Deep to Deep, September 1999
|Deep calls to deep at the sound of Thy waterfalls (Psalm 42:7)|
Thanks to those who made the trek to join me - Cliff, Magnus, Mark, Sam, Steve, Tim & Yemi. I hope to see the rest of you next time...
We started the morning (once folks had arrived and set up amps and basses) by listening to Psalm 144 and spending a few minutes in prayer. This gave us a starting point for the first seminar, preparing us to have our hands trained for battle and our fingers for war (qv. Ps 144:1).
In the first seminar, we looked at some rhythms that Wulf and Magnus had picked up from an African hand-drumming course they have been attending, and how these rhythms could be applied to give us some fresh ideas for the music we make. The main rhythm we looked at was the Kuminah, a Jamaican dance beat. We explored how this could inspire a bass line to support the melody for the song "Great is He Who's the King of Kings".
After spending some time to this we moved to focussing on the skills needed for playing in a group - both the dynamics we need to remember in our church music groups and the particular areas we would need to concentrate on for creating some bass ensembles.
That was a lot of talking without too much bass playing, so we then split into two groups in order to work on some songs for the afternoon. I headed upstairs with Magnus, Sam, Tim and the smaller amps, while Cliff, Mark, Steve and Yemi stayed downstairs. My group worked on the song "Who Paints the Skies", breaking it into three sections (verse, bridge, chorus) and coming up with three or four complementary parts for each. For example, the verse is in a call and response form, so Magnus played the question and Tim gave the response, while Sam and I provided a 'proper' bassline (though playing an octave apart to fatten the sound).
Lunch ended up being a bit late, and most of us ended up just having chips bought from around the corner. The weather was glorious, so we took the opportunity to sit outside and chat (rather than getting greasy fingers over each others basses).
After lunch we reconvened. First of all we listened to each other's ensemble pieces from the morning (the other group had chosen "My First Love", and took full advantage of the two fretless basses they had at their disposal). We then closed the afternoon with some worship, beginning by singing "Amazing Grace" and gradually bringing the instruments in. We passed through some other songs as well, but I'm pleased to say that we kept it pretty focussed and God-centred throughout.
Then afterwards, while we were packing up, came the chance to try out each other's gear...
As always, we had a wide range of equipment represented. These are my hightlights:
The nearest we got to an Ashdown amp was Tim's wristwatch (styled like an Ashdown's retro 'speedometer'). Out of the amps we did have (Fender, Marshall, Peavey, SWR and Trace Elliot) my top marks went to the SWR Workingman's 12" combo. This could have something to do with it being my own amp (biased? Surely not!). However, it was satisfying to hear basses that sounded ordinary though a little Peavey guitar amp (again mine, just to prove that I'm fair) coming to life when pumped through the SWR. Having the amp sitting in the middle of the floor, I also discovered that I could keep my feet nicely cool by putting them near the rear port and playing loud fingerstyle funk...
There were a wide range of basses around, both fretted and fretless - a couple of Alembics, a couple of Yamahas and various other instruments as well. If you were there and want your dearly beloved instrument mentioned by name, let me know and I'll be glad to oblige. Out of the instruments I personally laid my hands on (Alembic Stanley Clarke signature model, Fender Jazz 5, Music Man Stingray 5, Peavey ???, Status Eclipse and my trusty Washburn XB-600) I think the Fender and the Music Man basses came top in tests through my SWR amp.
All in all, we had a good day, and I look forward to the next one. It would be nice to make it last longer, but on balance I think I'd prefer to keep it in its current shorter format - there's still plenty of time for sharing ideas and it hopefully makes the event more accessible for those who have family commitments or a long way to travel.
That's all I've got to say so far - now pop back to the main Deep to Deep page.