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#2355777 - 11/08/11 02:25 PM Playing whole notes
EddiePlaysBass Offline
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Registered: 06/24/04
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Loc: Belgium
Hope I got the term right. You know, play one note and let it ring for the entire (4/4) measure? I tried it at last Saturday's gig when we did our rendition of Neil Young's "Cortez The Killer"*, during the intro and at selected parts of the song.

BTW, this song is our "jam" song. Lasted about 11 minutes, which seems to be about the length we will take it to. Sometimes we go wild during the middle section, sometimes we stay mellow. Crowds go absolutely wild over it. Well, both times we played it anyway wink

I had a blast figuring out all the ways I could make the bass line move while sticking to a minimum of (root) note choices and pentatonic licks. But I have to say, playing whole notes was more challenging than I thought because:

(1) I had to actually feel where the measure ended and a new note was necessary;

(2) making the notes ring for the entire measure proved difficult.

But it is definitely an area I will explore more, when appropriate. I noticed that some songs (blues shuffles) where I play eight notes would probably "breathe" more if I played quarter notes instead. Will try that during the next rehearsal. I think I may be onto this "less is more" approach grin


Edited by EddiePlaysBass (11/08/11 02:25 PM)
Edit Reason: * If you listen and make it to the end, you'll hear my family ordering beverages ...
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#2355811 - 11/08/11 04:07 PM Re: Playing whole notes [Re: EddiePlaysBass]
Ross Brown Offline
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Registered: 12/28/05
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Loc: Pennsylvania
Good song. I choose my bass carefully for a song like that. My Geddy Lee rings all night long.... I would use that. Whe I play that song I don't have many measures that ring for 4. Oh well...
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#2355869 - 11/08/11 06:10 PM Re: Playing whole notes [Re: EddiePlaysBass]
jeremy c Offline
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Originally Posted By: EddiePlaysBass

(1) I had to actually feel where the measure ended and a new note was necessary;


tap your foot.
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#2355957 - 11/09/11 04:22 AM Re: Playing whole notes [Re: jeremy c]
EddiePlaysBass Offline
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Registered: 06/24/04
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Loc: Belgium
Originally Posted By: jeremy c
Originally Posted By: EddiePlaysBass

(1) I had to actually feel where the measure ended and a new note was necessary;


tap your foot.


I tend to rock my upper body to the beat of the drum. Probably looks like I am having a seizure, but hey it works for me grin
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#2356021 - 11/09/11 08:31 AM Re: Playing whole notes [Re: EddiePlaysBass]
Russkull Offline
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Registered: 08/19/10
Posts: 648
Loc: So Cal
Originally Posted By: EddiePlaysBass
I noticed that some songs (blues shuffles) where I play eight notes would probably "breathe" more if I played quarter notes instead. Will try that during the next rehearsal. I think I may be onto this "less is more" approach grin


I've been reading a lot about this recently, and trying to incorporate whole notes and even rests into my playing. You're right that it lets the songs breathe more.

It also can give the song a dynamic ebb and flow. Instead of just pounding out notes that are all the same, I'm changing up the intensity or the frequency. There are moments when I'm just letting a root note ring out or even stopping playing, depending on the song.

None of this is anything new, of course - I'm just re-discovering the wheel.
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#2356028 - 11/09/11 08:42 AM Re: Playing whole notes [Re: Russkull]
jeremy c Offline
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You can't reinvent the wheel.....but you can put 20" rims on it.
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#2356777 - 11/11/11 09:29 AM Re: Playing whole notes [Re: jeremy c]
Russkull Offline
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Loc: So Cal
Originally Posted By: jeremy c
You can't reinvent the wheel.....but you can put 20" rims on it.

I like that analogy. Puttin' 20's and a flashy grill on my playing. The list of upgrades is endless! smile
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#2356937 - 11/11/11 10:09 PM Re: Playing whole notes [Re: Russkull]
johngoldsby Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 216
Loc: Cologne, Germany
It's important that every note has a beginning, middle and end -- no matter how long or short the note is held. If you play a whole note, then it should have a strong, clean attack. Then you should hold the string with enough pressure to really ring/sing for four beats. Then -- and this is what I consider the important part -- you need to make a cutoff on the note exactly at the end of the four beats. (At the end of the fourth quarter note, not before). If you hit a note following the whole note, then the whole note should stop with the attack of the new note, or a millisecond before.

I think the ends of the notes make a bass line sound "clean and precise" or not.
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#2356962 - 11/12/11 02:17 AM Re: Playing whole notes [Re: johngoldsby]
Happy Birthday Phil W Offline
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It's about the architecture of every single note - what is the shape. John, of course, is spot on, I think it's the length of notes and relationship of each musician's note length and placement that most effect the perception of groove. I was fortunate that Dill Katz showed me some stuff about the importance of note length back in the 80s.

I would work like a trombonist or other horn player and actually make long notes a specific part of your practise schedule. Kind of obvious, but I tend to play long notes mostly when everyone else (or especially the drummer) is playing very busy.
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#2357192 - 11/13/11 04:18 AM Re: Playing whole notes [Re: Phil W]
johngoldsby Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
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Loc: Cologne, Germany
Quote:
Kind of obvious, but I tend to play long notes mostly when everyone else (or especially the drummer) is playing very busy.


Thanks, Phil . . . This is a practical rule of thumb . . . if everyone else is playing busy, I sometimes play less notes to keep the groove stable. If they are playing less notes, then I can break up the rhythm more or play busy lines.

Of course, there are different combinations of "busyness" or density. The bass and the drummer might both be playing a lot of notes, which gives a dense, edgy feel. If both bass and drums play less, then there is a lot more space and breath in the groove.

A groove can get boring (or a set of several tunes can get really boring) if the bass player & drummer always play with the same amount of rhythmic density.
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#2357937 - 11/15/11 03:25 PM Re: Playing whole notes [Re: johngoldsby]
Davo-London Offline
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Note length is often overlooked and is a great detail to focus on. I once spent an entire gig focussing on note length. Afterwards the drummer said we really grooved tonight - dunno what you did but it was great.

Davo
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