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I am a new to bass. The problem that I am currently facing is how to play along with drummers. I am told by my music director that i should follow the bass drum of the drummer.

When i listen to cds, sometimes the bassist don't follow the drummer's bass beat all the time, and the create quite a number of licks.

So when should a i follow the drummer's bass beat or how do i play better instead boringly follow the bass beat of the drummer?

anysites or resuorces that i can get for band playing?

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Welcome to the world of bass, and to the lowdown. What a long, strange trip it is.


Actually, it's a bit more complicated than "following the bass drum." If anything, the drummer should be following you.


But what actually happens, at least when I play, is I define the rhythmic style of the song, and the drummer picks up my "groove" or feel and augments that. I always try to lock together with the drummer; not by following him, but by communicating musically in a real-time interplay.


I'm curious what kind of music you are playing with a "music director." Is this a school thing? Perhaps a jazz band? Knowing the musical situation would allow the board to give better advice.


Generally speaking, when someone is "new to bass" I attempt to get them playing Root-Fifth patterns on beats one and three. That is a pretty good way to "get through" songs. As students are ready, I add walk-ups, thirds, sixths, hammer-ons, dotted rhythms, syncopation and so on.


If a student is studying jazz, I generally leave the pop-rock stuff behind and discuss four beat walking. A good way is to associate scalar patterns to chord charts. The best book I've ever seen for developing these patterns is "Bass Lines in Minutes" by Kris Berg (a fellow North Texan, bassist and outstanding jazz educator.) Here is a link to a site that sells this book.


There are many methods out there...but the quickest way to learn is to find a teacher who understands bass.


Good Luck

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.


Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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Originally posted by davebrownbass:

There are many methods out there...but the quickest way to learn is to find a teacher who understands bass.


That was a problem for me when I first started. All of my teachers were either violinists or horn players. While they were great musicians and teachers, they really didn't understand bass as a bassist should (even in classical). I really didn't get a chance to blossom until I started taking private lessons with an actual bassist.


Oh, and welcome Cephas. We're glad to have you.

"Bass isn't just for breakfast anymore..."



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I am playing rock and rock ballads.

I am seriously having problems in terms of what to do because my music director said that i should follow the bass beat unless it is a shadow beat. I got quite confuse. I am not actually new in playing bass but I am rather new when comes to play in a band. I dunno exactly what type of basslines can i do if given a specific drum beat.

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One of the best things I found was to take a few drum lessons just for a few weeks, and become somewhat comfortable with the "feel" of drumming as well as understanding the "feel" of various time signatures.


That alone has helped immensely in being able to comprehend and hitch up my bass lines to a song!


Check out if any drummers are offering lessons in your area. It might help you gain understanding!

Beware the lollipop of mediocrity; one lick and you suck forever.
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Hey Cephas,


Welcome! And congratulations on picking up the coolest of all instruments!!! :D


Your question is a very wise one for a beginner. It seems simple, but there's a lot to it.


Sometimes, playing the exact same rhythm as the bass drum might be the right thing to do for the song, but that's not always the case. Keep these principles in mind, and you should be in good shape.


Principle #1: The drummer creates a musical "feel." The bassist should try to match and/or compliment that feel.


Example: If the drummer is playing with a hip hop swing feel, you'll want to try to play with the same feel instead of, for instance, straight rock (repeating eighth notes).


Principle #2: Some of the drummer's kick drum notes will be stronger than others. In most cases, you should try to hit a note when the drummer hits a strong beat with the kick drum.


Usually, the first beat of each measure is the strongest. This note is called the ONE, because usually while playing we're counting ONE-two-three-four ONE-two-three-four, etc. Can you feel, just thinking about it, how the ONE is stronger than the other beats? - There are some exceptions. In reggae and jazz, the TWO is usally stronger than the ONE. Adjust accordingly. - Hit the ONE confidently and accurately when the drummer does, and you'll be free to explore other option throughout the rest of the measure.


Principle #3: You and the drummer have to work as a team.


If you're just playing along and not paying attention to what he or she is doing, the sound of the band will suffer. Record your rehearsals sometimes to see whether you're complimenting your musical partner or whether you're stepping on their toes.


Principle #4: Rhythmic accuracy is critical.


Don't let your mind wander too much when you play. Actively listen for both the kick and the snare drum and make sure that your notes "fit" in time with these drums, even if you don't play on all of the same beats.


Principle #5: Subdivide the beat in your head.


