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Playing Bass In A Big Band

Posted: Thu May 16, 2013 4:54 am
by ABC Studios
From The Studio: Stephen Galvin - Studio DirectorImage

Playing Bass In A Big Band

Stephen Galvin writes about the skills needed for Bass-Playing in Big Band

I love playing Bass. We had a bass in our house when I was around eight or nine years old. I viewed a fender Precision Bass with a Fretless Maple neck in a catalogue at a Music shop in Vivian Street, Wellington and I knew that I wanted to play that instrument. A few years later I was working in a band at Queenstown's Skyline and bought the instrument of my dreams. That was 1976.

This article is about bass-playing in a Big band. Now a big band does not mean just a large band. It usually refers to a particular style of band that was popular world-wide from about 1925 to today, although the style was very popular in New Zealand culture in the 1940'5 through to the 1960's. The music is usually jazz style with a strong emphasis on swing rhythms and sometimes Latin-influenced genres such as the Bossa-Nova and Samba. Big bands feature Trombones, Saxophones and Trumpets usually in groups or sections of from four to as many as eight players per section. There is usually a rhythm section consisting of Piano, Guitar, Bass and drums.
For this rehearsal I was asked to fill in for another bass-player at a rehearsal at the University of Auckland. After setting up the equipment, amplifier and for this session, video, recording gear, and a music stand the band leader counted out the time and I had to play about one-hour of music. Rehearsals often stop and start so the whole rehearsal took about two hours. The first thing you notice is that the music is written out on a five-line staff, not TAB. Although TAB has been around for at least five-hundred years, even today most arrangements for big bands continue to write using this system. Because the music features brass and saxophones, the composers and arrangers are trained in notation using the five-line staff. So you really do need to be able to read this kind of notation to function in the Big band. ... morehttp://www.abcstudios.co.nz/News%20Fold ... 20Band.htm