Linda May Han Oh: Identity & History


Linda May Han Oh released the album Walk Against Wind on Biophilia Records on April 14.

(Photo: Shervin Lainez)

You switched from double bass to bass guitar during your set. What prompted you to do that?

It’s just an added element. I’ve been playing a lot more electric these days—mainly for myself, though I play a little bit in Pat [Metheny]’s band, too. It’s just a different sound, a different texture. I still want it to sound like me.

I do think in terms of colors with a lot of these compositions. So much of it is just setting the scene. But within the set, it’s still all us—even if Fabian is doing his electronic thing.

You’ve also added wordless singing to your arsenal. Has it been difficult to vocalize and play simultaneously, or did that come naturally?

I definitely practice it, and I always say to my students that they should practice it, too. It’s a very important component and a useful tool when you’re practicing certain polyrhythmic and even bi-tonal things. It’s great for your ears.

I’ve heard that it can be particularly difficult for bass players to sing and play.

You’re thinking about intonation of the bass—well, the upright bass—as well as the intonation of your voice. But it’s great to do, and a lot of musicians I know do practice it, whether or not they choose to incorporate it.

Finally, do you approach soloing differently on bass guitar?

There are definitely some technical things that are different on electric and upright, but I still want to sound like me. That’s the ultimate goal. DB

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