An important skill for rhythmic accuracy is learning to subdivide the beat in your head. If the beat of the song is ONE-two-three-four, if it's a straight rock song, you need to think to yourself:


ONE-and two-and three-and four-and


If it's jazz or blues, you need to think in a triplet or shuffle feel:


ONE-and-a two-and-a three-and-a four-and-a


which you might be able to abbreviate to:


ONE-a two-a three-a four-a


If it's funk or R&B:


ONE-ee-an-a two-ee-an-a three-ee-an-a four-ee-an-a


This may seem like a hassle, but it's important, because it trains your "internal clock" to play in sync with the music. It's also a good aid when you learn to read music.


Principle #6: How it sounds is the bottom line.


If what you and the drummer play together makes the song feel right, then you're doing fine. If it sounds as wimpy or uninspired or sloppy or discoordinated, you need to work on it.


Principle #7: The more songs you learn, the more all of this will make sense.


Keep playing and learning all the time. No one ever gets to the point where they know everything about bass playing. There's always more to learn and more to try. The players that we all know and remember approached the instrument with a well-developed sense of time AND a fresh perspective. I'd encourage you do develop and maintain both.


Good luck!

The Black Knight always triumphs!


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Lots of good advice above.

If your music director is complaining that you are not following the bass drum, you may be playing parts that are too busy (this is personal specialty of mine - a tendency that I've had to rein in).


Two key assumptions in my comment above are that

1) the musical director knows what they are talking about - is it a teacher, choral director, learned professional?

2) the drummer is playing a consistent bass drum part. In the beginning, it is important that both the drummer and yourself play pretty much the same part for each verse (as an example). Once you get everything going, you'll be able to vary the part (and so will the drummer) from verse to verse. But you can't match the drummer if he isn't doing the same thing all the time. Whether it takes 4 or 8 or 12 beats for his pattern to go 'round, it's got to be consistent so you can follow it.


I've played parts where I match the kick note-for-hit, but it's not the norm. DBB's explanation matches my experience as well.

Good Luck !!




Acoustic Color


Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Thank you everyone for the help that you have all provided. It gives me some ideas.

BTW I came across this live tour cd of Eric Clapton, and Nathan East is playing for him and in the song "Change the World", Nathan East did not follow the kick drum at certain points, why it so?


Do you guys have any book or sites that provide more information on wat bassline suits what drumbeat?

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I'm sure many people can give you better answers, but...


For me, it was a matter of experience. Even though I had knowledge of chord structure, I played root notes and followed the kick (mostly) until I developed a 'feel' for what was being played.


In simple terms, make sure you keep the groove going first. As you gain experience, you'll find ways to express yourself while keeping the groove... That's what makes a good bassist. Not flashy chops or funky slaps. Don't ever forget, YOU are the foundation.

"Bass isn't just for breakfast anymore..."



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btw my music director"s job is to tell everyone what to play. He dun require me to play fancy stuff but basics will do. However i hope to excel an do better, i have been sticking to basic drumbeat. What i really lack now is how to input bassline and my feelings in and yet keeping in track with the kick drum.

If i solved the problem, i will post back the solution that i have gathered.

Now i have learn several things here, for eg. listening more to cds, and try to take drumming lessons.

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a late introduction, I am Cephas from Singapore and currently playing in the worship team for my church. My music director is a drummer, and i don't really seat down and talk to him about drums and bass.

thank you evryone God bless you.

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Originally posted by Cephas:

. My music director is a drummer, and i don't really seat down and talk to him about drums and bass.


WOW!!!! You've explained a lot right there!!!!!


So, the music director IS the drummer. And he want's you to play with him.


I expect he senses that you are not as experienced as he is...and wants to define the song for you.


Here's a clue. Bass players often play songs with 3 varieties of rhythmic feel...(I'm being VERY simplistic here:)


2 notes per measure.

4 notes per measure.

8 notes per measure.

(Sometimes basses will play 12 or 16 notes per measure, that is generally reserved for solistic playing.)


Now, sometimes a song will mix these patterns...typically if the verse has 2 notes per measure, the chorus might have 4.


You're drummer is NOT playing 8 bass drum kicks per measure...not for more than one measure at least. However, there might be times where that is the most appropriate thing for you to play.


Here's the next clue..


2 notes per measure songs...the bass generally plays root and fifth of the chord.


8 notes per measure songs...the bass plays generally only 8 root notes (sometime the chord will change mid-measure...so you might play CCCC-AAAA to fill a meaure.


4 notes per measure songs...the bass player will either play a chordal pattern (as in the Beatles "Revolution") or a chordal pattern with rhythmic variations (kinda like the Beatles "Ob La Di" or Loggins and Messina's "Your Mama Don't Dance") ---or----


the player will play a scalar pattern, as in the Beatles "Penny Lane" or just about any jazz song you've ever heard.


NOW. That covers only the most basic categories of songs...there are many others, and many variations of the above. However, if you work within these guidelines, you'll gain a good starting point.


