Wednesday 29 April 2020

Bass guitar version of Lord of the Rings medley

I've known and enjoyed this performance by Zander Zon since it came-out six years ago; but it strikes me that some readers may be interested.

This is a fine arrangement of (presumably) the best movie music ever written (IMO by a large margin), and played 'musically' - with lyrical phrasing, pacing etc. Beautiful in parts, exciting in others.

At the same time, one has to notice that this playing goes strongly against the grain of the instrument! The bass guitar is essentially a rhythm instrument - indeed the primary rhythm instrument (more so than the drums and rhythm guitar) in most kinds of pop and rock.

Why use a bass guitar if you spend nearly all your time playing the highest notes; why use four strings instead of six? There is a flavour of elephants tap-dancing about the enterprise - its surprisingly well done, but why have elephants doing this kind of thing?

(Yes, I'm aware of the Sam Johnson quote...)

I could imagine that (on the one hand) the very best bass guitarists ever could not play this; while (on the other hand) someone who played this well might nonethless be a useless bass guitarist!

So, for such reasons, it is difficult to see this as (in musical terms) more than a virtuoso novelty. Yet at root; music is music, and good playing is good playing - and why seek further?


Sean G. said...

Beautiful use of harmonics and good use of a spider capo! I had to look it up, I've never seen one of those.

There are other bassists out there that play expansively but they are certainly not the norm. Victor Wooten comes to mind ( but he's a jazz guy. I've never heard him play anything quite like this, though I imagine he could pull it off.

Matthew T said...

"There is a flavour of elephants tap-dancing about the enterprise" - fantastic. It reminds me of a dreamy something that I can't put my finger on.

Matthew T said...

I've got it: it's a flavour of music that I never listen to except at Christmastime, the dreamiest time of the year; it reminds me of languid instrumental carols. Also somewhat of classical guitarist Liona Boyd.