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June 30, 2006

Re-fill, Re-load, Re-boot

I'm craving inspiration lately and not finding it anywhere. Actually - not totally true.

I read a story in the latest Fast Company magazine titled Revenge of the Nerds - it's about Arin Crumley and Susan Buice - a couple of 20 something art students who found each other through online dating in New York and decided to turn their courtship into an art project that ultimately led to a feature length film "Four Eyed Monsters". (BTW - if you need an access code to get to the story it's FCJULDSGN)

The mag article is about these filmakers as example of a power shift away from mass media to individual artists. It's a good story.

But more inspirational to me is the actual project these guys created and how they are getting people to see it. i watched all 7 video podcasts they uploaded about the making of the film - it's facinating. I missed the screening here in my hometown (we have a terrific art house theater called the Rafael where they showed Four Eyed Monsters for 1 day. Yesterday. I just learned about the film last night. Oh well

Check out the movie website - give the video podcasts a view (they range from 4-10 minutes each)

Four Eyed Monsters

Here's the first video podcast episode.

June 22, 2006

Listening


I've been doing lots of listening lately.

Mostly to music and artists that at some point I formed a negative or indifferent opinion about.

I feel I've been changing recently. So I wanted to revisit music and ideas that didn't strike me originally - thinking maybe I just wasn't ready for it. Some stuff I still think is lame (or rather - "not for me") - and in other stuff I'm discovering new appreciations.

I'm not getting much playing done this week - we have a heat wave blowing through and it's 90 degrees in my practice room- at 6:30pm!

I probably won't get in there until after 11pm and maybe then only for an hour. But when I have played in the past few days - I'm finding myself working on new stuff rather than perfecting already written stuff.

Go figure.

June 14, 2006

Bass Weekend

Jeff Schmidt @ Bass Weekend

Artsy action shot by Mark Wright of AccuGroove Cabs.

Less artsy - but still courtesy of Mark Wright

Jeff Schmidt 2 web.jpg

Jeff Schmidt 6 web.jpg

Happy Flag Day

What better time to ammend the US Constitution to ban buring the The Flag


Considering 99% of all US Flag burning is happening in countries OTHER than the US - don't know what good that's gonna do.

Perspective

I can't help but feel awed when made aware of the inconceivable vastness of the universe.

This galaxy is said to be about 420 Million Light Years away. (the distance light travels in 1 year=5.88 trillion miles)

So this photo is what it looked like 420 Million years ago. Shit. Who knows what it looks like NOW! - It may have completely fallen apart for all we know.

The tail of the galaxy is rougly 280,000 Light Years long - almost 3 times the width of our own galaxy.

And despite it's amazing size - and it's incredible distance from us, the galaxy is only 1 foreground object to an immense backdrop of THOUSANDS more galaxies at distances beyond understanding.

June 12, 2006

Last FM

I'm playing around with LAST FM - I downloaded their little widget and player and it's been recording my listening this evening. I put the list in the sidebar over to the left.

I wish I had more control over how it looks - but I have to subscribe to get that I guess.

World Cup

Every 6 years the U.S. gets to be Ecuador's bitch.

ohh-rah.

Solo Bass to the masses?

I've had a few conversations recently where the phrase "we need to take solo bass to the masses" comes up. I'm not so sure.

First - consider that my day job is in broadcast radio. The stations I work for are commercial radio stations and by all measures (ratings / revenue) are successful. I see first hand everyday what "plays" with the masses. In other words - what succeeds.

Some of it is very good. Most of it is mediocre - and a lot simply sucks. Welcome to MASS.

Mass is that area on the taste axis where the most people meet. It is the lowest common denominator. The 1 thing the MOST number of people find least objectionable.

The individuals that make up "mass" may each have very diverse and eclectic personal tastes - but the place where they all meet = Billy Joel, or today = James Blunt.

If Solo Bass were ever to play to the "masses" someone would have to do something very commercial sounding. I'm not saying it CANT happen. It can. It probably will. But it's not something that can simply be "taken" to the masses as a generic concept called "solo bass" and expected to succeed on a mass level absent a mass appeal song or artist.