Welcome to the LowDown, from a fellow Church Band musician.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.


Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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Welcome Cephas. Now that you mention you are playing in a praise band, I see why you chose the nickname Cephas, or perhaps that really is your name? :)


You mentioned above that you were listening to an Eric Clapton recording and wondered why the bass player was doing a certain thing...this signals to me that you are already on the right track.


Dan South listed some great principles to follow, and your director told you to follow the kick line of the bass drum. Rules and guidelines like that are great, and a lot of practicing will allow you to follow them, and a lot of experience will tell you when it is appropriate to deviate from them.


So I would recommend that you get a lot of recordings (your music director will probably be happy to loan you some of his own for this purpose) of music in the style that you are playing, and then listen to them over and over. Not the kind of listening that you do when you're driving in the car, or when you're shopping in a store and a song comes on over the public address system. But real, analytical listening.


Listen to each song three or four times just picking apart the bass line. Learn it if you want to. Then listen a few more times, specifically listening to the drum beat, particularly to where the drummer puts the bass kicks and the snare hits. Then listen to it a few more times to get a feel of how the two of them go together.


After a while, you won't have to worry so much about counting out each and every beat (which is a good exercise to start with), but you will start to feel the beat. That's when you become a bass player, and not just a guy playing the bass. Good luck and have fun!

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A similar thread about playing with the drummer) came up on TBL, so I'm stealing Matt Fisher's comments (thanks Matt).


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


The question:

Is there, or does anybody have a formula, for the method a bassist would use to lock into the drummer.
I don't claim to know it all or be all that great, but here's my take.

It's not so much about particular drums and cymbals. How they're used will vary from one style to the next.


The main thing is to notice where the strong beats occur, how the accents are placed, and how the drumkit works together to build a rhythmic


And then you have to know whether the style calls for you to play basically in unison with the strong drum hits (as in Blues, R&B, swing, rock, etc.), or to layer your part against the percussion in a more complex way (as in Afro-Cuban jazz). And then you have to use your own taste about how much to subdivide and fill.


If your drummer is a minimalist, but doesn't play with a lot of nuance, you might have to coach him/her in the right direction. But a lot of musicians aren't particularly open to being told how to play, so you may have to just bite your tongue and lead by example. Your own part would have to clearly state where the accents are, how the swing feels, how the phrases flow, and all that. If what you're doing really works, hopefully the drummer will notice, and will try to match your phrasing more closely.


Even if you're embarrassed to do it, making eye contact, and smiling or calling out encouragement when stuff works, always seems to help. A lot of times it seems like musicians are off in their own little worlds, thinking hard about how the music is supposed to work, but basically ignoring each other on an interpersonal level. Anything that breaks us out of that trap will give life to the groove, because the groove is essentially a

conversation going on between the rhythm section players. Everybody's got to be mentally and emotionally present for that conversation to really say something.


(For more on that subject, check out Ingrid Monson's book, "Saying Something", or Paul Berliner's "Thinking in Jazz". Both of which are

published by my employer, but even so, they're good books.)


- Matt


Acoustic Color


Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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One question I'd like to raise (as another relative beginner). Several people have mentioned how useful it is for a bassist to have some drumming experience.


But what about dancing ability?


If you are playing in a rock/blues/cover band/party environment, where your music is for people to dance to, does it help to be an enthusiastic or skilled dancer yourself?


I'm not. My dancing style tends towards the bar-prop and the wall-lean, sometimes followed by the drunken lurch. But my wife is a keen dancer - she takes various dance classes and will always bop around the dance floor when music is being played.


But recently I was jamming with a couple of friends on some classic pop tunes. I had what I thought was a neat bass line - melodic, interesting to listen to and on the beat. But when my wife listened to it, her reaction was 'ho-hum'. The rhythm was strong enough, but it just didn't get her moving.


I worked it around a little until we had a dance beat that she liked. And of course, the new line had a lot less notes in it than before, although with one or two semi-quavers just to give it a kick.


To be honest, I didnt think the new line was any more interesting to listen to - but its certainly better to dance to.


Does anyone here feel being able to dance is an important part of feeling the groove? And do you reckon taking a few dance classes will improve my playing?








"Theres not a lot to learn. But there is a lot to feel."


Neil Young, Hammersmith Apollo, 19 May 2003

www.talkingstrawberries.com - for rocking' blues, raw and fresh!
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In my opinion, there is no such thing as useless information or experience. Taking dance lessons probably would help you recognize when a rhythm is 'danceable'. You do have a great resource in your wife, and she seems to be honest with you when it comes to your questions. You might even consider taking a few lessons from her. I'm sure she would be more than happy to get you out on the floor with her. Good luck.
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