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Beyond Bass Camp

Digging Deeper Inside the Bass, with Steve Lawson.

Sep
05

When I first ran B*B*C classes, I did a 5 part series with the same people coming to each class.

As the idea has evolved, I’ve been running one-off classes for five lovely bass monkeys at a time, and last month did the first looping class for any instrument…

It’s working really well, but we now need a system for how the next class in each series works.

So here’s the plan:

From October, I’ll be running ‘Tier 1’ and ‘Tier 2’ classes. If you’ve never been to a Beyond Bass Camp class, then you start with Tier 1. After that – or if you’ve had 5 or more one-on-one lessons with me – you can do a Tier 2 class.

These are not based on ‘ability’ – there’s no streaming according to experience, talent or whatever – the tiers are just to allow the ideas to develop from one class to the next. Each class will still be applicable players of any level (so far the range has been from almost total beginners to people running music departments in colleges).

The other big advantage of this system is that I can run Tier 1 and 2 on the same weekend, so people coming from further afield can come for a weekend and do both classes.

The first opportunity for this is Oct 13th and 14th - I’ll be doing a Tier 1 class on the 13th and a Tier 2 class on the 14th.

To book, please email me, make sure the space is available, and then you can pay via PayPal to secure your place.

See you soon!


Jun
17

Lawson Dodds Wood with Mark Lockheart, photographed by Helena Dornellas

I recently ran an ‘ask me anything‘ thread on my blog – the questions and the answers were posted in the comments, and I had intended to reblog the answers at some point. The first of them to leap out at me was one that fits better here than on stevelawson.net – a question from a former student of mine, Sam Hallam, about improv. Here’s Sam’s question and my answer:

 

Sam Hallam:

I’m interested in your thoughts on improvisation, and teaching improvisation.

There’s an amusing irony that a large amount of improvisational music is taught within very strict boundaries. (i.e. Bebop tunes, Rhythm Changes, whatever) and that as a beginning improviser you will mostly be able to practice with other musicians only in those idioms.

How and when is it then possible to break away from improvising in what can sometimes be a outdated and dogmatic context to truly get at the heart of what improvisation is and focus on spontaneity and MUSIC in general… rather than working on just ‘killing it’ over Oleo for the next 20 years? (more…)


Jun
06

A looping masterclass is something I’ve been asked about a lot over the years, but until now, I’ve only done them in Universities.

So, no time like the present, I’m doing on as part of the ‘Beyond Bass Camp’ series here in Birmingham, on July 29th. But it’s not just for bassists – it’s for any instrument, or indeed voice. All you need to have is your instrument and your looper of choice.

So why do a masterclass in looping?

Looping (or ‘live looping’ as it’s often named, to differentiate from the studio technique) has become SO popular over the last decade, largely thanks to the work of artists like Imogen Heap, KT Tunstall and Bill Frisell. It’s been around a lot longer, with people like David Torn, Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, Eberhard Weber and David Friesen experimenting with it for much longer.

There seem to be two initial defaults for ‘music that incorporates looping’ – either floaty ambient stuff, ala Robert Fripp’s soundscapes, or singer-songwriters looping the chords to their songs, and writing songs where the chorus and verse work over the same chords. Both have lead to a whole load of great music, but there are SO many more arrangement possibilities (as the recent emergence of so many beatboxing loopers has proven).

So we’re going to look at what’s possible with looping:

  • how to get the most out of it as a performance, composition and practice tool
  • ways to introduce random/interactive elements into your playing
  • harmonic ideas for richer looped arrangements
  • using a looper for doing interesting cover versions
  • methods for keeping loops sounding ‘fresh’.
  • and using a looper in the studio. With plenty of time for answering questions and exploring whatever comes up in the class!

The class will work for musicians of pretty much any level (though if you’ve just started playing your instrument, it might be worth getting a few months of instrumental lessons before coming to a class like this), and any style. Here’s the details:

  • Each class will be limited to 5 students.
  • It will run from 10am til 6pm with a break for lunch and coffee/tea breaks.
  • The cost for each class is £75 and includes lunch. Payable in Advance – payment confirms your place.
  • It will take place in Birmingham – 3 minutes walk from Bournville Rail Station (which is 10 minutes from Birmingham New St Station, with connections to the rest of the country (1hr 20 from London) and to Birmingham International Airport (10-15mins on the train)
  • All you need to bring is your instrument, looper and a cable (and if you have them, you’re welcome to bring any other pedals you use) – amplification will be provided.
  • To register an interest, email/tweet/fb me, state which class you want to attend, where you’ll be coming from, any relevant musical background stuff and your preferred payment method, along with contact details and any food allergies/exclusions.

Jun
05

We’re just a few days off the 2nd in this series of Beyond Bass Camp classes. The first one went really (will post some attendee feedback ASAP) and I’m really looking forward to class no. 2 on the 9th.

For July, there are TWO classes – a bass class and a new one day looping masterclass for any instrument or voice.

The Bass class will be on Saturday July 14th (the 2nd Saturday in the month, as usual).

The Looping class will be on Saturday July 28th.

The price for each of them will be £75, and the classes will run from 10am til 6pm, lunch included. Each class is limited to 5 participants, to maximise the learning potential.

