Natalie: Hello, and welcome to the show. The show is Gigajam, my name is Natalie Barrass, and this our Gigajam tutor Terry Gregory. Terry, how are you?
Terry: I'm fine, thanks for asking, how are you?
N: I am very well yes
N: thank you. Now there is a course and it is called the essential bass skills course
T: Absolutely right
N: How many lessons will there be?
T: Ten lessons
N: Okay, ten lessons of part one. We're not gonna start that right yet though, we're gonna do an overview, an introduction.
T: Good idea
N: To the bass as it were
N: What do I need to follow this course?
T: You need a bass
N: (Laughs) Show me what a bass looks like
T: You've got one right there
T: And I've got one right here
N: Pick that one up
T: Good idea.
N: Alright, so what do we
T: Here's my bass
N: ..what is a bass guitar?
T: This is a bass guitar. It's got four strings, it's got various bits of technology all over it.
T: We should describe all that stuff
N: Yeah. Can I just say something?
T: You can
N: You're holding that the wrong way round. From what little I know of guitar playing
T: You think it should be like that
N: Am I wrong or am I right?
T: No, you're kind of right and wrong, but that's the way it should be held, but when I left school and got a bass at that time you couldn't get left-handed basses. So I just got a bass from somebody, borrowed a bass from somebody, and practised it and that was it, joined the band
T: So I'm very left-handed, so I just played it all very left-handed. These days of course, you can get left-handed basses, so you don't have to worry about banging your arm on the controls or the lead or anything and it's all very well balanced.
T: At the moment I'm just sitting down but if I'd strapped it on and all that stuff, you know it would all be... So I'm kind of playing upside down and back to front and everything
T: So you could
N: Alright, so what makes it a bass guitar as opposed to an electric, normal guitar?
T: Yeah good question. An electric guitar's got six strings and this has got only four. I guess the main difference is that on an electric guitar they'd be playing chords, and melodies and solos and improvising. Not that a bass doesn't do that, but, at kind of foundation level grade one, you're more involved in sorting out the rhythm, you know, in the rhythm section with the drums.
T: Making sure the music's grooving or rocking, or whatever it's supposed to be doing. So the bass provides much more of a foundation, it's more rhythmic. You often play one note at a time, that kind of stuff
N: What's the difference in sound? Sort of pitch variations?
T: Yeah, good question. The bass is written, the music for bass is written in bass clef, obviously. And, it's a kinda a low sound, let me demonstrate
(Terry plays low E string)
T: Quite low. That's the low E string. The thickest string on the bass
(Terry plucks low E string twice)
T: And if I play that E a bit higher on the bass
(Terry plays higher E)
T: So the range of the bass is much lower than the guitar. The guitar's usually, the music's written in treble clef, and, obviously for melodies they're played much higher so they sound clearer for people
T: This is normally down the bottom end of the band with the drums. In the..
N: The meat
T: ..engine room, yeah yeah yeah.
N: (Laughs) All right
T: In fact we've got a picture of a bass if I may on here
N: Yeah yeah sure
T: On the Gigajam material
N: So these are the course notes that we can get with it
T: Yep. They're in lesson three those course notes. And as you can see it's a very detailed diagram of this very bass. And it's got an explanation which we can kinda run through of all the hardware
T: On the bass
N: Where do we begin?
T: Well, essentially I'd like to start with the fact that it's made of wood. Which everyone's probably figured out. And they're usually made of two pieces, this piece is the neck
T: And this piece is the body and then they're usually joined by being glued and then bolted so it's a nice secure fitting
N: Turn me over let me.. turn turn me over? Turn the guitar over. Let's have a look at the back of that
T: There you go
N: Alright. So that's just joined on there. Any problem of that falling off or anything like that?
T: Shouldn't do, I've never had any problem with that. I mean they're usually well made. You pay good money, and they usually take care of that stuff for you
N: Okay. It looks slightly longer than
T: A bass, than an electric guitar
N: Than an electric guitar, yeah
T: Yeah it is a bit longer the scale. Not quite as long as the double bass or something which would be even longer, like an orchestral or acoustic bass. But it's definitely longer than, than an electric guitar. And, the strings are, well obviously, secured at this end, and at this end
N: Okay, how are they. Talk me through how they are secured then. Let's start
T: Well this is the bridge, so the strings are secured through that and they ride over the saddles, over the pick-ups, all the way down the neck
T: To this end of the bass. So we've got body, strings running down the neck
T: To what they call the head stock, here
N: And how are they secured at the head stock?
