I just finished reading The Music Lesson. It was a very odd book. It’s going to take a bit to sink in.
Based on the intro, I was under the impression that it was a true story. At first that made me a bit of a skeptic, but once I realized it was a work of fiction meant to present lessons in the manner of Aesop’s Fables or a set a parables, it was much easier to enjoy.
It doesn’t say much about how to write or perform music, but it also teaches you how to learn everything you need to know about it.
It made total sense, but also didn’t. Some of the lessons are more ephemeral than others, and you’ll have to “feel” them rather than grasp them intellectually.
If you read it and think about the concepts in it and put them into practice, you will become a better musician, no matter your primary instrument. The core idea is that you should get to a state where you don’t have to think about notes or scales and music just flows through you, and each lesson is something that you’ll need to master in order to get to that point.
Michael Manring is a pretty well-known soloist among bass players, but less so among mainstream music listeners.
He’s known for his custom fretless Zon Hyperbass guitar shown in this video performance/interview from Bass Player LIVE! 2013:
He was the youngest of four in a musical family. He took classes at the Berklee College of Music and studied with Jaco Pastorius. A very technical player, his style includes use of the e-bow, changing tunings mid-song, slapping, popping, muting, and two-handed tapping. To understand his style, it helps to know that he considers the bass guitar a very expressive instrument. He develops techniques that expand on that expressiveness, including quite heavy use of alternative tunings.
Much of Michael’s music could be considered instrumental “calm jazz” that is often filed as New Age or Adult Alternative, but he has a variety of styles and sometimes plays loud, upbeat, bouncy, funky music. He considers his work to be genre agnostic and doesn’t worry about fitting into any particular category.
His music recordings are very prolific, with of hundreds of collaborations and guest appearances with artists such as Alex Skolnick, Montreux, Jeff Loomis, and Paolo Giordano thanks in part to his role as house bassist with Windham Hill Records. He has also released a number of solo studio albums.