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Wow. It took me some time to learn this - sometimes it is surprising even for myself how long it can take to master a piece, even with focused practising - okay, maybe around Christmas, and middle of January, practice time was not really effective nor focused but at least I gained some pounds instead of speed 🙂
So after one and a half month of practising this daily at least for 15 mins (but usually 30-60, sometimes 60-120), I would say i am currently pretty comfortable with this at around 280 bpm any time, can cut it at 304 if warmed up and relaxed, but would probably throw my bass at Chick if this tune was an opening track played slightly above the usual tempo at an outdoor gig in late September 🙂 not quite my tempo, would i probably say. But really, this is a disclaimer, Got a Match is useful and fun stuff, but it is crazy sh*t as well, so be patient with it and with yourself.
For me, learning this theme in its original recorded tempo was the most profitable experience in a long time. I had to watch my every step and become conscious of every move in order to go beyond my barriers. When I was looking for bass players doing this tune, I have seen bass players suffer from this tune live - sometimes even John himself who played on this track for Chick on the record... John himself is a Master - as a teacher, as an artist, musically, theoretically...on many levels. What I really like about him that he is always about music wherever and whenever he plays. His dedication and humility always amazes me - it is always refreshing to see and hear someone continuously grow even though he has been at the top of his game for several decades. John is the one who will always play what he feels and you'll hear new experiences coming from his music and solos every time you listen to him. I am excited to hear John's new album which he currently records but until that you fortunately have a lot of albums to listen to going from Fusion to Free Jazz. You'll definitely know John's Bach arrangement but his latest album Remembrance is definitely a must-listen, you'll hear beautiful space and gravity played with a trio featuring Brian Blade and Joe Lovano.
So, back to Got a Match - it is extremely hard stuff. I have recently acquired a 6 string Yamaha and I cannot even imagine how difficult it can be not to make strings make noise while hitting every note of this. Anyway, I basically found two crazy guys on Youtube who nailed this perfectly - only watch these guys if you grabbed your seat: Rob Gourlay and Mike Pope.
Well. Hats off gentlemen. But how can you approach Got a Match?
Your survival kit for learning this one:
- organized, focused and regular practise routine - you'll have to do this daily. Taking 30- 60 mins a day is more than enough. But during this time, focus entirely on the piece. If you do too much, you can become tired and usually that causes you playing bad, then you become frustrated that you haven't progressed, Small focused steps.
- working out the runs and figuring out fingerings REAL slow, then practising difficult segments seperately - my method was to begin with half speed, play it for 2-4 mins, then increase tempo by 2-4 metronome clicks. Make sure that practise the segment correctly. At higher tempos, sometimes it is better to to increase the tempo only 2-3 times daily. In that way, you'll feel the progress. You can make yourself weekly tempo goals. If it takes slower to progress, don't hurt yourself. I have over-strained myself a bit at one time. Resting and recovering your injured hand will take more time. Believe me.
- play light, watch your hand positions and do as little movements with fingers as possible Besides being slow and conscious of your every move, you'll have to lighten your touch on both hands. As you will see on the video, I play VERY lightly with my right hand - i am resting my thumb on the E string, but when i play with my index and middle, the E string barely moves - when you play hared, it will touch the pickup. You'll have to avoid that. You can also record yourself, and check the sound waves - where it is louder, you become stiff, you play louder - you'll have to even that out for yourself. You'll have to experiment with right hand positions and angles, curving. If you play closer to the bridge and above the pickup, you won't dig in between the strings too much but there will be more string tension as well. If you move way in the direction of the neck, the strings will move that way you cannot be precise in your motion. Usually you can find a sweet spot for yourself, but sometimes different sections will need slightly different positions as well. Here, I photographed some positions I have experimented with and worked. First one is basically Jacoesque - playing above the pickup and with your very tips of your fingers allows you to play fast and precisely and not dig in too much in between the pickups - yet for some people it strains the hands. Second is modernish-rampish-Willisish hand position - again, while i don't have a ramp, the goal is to lightly play the strings with the tips of your fingers - this is a more relaxed position, however, it is not convenient for some, since plucking comes not from the root of your fingers, but from the lower joints. The third is a bit inward turned position, you won't see that much often, nevertheless it is very useful - people whose middle finger is much longer than the pointing finger, will find that with this position they can play more easily and fluidly due to the fingers length aligned with the strings with the angle change. Experiment with these and combine them to find your best position!
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