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How Your Playing is a Reflection of Your Earliest Influences

Take a moment and think about something you’ve been doing for a long time.

A real long time.

Is that something a thing you’re passionate about?

I bet it is.

Now think for a minute about the things and people specifically that lit that fire under you. The people that inspired you to start that particular thing.

Now examine yourself now.

There’s a good chance you’re at least a little like the person (or persons) that influenced you.

Examining Your Influences

As a musician, who influences you is an undeniable part of your musical identity. It’s the weird and sometimes unexpected mish-mash of people, albums, songs, and gear that help to shape who you are as a musician and what your sound is going to be.

Of course your influences are not rock solid. They do not determine exactly who you are as a musician; but certainly help to point you down a certain ‘path’, for lack of a better word.

What more, your influences can manifest themselves in a certain way.

Maybe you find yourself playing bass with one finger with the same intensity and aggression as Jack Bruce did:

or maybe you’re playing with the same cool, collected demeanor that James Jamerson did:

maybe you’re the kind of player that doesn’t care and is only interested in showing the audience that you’re a tour-de-force player and the audience should remember your name like Cliff Burton:

Influences are strange like that. Similar to how your parents shape who you are, the figures that inspired you to pick up the bass guitar are the driving force that helped to shape how you play, think and express yourself on the bass guitar.

Personally speaking, the more I begin to experiment with the bass guitar, the more I find my musical heroes, Geddy Lee, Trey Anastasio and Frank Zappa, shine though. The desire to have very layered, complex music with a deep, expressive element with an in-your-face attitude starts to come through in spades.

That’s just me of course.

But to you I ask: who are your influences? Do you see the people that inspired you to pick up the bass guitar in your playing? How so?