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Advice for a bass player approaching flamenco   You are logged in as Guest
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Ukiah Bass

 

Posts: 10
Joined: Jun. 12 2017
 

Advice for a bass player approaching... 

Hello - new to the forum and to flamenco ...

I've long loved the sound of flamanco and am discussing a collaboration with a local flamenco guitarrista -- but am not sure where to start. I'm taking the usual beginning steps of listening to a lot of flamenco music. I notice a distinct lack of bass in this music and feel there could be a very useful role, especially to accompany a solo guitar.

The few examples of bass appear to be electric (surprising since this is tonally acoustic oriented music), especially the "Jaco" tone of playing over the soloed bridge pickup with lots of 16th and 32th notes. The typical "burping" tone, which is not my thing nor does it compliment the acoustic guitar tone very well (to my ears).

I plan to use an acoustic bass guitar strung with black nylon tapewound strings. It's a distinctly upright bass tone. Warm, rich, deep and full bodied. Seems perfect for flamenco and I'm surprised to not hear this applied more frequently.

Anyway, can anyone suggest ways to ease into flamenco? My goal is to be a supportive role, background more than foreground. The music does not appear to be written in typical chord chart format like jazz so aside from winging it, where might I go for ways to approach this challenge? Very little is mentioned in this forum, unfortunately, and I have not found a source to tap into this issue. The premier global forum for bass players (talkbass.com) has virtually nothing on the topic.

Thank you.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 14:48:03
 
Morante

 

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

Don´t.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 14:57:11
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 3462
Joined: Jul. 12 2009
From: Washington, DC

RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Morante

quote:

Don´t.


I second Morante's advice. Don't. A bass in flamenco does not add, instead it detracts from the main instrument, the guitar. Save the bass for rock and jazz.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 15:40:12
 
estebanana

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

The thing about flamenco bass is that the time period it developed was at Jaco's time of fame. He became the main person that the bass players used to frame the problem and the answers.

I have heard Black jazz players from the late 50's hard bop and later mid 60's players go at it because they had heard Sabicas..or whomever play guitar. They are much better than the Jaco model, in my opinion. The scene fixated on Jaco as the model and that is too bad.

Just pretend like that Jaco stuff never happened and explore the music how you feel it. Ask the guitar player how the changes work and the compas. And listen to the singers and think about how you would accompany them with no guitar. I wish Reggie Workman or Jimmy Garrison had been the model for Paco's sextet, but they were listening to early 70's jazz/rock fusion and never really graduated through a real jazz scene. It's both a blessing and curse.

Also be ready for hate from all sides-

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 16:01:20
 
Escribano

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Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

Welcome Ukiah,

I played electric rock bass before trying flamenco guitar. I am now back on 6-string electric, so I have some mileage on this.

1. Bass in flamenco is incredibly difficult to attempt successfully
2. Many don't care for the electric, fretless bass
3. Not convinced bass is required in flamenco at all

If you are going to have a go, I would start with the compás of the palos you intend to play. It is not a free form music, apart from a few exceptions. Get it into your bones. Listen to some cajon players. As bass is part of the rhythm section, you will need to understand the subtleties of flamenco. Try learning the basic palmas.

I would be careful not to overfill the natural silences or even worse, any cante. Flamenco is driven by rhythm but it is more implicit than you might be used to. Accents are tricky and the 'syncopation' (not really the right word. I think of it more as an eager stutter).

Good bass is felt, not heard :-)

Others here can talk you through the dominant notes/chords and some of the melody structures.

Good luck.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 16:08:33
 
Ukiah Bass

 

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Escribano

Wikipedia lists more than 20 types of palos so I'm at a real disadvantage describing the kind of flamenco music played by the local guitarrista. As a neophyte, it sounds atmospheric, moody, kind of spiritual. He plays at many local wineries as "background" for the sippers and talkers so I suppose it's meant to be that way. I've played the same venues with an instrumental band; our original music had kind of a Middle Eastern flavor and served the same purpose.

