Essential Secrets 39: Show Some Emotion
Show Some Emotion
Putting Feelings into the Notes
Having an emotional roadmap for a piece of music makes performing more satisfying and communicates the true meaning of the music to your audience. But, many bassists don’t know how to convey emotions in their playing. This strategy focuses on rapidly developing this skill.
Try this exercise:
Play a one octave major scale many times. Each time you play the scale, convey a different emotion with the sound you produce. These emotions should run the gamut from the most positive to the most negative.
Here are some suggestions for positive emotions: happiness, excitement, tenderness, freedom, love. Next, try the same exercise with some negative emotions: fear, grief, melancholy, sadness, boredom, anger. Focus on only one emotion at a time until you hear that feeling coming out of your bass.
When bassists try this quick experiment, an amazing process unfolds. To emphasize the emotion, they modify their technique, tempos, tone, and articulations. Going for the emotion first seems to unlock creativity and has a profound effect on your bass playing. This change happens automatically and is much more natural than planning a specific physical technique first so you can bring out a certain emotion.
For many bassists this process allows them to play in the most interesting way they've ever played before, all because they have an emotional goal for their music. Instead of worrying about the notes, they're actually communicating feelings. When your goal is to convey emotions—rather than to sound perfect—you’ll be amazed at how creative you can be with your sound.
Try this exercise with any scale, arpeggio, or etude. On another day, use this approach with short phrases. Eventually, you can make this concept part of your practicing for an entire song. Imagine how gratifying that will be.
Books by David Motto:
THE TEN MINUTE
FOR ELECTRIC BASS
COMPLETE 3-VOL. SET