A little while ago I talked about why it’s important to sit down and listen to music, not just have music playing in the background of your life (The Importance of Critical Listening Part 1). I also eluded to the fact that listening to mp3 downloads aren’t going to help you develop your tone. In this blog post, I’m going to tell you about a few ways to improve the sound of music in your life!
As I typed the title phrase Critical Listening I thought to myself “Why do I need to include the word critical?” Why not just title it “The Importance of Listening”?
I guess I added critical for the younger generations that may not have grown up with the idea that a home stereo could be something that you sit in front of like a computer, TV, or book. I felt that if I would have just used the word listen, some people might think “Sure, I listen to music every day- in the car, at the grocery store, when I’m walking across campus, etc… What’s the big deal?”
For the first time in my life I have had an electric bass made for me. It’s a neat feeling, almost like when someone writes a song for you (which I haven’t experienced, hint hint hint). This is the story about my friend at Fleet Guitars, Leslie McCurdy, and the beautiful fretless bass that he made for me.
So, this should be a quick blog post, right. Everyone these days seems to have come full circle back to the discussion that began in ernest in the 1980′s. Which is better? Vinyl? CD? Well, I am here to announce the official results! There is a definite answer, which is enclosed in an envelope sitting in front of me. Okay, are you ready?
Is vinyl better than CD, or is CD better than vinyl? And the answer is………………
Pedal boards and the electric bass
It’s something I’ve always thought would be cool, but in the every day sideman world, effects pedals have little or no application for the bass. I have vivid memories of being 13 years old and running my Fender Precision through my dad’s Cry Baby wha wha pedal and having fun– by myself in the spare bedroom. Try pulling that out on a gig. You had better have a vision of how it fits into the music! Well, I’m older now, and I’ve realized that if you want to get crazy with the pedals, all you have to do is form a band and write music with the pedals in mind. Easy!
I love a good problem, especially when I’m actually able to figure it out AND it doesn’t involve my stereo. You can imagine my dismay when my stereo developed a loud ground hum after I had an electrician install two dedicated AC lines.
I was all excited to fire up the system that first night and listen to music that was un-muddied by all the noise running through the 60 year old circuit that I was using to power my fancy stereo. There are only two circuits for the 2nd floor of my house, which was built in 1942. In addition to lights, my stereo was also sharing the juice with a fan, TV, Tivo DVR, and a computer. All of these appliances introduce a little noise into the AC flow. You may not be able to notice it if you’re listing to music through a Bose Wave radio or similar entry level stereo, but you can definitely hear that gook in my fancy-schmancy system that I’ve put together over the last five years!
I have been a fan of earplugs for a long time, but it wasn’t until I lost my custom moulded pair that I reflected on my long term relationship with these little silicone live savers.
I’ve been playing gigs since I was about 14 years old, but it wasn’t until I went on the road with Maynard Ferguson that I realized it was time to fill in ye olde ear holes. I vividly remember my first rehearsal with Maynard. We were set up in an empty hotel room in Indiana. Two saxes, three trumpets, trombone, piano, bass, drums, and Maynard. Now, if you’re not familiar with trumpet players, they can really hurt their lips if they can’t hear themselves properly. That being the case, Maynard was playing into a microphone which was being piped though two stage monitors at his feet. You heard me right. I was standing three feet from the legendary Maynard Ferguson, in a small room, whilst he played double Cs into a PA system!