All About the Bass
By Abish Shakya
Photos by Mero Mazzako Karyalaya
The bass guitar may be a fairly new instrument which has only been around for some 70 years, but there are way too many things you can do with this instrument. They may be the shy architect of the band but on one occasion, bass players of Nepal decided to rendezvous to show their true worth.
Deepak Shakya of Elektrix in association with Sangeet Pathshala organized the ’2nd Bass Day Nepal 2017’ event at the fully capacitated House of Music, Thamel, on September 23. The event started with a Bass Workshop on Fundamentals of Bass Playing by experienced bass player Marcus Dengate where he commented on the things Nepalese bass players have got wrong which he has observed in his 5 years in Nepal. The workshop followed by what was probably the most star shrouded and epic performance from whole-lotta bass players from popular and experienced bands to educationalists from music schools. The individual performances were followed by a jam session in the evening.
Q&A with Marcus Dengate
Why is bass important?
It’s the foundation of everything, the fundamental thing. It outlines the basic rhythm and the harmony. No other instrument does this.
What are the qualities you need in a bass player?
Confidence in the sense that you don’t need to show off. Your job is to basically lay down a solid groove, keep the rest of the band in the right place and make sure they get a solid foundation. A bass player showing off is not going to work. Good timing, good grove, good musicality; that’s what you want.
What does an acoustic set miss out when they don’t have a bass player?
Well, Nepali folk music does not have bass players either but the role of the bass is taken by the madal. But in modern Nepali pop songs, if there is no bass, it’s probably the cajone but you’re not necessarily getting a good bass and rhythm from the cajone. Cajone players would really like to have a bass player, if possible. For some reason, it’s not appropriate.
Why don’t bassists get the spotlight in a band?
Generally, we’re taking care of the business, holding the band together. Everybody is working the role together, but the bass player is the foundational theme. You don’t necessarily see the solid foundation, but it’s there and it makes you feel better. And basically, we’re just shy guys doing the important job in the background.
Why do you think do people prefer guitar as a starter instrument but not a bass guitar?
The guitar is such a cool instrument. Given a minimum knowledge, information, practice and little effort, you can write a hit song. That’s a fact. Many people who get into the guitar for a long time think that it’s time for them to move on to something else. People get into bass because its down to earth, fundamental and there is something so pure about it. It’s not always the case though. Some people go to bass straight away.
Marcus Dengate is a musician from Australia has been playing bass for almost half a century. He also teaches music and he has been playing jazz, rock and pop music along with plenty of movie scores.
Performers list: Umesh Lal Shrestha, Shawn Pyngrope, Bijent Bikrum Shah, Bj Shrestha, Ritesh Manandhar, Ashim Tamang, Neerab Shrestha, Sanjiv Shrestha, Ritavrat Joshi, Pramod Pariyar, Sagar Basnet, Babin Wagle, Bishwo H. Bajracharya, David Gautam, Sabin Shrestha, Sanish Maharjan, Sushil Shakya, Laxman Dangol, Looja, Manis Ale, Goku Lama, Suva Maharjan, Rohan Magar and NMC Team