Top 10 Tips For Bassists
By: School of Rock’s Gordon Patrairca
1. Listen to the kick drum——it’s your best friend. Seriously you will be matching rhythms with it a LOT of the time.
2. You may know the bass line but do you know the chords you are playing against? Speaking of chords, can you play (as triads or arpeggios) Major, Minor and 7th chords?
3. If you don’t know what a triad or an arpeggio is you should learn this, like right now!
4. Bass requires some long stretches in your fretting hand–do not ignore your 4th (pinkie) finger, it’s your best friend after the kick drum!
5. Strive for consistent attack and volume from your plucking hand, ditto if you use a pick
6. Be aware of note duration, learn how to mute with your left hand by releasing pressure on the string just enough to stop a note from sounding.
7. Avoid annoying slap bass gymnastics–most bands aren’t looking for this—trust me.
8. Be on time and in tune.
9. Dress like a musician, not like your about to play baseball, hockey or golf.
10. Be prepared, exude confidence and be polite.
Gordon Patrairca Biography
Bassist Gordon Patriarca has been a lifetime resident of Chicago. As a child in the 1960’s a transistor radio was a constant companion (under the pillow at bedtime) this radio would be tuned to one of the AM powerhouses WLS or WCFL and the gloriously diverse Top-40 sounds were the soundtrack of his childhood. The physical relationship with the electric bass began at age 16, this was fueled by the inevitable sibling rivalry with a younger brother who had become an above-average guitarist in only 3-4 years of playing. Not to be outdone (and using Cream bassist Jack Bruce as a role model) Patriarca picked the 4-stringed instrument and circumnavigated any comparisons with his junior kin. High School bands followed (now the radio was tuned to FM, Hard- Rock, Blues-Rock, Prog-Rock etc. it was the ’70’s) There was a bit of formal study with (now L.A. studio bassist) Paul Zibits.
After High School there was a couple of years of college (Northern ILL. University) where he was in an African percussion ensemble, and took various oddball music classes. The highlight of this college experience was probably his twice weekly shows as a DJ at the campus radio station. Leaving school to pursue the life of a working musician, Patriarca began his 25 year career with a “Who’s Who” of Chicago musicians spanning Rock, Pop, Blues,and Country. Patriarca has played in at least 50 local bands (Remainders, Bad Examples, Anna Fermin, Cathy Richardson,Robbie Fulks, Satyagraha, Yardsale, Word Bongo,Urban Djinn,Jan James,Icos et.al) In the Blues/R&B arena he has gigged with Sugar Blue (harmonica on “Miss You”- the Rolling Stones), Matt “Guitar” Murphy (Memphis Slim, Blues Brothers ),Johnny Johnson (Chuck Berry’s pianist in the 1950’s), Jimmy Johnson( Delmark and Alligator recording artist ),Screaming Jay Hawkins(“I Put a Spell on You”), Dave Spector (Delmark) and others.
Patriarca has also worked with national acts doing tours with Survivor (“Eye of the Tiger”) Spirit (“I Got a Line On You) and gigs with the Coasters,Drifters,Martha Reeves,the Shangri- Las, Sam Moore (Sam & Dave) In addition he has appeared on over 25 recordings including recent discs with James Burton (session guitarist extrordanaire and Elvis Presleys guitarist 1970-’77),songwriters Josh Verbenets and Cameron McGill, roots-rocker Bucky Halker,instrumental combo, the Nitecallers and Honky-Tonk legend Urban Dijinn. Other recording highlights include the Icos CD “At the Speed of Life” recorded at Abbey Road studios in London. He has toured Europe twice with Blues-Rock chanteuse Jan James. At this point he calculates he has done close to 4000 gigs and remains active in the Chicago music scene.
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