few years ago, I saw an interview with an English top bass player
in pop and funk on tv. He said: I love mistakes. Small mistakes,
big mistakes, I love them all! Unfortunately, there was no
opportunity for him to explain why he loved mistakes; I would have
liked to hear this explanation very much, for his point of view
was quite revolutionary. Of course, all musicians try to make as
little mistakes as possible, but as bass players, we have an additional
responsibility. Our part is the rock the music is built on and if
we make a mess of what we play, the whole building can collapse.
Still, I can understand why mistakes can be beautiful, especially
when I play jazz although I used to feel differently about
this. I used to think I was a terrible bass player if I made more
than one or two mistakes during one evening. Why do I feel differently
about this now?
The first reason is that mistakes can show us the way to a higher
level of playing. If you understand why and when you make a certain
mistake, you can solve the problem and make use of the opportunity
by becoming a better bass player.
The second reason: sometimes after youve made a mistake moments
of pure magic happen. Mistakes can give rise to moments of incredible
playing together. The members of the band are obliged to think very
quick and very creatively, in order to make something beautiful
out of what is happening and they succeed very often. This
only works when youre playing with musicians who are flexible,
who dont mind improvising, who react adequately to the chances
they are offered and who keep listening to what is actually happening
in the band.
A short time ago I had a gig with a female singer and a guitar player.
The guitar player was Domi Aerts. Weve been playing 2gether a long time now, and it has always been a pleasure. On this site
youll find information about our duo. Our playing is very
adventurous, were never quite certain which way a song will
The more adventurous we play, the more exciting and
beautiful our playing becomes, both for our listeners as for ourselves.
This singer knew no other way but to play everything as was discussed
beforehand. When I missed a turnaround at the end of a song, and
Domi and I started to play something that could have got very interesting
and beautiful, she just carried on as if the turnaround was being
played anyway. This is ridiculous of course, it is the contrary
of a musical approach. Not because I made a mistake (which I shouldnt
have), but because the singer did not react adequately to the music
that was being played. Luckily, this was a exception. Ive known many moments where
the band reacted in a formidable way to what was being played, so
that moments of pure magic happened, of sublime playing together
What I like is adventurous playing. When you play a solo,
you can play safety first. You play what you always play.
This is boring most of the time. Hurray for taking chances!
Taking chances makes your solo so lively and adventurous, that its
really worth a few mistakes. So: I love mistakes. Small mistakes, big mistakes, I love
Let me explain quickly what is meant by a turnaround. This is a
short harmony, most of the time not longer than two bars that you
can keep repeating endlessly. Usually a harmony is used as this
one: Cmaj7 Ami7 Dm7 G7.