The Frontline: Ruth Goller

I’ve always been into free, improvised music. For me the most important thing is the interaction with other musicians, making my musical decisions as true to the moment as possible and being innovative with my sound. There are a lot of things you need to be aware of, and you’ll learn through practice, but it’s also important not to over-think your decisions as it is very easy to lose the natural flow of the music. On top of that, improvising is a great chance for me to explore every different sound on the ruth gollerbass that I can possibly produce. I can play chordally, with double-stops, with different slapping styles, and I sometimes use a slide. I enjoy finding new ways of picking, using different tools to stick between strings in order to find something different. For me, there is no limit in finding new sounds. Some people religiously play with just their fingers, or bow, or use picks. It is very important for me to keep an open mind about all of that and think about what sounds best in the context.

Pedals have opened a new door for me, although it is crucial to stay focused on what you’re looking for before getting overexcited about all the different tone possibilities. I remember a particular bass distortion pedal, which I really liked when I tried it in the shop, and then when I played it with the band I realised that all the bottom end got lost. It actually had the opposite effect of what I was looking for. Another thing I really enjoy experimenting with are the different registers on the bass. Obviously as a bass player I mostly end up covering the low end, but in more improvised music, I have the chance to play higher up, use harmonics and create a different effect. As much fun as this is, it is important not to get lost in the never- ending world of toys and pedals, and remember what the instrument sounds like acoustically. I have to be aware that the sound I am creating actually contributes to the general music, and is not just something I do because I can.

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