Earlier this year, Cory Wong announced a new installment of his Cory and The Wongnotes YouTube series – a variety show format he first introduced last year that sees him team up with an all-star house band and an array of guest collaborators.
After recruiting Big Wild and Chromeo for episodes on Imitation and Creativity, respectively, the prolific electric guitar titan has now dropped the show’s latest episode: a one-hour-plus bass guitar extravaganza, which features bass legend Victor Wooten.
The 70-minute showcase is front-ended with The Great British Bass Off – a five-minute parody of Britain’s The Great British Bake Off that was released ahead of the episode – which in turn is followed by a performance of Wong and Wooten's new collaborative track, Direct Flyte.
There’s also a 40-minute interview with Wooten himself, in which the influential bass guitar player shared his advice for aspiring learners of the low-end, and discussed how budding bassists can move between the ranks from amateur to advanced.
“If I explain it the way my brother Regi [Wooten, guitarist] taught us, music is melody, harmony and rhythm,” Wooten reflected. “The bass and the drums are the foundation of that rhythm.
“For the younger bass players coming up,” he continued, “if we learn to do the flashy things on the bass without having that solid foundation, it’s like building a roof without the floor and wondering why the roof won’t stay up. The foundation has to be there so you can build up. Like, you bake a cake before you ice it.”
As for how young players can rise through the ability ranks, Wooten emphasized the need to go back and listen to “who played it first”, citing the importance of understanding “the where, the why, the when” in order to become fully attached to the instrument.
“Go back to the beginning of, ‘Who played it first?’ Even the music of today is built upon the music of yesterday. The music of yesterday had simple basslines note-wise, but there’s a whole history and lesson in every bass part.”
Of how this tidbit can be put into practice, Wooten went on to say, “The one thing I have people do is, go back and learn some early simple basslines, play them for 15 minutes, and don’t change a thing.
“Now, write me five other basslines similar to that,” he added. “The art of coming up with great basslines is almost like the art of being a rhythm guitarist. You see it dying.”
Perhaps the most profound piece of wisdom from Wooten, though, was his advice on how an individual can unleash their creativity. After asking Wong for three words he associated with music – to which Wong offered “Heart”, “Love” and “Joy”, Wooten observed, “Notice you didn’t say, ‘Music is a guitar’? ‘Music is technique, music is theory’?
“Without our instrument in our hands, we go right there. As soon as we pick it up, we forget those words. If that’s what music is, that is what we should be playing every time we pick up the instrument.”