Funny you mention the natural silences ... my very first impression was to look for places to sit out, focusing more on whole notes to act as pads underlying the chord structure (whatever that is!). Not sure how to approach the rhythmic aspect yet. The guitarrista writes his own music but has not charted it out so this one could be quite the challenge!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 16:20:43
 
Piwin

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

Check out Dave Holland's collaboration with Pepe Habichuela. Probably some good stuff to pick from there.
Most Flamenco guitarists don't really use charts. Most of the time you know what chord progression is going to be played from the specific type of palo. Another thing is that most flamenco guitarists don't think in terms of keys, but in terms of positions on the guitar. Things like G# major phrygian will be referred to as por arriba capo 4th fret. So that maybe Something to be prepared for especially if it's a guitarist who isn't used to working with other instruments.
There really aren't that many different chord progressions when everything's said and done (not nearly as many as in jazz) so that probably won't be the most difficult part. Rythmic structure is probably the most important part.
I think for starters you should ask the guitarist you're collaborating with what kind of palo he/she has in mind to start with. Tangos? Bulerias? Solea? etc. And then focus on understanding those forms, first rythmically, and then harmonically (which should be the easier part). Rhythm is by far the most important part in flamenco. The so-called compas.
If you happen to speak some spanish, flamencopolis.com has a wealth of information on the various palos.

edit: by the way, this might be a dumb question but how certain are you that he plays actual flamenco? A lot of people play some sort of rumba world-music and slap the name flamenco on it. If ever that's what it is, then all of this might be a moot discussion as the same rules won't apply. Thought admitedly that's a touchy question to ask someone: are you playing actual flamenco?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 16:25:55
 
Mark2

Posts: 1893
Joined: Jul. 12 2004
From: San Francisco

RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

Yeah,
I'm with the folks who aren't a big fan of bass in flamenco. It can work on recordings if done in moderation-listen to Vicente Amigo's latest and you'll see it's not exactly out front. The bassist takes a restrained approach. I saw his last show, and frankly, even though he wasn't out front, was annoyed by the bassist. Not that he wasn't a good player, he just wasn't needed IMO.

The guitarist in flamenco has incredible harmonic and rhythmic freedom, which makes adding another harmony instrument kind of like putting on handcuffs. But your situation could be different, in that the guitarist you want to work with may be playing arrangements that he keeps consistent. If that is the case, just chart it out.

To go further, and learn flamenco, feel the compas, and learn the variations of the harmony of all the palos could take quite some time. Like years. And even then if the guitarist is inclined to improvise chord choices, breaks, and falsetas, you could be in for a frustrating situation.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 16:49:12
 
Ukiah Bass

 

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Piwin

I should let his music speak for itself. Here's a video of his song, Mendocino from the same named album:

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 16:50:14
 
Mark2

Posts: 1893
Joined: Jul. 12 2004
From: San Francisco

RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

Well, forget everything everyone has written-that's not flamenco.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 16:54:15
 
Ukiah Bass

 

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Mark2

This is how he describes his music:

quote:

Flamenco fusion styled Guitarrista, Jason Wright, weaves contemporary and classic Spanish melodies with soothing Arabic influences producing captivating and passionate music.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 17:04:29
 
Mark2

Posts: 1893
Joined: Jul. 12 2004
From: San Francisco

RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

It's not unusual today for people who play guitar and like flamenco to try to produce a sound and image that can be marketed as flamenco. Playing actual flamenco is much more difficult. For future reference, the way he describes his music makes it pretty clear he is not playing flamenco. The belly dancer is another tip off.....

I think if you enjoy his music, you should move forward, but don't worry about learning flamenco in order to play with him. There is nothing wrong with flamenco influenced music, many flamencos step outside the bounds of flamenco, but people who know flamenco can usually still hear that they are flamenco artists. But it's often the case that flamenco aficionados and musicians can get annoyed with folks who co op the word without delivering the goods.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 17:18:33
 
Piwin

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

OK this should actually make things easier for you since it's not flamenco per se and you won't have to go learning all the intricacies of it.
Listening to this one piece, I'd say just getting comfortable with major phrygian (the so-called flamenco mode) and the andalusian cadence should go a long ways in helping you prepare.
Hope that helps.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 17:31:25
 
Escribano

Posts: 6423
Joined: Jul. 6 2003
From: England, living in Italy

RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Mark2

quote:

Well, forget everything everyone has written-that's not flamenco.


