Playing the Inbindi Bass
It is as if you have first proven that the note is within your range, which earns you an extra moment to slide into a final adjustment.’
However, trying to work up to a high note without quite reaching it sounds bad – as if you are straining hard but will never get to where the audience wants you to be.
The longer you hold a note the more the ear wants it to be in tune. Short, crisp notes can be out without anyone having time to judge them.
This is especially true with bass notes (in fact, there is a mathematical basis for this phenomenon called ‘Shannon’s Theorem’).
If you hit the wrong note completely, hopefully you will be aware of it before anyone else.
If you keep moving, find a better note quickly, and keep smiling, then no one will be the wiser with the possible exception of other musicians who know the same trick.
Repetition can sometimes get you out of a sticky situation. Hit the wrong note? Do it again! LOUDER!.
This is a gutsy move. It might just work if you really sell it.
On the other hand, if you or a band-mate winces even a little bit, you’re throwing good notes after bad.
Choose songs to match the instrument and your abilities.
The audience expects Old Time Folk and Punk Rock to be at least a bit out of tune, while a solo Classical piece should probably wait until you are absolutely ready (but do keep it in your long-range plan – that’ll really freak ’em out).
Change songs to match the instrument and your abilities.
While the inbindi fills approximately the same musical space as the bass fiddle or bass guitar, it is not the same instrument and it is not reasonable to expect to play a song the exact same way.
Changing individual parts to mix and match instruments in a band, while staying within the overall structure of a song,’ is done all the time – a new way of playing a song is called an ‘arrangement’.
You probably can not match a bass guitar player’s speed or upper range.
On the other hand, they can’t match your lowest notes and they will probably never slide as well as you can.
While we’re on the subject – since the inbindi is not an exact replacement for a bass fiddle or guitar, eventually someone will suggest that you play with another bass player.
If this seems like a good trick for slipping the instrument into a band, it is generally not a good idea.
Lauren Miller of Washtub Bass Page / Tubotonia writes:
“I’m pleased to have been able to add to your tips on playing.
Here’s one more, again based on sobering experience:
“It may depend on the particular culture and personalities involved, but at least in the US it’s an unspoken but generally understood rule that there’s no more than one bass player per group.
This makes some sense, especially for jam sessions, since given the simple line basses usually play in this context,’ a second bass is at best redundant, and at worst will muddle the chord-change and rhythm functions expected of the bass.
So if a group already has a bass, you should be cautious about joining in, even if it’s agreeable to the original bass player (and don’t be surprized to find that it’s not.)
Without careful planning and co-operation bass notes do not combine into chords as easily as higher pitched notes, and it will be harder for you to make out your own notes.
From an audience perspective, it may appear that you are not very good and need assistance from a ‘real’ bass.
If you do need assistance, since the bass line is so important to the other musicians, you may make more friends at a jam session by sitting out until you are ready.
(Don’t be shy, but there is no need to be pushy either, because it will be the best musicians who first invite you to join in.)
The cheapest trick is to make a joke of your playing or the instrument (as some inexperienced Washtub Bass players have been known to do).
This may work – once – but it is probably better to just practice a bit.
A good player has a bag of tricks to choose from, but also knows that they only go so far.
Sooner or later the audience will also learn the tricks and will want something more. Real musicianship, gained through dedicated practice, is the ultimate trick.
It is possible to connect a guitar tuner to the output of the inbindi, and then watch the tuner as you play.
The best tuners will display the note you are closest to, and display whether you are sharp or flat.
Not all tuners will work in the low range of the inbindi, so you will have to experiment.
Your goal should be to play without this aid, but as a part-time practice technique it could be beneficial.
There is also electronic equipment that can correct the pitch, on-the-fly, of a singer or an inbindi.
(Some big stars use this technology, but do their best to hide it from fans).
This may be seen as cheating by defeating the nature of the instrument, but if you want to try it then follow your muse.
When you get to a point where pitch is not a problem and you aren’t thinking about technique, you are ready for the real fun.
Focus on learning new songs and styles of music, dynamics (changes in loudness) and emotion.
Play with the shifting boundary between repetition and surprise.
Listen to all styles of music, and sing along in your head to every bass line you hear.
Join a band and listen, really listen, to what every one of your band-mates is doing.
Fall in love with making music, and your audience will love to listen to you play.