T: Yeah they're plugged, they're pushed into the tuning pegs, and then spun round. And then they're tightened up using these, we call them machine heads, some people call them tuning pegs, which have got a kind of gear system so when you need to tune up the bass, tune the strings..
T: you can turn these, twist these, to make sure you get the, the notes of the bass in tune, the open strings in tune
N: Okay so that's how you tune the bass up
N: And we'll be going into a little bit of detail about that in a moment
N: Let's move down. Following the strings down, this is the neck
N: Little lines separating the neck?
T: Yeah, they're frets, they're made of wire, fret wire, they're metal. And they're just to divide the neck up so that when you put you're finger there you can get the right note that you were hoping for
N: Mmmhmm. And how many? Does, does the amount of frets change, sort of, between each bass? Or do you sort of get more or less on a certain model?
T: No. Pretty standard. If you buy, if you have, you know, a specially made bass, or you buy a very exotic bass you might get a few more up here. At what we call the dusty end, where you don't do much playing really in the beginning
T: Most of it's down here so you can hook up with the drums. The good thing about the bass, and especially about the bass neck, is that it's symmetrical, so as we get into the lessons and learn stuff, when we learn things in one place, we call it a position on the bass, then we can transfer that information to a different place, and copy it all across to, to a new note
T: And the bass is
N: handy little hint
T: Yeah, symmetrical, it's good stuff
N: Alright. Moving down, we've obviously got the strings carrying on to the body
T: Yeah this is a kind of, important part of the technology in the sense that if you, if you play the bass, if you're sat alone in you're bedroom you're gonna hear that. But if you're try'na play with a band nobody's gonna hear you. So you'll need to make more noise, more volume, which means amplifying the sound. So..
N: Do they have a built in amplifier? I mean
T: They have these things, which are called pick-ups
T: which effectively do the same thing. They pick up the sound, so when you play, for example, that E string. That E string vibrates, and these two pick-ups, on this bass there are two pick-ups, pick up that sound and then transmit that through the electronics on here and down this lead or cable and into that fantastic amplifier and speaker cabinet behind you there
N: Okay, so when you have a bass guitar you need to have one of these as well
T: Well if you're gonna be playing in a band, or you wanna jam with guys, or you wanna annoy the neighbours and make a racket, then you need to get one of those. But if you can't afford one, doesn't stop you getting started. You just play a little more quietly. But, as I say, you can do that in the safety of your own bedroom and you can hear what you're doing anyway
N: Alright, okay. Well you, you've mentioned the E string. That's the bottom one, or the top one if we're playing it the other way around
T: Absolutely, well said
N: That's the thickest one
N: So E is the thickest one. Talk me through the names of the other ones
T: The next one is A
T: So that's E, it's the thickest one, A is the next one. Wanna have a guess?
N: E, A No!
T: And the thinnest one, which is for me at the top, is the G string. It made sense to me because, this E string, it's the thickest one, and it's the lowest, the deepest sound, the bassest sound. So for me, it made sense that it was at the bottom, and when I played up, I came up through the sound spectrum as it were. Higher noises. But of course I am doing everything wrong as we discuss just now
T: And it should be like that way round
N: Okay. , you were twiddling those little silver dials up there
N: What, what do they do?
T: They make it sound louder
N: I like that
T: So each of these, on this particular bass, each of these, knobs, these volume knobs or volume controls, do exactly that, control the volume. So if I play with none of them on, you get no sound. If I turn one on, you get a bit of sound. If I turn that off you get no sound. If I turn the back one on, back pick up
T: So these pick-ups have separate volume controls. Different bases have slightly different configurations. The one that we've got on the Gigajam example has the separate volume controls as well
T: So usually the best thing to do is turn it full up and play
N: Mmmhmm and the, the third one, is that..?
T: The back one is, is a kind of a tone control. So it's like the sort of thing you'd have on your stereo or your hi-fi at home or in the car. it just makes it sound more bassy or a bit trebly. Quite difficult to hear
T: in the studio, the way it's set up. This bizarre thing you probably won't see on most bases. If you look at your base it doesn't have one of those on. This is an interface, a piece of technology, to allow this base to speak to computers, and access the Gigajam information for the lessons later on. So that's kind of an unusual, and this extra pick-up on here, is simply to, to power that
N: Ah, so that's what we'll be talking about in part two. How do I tune my guitar? You said that's an E string, and obviously when it's in its open position that's the note it should play. What if it doesn't play the E?
