Sunday, 8 November 2009

Square peg? Meet the round hole.

Ever tried to eat soup with a fork? Or perhaps eat peas with a knife?   Some musical instruments aren't designed to be played in certain ways.  My instruments, the electric bass and the double bass, define how they could be played by their size, shape and sound.  The bass has a very specific role in most music and doesn't often stray too far from it, especially the double bass, usually because of the ergonomic issues that come rolled into the bass package.  However, there sometimes comes along a player that shows scant regard for such issues and choose to play their instrument any darned way they like, flying in the face of received wisdom and tradition.  The chap in the video above is a great example of this pioneering attitude.  I've previously posted on the mind boggling complexity of Giant Steps as written and performed by John Coltrane.  Obviously, Coltrane was thinking of the tenor saxophone when he wrote the tune.  At least I'd imagine he was; he may have been writing at the piano or another similar instrument.  I am sure, though, that he was not thinking of the pedal steel.  Without a doubt, the pedal steel was not an instrument Coltrane was thinking about.  Playing Giant Steps on the pedal steel is just silly.  But this man is Dave Easley and he decided not to worry about such trivialities and give it a whirl.  Go Dave.

And while I'm thinking about instruments being forced, kicking and screaming, into realms for which they are ill-equipped to survive, check out Joe Pass and Neils Henning Orsted Pederson playing Donna Lee by Charlie Parker.  It is mental.  This represents a truly astonishing piece of virtuoso playing from both musicians, but for me the prize for ridiculously triumphing over ergonomic adversity must go to Neils Henning Orsted Pederson.  For him to be playing this melody on the big 'ol bull fiddle can perhaps be compared to winning the Olympic gold medal for horse dressage on an elephant.  The only hope I have of emulating NHOP's playing is by nuturing a whispy beard and a 70s distant look of being on the edge of enlightenment.  I shall now retire chastened into my box of musical conformity...


  1. In answer to your opening rhetoric, yes, I often eat soup with a spoon.
    Is that not how they do it where you come from Leroy? ;)

  2. Thanks for that. Now I have changed my error and no one knows what you are on about! The joke's on you...


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