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Reply with quote  #1 
The following words are from Darius Chagnon.  Darius is a serious bass player living in Nashville.  He is currently enrolled in our Online School "Funk Bass" course.

  • The typical working bassist around here knows ALL the songs.  Normally these are not played like the recording.  Rather, the average bassist seems to have learned the songs on the bandstand and what they play works and that is good enough.  While their ears are great, there time is great, these guys will never get an artist gig, let alone a studio gig.
  • There are a handful of bassists who have really impressed me.  These guys know ALL the songs, but they know them as recorded, including some really complex material.  These are the players who have artist gigs, studio work and who only play downtown as a favor to a friend or to make a little extra cash.  
  • The difference between the former and the latter is how much they have transcribed and their dedication to really learning the great bass parts played by others.

Jimmy S

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Reply with quote  #2 
Congradulations Darius for having such valuable discoveries!  I found it very useful reading about his experiences here. Maybe he should write a book on stuff like this! 

Because: "Wisdom comes from experiences and good books are full of experiences, both good and bad. We can learn from all of these."  - Jim Stinnett, Laser Practicing

Michael Barracato
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Reply with quote  #3 
As one of the other bass guys in Nashville, I can tell you that this is all by-and-large true. I play 4-5 gigs most weeks (a little less now that the winter has set in...which is typical). 

I'd like to share my personal process for preparing for a new gig that I don't play regularly. This is a 4-hour (perhaps no breaks) gig, which would be mostly cover tunes. This is about 75-80% of the work that is available in Nashville.

-Once I get called to do a date, there is usually a song list that gets sent over. It's usually right at 100 songs. It can be as low as 50 or 60, but those are, in my experience, far more rare. 
-I copy the list into some sort of word processor. Then I sort the songs into groups.
-I immediately delete all the songs that I play on a regular basis. I know them, don’t need to work on anything.
-I’ll make a group for songs that I have charts for. These may or may not get revisited, it depends on time.
-The other group is songs I've never played. That gets divided into songs I've actually heard before and stuff I've never even had an ear on in my life. The stuff I've never heard gets highest priority.
-I then set about writing charts for the songs I don't have ones for. These would be Nashville number charts (which I know Jim strongly opposes. I agree, but by the same token, it’s the common language. It's not my preference, but I'm understood immediately when I talk in that code.) After I've gotten the original recordings, I write sketch charts by ear (of course, I need to verify things with the bass sometimes).
-From this point, it's all about how much time I have before the gig. If I have 2 or 3 days, I can play all the songs about 8-10 times through and usually have it memorized. Often, though, I'm getting called with less than 24 hours and 10 songs to learn. In this case, sometimes the charting process is a saving grace because I'm concentrating on the songs as I write, so I remember what's going on.

In those situations, of course, if everyone on stage is communicating well, you're going to get through just fine, make plenty of tip money, and get called back.

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Reply with quote  #4 
Great words of experience and wisdom for sure! Getting through the gig is kind of expected. It may or may not get you a call back. Everyone will say nice job and smile and all that. When someone has it right and plays at a high level of preparation, the respect is definitely evident.

-Jim Lambie

Jim Lambie

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Reply with quote  #5 
I would add this, though. Darius mentions the NUMEROUS players who play what works and that's it.

When I'm playing a cover song, my mindset for what I add to it is something like "Would what I'm about to play get me fired from that artist's gig?" Or, the positive version is "If this song was the audition for the gig, would I get hired?"

It's actually more often than you would expect that someone I'm on stage with has played with an artist whose songs might be included in the set. Or, in a few special instances, I'm playing a song with a guy who played on the record!
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