Yep, but you could try and get him into a consistent rhythm of some kind. Otherwise, it is just random noodling. Don't be tempted to noodle away yourself, you will never meld into anything meaningful. Try and think of a solid back beat that you can tap your foot to. I can hear it in my head, but can't explain it. Try to imagine the drums coming in, if you get me? Then you can run the scales around that. Try and find a riff or motif to return to. Six-string guitarists get away with murder without a rhythm section

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 17:33:03
 
BarkellWH

Posts: 3462
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From: Washington, DC

RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

quote:

This is how he describes his music: quote: Flamenco fusion styled Guitarrista, Jason Wright, weaves contemporary and classic Spanish melodies with soothing Arabic influences producing captivating and passionate music.


This is not even flamenco "fusion." It has a vaguely Spanishy sound to it with a hint of Moorish influence that is often present in many vaguely Spanishy pieces. You can play bass to that without worrying about palos, compas, or anything else related to flamenco.

By the way, Ukiah, welcome to the Foro. We got so wrapped up in your original topic regarding playing bass that I forgot to welcome you. If you do have an interest in learning about flamenco, you will find much to learn and occupy your time here on the Foro.

Bill

_____________________________

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white,
With the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear, "A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East."

--Rudyard Kipling
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 17:49:10
 
Ukiah Bass

 

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

Well OK! I think the message is coming through pretty clear.

Whatever the case, his music is ideal for the local winery scene. I've gigged it for years and it's pretty rare when more than a few people focus on the band performance. Not surprised given the super hot alcohol levels they're pumping into California reds and whites these days. But that's another topic for another day!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 17:58:11
 
mrstwinkle

 

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

I played bass for many years in rock and funk type setups. Heroes were Doug Pinnick in King's X, Geddy Lee in Rush, early Parliament etc

Never heard bass played with flamenco that didn't drive me insane in argh-get-rid-of-it now way.

i'd suggest if you're going to try it, try your own style because nothing that has gone before remotely worked IMO. Or perhaps with violin or oud and no guitar?

Having said that, I'd be curious to hear what a true acoustic bass played in a cypress Hill style might do.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 19:15:56
 
mark74

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

I think what you might be interested in is rumba flamenca, which is a fusion palo of flamenco that really developed in the mid 20th Century, though the roots are older. Its perfect for electric bass and probably good with the set up you're interested in.

Below is probably the most famous example of the palo. The foro members have probably seen this video ten trillion times, but since you say you're a neophyte I'll link it in case you haven't seen it (there's an intro before the bass kicks in)



I don't know if you'd consider it "burping" bass, but I think the bass line works really well here
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 20:45:21
 
Ukiah Bass

 

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to mark74

Thanks for the video. I have not seen it. Definitely not a "burp" tone because the bassist is playing a split-coil P-bass (the burp usually comes from playing over the bridge pickup of a Jazz bass). Kind of a galloping root-five bassline going from 1 to 5 with a passing tone on the 2 and and back to the one. Very "bassic" and easy to do.

Correct me if I'm not hearing this right, but the bass line seems to be superimposed over a more subtle rhythm ... almost masking it in a way. Is that the aspect of bass-in-flamenco that some posters above aren't happy with?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 21:21:17
 
kitarist

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

quote:

ORIGINAL: Ukiah Bass

Correct me if I'm not hearing this right, but the bass line seems to be superimposed over a more subtle rhythm ... almost masking it in a way. Is that the aspect of bass-in-flamenco that some posters above aren't happy with?


IMO: Basically there is no natural musical space for the bass to fill in flamenco - so in these kinds of arrangements space is created artificially for it, or just mashing it together, whereby its presence creates something different. In this case I also feel that this particular base line created a 'slowed down' feeling of the rumba which would feel more energetic in its traditional arrangement.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 21:34:30
 
Ricardo

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass









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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 22:58:39
 
Ukiah Bass

 

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ricardo

Thanks Ricardo! This is approaching the idea in my head. These basslines remind me a lot of what I hear in salsa music. Especially in the last video -- note that bassist is playing a jazz bass but is finger picking in between the pickups for a bassier, full tone. Sounds much better to my ears than "burp" tones.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 12 2017 23:23:55
 
eccullen

 

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

Check out these:




  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2017 0:28:12
 
Leñador

Posts: 5237
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From: Los Angeles

RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

From my experience high level performing flamenco guitarists don't mind bass in flamenco, and total beginners like it. Everyone in the middle not so much. Dancers don't seem to mind it, singers don't seem to love it. Aficionados in general probably lean towards not liking it. I'm painting with a pretty broad brush here but that's what you're up against. If you're trying to please flamenco fans forget it, if you're trying to create a Spanish atmosphere for some wine drinking tourists do whatever you think sounds best. Like others have mentioned it's a real case specific situation.
Piwin's post is great, some other things to keep in mind.
- The rhythm count(compas) is everything. Learn your 12's and 6's and learn to feel the groove of the different palos.
- Like Piwin said, in flamenco there's not really chord charts per se, you're actually expected to figure it out based on context but if your guitarist is on top of it he can probably give you chord charts for his specific pieces.