T: Uh oh. It means you're out of tune
T: So we need to tune up the bass
N: How does one tune up the bass?
T: Best way's to use a tuner
N: Like a fish?
T: Not that. It's spelt slightly differently I believe
T: And this is the tuner we're using today. This equipment does a lot of stuff but we're just gonna use the tuner function. So I push tuner function, switch the bass on, and play my E string.
(Terry starts plucking E string)
T: Usually start with the E string. You can buy a tuner for about twenty pounds or something
N: Alright that's quite good
T: Yeah maybe a bit more than that. And often if you buy a starter pack, I'm just tuning here as we do it. If you buy a starter pack they'll give you a bass and lead, cable, strings, tuner and maybe put it all in a case. So there we go, there's the E
N: Okay, so do you always? Does it matter if you tune up, or tune down?
T: You see where it is first? So happily here it's on E so I haven't got any problem, but let's just knock it out of tune by lowering...
T: flattening, slackening off the string. So now it says D which is obviously wrong
T: cause that open should be an E. So we tune it up, by tightening the string, and it should come up to E any time soon. I'm trying to lose the red lights and get me a nice green light. And then I'm in business. If I overtune it I'll go past, get an F
N: That's slightly sharp yeah
T: You following me? Yeah slightly sharp, good. And then go back, and finally get the E. I'll settle for that I think. And then I would repeat that process for all the other strings. The A string, the D string and the G string. Get them all in tune and then switch the tuner function off.
T: And I'm ready to rock and roll
N: And you're ready to go. Alright well in the break I shall let you do that, and after the break in part .
N: Hello and welcome back to part two of our introduction to the essential bass skill course part one. I'm Natalie Barrass, this is Terry Gregory. Terry, before the break, we were getting basic
N: were we not? We were analysing the anatomy of the bass guitar. Now I wanna talk more about this set up, the Gigajam, thang. So talk me through Gigajam, how does it work, what's it all about?
T: Mmm. Well the good thing about Gigajam is the kind of structured pathway so that you do a lesson, you have some fun, you learn some stuff, and then at the end of a lesson you look forward to the next lesson. And the next lesson picks up from where the first lesson left off so there's no kind of black holes, there's no gaps. It's a very logical kind of pathway which should guide you right through from lesson one, through to lesson ten, at which point you're a grade one bass player
N: You're a grade one bass player
T: That's right
N: Okay so it's step by step
T: Good phrase, yeah
N: When we look at the lessons, what kind of structure would they take?
T: Yeah, each lesson has a very clear focus. You know, there's a kind of list of objectives, little bullet points. Do you think maybe we should put up a lesson and have a look?
N: Are you are you happy for me to go on the computer here?
T: Yeah, sure do that, go ahead
N: You trust me?
T: Let's have a look
N: Alright so this is
T: See how it looks, this
N: this is lesson one
T: this is lesson one and you can see the objectives, there you go
N: Right. Understand and be able to count quarter notes
T: So that means that will talk to you in the text of the lesson about quarter notes, explain what they are.
T: And then
N: Understand root bass notes
T: Right. So again, those letters which are emboldened, in bold or heavy dark text...
T: are kind of key words that they're pointing out, that you should try and retain some detailed understanding of those words
N: Okay, and then another learning objective. Introduce the base notes of A and G. Play them both fretted and open strings, and on open strings
T: Right, so they're talking how to, how and where to find those notes and the alternatives about where to play them on the bass. Guiding you through that step by step, giving you fingering, giving you a picture of the bass neck. Perhaps if we scroll down a bit we can have a look
N: Okay. Well we don't want to give too much away, do we? Because..
T: Well, that's true
N: We, we want you to, to tune in for .
T: It's only an introduction
N: ..lesson one
T: So that's the good thing about Gigajam. The other good thing about it is that it gives you a chance to try stuff out for yourself. So
N: What do you mean by that?
