Eric's Homemade Stuff

An infrequent blog of stuff I make, including music.

Building Phase Dance - Part 2

This is part 2 of a series on learning the tune, “Phase Dance” by Pat Metheny. Here’s part 1:

Part 2

In this installment I’m starting on the main bass pattern and then adding the opening riff to it. The bass line from the Pat Metheny Songbook seems to be correct. Of course, Mark Egan changes it during the tune. However, he plays this pattern a lot and my plan is to get this really wired into my hands. As I get really comfortable I can play with it. I’m not a bass player and this part is hard for me even though it’s just a common root/5th latin groove. Here’s the part.

The one change I made from the songbook is that I don’t have the low F# and F as written on my SG12. I substituted the higher octave for those notes. I started playing this with a metronome and then switched to a rhythm track. Here it is at 120 bpm, a long way off from performance tempo. My SG12 is tuned in mirrored 4ths so this will look different from what most Stick players will see. This will take some time for me to get it down smoothly at tempo, I think.

Main Bass Pattern — Take 1

And this is why recording yourself is useful. Did you notice that I’m not playing this correctly? The pattern is supposed to be pulsing on the beat in places I’m playing off the beat. Back to the metronome I go to slow it down and get it right. I know I don’t have to play it exactly as it’s written or the way Egan plays it. I want to start there and get that groove into my hands first. I think a pattern that pulses on 2 and 4 is hard and a good thing to learn.

I’m back after some woodshedding. This one is closer and still at the slow tempo of 120.

Main Bass Pattern — Take 2

That’s better, still a long way to go.

Combining the Bass Line With the Melody Riff

Next I started playing the two parts together. I had to start slowly and work it up to this point. This is my first attempt to record it for a few seconds. You might notice that I’m not quite in sync with the rhythm section. At this point in the journey I’m going to play this a bazillion times to get it in my head and hands. I will slowly work it up to a good tempo. I do this with classical pieces and the more time I spend playing the hard rhythms slowly the better I can play the piece at performance tempo. That’s not news to all you experienced musicians, I know.

Together

That’s it for this installment. I think I’m making progress, slowly.

Tools

Here are the tools I’m using to create these posts.

  • My SG12 is plugged into my homemade preamp.
  • The preamp feeds an Alesis iO4 USB audio interface.
  • The iO4 is plugged into my MacBook Pro laptop.
  • MainStage 3 is providing the sound and doing the audio recording.
  • The rhythm tracks are being provided by the iRealb app. I use it on iOS and it’s also available for Android and Mac OS X.
  • I’m recording the video with an iPad mini using the front camera so I can see what I’m recording.
  • The video editing is being done with ScreenFlow.
  • The notation software I use is Lilypond.

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