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Branching out into new styles of music


EddiePlaysBass

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Lately I was a bit bored with the (mainly classic) rock that I always play. With that offer from the funky drummer came a chance to "branch out into a new style of music", namely funk.

 

So after a few days of hunting down some funky tracks and tabs (yes yes, tabs are evil) I got around to playing some funk today ... It was a lesson in humility, to say the least.

 

I started off with James Brown's The Big Payback. Two notes, eight minutes. And it was hard !!!!! BTW, I disregarded most of the tabs, and rather listened to the record and / or improvised around the root.

 

This made me realise that whilst I'm good in the classic rock department (mind you, not great), I am nowhere in the funk/soul/R&B league.

 

Rather than get depressed about it, this has sparked my interest again, not just in the genre but also in the instrument, because the past few days I hardly even looked at my bass :cry:

 

Come Wednesday, I'll be hunting down more James Brown, George Clinton & all his bands and some other stuff that you guys will undoubtedly recommend :thu:

 

So, anyone else done this ? Take a style completely different to what you normally play, just to sparkle the flame again?

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

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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Eddie:

 

Absolutely so! In fact, one of the things I love doing is taking some old tune in a completely different genre, and redo-ing it to whatever current genre I'm into. (I recall that in a previous metal band I was in many years ago, we took Tone Loc's Funky Cold Medina, a rap song, and redid it as a short metal instrumental...audiences absolutely loved it.)

 

For funk, I'm going to suggest some things that have been suggested to me. Go buy something by Tower of Power (bassist Rocco Prestia)...in particular take a listen to "What is Hip?", "Oakland Stroke", and "Squib Cakes". Also, check out some old Sly and the Family Stone (Larry Graham). In particular, take a listen to "Thank you Faletinme Be Mice Elf Agin", and ??? (the booty song...can't remember the exact title). Maybe some Bootsy Collins is in your future too...one of my favs is "Playing in a Rubber Band" (I think that's the right title). He's known for some pretty over-the-top envelope filter use...

 

One other thing...I noticed on another thread you talked about keeping solid 8th note and 16th note bass lines (you'll love all the 16th's you'll hear Rocco Prestia doing!), but don't forget about quarter notes either. Sometimes, taking a song with 8th's and changing it to quarter notes, you add a really nice "pulse" to the song, plus it's easier to consciously concentrate on where you're placing your notes (ahead of, behind, or right on the so-called beat) with a quarter-note pulse type thing happening. Try moving the timing around just ever so slightly (like in a 64th note value or so), and listen to what effect it has. (This is definitely one of those cases where less is more.) And don't forget to try other things, like off-beat 8th notes (take a listen to Sly and the Family Stone's "Everyday People"...you may have already heard it, it was the Toyota song a few years back here in the US).

 

Many of the songs we do in church have straight 8th's as the bass line...don't know about you, but boy I get sick of chunking away on 8th's. Just as there are chord progressions that are commonly used, there are also rhythm expressions that are commonly used. I like to break out of those into something more rhythmically interesting, where it can be done tastefully. If you start listening to some funk, you'll definitely get some exposure to what a dose of rhythm can do to an otherwise very simple bass line!

 

Enjoy!

Dave

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

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Got bored with the classic rock thing myself. Two efforts at forming a band fell apart (apparently "practice" is a bad word), so I started noodling around with some jazz. Started working on some walking lines and I'm having a blast. I figure in a couple of months, I may be able to fake it well enought to see about hooking up with a couple of the local jazz keyboard/sax duos that play the local wineries and sit in for a couple of one nighters.

 

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

 

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Getting back with my JB's stuff is something I need to do again. I think I'm in a better mindset to learn from it now than I was when I was listening to it heavy. Drugs, I tell ya. I'm glad my 20's are over, too.

 

Learning where to put the space is something I really want to explore to its fullest right now. Its where the funk is. The super16th note style is something that came alot easier to me than the really "simple" greasy stuff like Bootsy,Graham, and Fred Thomas. I should pull out some Earth, Wind, and Fire, too. I think I just got the Wind and Fire last time.

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Originally posted by DONUT:

Learning where to put the space is something I really want to explore to its fullest right now. Its where the funk is.

yeah! what he said!

for more funk besides the big names try out the funk spectrum series from BBE music .

especially the first one in the series is really really really good!! (just look at the reviews on amazon). Compiled by Josh Davis (aka dj Shadow) and Keb Darge (he da man!).

 

if you wanna see something live: the new mastersounds are playing in het Depot in Leuven on the 30th of October AND Keb Darge will be disc-jokeying his vinyls afterwards!

 

i saw the new mastersounds 2 years ago and they had to come back 3 times on stage because the public wanted more more more!

