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How do you do? A newbie plea to proficient bass players and listeners
31 August 2020
2.05pm
human fly
A Beginning
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31 August 2020
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Dear community,

 Just step into this Beatles forum, thanks for letting me in.

I am utterly fascinated by the Beatles music and maybe above all, by the remarkable bass lines that Paul McCartney inserted into them, a perfect counterpoint to melody, often in a discrete and far from “virtuosity”  way, buried below the most apparent setup of guitars and voices… just the way – I believe- the rhythmic section works best: at the base of it all, at a subliminal level. Many people may not actually hear the bass distinctly, but their feet begin to move and their hearts to beat faster, and their minds to fly higher… because of the bass spell. May I call that magic? I am one of these people: Sometimes I can barely hear Paul playing, but I can feel his playing.

 You fans probably know that the band, and in particular their prominent bass player, where disappointed with the sound mixing of the early singles. In some cases, you can hardly hear Paul playing. Paul got it personal, put his hands on the engineering controls and, from 1966 onwards, you can hear more and more of the bass playing at close range, not anymore buried and lost in the mix. We appreciate that a lot 🙂

We also know that Paul’s bass playing got more and more sophisticated and melodic (rocketing by Sgt Peppers times, and also in later gems like Something , Come together, and a thousand more songs) but from the very early times his playing was very remarkable (very moving¡¡) even if pentatonically simplistic in appearance.

Let´s focus into an early hit: Please Please Me . I always loved the song and its fascinating enchant. HOWEVER, I was only aware of that bass line when some generous musicians posted it in the internet. Never in my life could I have dissected it note by note. In fact, I cannot even hear it for the most part¡¡. Only when someone taught me how to play it on bass, I was aware –a posteriori- of the true majesty of the bass counterpoint in the ‘come on-come on’ chorus part. But to tell you the truth I just cannot tell apart the bass line from the noisy mix in the original release. In my naïve perception, this is very close to “magic”: you get close to beauty only to discover that there is even more beauty and brilliance buried below the first impression of beauty.

The question is, -please satisfy my long-life curiosity: How Do You Do It ? You bass players and great listeners, I respect you. How can you split up in such detail these early recordings where the bass line is deeply buried in the mix??  Are you figuring it out instead of hearing it? Maybe sorting it out from the harmonic frame and inventing a part of it? Did you write to McCartney a desperate letter like this one? Or am I dull, incapable of hearing some low frequencies that are natural to a healthy ear?

Any advice/opinion/feedback is much appreciated…thanks

Jules

p.s. As you probably noticed, English is not my mother tongue…thanks so much for your comprehension

The following people thank human fly for this post:

Beatlebug
31 August 2020
8.21pm
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The Hole Got Fixed
A Dock at Southampton
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Welcome @human fly !

I agree, Paul's basslines are absolutely fantasticpaul-mccartney-thumb_gif

Even before I started learning bass a few years ago, I was always able to hear the bass parts in those early recordings, so my first thought when I read your post was 'how are you listening to the Beatles?'. It sounds to me like your speakers or headphones may not be producing the low rumble that Paul's bass produces.  

It's certainly not loud in the mix, but it's definitely audible. Something that might help you for the early recordings would be to listen to just the left channel (much easier if you're listening with headphones) as it should help the bass become a bit more clear.

If that doesn't help, perhaps a hearing test could be necessary? It would be such a shame if you were not be able to hear Paul's early basslinesa-hard-days-night-paul-10

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4 September 2020
1.59am
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cloudburst5150
Los Angeles, CA
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Let´s focus into an early hit: Please Please Me . I always loved the song and its fascinating enchant. HOWEVER, I was only aware of that bass line when some generous musicians posted it in the internet. Never in my life could I have dissected it note by note. In fact, I cannot even hear it for the most part¡¡. Only when someone taught me how to play it on bass, I was aware –a posteriori- of the true majesty of the bass counterpoint in the ‘come on-come on’ chorus part. But to tell you the truth I just cannot tell apart the bass line from the noisy mix in the original release. In my naïve perception, this is very close to “magic”: you get close to beauty only to discover that there is even more beauty and brilliance buried below the first impression of beauty.

  @human fly  you got it. I just wrapped recording at home all the parts of Please Please Me and that come on come on bass line stole the show for me. Just a neat little melody “counterpoint” as you say. Case to be made that you’d feel it more of you were in a room where they played it live?

7 September 2020
11.16am
human fly
A Beginning
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31 August 2020
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Thanks a lot for your replies.

Yep, maybe I have not been careful enough.. I confess I usually play music on cheap speakers 🙂

Cloudburst: yes, who could see them play live (and with some kind of filter for the girl's screams..). Hey, what do you say about playing those conterpoints while you harmonize the vocal line?. Can you do that too? I fall on my knees and praise to you  if you say yes

all the best: Jules Nemo, aka humanfly

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