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 Stylistic subtleties?
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Mark
Ha`aha`a

USA
1628 Posts

Posted - 05/15/2010 :  08:37:59 AM  Show Profile  Visit Mark's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I'm throwing this out there to all --not just bass players.

I've noticed that quite a few bass players (both electric and acoustic) in Hawaiian music tend to play pretty "busy" -- lots of 8th notes, filling most of the space. (Listen to the classic Hoopii Brothers sides for a great example-- or Hui Ohana).

I mentioned this to a buddy here in Oregon that plays for a halau--he said his kumu wanted him to fill up the spaces because the dancers need to dance to every beat. (Or something to that effect.)

I've also heard a few Hawaiian bass players who play the opposite--as spare as you can be. But they were not playing for dancers....

So, what are the stylistic nice-ities of playing bass in Hawaiian music? When do you get busy, and when do you sit back and find the pocket? What influences your rhythmic choices?

(For the record: Electric bass was my first instrument and I still play casuals whenever I get the call. So you can talk technical if ya want.)

Retro
Ahonui

USA
2362 Posts

Posted - 05/15/2010 :  11:18:04 AM  Show Profile  Visit Retro's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I'm more of a spare player, but that's because I'm primarily self-taught and don't know enough to get too fancy. But most of the halau I play for seem to prefer that; it's not my job to imitate Jaco (as if I could!) and draw attention away from the dancers. Playing a note at the right time - that was one of the first instructions I received, shortly before I played bass in public for the first time, after only six months of practice.

I put the "rude" in "rudimentary."
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Konabob
`Olu`olu

USA
928 Posts

Posted - 05/15/2010 :  4:22:55 PM  Show Profile  Visit Konabob's Homepage  Send Konabob an AOL message  Reply with Quote
"So, what are the stylistic nice-ities of playing bass in Hawaiian music? When do you get busy, and when do you sit back and find the pocket? What influences your rhythmic choices? "

Hmmmm. I am not sure I could answer that except to say, I tend to just feel it out. If the music starts getting busy, I lay back, or if the music needs a push, I try push. One thing that is true for all instruments... always give the singer plenty of room! Remember that I am playing a 3 string, slack key tuned bass, how much trouble can I get into?

Shirley and I were eating lunch at a shopping center in Kona today, and the Lindsey Ohana was setting up to entertain. Kaleo saw me and asked if I had my bass with me (but of course!) so I played for about an hour. As I was packing up, Aunty Tutu came over and asked me my shirt size. In Hawaiian music circles, this is always a good sign.
Aloha,
-Konabob

Konabob's Walkingbass - http://www.konawalkingbass.com
Taropatch Steel - http://www.konaweb.com/konabob/
YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&search_query=Konabob2+Walkingbass

Edited by - Konabob on 05/16/2010 06:50:02 AM
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hapakid
Luna Ho`omalu

USA
1533 Posts

Posted - 05/16/2010 :  07:06:04 AM  Show Profile  Visit hapakid's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I think, in general, Hawaiian musicians focus on "entertainment", as opposed to just playing the root or creating a simple rhythm to back up a vocalist. They are often playing in restaurants and resorts where the malihini audience is looking for accessible and popular music, so they fill out the band's sound with as few players as possible. I see Hawaiian bass players, outside of the traditional vein, playing the the standard mix of Hawaiian crossover stuff like country/reggae/pop and driving the music and filling it in because there is usually no percussion, especially no full drum kit. Reggae is especially dependent on the bass. The traditional 'ukulele trio (uke/guitar/upright bass) is still common, but again the bass sets the rhythm, not a drummer, so they may be busier than other upright players and going to 1/8 notes more often. Plus, traditional uke trios are more influenced by jazz and swing, so they tend to walk the bass instead of 1/5 thumping. Just my two cents,
Jesse

Edited by - hapakid on 05/16/2010 07:07:04 AM
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cpatch
Ahonui

USA
2187 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2010 :  11:26:17 AM  Show Profile  Visit cpatch's Homepage  Send cpatch an AOL message  Reply with Quote
Slightly off-topic, but I think I'm going to get a t-shirt made that says:

"They aren't mistakes, they're stylistic subtleties!"


Craig
My goal is to be able to play as well as people think I can.
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Mika ele
Ha`aha`a

USA
1485 Posts

Posted - 05/17/2010 :  2:45:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Craig -- we need to put that on the bottom of the SCSKS Open Mike sign! LOL!

or "We don't play jazz, it just sounds like it some time."

