A little about me

I’m one of those guys, you know the ones, who pastors a church by day and plays the tuba by night (although sometimes it’s the other way round).

This blog is a little insight into my tuba world with a few sounds, sights, musings and nerdings.

If however you were wanting to hear me preach, you’re on the wrong site so you’ll need to either click on the church link or come to my regular gig on a Sunday morning.

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Bassline Academy – What is Hip?, Rocco Prestia

This bassline played on tuba should really be called ‘What is Possible – on the tuba?’ On one level it’s effectively an exercise in tonguing endurance under the effects of oxygen deprivation (I had to practice a lot to build up stamina to overcome the build up of lactic acid in my tongue!). On another it’s a great workout in the funky department. I was inspired to try this one out after watching a Scott’s Bass Lessons Youtube video (check it out here).

I don’t think I’ll ever be using the main bass figure on a gig, there’s just too much repetition to ever make it sit well on the tuba! The necessity to take a breath at the beginning of the bar on the only tied semi quaver in the riff does disrupt the flow a little but it’s the only way to make it happen on tuba.

What this bassline highlights is how I go about playing this style of music. Speak to almost any tuba teacher and they will tell you that your sound starts with air – air support, air flow, diaphragm etc. Good ‘air’ equals a good sound, or at least the foundation for a good sound. I don’t dispute this, but for this style of music I’m actually using very little air, in fact as little air as possible so that I can keep playing these long baselines going without passing out. A lot of the sound I’m producing comes less from my diaphragm and more from my mouth as I use a percussive tongue articulation on the relentless semiquaver lines. This bassline is a proper tonguing workout.

For the full note for note transcription of Rocco’s bassline click here.

SDG

Bassline Academy – Maybe It’ll Rub Off, Rocco Prestia

This bassline transcription is a request from Dwayne Dixon. He’s a fellow church minister and low note player and sent me a message asking if I’d do a version of Maybe It’ll Rub Off by Tower of Power, so here it is Dwayne!.

The bassline is typically Rocco; punchy, percussive, funky and at times follows the unison riff in the rest of the band. The main A section riff uses a kind of bee bop blues scale (that’s what I shall call it, I don’t know if anyone else does!). The F, E, Eb are like the top of a bee bop scale (in F) with the following C, B, Bb, Ab part of the blues scale (in F) so to my mind that’s a bee bop blues scale or possibly a blues bee bop scale, depending on which way you look at it!

In the hammond organ solo section the bass guitar drops out and bass duties are picked up by Chester Thompson on bass pedals! This section is probably the most difficult to play on the tuba as there’s no where to breathe!

On the whole I found myself playing the bass part on this track with quite a lot of hard tongue attack to get the same sound and style as the bass and bari sax.

You can download the pdf transcription here – Maybe it’ll rub off

SDG

Bassline Academy – Thinking About Your Body, Bobby McFerrin

Here’s another Bobby McFerrin transcription taken from the Spontaneous Inventions album. It’s funny how you find music sometimes, I first heard this track (sort of) on a Cadbury’s chocolate advert! I’ve always loved it (and Cadbury’s chocolate – maybe marketing does work after all) so it’s been great to learn it and get inside the groove. With all of Bobby McFerrin’s solo stuff, there’s an amazing sense of feel and pulse which makes it sound like there’s more than just one person playing/singing it. As with Opportunity it works really well down the octave on the tuba, although the acrobatic leaps are a bit a of a challenge.

Get the PDF transcription here – Thinking about your body

SDG