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I think and feel that fear of getting in touch with our inner voice is what’s missing.  We all have a musical voice that exists OUTSIDE of the bass guitar. It exists on its own. Having said that,   I would be quite gutted if for some reason I couldn’t play bass guitar anymore.   BUT!  My musical voice would not be silenced.  It exists on its own.   It’s free of dogmatic diatribes that merely serve to obfuscate and limit THE VOICE.  I am Trip Wamsley first and formost, and that’s where I get into trouble.  I happen to own and operate bass guitars in a few different sizes and shapes.  I can do some fiddley bits and play some solos too.  Big deal.  So can a lot of people.  What sets me apart is that I write.  Some say I do it well.  In bassdom,  I can see the obvious gaps.  I can see what no one else is doing and start doing that.  Doing your own thing is easy.  Really easy. Look at what everyone else is doing and just don’t do it the way they do it.  It’s that simple.  Or is it?

Getting in touch with that voice.  That thing that is REALLY you, can be quite exhilarating!  It can also plague you with doubt, fear and host of other emotions.  These inner feelings (if you’ll pardon the oxymoronese here), are the same and different for everyone.  I can tell you a few things that might give some insight into the voice.  Finding  your voice.  Some observations here:

If you read the writings and letters of famous composers you realize that this very thing has gone on for centuries.  (For an excellent book, read COMPOSERS ON MUSIC, COMPILED BY JOSIAH FISK.)  Getting into the heads of of the heavies can give insight into the reality of what being an artiste is all about.  You can read them bag on certain players, people that I’d never heard of being mere technicians and having no feel for the fugue, sonata or what have you.  This is nothing new.  It has gone on for centuries.  I suggest we try to get over it or get used to it.  Some insights from my point of view:

The  most INTERESTING people make the most interesting artists.  Make yourself an  interesting person.   Darren Michaels is an interesting person.  Jay Terrien is a fascinating person.  Victor Wooten is an interesting person.  Steve Lawson is interesting.   To wit:

The most interesting players have the most interesting influences.  In music. Life.  Art.  Books.

The most interesting players are fearless.  At least on the outside.

Olivier Messien said that “Technique is the means in which the soul flies freely.”  Technique is to be mastered to serve its master.  It’s master should be music.  The music already knows what it needs.  Use technique to give it just that.

The good artist borrows the great artist steals.  That was a quote supposedly by Picasso.  I would like to add, that what we steal we should turn the stolen property into something else.  An analogy:  Steal a car, but supe up the engine, beef up the suspension and turn it into a performance machine.  Steal a painting, and add a few funny faces to the fruit in the basket.

The most interesting artists are not interested in growing UP, but growing in all directions.

The most interesting artists find something to dig and steal from almost everything they see or hear.  I love speed metal.  In SOME respects.  I like the fact that people bother to DO that.  It astounds me and I’m glad it exists.  I adore the intensity.   Most death metal players I have met have been highly intelligent, and the most interesting people ever.  Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse, is into all thing bass.  He LOVES all players of all styles.  I have seen him digging Marcus Miller, Steve Lawson, ME and host of others.  Interesting guy.  Not to be dismissed as a bonehead.  I hate rap but LOVE the way the rappers lay the vocals back on the beat. It’s really cool.  I hate mindless slappers.  But love the fact that they do all this work on ONE thing for me to steal and turn it into something else.  I love the rhythmic ideas I can steal  and do in another way, by a pick or what have you.  There is good in everything.

The most interesting artists are aware of the history of their craft.  They look to the past.  My father, when I was wanting to learn slap bass told me about , Pops Foster, Milt Hinton and the Rockabilly guys.  He said it’s nothing new.  History.  Abe Laboriel was doing all the double thumbing in the 70s.  Muzz Skillings of Living Colour was doing it a heavy rock context in the late 80s.  Again.  History.  Eyes and ears open.  Always.  Dig deeper.  Become deeper.  Bake cookies.  Listen and read the works of serious composers.  Dig Dig Dig.  Look into that place in your heart.  The dark place.  Where there are no dogmas.  Just you.  Just music.  Turn the light on, but wear shades, because initially the revelation can be quite blinding.



  1. Good stuff, Tripster – context is everything. Good and bad can be wrought from most experiences. So do we mock the narrowness of focus, or applaud the single-mindedness? Take what works, leave what doesn’t, and focus on being awesome. It’s impossible, but without that focus, it’s all pointless 🙂

  2. Tripp,
    Heart goes out to you and your family and friends on the loss of your Father.
    Leader of the Band….true.

    Lucas, my son said that he saw you play a few weeks ago and that you did “Pacing the Cage”.
    I love that song. Bruce Cockburn for me is, well I really admire how he exposes his heart, mind and everything else in his music and life.

    Like to sing it with you sometime.

    Curt Gober

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