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What is this "groove" thang?


Groove Mama

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OK. Everybody had such great advice for me on my "To float or not to float" thread that I figure I'll pick your brains a little further and see what I can learn about groove.

 

How do you define a "groove"? How do you create a groove? And can you hold one if you ain't got no pocket? :-) I think I know a groove when I hear it played by somebody else, but I don't know how to define it, how to create it or if I've ever played one. Can you help me out here? Thx.

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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Groove is something that some people have and some people do not. Groove cannot be taught but you can learn to groove. It takes listening.

 

There is nothing worse than a rhythm section that doesn't groove.

 

Then there are some people who have the audacity to give themselves the nickname "groove". I'm guessing in that person's case they're going for the irony thing since they wouldn't know a groove if it came up and punched them directly in the face with a brick.

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I wanna hold the brick.

 

I agree with Mr. Nuts. It takes listening and believe me, when you lay down a groove you will know it - you will feel it.

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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A bass player cannot "Groove" with a drum machine. It is a human thing that happens without being planned. Now I have really confused you.

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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Ah, the first step on a neverending quest ...

 

BP did an article on groove once, if I recall correctly. I don't think I have it, frankly. Groove, I mean. I'd love to say that I do, but I don't think so. I can hardly make my lines swing, let alone groove.

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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Then there are some people who have the audacity to give themselves the nickname "groove". I'm guessing in that person's case they're going for the irony thing since they wouldn't know a groove if it came up and punched them directly in the face with a brick.

 

Is Richard 'Groove' Holmes the exception that proves the rule?

 

There seems to be nothing on youtube of Groove Holmes where he is playing the bassline with his feet, but he's pretty awesome at it. He has this one vinyl record I used to hear back in the day where turned off the Hammond B3 in the middle of the solo - sounded so cool.

 

What is groove? If you have to ask you'll never know. So stop asking and just groove!

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Aw, let's 86 all the mystical talk, it's really simple. Groove is the combination of rhythm, melody and tempo that gives a song or style of music it's form & feel. It is the part of music that makes you move one way to one song, and another to a different song. It is the basis from which improvisation happens.

 

Some people associate groove with funk music only, but it is present in all forms of music, however innovative and funky, or jejune and nasty the music and groove may be. Strauss waltzes have a groove, and so do John Phillip Souza marches.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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Picker is dead on, and the earlier comments about the importance of LISTENING are also correct. The more you listen to a lot of different styles of music (and bass playing), you will come to recognize and appreciate groove.

 

I will only add that having "groove" will make up for a lot of whatever your technical limitations might be.

"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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Groove is the small stuff - the hesitations, the anticipatory sounds, the swing, the notes played and the notes not played.

 

The Groove is when you hit that particular spot and you just close your eyes and your bass plays itself.

Play. Just play.
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because i'm an engineer, i like think it more objective terms. i've always considered groove a relationship with time. every piece of music is played in time, and it's how you play in relation to that time that defines your groove.

 

when you listen and play with groove, it is something that you can feel. playing with the right groove gives you more of whatever you're trying to accomplish with the music. it takes the performance to a new and better place.

 

and like picker said, it's independent of style of music. no matter what you play, you can improve the music by having a more intuitive relationship with time.

 

I will only add that having "groove" will make up for a lot of whatever your technical limitations might be.

 

this is true. i've been exploiting this fact for years.

 

robb.

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Thanks, all. This is particularly helpful:

"Groove is the combination of rhythm, melody and tempo that gives a song or style of music it's form & feel. It is the part of music that makes you move one way to one song, and another to a different song." I think I kinda get it now.

 

Based on the mystical answers, I was getting a little worried there that this question might be too rudimentary for a forum with such a high level of expertise.

 

Is there a beginner's forum that I should be posting these questions to or should I continue to ask my "Grasshopper" questions here?

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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As a bass player, you are a dominant part of a rythm section, usually comprised of a drummer and bass. The drummer is the time keeper but he can't play notes or chords to enhance the song. The bassist takes this time from the drummer and gives it life, meaning, soul, groove, whatever you want to call it. A bassist can play on the beat, ahead of the beat or behind the beat, or a combination of those. In my opinion, this is where the groove springs to life. As a bassist, I could care less what the rest of the band is playing. The drummer and I are a flowing, syncronized team. Every other member of the band should be following us not the other way around. This is why I believe a drummer and bassist should spend a lot of time practing together, just the two of them, together. Together. Together.

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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"The drummer is the time keeper but he can't play notes or chords to enhance the song. The bassist takes this time from the drummer and gives it life, meaning, soul, groove, whatever you want to call it."

 

OK. Perfect. Now I think I REALLY get it. Thanks!

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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"The drummer and I are a flowing, syncronized team."

 

I was lucky enough to attend a bass clinic last fall featuring Victa and J.D. Blair. Talk about "two minds, one groove." They were the perfect embodiment of a flowing, synchronized team. I'm tellin ya, it was a friggin transcendental experience, almost spooky.

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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A bass player cannot "Groove" with a drum machine.

 

I disagree with this. While I certainly think groove can be more organic and more fun when it is based on the ever-changing movement of music created by the interaction of two or more musicians, I think a bass player can groove with a drum machine.

