collapse. Translated to musical terms this means the right notes at the right times.
For the first time I made conscious decisions about note lengths. I started analyzing every note I played. Each note was supposed to have a reason for being played. Once I was at this level of precision, I realized that any instrument and any music style is equally complex and hard to perform at a high level. Because, the rabbit hole of conscious decisions that you can make about every single note goes very deep.
I finally arrived at identifying myself as a true bass player and was more than proud to do so!
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Love & Bass✌️
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