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What's the defining element you strive for in your bass playing?


Gruuve

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What is it that you want to be the defining element of your bass playing...the thing that makes you sound like you and only you? Or put another way, what is it that you'd like for other people to say about your bass playing?

 

Mine is creating monster grooves. That's what I generally strive for. It might be fast and flashy, or it might be really simple and straight-forward, but it's got to be something that makes your head bob uncontrollably.

 

Put as commentary: "Man, that guy can groove!" That's what I'd like to hear people say. (Folks at church get fairly close...I've been told things like "you're playing is very lively", "you and the drummer together sound like a whole percussion ensemble...sometimes I can't seperate the two", etc....generally these were meant as complimentary ;):P )

 

Note that I didn't say I've reached this ideal yet...but it IS what I generally strive for. That said, not all songs need monster grooves, so sometimes I have to put some concentration into to making my playing less rhythmic. (I guess by that last statement, I'm equating "rhythm" with "groove", which I believe is about 70% the case...you're welcome to disagree of course.)

 

Anyway, back to the point: what's your defining element?

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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I want to be the "rock". Solid, reliable, dependable, and consistant. If someone goes on a tangent then gets lost, I want to be there, ready for them grab a hold of and get back on track.

 

As far as playing by myself, which is most of the time, that element is still there, but the key is pure enjoyment and being in the moment. Sometimes, you can hit all the right notes at the right time and it's just dead. Other times you can be off but the bass is singing, I'll take that over technical perfection any day.

If you think my playing is bad, you should hear me sing!
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Well, Dave, of what I've heard from you so far, I'd say you're on track to being a groove master! :thu: You get a lot of groovy sounds that I don't think I could easily duplicate.

 

Originally posted by Dave Sisk:

the thing that makes you sound like you and only you?

Well, I pride (beware pride!) myself on trying to really understand a song and come up with something intelligent and interesting to listen to. In a way a musician's musician, as these are usually the people that pick up on what I'm doing.

 

In general, I try to avoid repeating myself as much as possible. I try to vary my lines. (Example: song is just A to G, over and over. I may play A to B then G, the next time A then E to G, the next time A then C# to D then G, etc.) To me it's like a conversation. "I like red. A deep crimson cloth wrinkled with dark black shadows. Candy apple red cars with a shiny high-gloss finish in the bright sun. The soft glow of embers in a campfire on a cold night." (As opposed to just: "I like red. I like red. I like red. I like red.") But of course, there's a time a place for everything.

 

In the last band I was in the drummer would jokingly ask me if I even knew what a whole note was. I thought he was dissing me until I pointed out later that I was using one in a new song and he said he was just messing with me. He confessed that he actually liked what I was doing.

 

Many years ago my (g****rist) friend and I brought a demo cassette (from a 4-track tape master!) to a manager. He made some comments that he liked the songs. Some time later he remembered that I had introduced myself as the bass player and suddenly asked "where's the bass?" I was taken aback at first, but later realized that he didn't hear what he thought the bass should sound like (probably a g****r player) :rolleyes: and had mistaken my part as another g****r. (The quality of the recording probably had something to do with it. Nothing ever came out of that meeting.)

 

Part of what makes me unique comes from playing trombone for many years. I hear (and play) a lot more middle than most bass players, I think. I can still play just the bottom if that's what the song needs (I played tuba, too). ;)

 

Then again, I'm used to playing in a trio where I need to fill out a lot of the sound. In larger ensembles I think I do play more conservatively.

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RBG:

 

Another great post from you. I really like the analogy to a conversation...very well put. And that leads naturally to the thought of "we can't all talk at the same time".

 

Another interesting note that you make is that your playing is influenced by other instruments you play (trombone and tuba). I'd have to say my playing is definitely influenced by my years of playing drums. For instance, if something needs a fill, or for some reason the bass line needs more notes for a section, I'm much more likely to make it rhythmically more complicated than melodically more complicated. So, you play your bass like a trombone, and I play mine like a drum kit (how's that for some imagery! :thu: )

 

And thanks for the kind comment...I have a LONG way to go before I'm where I want to be in terms of my bass playing.