It's mass appeal will have to exist IN SPITE of the fact that it's Solo Bass. See?

But isn't this really putting the cart before the horse anyway? The drive to be MASS APPEAL is what is on display on commercial radio everyday. Hundreds of new artists every year come out with new material - all designed to play to the largest possible audience. Most of it hits and is forgotten so fast it's not even funny. It touches no one. It offends no one.

This is FAR FAR different than the artists who created stuff for personal and even selfish reasons only to find that it connected with a large audience quite unintentionally. There's a purity of expression there that's absent from almost ALL mass appeal music these days - excepting for the unintentional hits I spoke about.

I think there can be solo bass pieces - maybe even solo bass artists like that. But I don't think you can build a movement around the concept of "Solo Bass" that's independent of great artists making great music written for and played on the bass.

In today's wired and networked world - the things that have true mass appeal are finding mass audiences - even if it isn't through the traditional mass media model.

But I firmly believe you don't need mass to win anymore. I'd rather play solo bass in front of 50 people who are passionate about the music - than 5000 people who are otherwise indifferent.

Quality is better than quantity.

June 11, 2006

Sharers/ Hoarders

This reminds me of a conversation I had the other night about clinics and sharing of musical knowledge.

From the Creative Passionate Users blog

It's a great article for everyone who thinks they have to horde their ideas in order to profit from them.

Scared Yet?

I remember hearing or reading advice a long time ago that suggested you do 1 thing everyday that scares you.

Let's dispense with the extremes for a moment and just make it - do 1 thing a day that makes you nervous.

Yesterday - before my solo performance at Bass Day - there was nervousness. Not severe- but noticable.

Being asked to come back and play again today - not really much nerves associated with that. I've already played in front of most of the people that will be there - I'm familiar with the room and the tunes I play are tunes I know I can get thru fairly well.

So what to do? Since I'm only playing 1 tunes I'm going to play something that the very thought of playing live makes me nervous.

It's a piece I haven't finished and I'm using the mild pressure of todays performance to force me to come up with beginning and a middle and an end. Yeah - its' really not THAT ready yet.

But I really love the piece. And the thought of playing it creates nerves. I don't "need" nerves. I'd rather not have them - but the only way to get past having them is to have them, and not let them take you off course. That's a skill as precious as being able to play all the Keys all over the bass.

In case you're wondering why I'm not just working on the stuff - I'm also following some great advise Todd Johsnon offered the group yesterday. Practice for 15 minutes on - 5 minutes off. You'll have much higher retention that way. This is one of my 5 minutes off.

Okay - times up - back to 15 minutes of practice.



June 07, 2006

T Bone

A few weeks back T Bone Burnett came into the studio for a private concert.

I didn't know too much about T Bone prior to this so it was just another private concert to engineer.

As is usually the case when artists come by the station - T Bone was promoting his latest latest work - The True False Identity

I hadn't heard anything from it yet but I really enjoyed the private concert. It was moody, spooky, droney and very film noir-ish.

I also chatted with him a bit about sound, production and the protools unit I was using. T bone is a legendary producer and he paid me a compliment on the vocal sound I was getting. (blush) BTW - T bone admits to using corrective production techniques to fix wrong notes in vocal tracks. Gasp away - thats life.

Anyway - I listened to the CD and loved it.

I've had it on the iPOD since that day in April and it's been spinning pretty regularly.

I saw T Bone on Charlie Rose last night (famous public TV interview show) for a short segment and it reminded me that this is a work I had to talk about.

Give it a listen if you're into a slightly twisted - dark and cinematic vibe with a hint of David Lynch.

June 06, 2006

6/6/06

I couldn't exactly let this day go by without posting.

I don't have much use for the mythology associated with 666 - it all seems largely arbirary to me.

Why not 552?

Or 333 - that's a pretty scary number too.

I tend to laugh at how often people have atributed notions of the divine to the silly concoctions of man.

However, I'm sadened by how many countless human lives have been (and continue to be) snuffed out because of this tendency of our species.

666 - it's just a fucking number.

Now go be nice to someone - regardless of what they believe.

,-)

June 05, 2006

Taking Stock


This week last year I learned about the 2005 Bass Extremes Solo Bass Competition.


