Bass Player and composer, Currently from Finland, Rebeca P. Valladares is this month's ToneGym Hero!
I am Rebeca (Riv Kah, Rifká Noctis... all me . I am originally from Spain, but I have been living in Finland for the last 5 years.
That question is harder than it seems because it implies continuity. My first contact with music was when I entered a music school in my neighborhood when I was 7 or 8, and then when I was 9, I started playing contrabass, an instrument that I have sadly forgotten and I am currently relearning.
I played electric bass for the first time when I was 15, and I have been having “periods” with it, but I always went back to it. Music is something that somehow I liked and feared in equal parts. I am the kind of person who tries everything and needs new things constantly. Music is something that requires large investments of time and money only to have the possibility of making a living from it, and I was afraid.
I remember when I was studying chemistry in college (I didn't finish it) that people would tell me to stop wasting time playing bass to focus on chemistry. They all assumed without asking me that chemistry was obviously my future job and music just a hobby, but it was the other way around didn't want to have a Monday to Friday job and then play a couple of gigs in a basement during the weekend, I wanted to tour or create for most of the year, and have a lab in the basement for when I wanted to do crazy things
Finally, when 2020 arrived, I suddenly had more time than ever (surprise), and I was at home thinking about the things that really mattered to me and I realized the powerful effect music has on my mood, and how about ⅔ of my friends are either musicians or sound engineers, and I felt that I had been all my life pretending to be someone I am not, simply because I was afraid of putting all my bets in something uncertain, but the truth is that I am more afraid of dullness than of uncertainty.
Like we say in Spain", “tell me whom you spend your time with, and i will tell you who you are.” I spent that summer studying Finnish, and as soon as admissions were open, I applied to join the conservatory of Tampere (Tampereen Konservatorio), where I am currently studying.
I am a hobby collector who needs 50 hours a day. Agility is something I like, so I have been doing taekwon-do (ITF) for the last 3 years, and I have an aerial hoop on an A-frame rigged in the middle of my house to train some aerial circus, hoping to become a contortionist, a childhood dream.
In a less physical area, I like mind puzzles and beautiful things, and about a year ago, I found a penpal in Germany who is great at calligraphy and decoding, and we send each other intrincated letters with hidden messages. Hopefully, in the future, I can reply to him in German, which I want to learn, but right now, Finnish is taking all my mental energy (that language is amazing and hellish in equal parts.
My thumbs bend further backward than forwards. Not only is it useless, but it has given me problems pushing buttons in the past… I think I was assembled by some noob trainee in Ikea.
I mostly focus on playing something that has been written by people who compose better than I ever will or in creating bass lines for existing tunes, but what makes me stay inspired is the plasticity of music, how everything has been done before, but it’s still surprising and fresh. How it somehow connects the mind and the body: my hands can create tunes that change my mood, and my mood makes my hands produce a sound that somehow turns it into a collective feeling by sending it out for others to listen to and share. Or realizing that it’s the only art that extends through time.
You cant contemplate an instant of music like you contemplate a painting. Music advances and changes, a song has a length, and if you pause it, there is no sound anymore. You have to live the moment to make music. It grounds you and makes you dream, It’s a paradoxical art, and the more I know about it, the less I understand it. And I love that.
As a bass player, I would like to be with Les Claypool and Charles Berthoud. Their incredible technique, and I would like to hear their experience and tips.
As a metalhead, I like Eisbrecher, and I would enjoy playing with them on pretty much any song and asking them about their lyrics because I find them deeper than most in their genre. At some point, I realized that I could use their songs like people use gifs, and reply just by posting their song.
As a musician, Corvus Corax, because they are just amazing in every possible way.
Before starting a session, I do what probably any musician does: make sure it’s all connected, tuned, and ready. Plus, having water nearby. I always have water nearby. It makes me feel better even I don’t drink it.
And after the session, I stretch my hands and take my handstand blocks because the bass tightened my grip and it was making me lose wrist flexibility. That way I also use the grip on the extended wrist.
Lately, I am quite focused on becoming a good musician, so I mostly study, do drills on the bass, transcribe songs, practice sight-reading, learn decent improvisation and of course, train my ears.
I have several ideas written down, and I want to share them with mo"e “melody and chords” musicians to finish shaping them. I will share them when they are done.
So oder So, by Eisbrecher.
Like I said earlier, I believe I could answer most questions by linking to one of their songs. It may sound too dark at a first glance (here, I leave the lyrics in German and English), but on a second lecture, I find it hopeful. The changes in the verses suggest that the main character finds himself in the mess. And I can relate to the feeling of uncertainty and confusion, and of creating a path within
That’s hard. The bass is very special for me, obviously. But I like the theremin, in Spanish “to play and instrument” and “to touch an instrument” are said the same, so it’s an instrument that you can “play without playing” or “touch without touching” =D And it has a sci-fi feeling to it.
And on the other side of the spectrum, most ethnic instruments have something magical about them, like straight out of a fairytale, and themselves are very beautiful. Viking-style bowed lyres are very beautiful and mystical.
Hopefully reap the benefits of all this studying: gigs, tours, and my own projects. Playing on stage is one of those things that fascinate and terrify me at the same time, and since I toured Spain before moving to Finland I have kept a low profile. Next spring I am going to do a 2-week exchange in Liepaja (Latvia) and meet new musicians there.
I am not sure what will happen after this year. Maybe I will stay in Finland. Maybe I will move to Kiel in Germany or spend a couple of months in Kaunas (Lithuania)… I know where I am, and I know the things I want to achieve in life, but the path is very flexible. I focus on jobs that, in case of being unable to live solely on music, would allow me to work from my computer on a flexible schedule so I could do it while I am touring or moving around. I plan to buy a van so I can move around Europe without having to stuff a contrabass in a plane or, in general, have an easier time with my lifestyle. Who knows, maybe not only I have music gigs, but also circus gigs!
The only thing I can say for sure is that I will get out there, be on stage as much as possible, and meet as many musicians as possible.
Something great about the future is that can't predict it, which makes it interesting
Ear Training for Musicians