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Beyond Bass Camp

Digging Deeper Inside the Bass, with Steve Lawson.

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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Sep
05

Last Wednesday, I was speaking at a conference at Leeds Metropolitan University. I gave a keynote talk – the usual stuff about how great the changes in the music industry are for musicians etc. – then I did a workshop/brainstorming session on ‘recording and marketing music on zero budget’, which produced some pretty creative thinking from the assembled group.

But it was the last session I want to address here, a panel discussion on ‘how many graduates can the music business accomodate?’. (more…)


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Jul
18

Well, I got to spend another wonderful day with the B*B*C attendees today, and another marvellous day was had. I can see me running a lot more classes like this in the future… Here are some photos from it:


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Jul
02

The process I outlined in the previous blog post can be reversed when we start working on drawing musical information out of learning someone else’s music.

I often classify this loosely as active vs passive learning.

  • Passive learning leads us to learn the song we’re working on, play it like the original, tick that box and move on.
  • Active learning asks why the line is the way it is, what lead to it being like that, what the musical elements are the comprise it and how we can make them our own.

So from melodies, we can extract phrases - elements from within the tune or riff or bass-line that are transposable, that we can build variations on, that we can put into other music contexts, we can harmonise to create a different emotional layer on top of the now-unrecognisable line. We can draw out all kinds of material that we can then use in our own music, which hopefully is happening anyway as we build/find context in which to practice the phrases we’ve identified as existing within the melody.

And then, in order to make sure that our own musical prejudices and limitations don’t stop us from discovering the hidden gems in the phrases we found, we can process that material even further by way of applying our ‘parameter and permutation’ approach to the phrases, so see what other patterns are in there, which in turn lead us to less obvious phrases, leading back to melodies…

The combination of having a distinct process for turning ‘music’ into ‘my music’ with a learning approach that demands context for every exercise removes the need for a lot of the questions about ‘where’s the value in this?’ or ‘what’s the point?’ - if the value isn’t apparent in the specific thing you’re practicing, move on and try something else – there’s so much amazing music out there to be found, that spending hours frustrating yourself in exercises that have no apparent learning outcome is just a recipe for being put off the instrument.

By all means dig deep into complex and challenging music – understandable doesn’t mean ‘simple’ it just means that the nature of the outcome is somehow linked to the material being worked on, whoever seemingly complex or basic the start point.

Does that make sense?


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Jun
26

OK, this is one of the best presentations on learning music I’ve seen in ages.

I got to play with Evelyn Glennie a few years back, in her studio – she had been talking to Rick Turner about electro-acoustic music, and he’d advised her to talk to me about looping. I went to meet her and talk to her about looping and processing, and demo the Looperlative for her. Her sensitivity to everything we played, every processed element I added to her percussion, was incredible. Her profound deafness was certainly no impediment to her musical performance or her ability to collaborate. Given just how quickly she reacted to every change, and how sensitive her touch was, one could just as easily suggest it was an advantage, based on experiential evidence alone.

What certainly is advantageous is the way that Evelyn has used her profile as a musician and her unique history in studying and performing music to speak about learning music, and learning in general, across the globe. Including the talk embedded below from the Ted Conference.

It’s no overstatement to say that this is one of the finest presentations I’ve ever seen on learning an instrument. Evelyn demonstrates and explains so clearly many of the things I talk about when teaching, particularly the point about learning music in the context of playing music, rather than what I refer to as ‘practicing practicing’ – getting good at musical exercises without rooting them in the magic of playing actual music.

Watch, learn, be inspired:


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Jun
16

Beyond Bass Camp starts this Saturday, and is sold out. There’s even a waiting list.

The popularity of the idea means I’ll probably run a few one-offs, and/or 2 day weekend classes over the summer. Please feel free to post in the comments which of those you’d be most interested in, and which days of the week would work best.

For those of you that are booked in, see you on the boat on Saturday!


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Jun
10

This month’s Bass Guitar Magazine has a little write-up on Beyond Bass Camp, which was nice to see. There it is, in the picture… You’ll have to get the mag – or at least pick it up in a newsagents to read what they say, but naturally it’s all good :)

As for B*B*C progress, there’s one space left, thanks to a cancellation, on the course – Given that all the other 4 places are taken by people that are coming to all 5 classes, the deal for this last place is that you can come to as many of them as you want (for £70 each) but they have to be from the beginning. So you can come to June 20th, or June+July, or June, July, Aug etc… (more…)


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May
12

I have certain pre-arranged responses to some of the questions and comments I get about my music.

One of my favourites to throw out is to comments like “hey, Steve, you should do a whole ambient record” or “I really like the funky tunes, you should do more of that“, or any other ‘you should‘-type comments. My response is invariably “no, YOU should, cos it’s you that wants to hear it!”
(more…)


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May
02

On the blog post announcing Beyond Bass Camp, Kevin posted a very pertinent question relating to syllabus/curriculum. So here’s an outline of the kind of approach I’ll be taking.

As with everything I teach, much of the content will remain fluid and be based on the needs and personalities of the musicians who attend… Having taught privately now for 20 years, and lead masterclasses of this type for about 6 years, I’ve found that the best format is to have an outline of the ‘approach’ and allow the detail of the content to form itself in response to those needs.

That said, each day long class will be split into 3 two hour sessions. (more…)


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Apr
28

OK, you’ll see that there’s a new page up here, the B*B*C FAQ – and in it you’ll find the details about dates, times and cost for the 1st iteration of the Beyond Bass Camp.

For the first 3 weeks – up until May 19th – booking will only be open to people wanting to book for all 5 classes that are already in the diary – that’s £300 for the 5. After that it’ll be open to anyone else that wants to book in. If 5 people go for the all 5 classes option, then I’ll just add in some more dates in between for the one-offs. (more…)


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