Thoughts about the famous "Walking Bass Technique"...

Posted: 1/23/2006 10:36:39 AM
Marble Field

From: Athens, Greece

Joined: 5/23/2005

Seeing that there's so much talk about Pamelia Kurstin's famous "walking bass lines" amongst us I had some thoughts about it.

I believe that what sounds as an interesting experiment for a "professional" theremin player like Pamelia Kurstin (immitating a walking bass line) may disorientate a novice player from the actual beauty of the theremin. If I'd ever want to make bass lines I would surely study the bass. The theremin is an instrument with unique and marvellous capabilities and it seems to me a big shame and waste of time for someone to try to immitate other instruments (unless of course someone does or believes that he plays it so well that there is nothing more to try). It's like learning the piano to play guitar riffs, or (to add a bit of exaggeration) teaching a cat dog-tricks.

I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this subject...
Posted: 1/23/2006 11:29:52 AM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

I think it would quite useful in a theremin ensemble or orchestra (a la The Electrio) or as a neat trick during a live show.

I sometimes emulate a tuba using an effects setting that changes the envelope of the sound and I lay that down on my delay. Then I am free to play over with with other sounds.

Ultimately, I think anything that helps promote this instrument is good. I would rather have Pamela playing walking bass lines on Saturday Night live using a theremin than an upright bass. (although I would watch her either way.)
Posted: 1/23/2006 11:40:22 AM

From: Hillsborough, NC (USA)

Joined: 2/13/2005

I agree in part. For example, it wouldn't be wise for a beginning guitarist to focus solely on Eddie Van Halen's tapping technique before mastering the basics.

That said, I do think it's a good thing to have some "celebrity techniques" identified for any instrument. In addition to giving beginners something to shoot for and have more fun with their practice sessions, the basic novelty of the act helps attract more people to the instrument.
Posted: 1/23/2006 3:13:42 PM
Charlie D

From: England

Joined: 2/28/2005

I do not particularly like the walking bass technique. The bass register of the modern theremin (particularly the E'Pro) is its most horrid-sounding register in my opinion, and I confess to disliking even then tone that Kurstin manages to evoke when playing 'Bass.' The note is unclear, the pitch sounds very approximate and I do not find the sound to be very pleasing. Pamelia is undoubtedly gifted though, and I expect that plenty of people do like her walking bass technique. It just seems like a bit of a novelty to me though. :)
Posted: 1/23/2006 3:56:47 PM

From: Portland, OR, USA, Terra, Sol, Milkyway

Joined: 3/1/2005

What I don't like about Pamelia's walking bass technique is that it sounds to much like a bass. For Pete's sake, go grab a bass, their easier to play then the theremin.

don't get me wrong I like Pamelia's walking bass technique, but add some glissandos or vibratos, etc and take advantage of the unique capabilities of the theremin. Don't just imitate a bass, play bass theremin. I think it would be cool to use the theremin in the lower registers taking up the role of the bass.


I'll admit that one advantage of playing a theremin instead of a bass is you won't get slime and fish scales all over your hands. :)))
Posted: 1/23/2006 4:40:14 PM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

Remember - you can tuna bass but you can't tuna fish.
Posted: 1/23/2006 5:11:02 PM

From: COWafornia

Joined: 3/23/2005

Well that is just what I need! An AM TUNER FISH.
Posted: 1/23/2006 5:19:33 PM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

The "Walking Bass Technique" gives insight into Pamelia -- that she is an artist searching for ways to break down boundaries.

I view her volume antenna technique as a proposed method to achieve a striked or plucked sound on the Theremin. There may be other applications of the technique.

The technique in practice helps to build confidence for hitting notes. I must agree with Charlie D, the intonation is not that clear in the bass register -- however, probably not much more inaccurate than a typical jazz upright bass player.

The only thing I don't like about it is the necessity of touching the volume loop. I prefer playing without ever touching the antennae.

The "wow" value of Pamelia's Walking Bass Technique is undeniable.

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