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Re: 5 string, 6 string, 7 string, 8 string, 9 string etc. etc. Bass? OH REALLY?

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Posted by Stewart R. McKinsey on June 10, 2001 at 15:14:51:

In Reply to: 5 string, 6 string, 7 string, 8 string, 9 string etc. etc. Bass? OH REALLY? posted by Steve DePra on January 20, 2000 at 14:29:17:

I think there are any number of players out there who have too many strings, but the decision is up to the player in question. Many upright players don't think of the elctric as a viable instrument, let alone a member of the bass family. But what about Joe Williams playing a 9-string guitar? Or Narcisso Yepes on his 10-string classical? Are they still guitars? In the end, musicality should be the issue, not nomenclature. I've been playing 6-string basses for about 15 years and I'm moving to an 8-string, as I wanted to do back then. Is it because I want to show off? Is it about chops and pyrotechnics? Nope. 95% of my playing is still pocket and straight groove. Single note lines for the most part. But I want to push myself as an artist. For the music I write, I want to be able to express myself in more than a two octave range. My stuff is hardly dazzling or world changing, but it's about a personal vision in my case. When Bill Dickens takes the stage, he's a bass player whose instrument has extended range. It was the same for Anthony Jackson in the late 70s. Jimmy Johnson even tells horror stories about showing up for session with his 5-strings. It's how one approaches his or her instrument, how the music is both heard and expressed that makes the difference. Was Monk Montgomery a bass player? What about Jerry Jemmott? I understood that Steve Swallow's decision to give up the uprigh for the electic cost him a great deal of work. To me it doesn't make any diference if one creates that pulse that Bernard Odum or Paul Jackson gave their music or if it was the lyrical playing Jaco showed with Joni Mitchell on the Hejira album: their heads were where they were supposed to be. And I think anyone who wants to turn their bass into a lead instrument exclusively should invest in a bassist to hold the bottom end together, but that's just what Stanley Clarke did with Jimmy Earl. I like that bassists step out melodically and sonically, but at its heart part ofthe beauty of the bass is its breadth of expressive and functional range when one considers that it was created as a foundation and support instrument. At least that's my opinion. Hope I didn't offend either.


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