Sunday, March 2, 2014

Musings on Musical Identity

Otherwise known as bass...

Yeah, it's been a long time since I had anything to say here. Professional life has gotten more involved and with the dissertation done there's less need for distraction and blowing off steam with awful riffs. As a result, the Hagstrom has been somewhat neglected.

Still, we went to see Amon Amarth and Enslaved a few weeks ago and I found myself in the mood to play again. Except that when I thought about the concert, I kept coming back to how I spent the whole time this time mesmerized by watching Grutle Kjellson and Ted Lundström playing. This seemed strange to me because Ice Dale is the quintessential guitar action hero and Johan and Olavi are themselves amazing players.

Then I got to thinking about other shows we had gone to see. Opeth: I love Fredrik's playing and Mikael is the most entertaining host in metal, but during the actual songs I end up, more often than not, watching Mendez and his side-to-side headbanging as he jams out on that Jazz Bass of his. Barren Earth? Sami is a guitar god, but I watch Opu Laine and his Thunderbird. Lamb of God? John Campbell. I think there's a pattern here.

So I mention this to the Wyf and she says: "Duh. When you were first looking for a guitar, I was a bit surprised that you didn't get a bass."

So why didn't I get a bass?

Well, when I first started thinking about getting an alternative to my acoustic guitar to play as a hobby, my brother, himself a bassist and pianist, suggested that a guitar would be better than a bass for someone who has no one else to play music with. And that made sense to me. And I love guitar. So I got a guitar.

But whenever I had picked up the guitar to mess with it before I bought an electric, I usually ended up messing around with something that sounded more like a bassline than a lead line. And seven years on, whenever I come up with anything cool of my own on the guitar it is usually something on the lowest three strings and close to open position...and the moment I start messing with that idea the variations that come out are usually either variations that change the feel of the rhythm or that stretch the tonality. I don't think melody, I think rhythm and foundation. Those are the parts of music that I feel, even if I respond to the melody.

Which has me wondering...have I always been a frustrated bassist who just happens to love listening to guitar? I'm beginning to think that may be the case.

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