I’ll write more in the next day or so about the outline for the looping class, but if you want to come, it’s worth getting in quick, as I suspect it will fill up fast.

comment here, or message me via this site, Facebook or Twitter to confirm – payment is by Paypal or Bank Transfer.


Apr
12

Finally! Here are the dates for the first two Beyond Bass Camp days of 2012:

Saturday May 12th
Saturday June 9th

That’s the 2nd Saturday in each month.

So, what’s the deal?

  • Each class will be limited to 5 students and will work as a standalone (you don’t have to book for both, though you can).
  • It will run from 10am til 6pm with a break for lunch and coffee/tea breaks.
  • The cost for each class is £75 and includes lunch. Payable in Advance.
  • It will take place in Birmingham - 3 minutes walk from Bournville Rail Station (which is 10 minutes from Birmingham New St Station, with connections to the rest of the country (1hr 20 from London) and to Birmingham International Airport (10-15mins on the train)
  • All you need to bring is your bass and a cable (and if you have them, you’re welcome to bring any pedals/loopers in case we get onto that) – amplification will be provided.
  • To register an interest, email me, state which class you want to attend, where you’ll be coming from, any relevant musical background stuff and your preferred payment method, along with contact details and any food allergies/exclusions.

Here are some links to further information – the B*B*C FAQ is a good place (though mirrors a lot of the info here) and this Curriculum Details blog post from last time round still gives a good indication of what we’ll be doing.


Apr
10

Kevin and Lee at Beyond Bass Camp

 

I’m about to announce the first few Beyond Bass Camp dates for 2012. In advance of that, I have two quotes/testimonials from previous attendees:

“Beyond Bass Camp is still the most valuable learning experience I’ve had; it contributed massively to the way I now think about bass, both as role and as an instrument, and the bigger picture of creating music. Whether I’m practising/writing on my own or with others, I find myself recalling elements of the classes to get my creative mind and my bass working together to produce ideas that are outside of the box yet implemented with maturity and respect to the context. If you’re a bass player who is ready to start thinking about how to explore what your instrument is capable of and employ it musically, and have loads of fun, Beyond Bass Camp has my highest recommendation!” – Kev Cooke

And

“Beyond bass camp is a fantastic way to explore the musicality and role of bass guitar in contemporary music. The positive and supportive nature of Steve’s teaching style coupled with the group sharing their own experiences and good practice made my learning experience at Beyond Bass Camp invaluable.

My fellow students and I all had different experiences and prior learning that was brought into the mix. We were encouraged to share, discuss and disseminate musical concepts. It was lovely to see how we all developed over the five months.

The non competitive and supportive nature of the learning environment helped me identify what I was already good at and and where I could develop. The  collaborative approach worked so well and over those few short months I developed exponentially.

Being able to take a day out just to focus on playing and geek out on music was an experience I won’t forget. oh and the food is amazing!” – Lee Pellington

May/June dates coming in the next day or so…


Feb
18

It’s been a while since the first Beyond Bass Camp course ran, and in the hiatus all kinds of musical and non-musical interesting things have happened. The most relevant to the course being that I now live in Birmingham.

So, starting from April, I’m going to be running a 5 day (one Saturday a month – dates to follow ASAP) course here in Birmingham.

As before, the cost will be £70 per class per person, and you’ll be booking for the series. The class will be capped at 5 people – if there are another 5, I’ll run a concurrent class on the Sunday of the same weekend each month.

Each class will run from 10am to 5pm and include lunch.

Please have a look back through the blog archive for more info about the previous classes. I’ll post some testimonials from previous students here ASAP. If you’re interested, please do drop me a line – either in the comments here or via email/twitter/facebook – and I’ll make sure you get the details first!


Dec
02

At the moment, I’m in the middle of a three-day Artists Research Lab on Memory, organised by Motiroti – you can read more about it on the Amplified Site.

Here’s a fabulous TED talk, exploring the different between our experiencing selves and our remembering selves.

The implications of this for musicians are huge - how often does our reaction to a recording we make reflect our experiences when the music was actually played? (more…)


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Nov
01

Well, it’s been a while. Please be assured, there’ll be some Beyond Bass Camp news coming very soon. I promise :)

But in the meantime, here’s some smart thinking on music. One of the big mistakes instrumentalists make is to go looking to practitioners of their chosen instrument for wisdom on the subject of music. There’s no reason why bass guitarists should know more about music than anyone else. Truth be told, there’s a heck of a lot more wisdom about music out there by non-bassists than there is by bassists

So with that in mind, here are three of my favourite interviews with guitarist David Torn. David is both a truly remarkable guitarist/composer/improvisor and a brilliant thinker about the processes around music. Clear-headed, mischievous wisdom that ties music to human-ness. He’s brilliant.   (more…)


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Oct
13

This post was partly inspired by Michael Manring’s masterclass last week at Chappell’s Music Shop in London, and the conversation he and I had after it.

The catalyst was his difficulty in answering questions that required him to fragment his thinking about music – and even detach music from its place within the rest of his being/existence. It wasn’t – it seemed – that he was unwilling to. It was that to do so felt somehow dishonest, especially if the question seemed to be loaded with an expectation that a certain fragment of information – whether it be about a particular technique, bit of music theory or piece of equipment – would somehow prove to be the key that unlocks ‘music’. (more…)


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