At this time last year I was really drifting musically. I wasn't in a band and I didn't know what I wanted to do with bass.

At that point I had been messing around with looping for several months - but nothing I did felt like it was ready to take out of the house. I didn't have a single whole complete song I could play in front of anyone.

I learned about the Bass Extremes contest by poking around on the web.

I figured it was exactly the kind of thing I needed to focus my energies on. It gave my musical efforts a purpose. I've discovered that if I don't have a purpose for doing something - it probably won't happen. So with really nothing more than the personal challenge of getting an entry together I went for it.

I had never arranged another person's song before (which was one of the entry requirements).

I had never written and performed a complete solo Bass song before.

I had no delusions about the contest. All I wanted was a critique from the judges (Wooten, Bailey, AJ, Lee, Patitucci) and as a bonus I'd have 2 complete solo songs I could play.

I sent in my entry on the last day possible before the deadline - postmarked July 31st. I didn't play much bass at all in August. I was drained and I thought I choked. I awaited the critique telling me the things I already knew were wrong with my entry.

Instead, in Sept, I got the call that I was a finalist. And for the next 30 days busted my hump playing my pieces to get ready for my first public performance since I was in High School ( that's about 19 years in case you're wondering) I was ready. I was confident and I played very well and really let it flow.

I won.

Then - after the rush wore off - I was lost again. Much of Oct, Nov & Dec I noodled with song ideas thinking I should put out an offical album. But I didn't reach anywhere near the instensity I had going during Sept.

Then I got a gig to open for Steve Lawson and Michael Manring and had to put 30 minutes of material together. I didn't have 30 minutes of material. That was my first real push to write music on a deadline. I came up with a few ideas which later did develop into good tunes. I learned a lot from getting ready for that gig and used that to really make the next solo gig go much much better.

That gig was the 4 bassist show called Solo Bass Night in May 06.

Today - I have 9 original Solo Bass tunes I can confidently play live . Another 4 are getting to that level. Plus I tend to have a few new ideas for tunes gestating all the time too. I'd like to do a few more arrangements of other people's tunes too.

If I only look at my current challenge to get a CD done - I totally miss the really amazing journey I've been on since last year. And the genuine amount of growth I've experienced since June 05.

I don't think there's another period in my entire life that has rivaled how far I've come on so many levels in just the last 12 months. It's so easy to get caught up in the current challenges that I forget to take a second just to remember where I was not too long ago.

This time last year the idea of playing a solo bass version of Little Sunflower seemed like an impossible dream.

Holy shit. ;-)

June 04, 2006

Metronome

After 2 weeks of recording & listening and recording & listening - It's clear to me I need to shed my tunes more to get the recordings I'm looking for.


And that means going back and playing them slow - with the metronome.

It's the only way I can see to clear up the inconsistencies and rough patches in the performances.

So I'll continue to spin Hard Drive on everything - because that's been an incredible teacher lately. Plsu - I may end up with takes I like.

But for now - back to the shed.

June 02, 2006

Recording is writing is recording

This occurred to me this morning. The recording process is part of the writing process.

Up till now I had been under the asumption that I'd write all my pieces - then sit down 1 Saturday afternoon and record them all for release on Monday.

That's not how it's working out. I'm finding that as I record pieces and listen back to them - there are things that I want to change.

Mostly performance issues. But it could be places where I think a tune drags or rushes or gets lost or whatever.

Some pieces were too long - or hung on a single idea for too long - or didn't establish an idea fully before moving on. That kind of stuff. I hadn't anticipated this kind of process to take place.

So thru recording - I end up making new arrangements and writing new parts for the tunes. Change tempos, feel, emphasis etc...

I guess in a way - I'm still writing. And recording. I'm also loosening up a bit about the whole thing and trying to remember it's about having fun. It's solo bass after all. Not clarinet. ,-)


BTW - I put some demos up on myspace. These are pieces that I had no intention of letting anyone else listen to yet. So that's why they're up. I need to break down all the little mental walls - and making some rough demos available is the perfect way to remind myself not to take this shit too seriously.


Happy Friday


I just wanted to have a post at the top of the page without profanity in it.

,-)