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writing and non-bass instruments


getz out

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Hey all,

 

I know this has been discussed previously, but I wanted to get some fresh thoughts and observations.

 

Recently, I have been writing a lot of music for my current project. The last time I had done this, I had access to an upright piano, and used that for the majority of the writing. Nowadays, I don't even own a keyboard; most of the writing has been done on a 6-string guitar.

 

I have been writing everything; chord progression, basic vocal melody, bass, and rhythm parts. I get the rough cut done using Cubase, bring it to my band, and we work things out.

 

I made an observation; my bass parts are very simple. When I play guitar I am usually solo, and I tend to play busy , i.e. very rhythmic with melodic fills, etc. This type of guitar part does not lend itself to a busy bassline.

 

My keyboard skill does not lend itself to such technique; usually, I would just come up with a progression, and have to work out the rhythm and fills on bass and guitars separately.

 

I'm not really complaining, I'm just making an observation. I think the latest pieces I've written sound good, and the bass part fits, which is the most important thing in the end (the song as a whole, not my bass part).

 

Has anyone else had similar experiences?

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Absolutely.

 

In fact, this same experience has made me a lot less "busy" bass player on other people's gigs as well. What I realized was that with songs I wrote, the bass part was only one element among many that I really paid attention to, and because I knew the other parts really well, I was laying off (on bass) in order to leave space for hooks and interesting things in guitar parts, etc. I also don't like a lot of rhythmic clutter, so this may account for paring back on the bass parts.

 

... anyway, I realized that if I listen, and actually learn and OWN the guitar/drum parts on other people's music, I'm much more content to play simple bass parts that complement whatever else is going on in the song.

 

For this reason, I think songwriting is one of the best ways to train your ears.

 

BTW, Maury - let us know when you're playing out with this band of yours ...

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Thanks for the response, you have articulated my current situation quite nicely. I have always considered myself somewhat mature when it comes to music, but I guess it's natural to try to "add" something when you're just writing one part instead of all the parts.

 

BTW, Maury - let us know when you're playing out with this band of yours ...
As soon as I get some decent vocals. My crooning does not cut it. :D I'm hoping to get someone to stand in front of a mic and spew lyrics soon and maybe grab a gig at the C-Note or Acme Underground to get warmed up for prime-time.
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I've written very few songs, but have found that my parts tend to be simple. I'm singing them as well, which doesn't help. I think that after I get the songs "under my belt", record and listen to them, I'll probably change the bass part.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

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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Originally posted by Dr. Zarkov-Capasso:

I've written very few songs, but have found that my parts tend to be simple. I'm singing them as well, which doesn't help. I think that after I get the songs "under my belt", record and listen to them, I'll probably change the bass part.

 

Tom

Tom,

 

If you don't mind me asking, what are you using to do the initial writing? Are you coming up with a bass line, then adding a chord progression? A vocal melody, then adding bass? Etc...

 

Maury

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I kind of write the songs out of my head with melody and some chord ideas, which I try out with the melody on a piano. Once I think I can sing the melody consistently (you'd think I'd transcribe it, but I don't), I'll try to coerce somebody to play the chords while I sing it. I haven't gotten past that - I still doing "root" work....

 

One I wrote was a variation/extension of 12 bar blues with the standard 3 chords. It's a shuffle, and I'll probably walk once I can figure out how to sing and play it at the same time....

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

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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Dr. Zarkov,

 

You are indeed a very wise man. Starting with a melody and conceptualizing the song in your head before you pick up an instrument is an excellent way to write music. It's not the ONLY way, but it's one of the best, because you're starting with what's most important. You're starting with the part that the listener will actually pay attention to. Having a clear idea of where you want the song to go saves a lot of head scratching down the road. I'll have to beam up to your planet sometime so that I may listen to examples of this advanced prototype space music.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Usually the bass line is the last thing I write.

 

I mean, since most of the time my job is to come up with a good bass line for a song, I do the same thing with my own songs.....write everything down sitting at a piano....and then make up the bass part when I get the other musicians together.

 

(And I do mean write everything down...I use a pencil and music manuscript paper).

 

If I make up the bass line first, it's usually a reasonably complicated groove.

 

If I make up the bass line last, it's usually a straight-forward part which supports the song.

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Hi,

 

On this jazz bossa ( http://www.paintedharmony.com/music/thepbjs/newbossa.mp3 ), I started with the changes on the keyboard and then gave them to my friend, Andy, to come up with the melody.

 

For this instrumental rock tune ( http://www.paintedharmony.com/music/rock/happy.mp3

), I laid down a bass and drum track with my recorder and followed up with guitar.

 

This I wrote all on bass:

http://www.paintedharmony.com/music/bestofmiles/olympicmyst.mp3

 

And this, I wrote all on the computer:

http://www.paintedharmony.com/music/bestofmiles/pirouette.mp3

 

When I write, I typically sit down just to create. Most of the time I don't have too much of an idea in my head initially. To some extend, what I start out doodling on typically ends up driving the style of song that I end up writing. Hmmm.

 

Keyboard/Computer => Jazz/Classical

Bass and Drum Machine => Instrumental Rock

Bass alone => Bass alone

 

I also have a saying. "Don't look for logic where there is none." That definitely applies to my method for writing music.

 

To that end, I offer this tune...

 

http://www.paintedharmony.com/music/hassmanporter/DoMeBaby.mp3

 

Which was *written* all at once. (Yep. I do overplay. :D )

 

Thanks,

 

Dm7

http://www.paintedharmony.com

Dm7#11. It's a sad chord in "...the saddest of all keys, really."

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