On May 20th, 2015 I embarked on a two and a half-week European tour, filled with a combination of workshops and concerts. I decided that this time I would focus on my workshops on collective improvisation, targeting conservatory students, advanced amateurs and professional musicians. In addition I had a few solo concerts and improvisational concerts with local musicians interested in collaborating on a spontaneous note. Fortunately Berklee has been extremely generous in supporting the master class portion of this tour, making it all possible. An exciting tour with lots of new musical encounters (I felt like a real musical troubadour), and some extremely rewarding responses from the workshop participants.
Life On-board a Cruise Ship
Many of us have been on cruise ships as passengers, but we’ve never experienced what it’s like to actually work and live on the ship. For those of you who are thinking about working as a musician on a cruise ship, here is what you need to know about life on-board:
When you first arrive, you will be shown to your cabin. You will most likely be sharing a room with someone who is also in the Entertainment department (unless you are band leader, which often means you will have your own cabin). Now be prepared—your room will be small. It will most likely have bunk beds, a desk, 2 closets and a bathroom. But don’t let this alarm you, for you won’t be spending much time in your room anyway. Continue reading
…and Love the Bass Guitar
by Eruch Kimball ’03
Stepping off stage after a monster set of modal jazz I notice the fans and how they flocked. The sax, keys, and drummer are usually the first to be approached. The singer just as often. I, the bass player, seem to be able to navigate the crowd completely anonymously, not a single person inquiring about my destination. It’s rare to gain great public acclaim as a bass player, that’s just not our role. The lead guitar player? Sure. The trumpet soloist? Absolutely. Bass? Ideally, you only notice it when it’s being played poorly. Otherwise it serves a function in music that is completely supportive. An odd mix of introvert and extrovert that personifies support in the best of ways. I believe that the core elements of music and the instruments that play them have something in common in their organizational and social cultures in relation to other instruments. Said plainly, the musician’s personality can and often does echo their instrument’s emotional role in music.
The role of the bass as a function of music is to support the melody, harmony, and rhythm of a piece. Any instrument performing the “bass role” has a musical duty to both lead and follow the other musical elements to keep them all in concert. The bass has implied harmony and obvious rhythm to its part and it is usually thought of as the second melody. This is a great musical example of the potential dynamics of an individual’s role in a team.
In the first few years of my bass playing I wanted to play fast and use complicated techniques to be really impressive on my instrument. During college I noticed that every other young bass player was trying to do the same thing as me and none of us were getting any gigs! The guys who were getting gigs were simple, solid as a rock, supportive players. They were members of their teams and naturally assumed a type of leadership role that exists somewhere between being fully in charge and just being a silent partner for approval. Thinking about your role in whatever team you’re in, how are you supporting that relationship and how do you keep everyone on track in whatever project you’re working on?
The bass player in a band does a couple of key things that have become stereotypes over the years. They keep the drummer on track. This means the bassist has to agree with the drummer about the tempo and feel of a song and then work to maintain those musical elements. By providing the bass line, the bassist gives the whole band the core harmonic information. The key of the song and the chord progression. This helps the singer identify their pitch and keep soloists on track by giving them a reference to the form of the song.
At the end of the night, after I’ve packed up my bass and I’m ready to head home. I’m happy that I get to continue my role as a supporting musician. I never really wanted to be the stand-out, I’d rather just help everyone be the best they can be. It’s a great way to be in charge without needing credit for it. It’s that great mix between introvert and extrovert and I’ve come to develop respect for the supporting roles over time. I learned to stop worrying. I learned to love the bass guitar. I learned to love being a part of a team. And I’d love to talk to you after my set, but if you don’t want to, that’s fine too.
Eruch Kimball ’03 is an electric bassist, composer, arranger, audio engineer and marketing professional. Originally a Professional Music major in performance and songwriting, he completed Master Certificates in Film Scoring and Music Business through Berklee Online and is currently competing an MBA in Marketing. Over his 16 years of music industry experience he has performed and engineered over 3000 concerts for over 2 million people across the U.S. and East Asia. A military veteran, he served six years of active duty service with the U.S. Army Band. He owns and operates SynchroMuse LLC, an audio branding and music services company based out of Los Angeles. He loves to blog about life and food and is developing an online community where these two passions of his intersect called Urban Bento. You can follow him, his music, and his writing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@urbanbento, @synchromuse)
How to Nail Your Cruise Ship Audition
by Elena Bonomo ’14
Working as a musician on a cruise ship is a great way to maintain your chops and sight-reading skills while traveling the world (and the best part is, you get paid for it). There are a number of cruise lines that hold auditions at Berklee for musicians and singers, and it’s an opportunity that everyone should take advantage of.
Here are the steps it takes in order for you to nail your cruise ship audition:
Hello! I’m Alex Cote, a composer and sound designer now based in LA. I graduated from Berklee in 2014 as an EPD/Film Scoring dual major, and have been fortunate since to work with high profile composers such as Penka Kouneva and Freddy Sheinfeld, and several upcoming directors. If you’d like to hear some of my work, or read my other posts, please check out www.alexandre-cote.com. Hope you enjoy the article!
Mastering Vs. Mixing
by Alex Cote ’14
So what is mastering? Maybe you’ve heard of it, or maybe not! Mastering is the final step in the music production phase, and often confused with mixing. So how do they differ? Simply put, a mixing engineer works with over hundreds of tracks, while the mastering engineer works with just one. The mixer will balance all the elements from “lead vocals”, all the way to “cymbal swell 3” and blends them together to form a cohesive track. Once the mixing engineer is finished, he or she renders a stereo audio file of the entire track, and the job is finished.