T: If you look here in exercise one
T: there are these icons. So each of these icons accesses a media file. The first one is video clip of someone playing that very first exercise. So if you click on that Natalie
T: Then that'll dial up, there it comes, the video box and pretty soon a bass player will appear, as if by magic, playing that very first example
N: I can hear him, I can see him
(Video begins with bass player playing example)
T: There he is. So if you're anything like me, when I first got started playing, I learned a lot by watching other people. Copying, mimicking other people. So it gives you a great opportunity to do that, look at somebody, watch him, watch him again, and then pick up your bass and say I'm gonna try and do that myself
T: So here's the bass we used earlier. We've talked quite a lot, as you said earlier, about the anatomy of it. One of the things that we should look at in a bit more detail, that we didn't do earlier, is the fact that this bass is midi enabled, it's got an extra pick-up here
T: which isn't standard on, on a bass guitar when you buy it from the shop. So you'd have to sort this out separately. There's the
N: Well how, how could you get one of those ., where d'you get them from?
T: Well, from any good music shop, where they've got, you know, midi equipment. This is a pick-up like these, but this one doesn't go through that big amplifier behind you. This allows this bass guitar to speak through this interface, to the computer and the Gigajam software. So there's the pick-up that picks up the sound, into the converter, down the midi lead
T: And into the wonderful, virtual world of computers and software
N: Alright, so how can, how can that benefit us? The fact that our computer can understand or can read what we're playing?
T: Yeah good question. We just watched an example on video of exercise one, and I would sit here for myself and play that a few times. Maybe loop that exercise so I can practise it and get my technique together, and so on and so forth. When I feel I'm ready, kinda ready to try it out for real, you can dial up another media file, which is the second one there. You're doing well controlling the mouse
N: Thank you. So this is just click on this, and this is all the software which is already on the computer. There's no logging on to the internet or anything like that?
T: No. It's all part of the Gigajam software and this will dial up the Xtractor
T: Which looks like, there you go, did you see the CD load? It looks like a C, an in-car CD player or something
N: But this is no ordinary in-car CD player. In fact this isn't even an in-car CD player
T: So if you, p'raps you want to move that
N: If I move it just so we can see
T: Yeah, keep the screen
N: The whole of the lesson as well
T: That's right. So to the lesson. And there you go, you know what you're doing. And that opens up the mixing board, the mixing desk, so that when we play the track .
T: .we can see which instruments are playing
N: What have we got here on the left then? Acoustic piano, the metronome, the guitar, the bass. All different instruments on the left hand side there
T: Yep. So perhaps if you press play we'll have a look at what happens, and a listen what happens to this first exercise. I won't play anything for the time being.
(Natalie starts the desk playing)
T: There's the metronome. You can see the LCD readout
N: Mmmhmm. Oh wow, they're all going, yeah.
T: So if you wanna change the volume of any of those, you can increase or decrease the volume on the right hand side curser. There you go
N: So that's me taking down the piano there.
(Piano volume decreases)
N: Maybe if I've got a dislike of pianos and I don't wanna hear them
T: Or if you wanted to hear the bass very clearly, you could, you could alter the volume. Or you could mute some of the tracks with this 'M' function on the left of the desk.
N: Ahh. So that's me getting rid of the bass, totally
(Sound of bass no longer produced)
T: Yeah, so now the only bass player is gonna be me. So if we, p'raps start from the beginning again. Reset the
T: the media file
N: Like so
T: And I'll try and play this first exercise here. Which is just playing one note, an A, on an open string. And the machine, the Xtractor, will record my performance, if you press record Natalie
N: I will, I'm just giving you the full benefit of all of the musical instruments
T: Pump up the volume
N: Exactly. Not to drown out your playing or anything like that. And we just play it yeah?
T: We just, and we'll record it. And then afterwards, we can have a look and analyse what I did, and how I might improve my performance
N: Oh right okay, well I'll hit the record button this time then
T: Okay. Let's go
N: Prepare yourself
T: I'm going
(Mixer starts playing. Terry accompanies)
T: So I'm just playing one note at a time, the A. Which is exercise one, from lesson one. Trying to keep in time. Remember what I saw on the video clip
T: Listen to the rest of the instruments
(Terry continues playing with the mixer)
T: Okay I guess that's enough for a rehearsal, just to check it out
(Natalie stops mixer)
N: So I'm just stopping that there
T: Thank you
N: So's this, is this a particular learning module that you're following?
