13 December 2005

So I'm listening to YES with headphones, and no, I do not partake in herbal recreation, thank-you-very-much.

But something about listening to this music at volumes that are probably outside the range of recommended headphone volumes, you can really hear it. I mean, HEAR it. Every nuance. Pieces you never heard before. You can hear Chris Squire's fingers slide up the fretboard, his right hand clatter against the strings...crazy, marvelous, genius SOB that he is. You can FEEL the music, the ebb and flow, the pulse, the drive, the build...but it isn't just like pumping up AC/DC or other loud rock, you feel more of it because there's more depth to it. Right now, I'm listening to Starship Trooper, and before you scoff at the cheesy early 70s name (recall this was long before Star Wars) listen to it late at night with good headphones and high volume.

Now I'm onto a new song, one only the most die-hard Yesfans will even have heard of, an outtake from the GTFO (or was it Tormato?) album, "Richard". The sweet melodic quality of this song (an obvious Jon Anderson credit) is augmented in a surprising manner by Squire's basslines. Where just about any other bassist would be content to augment a soft melodic song with a smooth bassline and basic groove, he seems discontent, and stretches into very strange territory on the instrument, but strange in a beautiful way, like seeing another country for the first time. For example, the bass line on the verse starting at about 1:45, the interwoven and overlapping scales, who would have thought of that? And the climax into the chorus, he stresses the 3rd, not the root, again in scalar way that continues slowly through the rest of the chorus. Is he worried about the chord structure? No, it's already established by layers of synth pads and vocal harmonies, he builds on that structure with astounding artistic beauty.

One more pick, not necessarily one focused on Squire as the others have been..."And You And I" from Close To The Edge. But I will mention the brief bass solo just after 7 minutes...I recall hearing that for the first time (I'd heard the song many times before, I mean really HEARING it), and I realized, wow, the bass can do so much more than I had thought. That was long ago, when I was getting started on the instrument.

All in all, for bassists, if you get a chance, listen to some good YES, and really, really LISTEN to it, and think about the bass parts, what he's doing, and why. I find I don't so much imitate Squire in a literal sense, but his influence on me has been to shirk conventions of bass guitar and use the instrument in melodic ways, which is in itself an indirect imitation. But listen and analyze his parts, and you will be surprised at how unconventional they are, but how pleasing and musical they can be.


1 comment:

Matt said...

The coffee respite is over. Yirgacheffe awaits. Prepare your palate.