Practicing Tip: How Playing Bass is Like Martial Arts
Playing bass is a lot like martial arts:
- There are rules and best practices
- The stakes are high – play a wrong note and the singer might attack you with lethal force (read: fire you from the band!)
- There are masters of the craft
- There is a tradition and a lineage – we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, we study them, learn from them, show our respect – but we don’t worship
- We honor the traditions and are encouraged to innovate
- Craft must be applied creatively and appropriately to each combat situation – or else your mind behaves like the ineffectively trained “monkey mind” (to borrow from the Zen Buddhist’s “monkey mind”)
- Physical and mental training are equally important
- Without ethics and a high moral standard, advanced skill can be dangerous to others (like when bassists with super chops overplay and disrupt the harmony with an outpouring of “look what I can do!”)
The ultimate goal is not to be victorious in battle – it is to master ourselves so you never even have to fight.
The higher our skill level, the more we widen our perspective. We eventually can prevent the “fight” by coming from a position of internal (and external) strength, rather than from copping out.
The technique exercises in our course Music Theory for the Bass Player, called “Finger Kung Fu”, are inspired by that thought. The above is an excerpt from “Music Theory for the Bass Player“, our twenty unit flagship course. Each unit contains videos on technique, theory, groove creation, fretboard knowledge, analysis and also a practice nugget. This one as from Unit 16.