E nana, e ho'olohe. E pa'a ka waha, e hana ka lima.
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hwnmusiclives
`Olu`olu

USA
580 Posts

Posted - 05/19/2010 :  03:24:37 AM  Show Profile  Visit hwnmusiclives's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I find that a lot of my friends who are singers, steel players, or lead guitars usually b_tch (behind the bass player's back, of course) about him walking the bass at the wrong time.

For the most part, the way I've been taught (asked?) to play bass in Hawaiian music is to play the 1s and 5s when the singer is singing and then to play 4-to-the-bar when there are pa'ani breaks.

I have never heard the request/desire for the bass player to always play 4-to-the-bar because the hula dancers need this in the absence of a drummer. Evidence of this: Watch Merrie Monarch. Good bass players there (Keao Costa, Keoni Souza) get out of the way of the vocals.

Good examples throughout history: Jimmy Kaopuiki, Kekua Fernandez, Norman Isaacs, Violet Pahu Liliko'i.

P.S. It is great to see any post in the "Hawaiian Kine Bass" section. Once every two years is not often enough...

P.P.S. It occurs to me after I wrote that this forum has no "Hawaiian Kine Rhythm Guitar" section. Since we don't, I am going to add here (because "here" is the first four letters in "heretic") that if the rhythm guitarist is doing his/her job, the bass player doesn't have to play fours in order for the dancer to find the beat. I think this is why Kanoe Miller thanks me when I gig with her. Good examples of rhythm guitarists throughout history: Pauline Kekahuna, Pahukoa Morse, Pua Almeida, Sonny Kamahele, Al Machida, Sam Septimo, Hiram Olsen, Sonny Chillingworth. (Oh, yeah. That's Sonnny playing rhythm guitar on most of the sides with Myra English and Leinaala Haili.) Ask any of the new generation of rhythm players - Brandon Souza, Keoni Souza, Hale Seabury Akaka, Iwalani Ho'omanawanui Apo - who their heroes are, and Pauline and Pahukoa are always at the top of the list.


Join me for the history of Hawaiian music and its musicians at Ho`olohe Hou at www.hoolohehou.org.

Edited by - hwnmusiclives on 05/19/2010 05:06:16 AM
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Mark
Ha`aha`a

USA
1628 Posts

Posted - 05/19/2010 :  08:05:29 AM  Show Profile  Visit Mark's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thanks to all for some great, thought provoking answers. Keep 'em coming!

And, yeah, Bill, it is nice to see some action here. Nice comments on the riddim guitar part, too.

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slipry1
Ha`aha`a

USA
1461 Posts

Posted - 05/19/2010 :  08:28:52 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Once again, uncle slipry must give the advice - "LISTEN". This is especially true for bassists. When there's a lot of buisness going on, lay back, just "I V" until things quiet down, then swing it, if the tune allows it. My favorite current Hawaiian bassists are Gary Aiko & Aaron Mahe. I find that a lot of "busy" bassists are guitarists longing to play lead. Remeber, also, that the bass's job is to provide the bottom, the beat and the support for all that's going on with the others in the band. It can be really exciting when the bass swings into a 4 beat pattern at the opening of an instrumental by the guitar, the steel or the uke, after the singer finishes the chorus.

keaka
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Mark
Ha`aha`a

USA
1628 Posts

Posted - 05/19/2010 :  08:38:03 AM  Show Profile  Visit Mark's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
My favorite current Hawaiian bassists are Gary Aiko & Aaron Mahe.


Gary Aiko is who I had in mind when I said "as spare as you could be." In fact, he is one of the few bass players I've ever heard who can pull off playing on the back side of the beat. With half notes, no less.

Now that's a relaxed groove!
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thumbstruck
Ha`aha`a

USA
1921 Posts

Posted - 05/21/2010 :  12:24:12 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Having a bass in the group is like having a plate for plate lunch.
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Konabob
`Olu`olu

USA
928 Posts

Posted - 05/21/2010 :  06:38:29 AM  Show Profile  Visit Konabob's Homepage  Send Konabob an AOL message  Reply with Quote
Ooooo, good one, thumbstruck.

Konabob's Walkingbass - http://www.konawalkingbass.com
Taropatch Steel - http://www.konaweb.com/konabob/
YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&search_query=Konabob2+Walkingbass
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slipry1
Ha`aha`a

USA
1461 Posts

Posted - 05/08/2012 :  2:38:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Mark? You back here? IF so, it's great to hear from you. You are always welcome chez moi, if you want to come to Folklife!

keaka
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Retro
Ahonui

USA
2362 Posts

Posted - 05/08/2012 :  2:58:27 PM  Show Profile  Visit Retro's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Nice to review this thread again. After a few years playing, I've started taking bass lessons again, going back to solidify some of the fundamentals that I never picked up first time around. The whole "I V" concept is being reinforced for me.
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