Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond

More new music – Youtube video of a brand new tune.

April 12th, 2009 | No Comments | Categories: bass ideas · Gig stuff · looping · Music News · Musing on Music |

photo of the bed of the thames, taken from a pothole in a boat near Tower BridgeAfter the new tune I posted on Audioboo a few days ago, I’ve got the bug for uploading new tunes. Hopefully it’ll finally kick me into action to make some decisions about the kind of record (or whatever passes for a ‘record’ these days 🙂 ) I want to make.

Imogen Heap gave me some wonderful advice a couple of weeks back; she said “Take as long as you can with the beginning coz the end is HARD GRAFT!” And that’s clearly what I’ve been doing for the last couple of years… as well as touring all over the place with Lobelia, doing arrangements of her songs. Oh, and the the Lawson/Dodds/Wood album…

Anyway, I’m still undecided quite what to do with the next album. Here are the options

  • another all-solo album,
  • record solo, then overdub guests
  • a small band playing band arrangements of tunes I’ve already released solo
  • something far more electronic/programmed/messed around with.

I’m sure I’ll get round to all of them eventually…

At the moment, I’m just collecting ideas the way I always do – listening to the kind of music I want to inspire me, then playing and seeing what comes out. It’s fun, and it’s a joy having Lobelia to bounce ideas off, offer advice, and as an alternative direction for ideas that clearly ought to be songs not instrumentals…

Anyway, here’s the video of the new idea – it was meant to be one minute of me remembering an idea (you’ll see Lo’s thumb appear about a minute or so into it, telling me that she’s got it and it’s OK and “canwegooutnowplease?” But I was on a roll, it sounded good and felt good, so I kept playing.

This is also the best video yet showing what my resurrected Modulus bass sounds like (how appropriate to have a resurrection video on Easter Sunday?) as well as being the youtube debut of my Mark Audio speakers, which sound incredible! The looping is all done with the Looperlative LP1 as always

The video is recorded on my Nokia N95 8Gb phone, completely unedited or tweaked. Just copied to my laptop and uploaded – pretty amazing quality for a phone, huh?

Feel free to comment on youtube about it – and, if you like it, click the ‘favorite’ or ‘rate’ buttons on youtube. (I tend to use 5star ratings as a way of helping spread the word about a video, rather than as a subtle distinction between 3, 4 and 5 star quality… it’s just yet another bit of metadata that youtube may use to promote the video a bit harder…

Comment thread here – how do you decide what music to make? There are so many things that any of us could do at one time, it can be crippling, creatively… so how to do you make a decision and start recording?

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No Comments so far ↓

  • matt stevens

    I’ve found limiting the sounds you use you tend to get more done – a combination of the 4 styles above(perhaps along the lines of Fripps Exposure album) would be great.

    Lovely tune on youtube man

  • Mike Outram

    Nice track Steve! Re deciding what to do – I wish I knew! I’ve been making a record (my first solo record) for ages and have recently got around to recording something, got about 2/5ths recorded. I think I tend to work in fits and starts. I get inspired and have a lot of energy to do stuff but then stop and things meander for a while. Recently I’ve been letting purely musical things evoke a story or an image and then I write to that, that’s been working to gee things along. But as for choosing between things or making things happen, I don’t know. Deadlines? I did an MMus recently and got loads done just from having the deadline, but that’s difficult if you’re imposing the deadline. Anyway, am wittering and not really answering your question. M

  • Mike Arthur

    Beautiful track as usual Steve.

    Since I’ve been getting lessons from you I’ve actually been trying to write music again but I’m coming across exactly the same problem you mentioned, I don’t know what I want to write!

    Hoping someone else comes in and provides some “answers” 😀

  • steve

    Matt – thanks! A combination could be good… I guess the electronic-y bit would possibly have to stand on its own, depending on how deep into electronics I get… we’ll see. At the moment, it’s just messing around with REALLY lo-fi freeware drum machines (I’ve got FLStudio, but like the crappiness of the free software stuff 🙂 )

    Mike – I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing what you come up with – your playing on the Doubletalk album is outstanding.

    The point about deadlines is a good one – I tend to set aside an amount of time in which to record. Usually as short as a couple of weeks – and just go for it. I also don’t beat myself up over a recording being the ‘definitive’ version – I’m inspired by the way Bill Frisell revisits tunes with different line-ups, allowing them to evolve.

    How did the MMus work out? Did you come out a better player? composer? or just have a deeper understanding of what it is you do? Would love to hear more about that…

  • davidson perry

    hi steve great track follow your heart whatever comes up let it be.peace and many blessings to you and lobelia.

  • Ernesto Schnack

    I’m always writing and recording, so my problem isn’t what music to make, but rather how to release it: as an album? EP? Download? Should I seperate my solo stuff and the more band-oriented work?

    This is the part that I overthink way too much, and I’m trying to stop doing that, because I always end up sitting on a bunch of music.

    So my new strategy is to just record the music, and then let the music dictate how it should be released…so if I have an albums-worth of related songs, put out an album. 4 or 5? an EP. 1 or 2? Free download. And so on…

    Of course, I’ve yet to put this strategy into practice, but it’s what has been on my mind as of late.

  • Darren Landrum

    I started out with the dream of having a high-end computer with the latest NI softsynths and Reaper and some really hot sample sets, and looked forward to the unlimited possibilities. Unfortunately, my budget dictates what I can really have, and thanks to an economy that hit me harder than many, I can barely afford a can of paint to finish up the basement.