 

Some of the most important lessons I learned about feel and groove came from being able to play with the relentless perfection of a drum machine or metronome, and hearing how the placement of my notes -- ahead of, behind, on top of, etc. -- relative to the beat changed the groove.

 

Metronome plays every beat, metronome plays on 2 and 4, metronome plays on 1 and 3, metronome plays only on the 1...playing along with time defined in those different ways teaches a lot about groove and how you can use the space between the "ticks" and the "tocks." Same for drum loops programmed on a drum machine.

 

Peace.

--Dub $$

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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In the 1920 and 30's when Jazz (also known back then as swing music) was starting to take hold, two contrasting themes emerged: The commercial market with the likes of a Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington where every note of every player was played exactly to the sheet music (even the solos)... to that of some of the clubs in Harlem and Kansas City MO where players listened to each other and acted both as soloist as well as band members, improvising. In other words you can't really get a groove unless you know how to take the basis of that sheet music and add your improvisation to it but only if adds that "kick" to the whole. You may not like the genre, I would recommend listening to some of these classics to get an idea of what groove sounds like.
"The capacity to blunder slightly is the real marvel of DNA. Without this special attribute, we would still be anaerobic bacteria and there would be no music." ~Lewis Thomas
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I worked with one drummer for close to 30 years, and we got to where could anticipate each others fills and phrasing. We could really groove together while providing the foundation for the other guy to play and sing over. It was like jumping into warm water when we played some songs together. Then the yo-yo went and moved to Reno, and that was the end of that. I really miss playing with him.

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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In the 1920 and 30's when Jazz (also known back then as swing music) was starting to take hold, two contrasting themes emerged: The commercial market with the likes of a Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington where every note of every player was played exactly to the sheet music (even the solos)... to that of some of the clubs in Harlem and Kansas City MO where players listened to each other and acted both as soloist as well as band members, improvising. In other words you can't really get a groove unless you know how to take the basis of that sheet music and add your improvisation to it but only if adds that "kick" to the whole. You may not like the genre, I would recommend listening to some of these classics to get an idea of what groove sounds like.

I disagree. Solos in Ellington's orchestra were improvised. Even when they were written out they were merely the basis of the solo. I'd assume that Goodman's were the same.

 

I'm a bit confused by your reply. Are you saying that because the majority of their music was played directly from the sheet that it didn't groove? That would be about as far from the truth as you could get.

 

Also, on the drum machine subject...a few of us from the forum had the opportunity a few years back to watch Dave Larue and an employee of Bass Central jam together to a drum track from Dave's Pandora and it grooved so hard it hurt!

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It took a long time, but I finally figured out how to move the beat around when playing with a drum machine. It really helps the music come to life. I do a lot of recording at a studio with no one there except for me.

 

I know it's nuts, but that's how a lot of recording has been done in recent years.

 

The feeling when a bassist and a drummer lock into a pattern which then takes on a life of its own is indescribable. If the other people in the band also lock in, it's amazing.

 

That's why bands like Booker T. and the MGs and The Meters are so revered. Larger bands like Tower of Power and Earth Wind and Fire are also good examples of the entire band locking into a groove.

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I'm with Willie on this one. There was a period in time when I did a lot of drum machine programming. I remember on one pattern where I moved the snare hit 1/48 of a beat and there was the groove. I believe the problems that come from grooves when using drum machines is when a musician settles for a factory preset pattern for a song that isn't quite right for that particular song.

 

Wally

 

A bass player cannot "Groove" with a drum machine.

 

I disagree with this. While I certainly think groove can be more organic and more fun when it is based on the ever-changing movement of music created by the interaction of two or more musicians, I think a bass player can groove with a drum machine.

 

Some of the most important lessons I learned about feel and groove came from being able to play with the relentless perfection of a drum machine or metronome, and hearing how the placement of my notes -- ahead of, behind, on top of, etc. -- relative to the beat changed the groove.

 

Metronome plays every beat, metronome plays on 2 and 4, metronome plays on 1 and 3, metronome plays only on the 1...playing along with time defined in those different ways teaches a lot about groove and how you can use the space between the "ticks" and the "tocks." Same for drum loops programmed on a drum machine.

 

Peace.

--Dub $$

I have basses to play, places to be and good music to make!
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I would recommend listening to some [swing] classics to get an idea of what groove sounds like.

I think a better example of the point being made here is this: go listen to a symphony orchestra play a standard like "Sophisticated Lady" note-for-note from sheet music and compare that to a jazz ensemble (not necessarily a Big Band) play the same standard from memory (or even lead sheets/chord charts). The orchestra will get all the notes right but they won't "swing", i.e. "groove" appropriately for the genre.

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Mama--you should keep asking your "grasshopper" questions because it's fun for us older grasshoppers (everyone is still learning, now matter how long we've played) to share insights. Plus, I enjoy reading everyone's comments, now matter what the question.
"Everyone wants to change the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves." Leo Tolstoy
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Thanks, r. I've got so much to learn -- like EVERYthing -- and I just don't want to be an annoyance to the seasoned folks. The people here have been tremendously helpful to me already. So I guess I'll keep asking until people stop answering.

Queen of the Quarter Note

"Think like a drummer, not like a singer, and play much less." -- Michele C.

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