T: Yeah, this is the first exercise from lesson one
T: And when I check my performance, if I'm happy with it, great. If I'm not happy with it I'll do it again. If I'm happy with it I'll move on to the next exercise. And I'll move through lesson one, making sure I put in a good performance, and record a good performance, for each of those exercises. Which will get me up to speed for the performance at the end of lesson one. And then in turn get me ready for the next step which would be lesson two.
N: Okay. So I'm pushing, it's the A button, isn't it?
N: A for analyse
T: And that will open another part of them, of the software program which will allow me to see my performance, compared against a perfect, you know, computer performance.
N: Mmm as if yours won't be!
T: We'll see
N: And this is all through the, the midi lead isn't it
N: This is what this technology's for. Does it matter that, I stopped it didn't I? I mean we didn't get to the end of that exercise, so is that gonna have any bearing on anything?
T: Probably means I'll get a really terrible mark cos I didn't complete it
T: And so I won't have a chance to average it out
T: So if you look at the, the top one
T: That's the computer version
N: Ah, the black and grey one
T: Yeah the first bar is where the clicks were, you said you could hear it
T: And the black is the notes
N: Just there
T: And the grey is the note length
T: So you let the note ring for the right amount of time before you play the next one
N: Mmmhmm. So that's just a steady, rhythmic exercise there
T: So I'd like to say that's what I've played
N: Yeah that's what you should've played.
N: Moving down to this one
T: It's very colourful what I've played
N: Yes, talk me through the colours there. What are they for?
T: Well I think they're nice!
T: This, this is the key to it, this legend on the left, which shows you obviously that grey and black are what you're aiming for
T: As in, the computer. And my very colourful version has got quite a lot of red in it
N: Everything from red to green
N: Green being good.
T: All the colours of the rainbow
N: Yellow being average, orange being below average, and red being poor
T: And,so I probably am gonna, since I scored 21.53, I'm probably gonna have another go cos I'm not really happy with 21.53. So the beauty of Gigajam now is we go back to the Xtractor
T: We don't keep this performance. And I'm gonna do take two and try and get it even better
N: Okay, I wanna, I wanna keep talking about this
T: Yeah I bet you do!
N: You've got, obviously, the notes you played on the bottom line
N: What are the extra ones at the top?
T: The extra ones are probably..
N: I didn't see you playing them
T: Well I didn't mean to play them
T: But it's, it's lack of control and technique. So before we start the essential bass skills course proper, I'm gonna need to do some practice!
N: Good, you being the tutor that'll be a wise move
T: I was hitting, catching other notes, any little gremlins. It's pretty unforgiving. It picks up on everything you know
N: Well, that's the beauty of it. Maybe to sort of the human ear, you wouldn't have caught that
T: Absolutely, yeah
N: But here you've got it in black and white, and red and green and yellow
N: So there's no escaping it is there?
N: Alright, let's give you another go. Oh! Ah, let me just try and find that again. Actually, I'm not a very computer literate person, but I'm actually finding this
T: You're doing very well, yeah
N: Not too bad
T: So then record
N: So let's reset that. Hitting the red record button
(Natalie starts mixing desk again and Terry accompanies)
N: This is quite a nice, pace, tempo that we're going at at the moment
T: Sure, I think it's important to go in with a nice gentle tempo
T: And then, as you become more confident, you can increase the tempo
T: When you feel like you're getting somewhere. You want a bit of a tougher level
N: Yeah, alright
T: Great, that's fine
T: Thank you
(Natalie stops mixer)
N: I'm gonna stop you there
T: Thank you, well done
N: Let's hit the A for analyse button
T: The moment of truth
N: It is the moment of truth. I should be doing some sort of drum roll for you
T: It's not quite a colourful as it was before
N: Well done you!
N: Now you're overall grading has said 17 but that is because we played such a small portion of it
T: Yeah. The note lengths are looking better there, that, those grey bits
T: are looking good. So that's all fine
N: Okay, and a perfect note there on the third one
T: Hey at least one good note
N: Listen, we're coming up to the end of our introductory lesson
N: We've obviously got our course coming up, which is gonna be ten lessons, ten episodes
N: And then by the end of that, we're gonna be grade one bassists
T: I'm looking forward to it. I'll go and practise!
N: Yeah me too! You guys look forward to it as well cos we will see you for the course very soon