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Not sure what defines me at this point, I guess it's the (hopefully tight) 8th and 16th notes and my backing vocals. Yes, I'm a wannabe Michael Anthony :cool:

 

People often tell me I'm good at what I do, but they never seem to specify what it is I do well :D Where I'd like to be? A lot groovier than I am now ... Working on that, but not enough.

 

I used to play rhythm guitar for 5 years (on and off) before I picked up a bass and I guess I still sort of play rhythm guitar on bass. No chords though, I'm not Lemmy :D

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

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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I'd like people to say;

"gee the guitar had a great tone" (when I play some simple roots),

"love how the keys created atmosphere" (when I play around with the polychords/walking lines that someone else has already written),

"it was really easy to sing that song", (ridiculously obvious lead-in lines)

"gee I like playing drums with you" (when I do the 'work' and the drummer can muck around)

 

I do get a kick out of the occasional groove -- but if you want that you'd probably give some other guy a call (and let me play percussion).

A man is not usually called upon to have an opinion of his own talents at all; he can very well go on improving them to the best of his ability without deciding on his own precise niche in the temple of Fame. -- C.S.Lewis
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I really hope the audience is never really aware of me, but that they thought the music moved them in their hearts and feets, and I had some part to play in that.

"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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I play in a trio where the guitar player is a drummer and the drummer is a guitar with each being equally good in different ways. The most comments that I get would be that we are "Tight" and that I am melodic. I think it is really hard to get a perception of your own playing.
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I don't know that I have a style that's going to evoke the audience to conciously react to how or what I'm specifically playing as part of a band. I guess about 8 years ago or so I started to conciously scale back the technical focus of my playing in an effort to come up with parts that best serve the song. I know that sounds cliche, but the way I look at it is that the audience comes to see a band or a featured performer, not just the bass player.

 

That being said, if I'm playing a blues/R&B gig, I want to convey as much of the emotional content as possible. I don't want to get in the way of an emotional vocal or solo. Instead I want to cradle it and nurture it with the drums and the other rhythm section players. And if the song is upbeat and funky? I want people shaking their asses! There's no greater compliment than to see the audience enjoying themselves that much.

 

As for my rock gigs? Same deal. It's about the songs. If someone can pick out my parts and they dig them, cool. But I want them to dig the band first and foremost.

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"My concern is, and I have to, uh, check with my accountant, that this might bump me into a higher, uh, tax..."

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Oh, finally remembered the 3rd anecdote I wanted to share earlier.

 

I was at a Stevie Ray Vaughan concert and overheard in the audience an older g****r player giving advice to a young bass player. Basically, he said to "just play a straight bass line, nothing fancy" (obviously a big fan of "less is more"). The understanding I got was that this guy was saying that every blues song should have the same bass line: root root 3rd 3rd 5th 5th 6th 5th (in straight 8ths). Every song? And why does the g****r get to play different leads on different songs? Does the drummer at least get a chance to change it up? It's already tough to make a blues song sound unique -- they're almost always a variation of a 12-bar blues -- I can't see playing the same bass line over and over all night. (If it doesn't drive the non-musician listener crazy, it would me!)

 

Well, I was there to hear a concert, not waste my breath on someone that obviously wouldn't listen to my opinion anyway, so I just ignored it.

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All audience reaction.

 

In a jazz situation, that means people smiling and checking out my hands, instead of grimacing like 'who the hell is this guy? I can play five times better than him?' (Let's face it; who sees local jazz groups other than other jazz musicians?)

 

In a rock situation, that means seeing the skirts in the front row swaying back and forth, bopping to the beat.

 

I have been told several times that my playing is melodic, and that to me is the greatest compliment I probably ever will receive. I'm a huge Jaco/Victor fan, and wish I could be anywhere near that level, but with barely any formal musical training (self-taught on bass and guitar, two semesters of 'piano for pleasure' in college) I know my theory is eons away.

 

So if I can play something halfway interesting, that fits the song and can have the audience appreciating the bass line (either by smile, toe-tap, or booty shake), I am a made man.

"Women and rhythm section first" -- JFP
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Originally posted by RicBassGuy:

Oh, finally remembered the 3rd anecdote I wanted to share earlier.

