Sunday, 17 February 2008

The Bassist and me in London

The Bassist and I went to London yesterday as I had to go and sign some more stock at Goldsboro Books where Dave was kind enough to host the fantastic launch party for Testament back in January.
We had been intending to take in the National Portrait Gallery on our way back to Victoria as the B is a pretty accomplished artist and protraiture is one of the big demands at GCSE. But, first, we had to go and do homage to some serious basses (as in electric bass guitars, in case thre is any confusion) in Denmark Street, where virtually all the shops are guitar shops and some sell nothing but basses.
We never got to the NPG, instead, in several shops, I had the quite extraordinary experience of sitting and listening to my son improvise on the kind of guitars which we couldn’t possibly afford to buy for him. Why was it extraordinary – don’t I hear him play all the time? Yes, but as he pointed out, yesterday he was able to do things which his own, rather basic (no pun intended) bass simply isn’t capable of. And it was noticeable not only that he did things I’d never heard him do before but that what he did with each guitar was different. Each different guitar brought out different elements of musicality in him.

It occurred to me, as he was playing, that although writing is a very different activity, it has something in common with this improvisation. In the same way that each instrument, with its own possibilities, conjures different musical themes and ideas from the Bassist, so different plotlines and characters draw out very different kinds of writing from me. And as his improvisations would, given time, take form as tunes and compositions, so the instinctively different voices which follow characters and plot need honing and editing until they are right.

But no honing or editing for me for a few days. I’m going down to see my parents in Wales this week. So, expect me here when you next see me - there’s no internet where I’m going…

6 comments:

KAREN CLARKE said...

Out in the back of beyond eh? Sounds wonderful! Have a lovely time.

Thanks for your kind words on my blog...I can't seem to give up, even if I feel like it sometimes!

I've finally got my copy of Testament, and am looking forward to reading it v. soon :o)

Alis said...

Thanks Karen - hope you enjoy the book!

Neil said...

Ah, the hours I whiled away with friends on Denmark Street trying out guitars. The trick was back then, after half an hour or so playing in each shop, was to say: 'Yeah, it's great. I've just got to pop to the cash point...'

Next time you're in London with the Bassist, Alis: www.basscentre.com

David Isaak said...

May I ask for The Bassist's favorite bass players?

Alis said...

Neil - thanks for the link, I'll make sure the B and i check it out. Loved your cashpoint line - so far the B just has to look ruefully at me as if to say 'no chance of the old lady stumping up, sorry'!!

David - the Bassist's favourite bass players are Flea (Red Hot Chilis - the one who got him playing bass initially), Jaco Pastorius, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten. Are you a bassist too?

David Isaak said...

Nope, just a fanboy. Jaco is massive.

Last night we saw the Adrian Belew Power Trio--which featured an astonishing young bass player named Julie Slick (as well as her brother Eric Slick on drums).

(It turns out their mother Robin Slick is a novelist, too. Odd.)