I've seen it done pretty well live once. A dancers father(Lakshmi Basile) played stand up base for her show and it didn't offend and went pretty well but he almost wasn't noticeable, he was more just felt. He had a bow sometimes too.

At the show some older lady wouldn't shut up behind me and I finally turned around and told her to be quiet. At the end of the show she apologized and it turned out to be Lakshmi's grandma. hahaha oops, oh well, we made up and all was well.

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\m/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2017 0:35:39
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14993
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From: Washington DC

RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

quote:

ORIGINAL: Ukiah Bass

Thanks Ricardo! This is approaching the idea in my head. These basslines remind me a lot of what I hear in salsa music. Especially in the last video -- note that bassist is playing a jazz bass but is finger picking in between the pickups for a bassier, full tone. Sounds much better to my ears than "burp" tones.


IMO, nuñez is unique in the genre that seems to really have an ear for bass guitar lines. Even his guitar solos make interesting use of bass lines more so than most of his colleagues IMO, so when employing a real bass player he seems to have a lot of respect for different styles. Also check out some tracks from his album Calima, where he plays with Pattitucci for an obvious contrast to the over used Jaco style of modern flamencos.

Since it has already been pointed out the artist you might be working with is not "hard core flamenco" like Nunez above, I am hoping you might get a taste for the genre and go deeper on your own. The aficionados that don't want their flamenco tainted by bass guitar are mostly sick of the Jaco thing of course, so you have get past that pain in the butt to go further, but for sure there is room for tasteful interpretation.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2017 0:42:27
 
estebanana

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RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

The SPB of Gerardo with the guy playing five string double bass is about as good as it gets, but he could still lay back more. That playing and early 60's players like Paul Chambers being very modal on Miles' records would be to me much better than than the salsa kind of tone. And North African Rai music, checkout that bass if you want a faster sound.

If I were a bassist I would throw out the whole latin world of bass and anything from Jaco onward and look at older bass playing. When I hear this stuff I feel like these players never did that, everything begins with Jaco and then kind goes downhill.

The only time I ever really was gung ho about bass in flamenco is When Jason hired a a guy form Los Angeles, who's name I can'y remember, and he played powerfully and clearly,but he was coming from a full grounding in jazz. He was aware of all the Paco stuff and understood it, but he did not take on those mannerisms and instead worked back into straight ahead jazz bass.

He put that group together an playeat d Yoshi's in 2012/13 and that was the best bass playing in a flamenco context.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2017 0:43:37
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14993
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From: Washington DC

RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to estebanana

The salsa thing was EXACTLY what Gerardo was going for with that ONE track....point is there might be different ways to use bass guitar effectively for flamenco, not just one way. The verdiales is a very simple example IMO.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2017 0:45:38
 
estebanana

Posts: 9396
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ukiah Bass

Also second the Dave Holland Pepe work, he tone is natural and he does not adopt the 'Jacofarting' mannerisms.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2017 0:51:06
 
estebanana

Posts: 9396
Joined: Oct. 16 2009
 

RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

The salsa thing was EXACTLY what Gerardo was going for with that ONE track....point is there might be different ways to use bass guitar effectively for flamenco, not just one way. The verdiales is a very simple example IMO.

____________________


It's not salsa bass really that bugs me, I get the salsa part, what is nasty is the tone.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2017 0:55:14
 
Ricardo

Posts: 14993
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Advice for a bass player approac... (in reply to estebanana

quote:

ORIGINAL: estebanana

quote:

The salsa thing was EXACTLY what Gerardo was going for with that ONE track....point is there might be different ways to use bass guitar effectively for flamenco, not just one way. The verdiales is a very simple example IMO.

____________________


It's not salsa bass really that bugs me, I get the salsa part, what is nasty is the tone.


It's bright and snappy with some chorus and reverb....very 1980's miami vice, I think it was absolutely perfect for that ONE tune.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 13 2017 0:57:16
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