Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tip #1: play the same note in a different position

For this post I decided to hand out a small tip for beginner bass and guitar players. You all probably already know this, but just in case: remember that you can play most notes in more than one place on your fretboard. I'm going to use this Baroness song "March to the Sea" from their new album Yellow and Green to demonstrate what I mean. Click here to get the TAB and standard notation.

This song is very very simple in its form. The entire thing: intro, verses, choruses, and guitar solo has the same chord progression:
|F   | F  C/E| Dmi   | Dmi C|F   | F  Ami| Dmi   | Dmi C|
So it is a perfect song to show you how to play the same lines in different positions of the fretboard. For this you will need a good knowledge of the notes on your fretboard. Here's a chart for a 4-string bass tuned to "drop-D". From low to high the tuning is D-A-D-G
Check out how I play the initial line all on the same string (the "E" string tuned down to "D") (see figure a) and how the second time I played the high octave D and C notes on the A string (figure b). The second way of doing it requires less shifting from the left hand, so it should make it easier to play, but there is a slight difference in the tone of the notes even though their pitches are the same. The reason why the sounds qualities are different is mostly because, since the E string is thicker than the A string it produces a "darker" tone. Also when pressing on the 12th fret instead of the 5th the length of string that is vibrating is shorter, affecting the tension and thus the tone. This difference in tone is most noticeable in the way I played the second halves of each verse at 0:56 (figure c) and 1:46 (figure d). You can really hear the much brighter tone of the D note on the G string at 1:50.

Figure a

Figure b

Figure c

Figure d

All this information can be very useful when you are trying to figure out how to play a bass line:

- Having alternative positions in which to play a line can let you find a position that is most comfortable for you. This comes in very handy for beginners reading TABs, don't forget that you don't necessarily have to play it exactly as written.

- You can manipulate the sound of your notes based on where you play them. Want a brighter sound? Go for higher strings and/or lower frets. Or play it all on one string for a more even tone between all the notes.

Try it yourself, can you find other ways of playing this bass line?

Drop me a line here or on Facebook if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for other tips. And don't forget to check out Baroness' new album, it rocks!

"Yellow and Green" Cover art

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rainbow - Run With The Wolf

Rainbow with Dio

On this day, back in 1942, one of my favourite Rock singers was born. Ronnie James Dio would have been seventy years old today, and somehow I can imagine that, if he had not left us two years ago, he would have celebrated his big "seven-oh" on a stage somewhere rocking out like only he knew how to. So today I have decided to send off this little tribute into cyberspace in the hopes that somewhere out there Dio will get a chuckle out of it. Make sure to keep your horns up in the air while you watch this video of myself playing "Run With The Wolf" from Rainbow's album "Rising"

Rainbow - Run with the Wolf (BASS Guitar Cover) from Alberto Campuzano on Vimeo.

This whole album was a favourite of mine right from the beginning. It's a perfect mixture of Ritchie Blackmore's neo-classical heavy metal and Dio's fantasy filled lyrics and themes. Run With The Wolf is edgy, with lots of attitude from all the musicians. Dio is amazing as always, delivering his powerful voice with emotion and intensity. His parts are laid back but still driving, and his creativity is evident in how he makes slight changes to his phrasing and even uses different melodies for each chorus. The last one being my favorite: I get chills every time I hear that line "when the siren calls you goooo". I love the vocal harmonies during the choruses and how they are panned all the way to the left. It makes it feel like he's whispering secrets in your ear when you listen with headphones. Also present is his patented ad-lib vocal lines at the end of the song. Oh Ronnie you are dearly missed!

Ritchie Blackmore is great on this one too. His tone for the rhythm parts is very crunchy and almost sounds like a distorted organ. His main solo is played with a slide and is much more melodic than what I'm used to hearing from him. I guess he tried to get a bluesy sound to go with the heavy shuffle groove of the song. At about 2:37 in the video his harmonized thirds are reminiscent of The Alman Brothers. Ritchie rips another much more typical solo in the end, although there is no harmonic minor scale in there like he would use normally. Maybe it's because the song is not in B minor, which seems to be his favorite key to solo over.

Jimmy Bain on bass is solid, he doesn't do anything too fancy, but just lays down a heavy pocket with drummer Cozy Powell. The whole groove is interesting to me, and hard for me to really nail, because it has the feeling that everything is on the back end of the beat, almost as if they might slow down, but they never do. Its brilliant. And that shuffle feel works so well with the main guitar riff. I love it!

My first introduction to Dio was from listening to this Rainbow album, and I still feel there's a special magic captured in those recordings. I know quite a few Dio fans that are not too familiar with his Rainbow stuff. Do yourself a favour, and in honour of his birthday go run check it out!

Click HERE for the bass transcription of this song in standard notation and tab.