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Horizontalste

How ambitious are you?

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Posted (edited)

I'm thinking that as musicians we generally fall into three categories, please humour me here.

1- those who (maybe) have lots of ambition but may not have the knowledge (guidance) to make steady progress. Frustration is never far away for them.

2- those who are competent (or not) & have reached a standard they're happy with & just plod on never really improving.
Maybe they have "Mad Skillz" or are just comfortable in their arena.

3- those with heaps of ambition & the knowledge & skills to improve, they probably have goals & sub goals & are most likely very methodical in their approach to practice. Improvement happens for these guys/gals.

Obviously very loose categories & certainly not fixed but not far off IMO, anyway, this got me thinking!
In one short sentence how could those in category three help or inspire those in categories one & two respectively?

I thought a brief description of your goals & what you have done today to work towards them might make for an interesting thread, being as we are all into different things & have different abilities!

So I'll start I guess.
Long term I want to improve upon my musicianship, I have highlighted that although I'm not a bad player my ear still needs to play catch up.
Today in order to take another step towards musical awesomeness I have been singing intervals, trying to identify chord qualities & tapping out rhythms on the kitchen worktop while cooking tea.
& I haven't picked up the bass at all :-/

So what's your plan & what have you done today to achieve it?

Edited by Horizontalste

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2 for me. I'm an ok player but am more concerned with the entertainment value of the band.

Today's band work was to sort a dep out for Friday after the death of a band mates family member.

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Posted (edited)

I think there's a #4.

4. Those that are too old for anything to make a difference one way or the other.

I still woodshed, I'm retired and find myself playing hours on end into the we hours I'm still practicing exercises for speed and how to use scales to make my bass line musically sensible, unique and interesting.

My main focus is to keep working and to increase my income flow.

Blue

Edited by blue

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Posted (edited)

[quote name='blue' timestamp='1488933592' post='3253112']
I think there's a #4.

4. Those that are too old for anything to make a difference one way or the other.

[/quote]

I'm not sure I agree on this one Blue, I certainly don't buy into the "can't teach an old dog new tricks" chestnut nor to I think talent is naturally occurring phenomenon, but that's for another thread :-)

Edited by Horizontalste

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[quote name='Les' timestamp='1488930219' post='3253097']
2 for me. I'm an ok player but am more concerned with the entertainment value of the band.

Today's band work was to sort a dep out for Friday after the death of a band mates family member.
[/quote]

Deepest condolences :-/

As for entertainment value, how many bands have we all seen who are on it musically but boring to watch?! Definitely worth working on.

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There is a 4. The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to PREPARE to win. Some have lots of talent, but lack the desire to put in the work needed to be a success.(Whatever that means)

If you poses the natural talent and are prepared to also work harder than the rest, you will make it. Most are a mixture...... 1. Not the most talent but work hard. 2. lots of talent but fairly laid back.

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I'm 3. I work on improving my bass playing in general, and also regularly run through my set list for the band, looking for places where I could fing something that improves the song.

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For me "musicianship" has always been a means to an end rather than the end itself.

As regards technical ability in playing guitar/bass/keyboards, my ambition has been little above zero ever since I managed to string a handful of chords together on the guitar without having to pause between changes to get my fingers into position, some time in 1974. That isn't to say I haven't improved since then. I have, but I don't specifically work at it. I don't think I've ever practiced a scale in my life, and I certainly don't work on technique for it's own sake.

Where I am ambitious, is in my songwriting. I work on this just about every day. This is the end to which my "musicianship" is working towards. So if I am working on technique it's because I have come up with a musical idea that my fingers can't currently execute flawlessly.

To this end, today I will be working on refining the bass line for the new songs we were working on at rehearsal last night. One in particular has some tricky timing with regards to where the chord changes fall and that timing changes from the verses to the choruses and is different again in the final chorus, so I will be aiming to be able to play this without needing to consciously count the beats in my head for the changes and instead be able to listen to the tune of the bass line to know I have it right.

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I'm probably a 2.5 :P

In general I'm pretty happy with my level of playing, and see it more as being part of the band I'm in at any one time - I don't have ambitions to play to a theoretically higher level just for the sake of it, but will practice a lot (mainly with the band, but I'll sometimes work on stuff on my own if i need to catch up) to make sure that I know and can play all of my parts.