 

I was at a Stevie Ray Vaughan concert and overheard in the audience an older g****r player giving advice to a young bass player. Basically, he said to "just play a straight bass line, nothing fancy" (obviously a big fan of "less is more"). The understanding I got was that this guy was saying that every blues song should have the same bass line: root root 3rd 3rd 5th 5th 6th 5th (in straight 8ths). Every song? And why does the g****r get to play different leads on different songs? Does the drummer at least get a chance to change it up? It's already tough to make a blues song sound unique -- they're almost always a variation of a 12-bar blues -- I can't see playing the same bass line over and over all night. (If it doesn't drive the non-musician listener crazy, it would me!)

 

Well, I was there to hear a concert, not waste my breath on someone that obviously wouldn't listen to my opinion anyway, so I just ignored it.

Wow! Obviously the guy didn't even understand what he was listening to. Tommy Shannon is a hell of a bass player and his lines are not your standard I-IV-V.

 

It is truly shameful how many musicians go through their musical lives with blinders on.

Nothing is as it seems but everything is exactly what it is - B. Banzai

 

Life is what happens while you are busy playing in bands.

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I am a stickler for tone and overall feel. If the tone isn't happening, I'll tweak all night. It HAS to sound and feel right.. if not I tend to hold back, and things don't flow the way I want them to.

 

Personally I'm kinda at a loss why folks I have played with(particularly drummers)think I'm one of the best bass players they've ever worked with. I'm not technical or flashy in any sense of the word. I do not consider myself a soloist, even though most nights I get a couple verses on "Betty Lou"... Normally by myself I'm not too exciting to listen to... But... I've read a comment on a web page.."your bass player is exceptional"..(huh??).. The former drummer with my current band made the comment..."How refreshing.. a bass player who plays BASS PARTS.." There's a couple other drummers locally who would jump at the chance to play with me again.. I must be doing something right...lol

 

I have always told folks I'm only as good as the drummer I'm playing with... My strength is being able to listen and lock in.. I figure things this way...We are there to get people dancing.. and my role is to lock in and let my rig move some air.. This band has plenty of lead instruments, I don't need to be Jaco or Stanley.. My job in this band is very secure.....

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My sole mission is to NOT be noticed.

I love "invisible" bass players and, that's what I strive for. In my line of work, if somebody "notices" my playing....I'm doin' it wrong.

 

 

Fender Bass: $1100

Ampeg Tube DI: $600

Finding the invisible pocket: PRICELESS

"I don't play Bass..I play SONGS."
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Assist the drummer with time keeping and not making mistakes. That is what I strive for. If I can throw fills here or there, thats bonus.

 

Its my opinion as a lifelong listener/appreciator of music and a , in recent years, Bass player, that the role of the bass is to support the rest of the band.

"Some people are like "slinkies". They're not really good for anything;

but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a

flight of stairs."

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Emotion is the defining element I strive for in my bass playing. It's about being raw. If I can always play for real and without any inhibitions from the heart I always play best. Alcohol and drugs actually inhibit this, although for a long time I thought those made it easier.

"The world will still be turning when you've gone." - Black Sabbath

 

Band site: www.finespunmusic.com

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I work with 2 bands regularly, and sub often. My defining role is simply to be the invisible glue - tieing the rhythm section with the melodic instruments - with a dash of feel. BAMMM! Musical Gumbo!!

 

If people are dancing/singing along, and (at the end of the night) the other band members come up and say "Nice work", I've achieved that "defining element".

 

Jim

Jim

Confirmed RoscoeHead

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my defining element is:

 

Emotion, and the chill that u get from hearing that great bass line that just rumbles out at u, something that u can really move to.

 

something that's not neccessarily complex, but something that really sticks in your head.

 

example: bass line of "Newborn" by Muse.

 

pretty simple, but damn spot on!

 

also; the feeling that makes u wanna just jump around, hit the notes as hard as u can, scream, sing, break a string, or whatever it is that u do when u feel an emotion so intense, that u just wanna let it out. something that is cuased by music of course.

-BGO

 

5 words you should live by...

 

Music is its own reward

 

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

My Band: www.Myspace.com/audreyisanarcissist

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