Global Bass Online May 2000
"Illuminating Disclosures" ...by Dann Glenn
.....There I was, Vietcong to left of me, Lithuanian film festival buffs to the right of me....I stand up and open fire with a salvo on full automatic, 'cause it's our only hope.
To my amazement instead of tracers flying out of my weapon... bubbles start popping out in a myriad of colours. Huh? I start screaming in disbelief.
Then I hear a voice ...."hey man...would you shut the hell up?...I'm trying to talk on the phone!" It was Jaco. I had been having a nightmare while crashed on the couch. We had eaten at Ernie's Taco House on Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood that night and I guess the rich food and 400 beers had gotten to me.
I knew Jaco towards the end of his life. He would come stay at my place whenever he was in LA and needed a place to stay. What memories. Some sad. Most precious. A few un-printable.
Mr. Pastorius has been on the other side now for some 13 years. I miss him don't you? In my studio I only have one picture of him on the wall. In this picture he does not have a bass on. He's just staring into space looking very....well....
After many of the clones left in his wake have run out of tricks, the bass realm is now left with this giants true impact on us all.
Not harmonics, awesome fretless tone, playing funkier the a wolverine backing into a bear, or even his frightening over-all virtuosity. No...he left us with something else to ponder. He left us with the uplifting and incredible revelation that we bass players are wonderful composers.
Yeah....that's what I said....composers. Or anything else you might aspire to. Please bare in mind that the great conductor Zubin Mehta was and still is..... a bassist. That's right...a bassist. There is some wonderful film of him playing with Pearlman and others. Check it out....the maestro has a mean German bow technique. He smiles while he bows. I like that.
If you see yourself as a sideman working in a rhythm section, there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all, my friends. That's what the bass does so very well. We are the anchor of all harmony. However, if you have felt compelled to not "write songs" but to compose music, you are in the ever growing family of bassist/composers that are beginning to make an impact on the world of music in a most un-expected way.
Why un-expected? Simply because of the aforementioned role of the bass. Bass players have been shunned for years as faceless idiots that perform a task and not much more. Put out a solo bass CD and you'll soon be crucified as an egotist masturbating away at the expense of your listeners.
May I suggest (as I have to many with incredible results) dividing your practice time into one segment for nuts and bolts bassmanship, and another for composition? For some wonderfully inexplicable reason we bassists have a completely different and original approach to composition. May I suggest giving it a try?
This is going to take some time and blundering I'm afraid. Composition is not for the faint of heart. My first 3 or 4 attempts at this were (admittedly) rather wretched to be sure. However when a relentless "never say die" attitude is firmly in place something incredible begins to happen in the 2nd or 3rd wave of one's compositions. A "voice" begins to emerge that is undeniably yours and yours alone. Think about it. The world needs all the good music it can get.
On the subject of CD's I have become rather alarmed at the number of players that are putting out a well produced disc without becoming a member of ASCAP or BMI. Aside from mechanical (hard sales) this is how we are paid.
I have been a BMI writer/publisher for years now making the bulk of my earnings from publishing royalties rather than mechanical sales of CD's. Wouldn't you love to be the cat that penned "Happy Birthday?"
To get an idea of what I'm speaking of go to www.bmi.com ,
enter my name (last name first please!) in the "writers" search. It'll pull up my body of work to date. (Except my last two CD's which are still being listed.) This is what a composer shoots for. A body of work that will serve you well rather than an endless number of gigs that put gas in the Buick and paid the rent.
In the coming times my columns in Global Bass will touch on many subjects. On this auspicious first outing I really wanted to address the subject of long term artistic and financial reality.
If any of you are ever in need of writer/publisher applications/contracts and/or information, please don't hesitate to write me. I'll do for you what I've done for countless others in terms of getting you squared away with becoming a protected writer and a legitimate publisher in your own name.
When I joined in 1984 it was only $25.00 to start your own publishing company. Now it's more like $150.00...however this is forever and a day. Something to think about, my friends, at the very least.
In upcoming columns we'll get down to the artistic nitty gritty not to mention some nuts and bolts bassmanship. The next time you sit down with your instrument may I invite you into a wonderful place. A place of wonderment, color, and self expression.
Ok gang....this is your old Uncle Dann saying "play well and stay well"...and if anyone tells you no....it only means you are on the right path.
Dann Glenn is currently in pre-production for his 10th CD "Subharmonia."
The "Mad Professor of Bass" can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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