That said, I will practice techniques to widen my palette (and then work out how to apply them to whatever band situation I'm in, sometimes just to mess with their heads - slap bass in a thrash band? done that!), and at the moment I'm learning a load of stuff for a band that plays stuff well outside of my comfort zone - it's an achievable stretch and I'm enjoying the discipline of getting up to speed on it, but I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't needed to.

One thing I have noticed is that often the improvement will come some months after all the hard work, and sometimes out of context - like I'll have learned a load of stuff on the guitar and some time later I'll find I'm flying around the bass applying the same techniques

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What BigRedX just said. :)

And today I'm terribly excited about a new/old song reworking that I think I've just nailed. I've amalgamated some ideas I've been kicking around for a few months (I always have a head full of random orphan riffs & progressions) with the excellent chorus from a decidedly average song from about 10 years ago.

Plus, lyrics are usually the domain of my writing partner/vocalist and I don't usually get involved - but I've adapted her original chorus lyric to work with the ideas she has for what's now the verse part, and added a few bits of my own. So while the ideas & lyrical concept aren't mine, most of the actual lyric is - and I'm proper chuffed with it!

Musically the guitar parts are likely to be somewhat more challenging than the bass. :ph34r:

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i do agree with bigredx ,
i m a bass player geek , i love seeing bass player coming up with new techniques , playing at 7000bpm, slapping and all that kind of stuff .
the difference is that i ve tried many times to listen to ( example ) Hadrian Feraud full album , and as much as i appriciate is ability as bass player i was bored of listening after the second song . i also try to work on songwriting and even if i do study bass and try to become a better bass player my main focus is to wright a beautiful peace of music even if the bassline is simple and and contain only a handful of notes the hard part is trying to make "That Notes" count .

i don t know if this makes any sense guys but i m very tired and my ass is in pain as i ve been sat in the megabus for 5 hours already

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[quote name='fiatcoupe432' timestamp='1488974107' post='3253350']
i do agree with bigredx ,
i m a bass player geek , i love seeing bass player coming up with new techniques , playing at 7000bpm, slapping and all that kind of stuff .
the difference is that i ve tried many times to listen to ( example ) Hadrian Feraud full album , and as much as i appriciate is ability as bass player i was bored of listening after the second song . i also try to work on songwriting and even if i do study bass and try to become a better bass player my main focus is to wright a beautiful peace of music even if the bassline is simple and and contain only a handful of notes the hard part is trying to make "That Notes" count .

i don t know if this makes any sense guys but i m very tired and my ass is in pain as i ve been sat in the megabus for 5 hours already
[/quote]

Makes perfect sense, and i completely agree. I'm not one who listens to stuff for the bass playing, unlike a lot of my more muso-ish mates. I love to hear great bass playing, but great bass playing in great songs

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Posted (edited)

[quote name='fiatcoupe432' timestamp='1488974107' post='3253350']
i do agree with bigredx ,
i m a bass player geek , i love seeing bass player coming up with new techniques , playing at 7000bpm, slapping and all that kind of stuff .
the difference is that i ve tried many times to listen to ( example ) Hadrian Feraud full album , and as much as i appriciate is ability as bass player i was bored of listening after the second song . i also try to work on songwriting and even if i do study bass and try to become a better bass player my main focus is to wright a beautiful peace of music even if the bassline is simple and and contain only a handful of notes the hard part is trying to make "That Notes" count .
[/quote]

I have admit I quite like Hadrian Feraud, but mostly because of the musical ideas his keyboard player comes up with which remind me of Greenslade, a band I was very much into in the 70s. The bass playing itself leaves me cold.

Actually if there is an area where technique does interest me at least as much as composition, it's in the more obscure elements of electronic music where I can get very geeky about sound design and synthesis methods.

Edited by BigRedX

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Becoming a better player isn't going to help me much at the stage I'm at.

I just concentrate on playing stuff well, bring in the right place at at the right time, building awareness of the bands I'm in.

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Based on the above classification I'd say I'm a 2.something. I'm competent enough to play in bands and have done so in three bands over about 30 years (excluding the inevitable school band) , the current one being almost 10 years now. I definitely don't have "Mad Skillz" but that's fine by me as I'm not a natural show off and don't play for kudos. My primary goal is to enjoy myself, which I do, and if I didn't then I'd give up playing without a second thought, because there would be absolutely no point continuing to play. I've never had any ambition to scrape a living as a musician because it seems pretty much like a recipe for disappointment most of the time and I've found it far more lucrative to earn a very good living doing other things and then being able to easily afford to indulge my musical interests.