    So, my musical and creative constraints are hard, and cannot be overcome. I was, however, able to spring for a Zoom H4, and I can afford the parts to make some mics and mic preamps. This is about when I saw a BBC documentary on the Radiophonic Workshop (the famed Room 13). The idea of making music using a huge variety of found sounds and whatever gear I can cobble together is actually very interesting to me, and I’m curious to see how far I can take it.

    I’ve also been learning how to write my own DSP software, and I have some ideas for signal chains for guitar and whatever other sounds I can record. I’ve been going well beyond the “copy an algorithm from the MusicDSP site”, though: I’m finishing up differential equations and physics in school this semester, so I can actually understand the DSP math as well as the concepts behind how and why it works.

    Lack of money is a huge constraint, but it’s hardly the end of the world, as it should turn out. I have some ideas for things to build and sample, as well as supportive instructors willing to let me take over the labs for the purposes of making sounds to sample.

    Now, back to that electric kazoo I’ve been thinking about…

  • Steve Moyes

    I think it largely depends on your individual personality. Some people find it easy to focus singlemindedly on one project, while others (me included) tend to flit between one thing and another. For those of us in the second category deadlines can be particularly useful. A finish to finish one project is also the starting line for the next. I love it when endings are also beginnings.

    I have also set myself the goal of living to be 100 and still be playing music on my 100th birthday. That takes off some of the self-imposed pressure to get everything done now.

    I really enjoyed the new tune too, Steve.

  • Lee Pellington

    Hey Steve, Happy Easter.

    Like the new track, the re-born bass sounds wicked.

    Give me a shout if we can help with the recording of you new stuff in any way.

    All the best.

  • Nathan Phillips

    Deadlines are always a good motivator for writing – although mine are generally not self-imposed. Most recently, my final project in a video class this semester is to do a music video, since that’s what my team is best at. I was told to go home and track a song to use over break, so here I am, 4 days into break, with a near-complete song that I just wrote last week. These kinds of limits give me some of the fastest turnarounds creativity-wise.

    RE: deciding what to do with the next album, for me it tends to be a balance of profit (NOT money; profit in terms of how a certain decision will affect me as a musician) and enjoyment. I can’t start work on something if I feel I’ll get bored of it too quickly, so I’ve often let projects hang until I get a better grasp of what I want to do. On the other hand, as a solo guitarist, learning to sing better (my current project) will certainly further what I’m trying to do. Going balls-to-the-wall in on electronic music and turning into a techno artist – well, as interesting as that could be, I don’t think it’ll further my musical direction so much.

    At the same time my goal is to not pigeonhole myself into a very strict category. I enjoy versatility, a “variations on a theme” of a musician, because I get to have fun with what I do and take it different directions without doing a complete 180 out of my style.

    Granted, I don’t think we have to worry too much about you dropping the bass and going into experimental euphonium music, Steve – but definitely food for thought for less-established artists. ^_~

    One last note – really loving the way the melody builds in the new tune. Keep up the great work.

  • John Goldsby

    Hey Steve — great video! I like the idea of putting the public beta version up for all to see and hear. Your playing is melodic, graceful and in-tune, plus you use the looperlative in a musical way. I’ve got an N95 8Gb as well, but half the time I don’t know if I am in picture or video mode.

    Re: “How do you decide . . .”
    I have long-term and short-term goals (the long-term goals help define the short-term). I put a time frame on a project and do what I have to do to complete the project. Everything for me has to have an inner schedule, and when I complete something, I confirm (to myself) that it is completed—and good. And then I move on.

    I also have the agreement with myself that I can determine whether to re-schedule a project or trash it . . . sometimes that is also the best option.

  • Lee Pellington

    Steve, have you thought about adding a small digital recorder to your set up. I’ve been using a Boss Micro Br, just turn it on press record and I’m away. Just thinking it would be a great way of capturing your performances as you could pull off a .wav on to your DAW or convert to an MP3 for audience members at your gigs.

    Just thinking out loud (we have a new baby so I’ve not slept for days so could be a daft idea!).


  • paddy

    ahhh i really like’d that first wee bit of arpeggiated melody, i’m a sucker for stuff like that. i can’t wait to here some live steve on friday! feel free to try lots of tasty new things then 😀

  • paddy

    oh erm deciding what to do with musical ideas? some things i come up with are ideal for my band, some things get written down, some are just lost to the moment they were made. i wish it wasn’t late so i could go and make some noise on my sax!

  • Mike Outram

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for your kind words!

    Like the idea of not worrying about the ‘definitive’ version. Now if I could just get a version!

    The MMus was good in some respects. I got a lot out of the process of just getting things done and meeting deadlines. I’m not so keen on seperate modules. If I take it further I’d rather just do one big project, kind of like the thing Randy Pausch talks about in his ‘Last Lecture’ – seen it?

  • Mike Smith

    Why constrain what type of music? Try everything and then see how the tracks hang together…

    re: Limiting the time to create music? RPM is in February. You’re a couple of months late! 😉

  • Pete Smith

    Trying to write a good song is in my opinion the best way to go, you can add all the bells and whistles you like and they can make a huge difference but the song is king, play any Bob Dylan song on an old guitar and you’ll see what I mean.