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Posted (edited)

I'm probably a 1.5 but my ambition is driven purely by enjoyment and nothing to do with actual musicianship or earning a living. I certainly don't ever get frustrated.

I'm only ambitious in the sense that I like making music and by getting better at doing so (albeit slowly), I enjoy it even more.

Any whiff of setting goals for improvement would most likely kill my enjoyment stone dead - that for me would make it more akin to work than play; but that's purely my own point of view, of course.

So "ambition" is probably the wrong choice of word for me: I don't really have any specific targets that I'm aiming for... but perhaps I should!? :huh:

Edited by Skol303

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Great replies thus far!

I'm really intrigued by how we (humans) can apply ourselves to tasks or activities in many different ways and achieve similar outcomes and how we learn new thing's.
I'm fascinated I guess with the psychological aspects being musical. I was very much in the 1 camp until about eight or nine years ago when I started looking in to how we learn. I'm still no virtuoso but I do take satisfaction knowing that every time I practice it's not ad-hoc and it is leading somewhere.

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Posted (edited)

[quote name='mikel' timestamp='1488969635' post='3253299']
There is a 4. The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to PREPARE to win. Some have lots of talent, but lack the desire to put in the work needed to be a success.(Whatever that means)

If you poses the natural talent and are prepared to also work harder than the rest, you will make it. Most are a mixture...... 1. Not the most talent but work hard. 2. lots of talent but fairly laid back.
[/quote]

All successful musicians I know that have reached the international touring and better than average living level from music have always told me they attribute their success to, always being prepared.

Blue

Edited by blue

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[quote name='Horizontalste' timestamp='1488981202' post='3253462']

I'm still no virtuoso but I do take satisfaction knowing that every time I practice it's not ad-hoc and it is leading somewhere.[/quote]

Excellent, when guys are sitting down playing stuff you already know, your not practicing your jamming.

Blue

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Posted (edited)

My approach is my own list of 1,001 bass lines I must master :). 90% are funk, soul, jazz funk and disco. I'm about a third of the way there as the goalposts are constantly changing as I come across new stuff. In this respect I'm probably a 2. I play what I like and generally like what I play. As I head towards 50 I have no interest in striving for Wootten-like virtuosity as I don't plan on making a living from playing music.

Edited by Barking Spiders

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I'm a plodding 2 who is considering packing it all in as my wedding/function band are getting a photographer in to take pictures for the website and we are going to have videos on Youtube as well. I play bass to be at the back of the stage in the shadows. If I'd wanted the rest I'd have stayed a guitard.

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Now a 2. I'd love to have the infinite time requirement for 3 but really playing bass is my hobby that loses me money, and I rarely get time to practice having a baby in the house now. I am good enough for my band but want to be better as a bassist and musician, but I don't get the time to hone my bass chops so I focus on other areas such as being a better part of the band in helping songs flow and move.

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Posted (edited)

[quote name='uk_lefty' timestamp='1489057689' post='3253995']
Now a 2. I'd love to have the infinite time requirement for 3 but really playing bass is my hobby that loses me money, and I rarely get time to practice having a baby in the house now. I am good enough for my band but want to be better as a bassist and musician, but I don't get the time to hone my bass chops so I focus on other areas such as being a better part of the band in helping songs flow and move.
[/quote]

I've been there too, our youngest is five and eldest is eighteen & for those first few years of their lives things definitely do take a backseat but I've found it soon comes round again. I think the trick is maintaining what you have so when more time becomes available you're not playing catch up.

Great insights guys.

Edited by Horizontalste

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A solid 2.something here. I think I've got my bass playing to the level required for the bands I play in, sure I could always improve various aspects of my playing but now I concentrate more on the performance, particularly backing vox and visuals.

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[quote name='blue' timestamp='1489032461' post='3253858']
All successful musicians I know that have reached the international touring and better than average living level from music have always told me they attribute their success to, always being prepared.

Blue
[/quote]

I know what you mean but that was not my drift.

What I meant was, you could be the most ambitious bassist alive but without the drive to practice till you bleed you will never be a top pro. Talent is not enough, you need the will to work harder than the rest. Some of the most well known pro's might not be the most gifted, but If you work at it harder than the rest a bit of talent could be enough.

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