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Originally posted by ATM:

Yeah, next month my guitarist and I want to branch out into music that other people will actually want to hear. Cross your fingers! :D

 

ATM

ROTFLMAO! That's so funny but so true. Early in my band days, we spent so much time trying to pick covers that we thought "people" would like and write songs that we thought "people" would like. Well, after a few years of this I starting taking the exact opposite approach...writing material that I like. I found that some of that material everyone in the band liked. So we took those ideas, riffs, grooves, whatever, and turned those into our songs. We finally took the mindset of "we don't care if anyone else likes this music, because we like it". I guess it showed in our playing, because we then had better response than we had ever had. Around that time we were all getting married, buying houses, having kids, etc., so needless to say one turning point was quickly followed by another, and things fizzled out. I really like the group Evanescence but I just get sick when I hear them because that's roughly the sound we were starting to have (albeit a little more raw and edgy) 10 years before I even heard of Evanescence. And that, my friend, is how the cookie crumbles.

 

Dave

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

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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The only way to expand your learning curve is to venture into other genres or styles. Luckily I was classically trained on piano between the ages of 5 and 19, first in Suzuki and then a private instructor. So when I picked up strings at the age of 14, bass playing was all about the deep-hook funk groove. If you can stomach playing some funk for 6 months and take it to your classic rock gig, well my friend I assume you've heard of Mike Trujillo. It's always the dudes who dig a little deeper into their instrument, and really check out history, and factual theory that come up with there own kick *ss sound. Just a thought. Keep on rockin'.

 

Pisces out!

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Thanks for the replies so far :thu: Keep 'em coming, there are some interesting posts here !!!

 

Dave Sisk, thanks for your recommendations ! I had 1 T.O.P. cd already (entitled TOP :rolleyes: ) and I remembered JeremyC saying something about the live version of What Is Hip so I bought T.O.P.'s live album today. What I've heard so far absolutely BLEW me away !!!! PS: I love Evanescence :D

 

John W, thanks for pointing me in the direction of the James Brown box set. Looks interesting, so I'm saving up a bit to buy that one. And Maceo Parker, seen that name before ... Will check him (her?) out as well :thu:

 

cloclo, my Belgian brother, I should have known that you'd be able to recommend me some good stuff :) Don't you play in a funk/r&b/hip hop kind of band? I should check to see if and when you guys play somewhere close to home ;) I'll definitely check out those discs (are they available through Fnac, Freerecordshop or Bilbo?)

 

Cheers,

 

Eddie

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

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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Funk, for me, is all about the Meters. From Workin' In the Coal Mine through thier work with Dr. John and then as the Funky Meters, George Porter Jr. is the ultimate in playing what NEEDS to be played to be funky. You will hear these 3 words a lot in funk. SPACE TIME TONE this should be a funksters mantra.

 

Space: play that downbeat nice and fat, then leave a big gap for snare, hat, guitar to fill in, then drop another big note and wait again.

 

Time: First, very consistently hitting ON the beat, then as you get better, try pulling or pushing the beat in concert with the drummer.

 

Tone: Explains itself, but I find that when playing just 1 or 2 notes per mesure getting a super fat tone is critical. Luckily you have time to pluck a good note and reset for the next good pluck. In funk that I play very often my bass is the only sound from the band during my note, so make em count.

Never follow children, animals or Hare Krishnas!!
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Eddie, I'll forgive you your comments regarding Maceo Parker.

Mr. Maceo Parker. :)

 

One of my favorite musicians of all time.

 

One of the funkiest people on the planet.

 

From James Brown/The JBs etc. to Parliament to De La Soul and beyond, this is a serious cat. For real.

 

I'd throw a list of his work at ya, but we'd be here a while... (see also Fred Wesley) :)

 

And I will echo the statements above:

To me, a big part of playing funk is knowing where to not put the note, and making the space for the groove.

 

Keep it stinky.

 

Also, check out the Rhino "Best of Funk" collection. I like the first 3 discs best.

 

 

Oh, and to topic, I have been changing it up for years. When in a rock band, I'll learn country or classical. In a funky band, I'd sit down to practice with "World Beat" music, reggae, calypso, whatever.

It will definitely inform your playing, throw some light into those dark corners where your skills really lurk.

And it's fun, too.

 

Currently, I am working on a bass etude, for lack of a better name. It's actually a 5 part bass piece at the moment, but we'll see where it goes...

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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OMG, I soooo forgot about the Meters !!!! *shame*

 

wraub, if I remember correctly, Maceo Parker is usually classified under the jazz category, therefore I was surprised to find out he ( :D ) is funky :)

 

Then again, most of the funky stuff (all of it, actually) is classified under R&B ... And so is soul, hip hop and any other related genre you can think of ...

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

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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As for a Jazz heading, that's just because Maceo's got range, baby. :D

Jazz, funk, kid's music, he could do it all.

 

A nice guy, too. I think I may have a pic of me and Maceo somewhere, actually. :)

I know I have one with George from the Meters.

 

There is no funk without the Meters.

 

And you are right,if it has any kind of beat at all, it usually gets labelled R&B.

I've seen entire stores in Brooklyn filled with "dance music", which is another rather broad apellation.

But it is Brooklyn, after all.

It's just one big rythmic stew anyway.

I dig it.

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sorry, I did bend the topic a bit didn't I. More on topic, I'm currently bending by notions of music by working on tumbao. The idea of playing bass and rarely if ever starting a note on the downbeat of 1 is twisting my brain for sure. Reggae, jazz, bluegrass, funk, latin (of many flavors) all really open up your palette for your original work.
Never follow children, animals or Hare Krishnas!!
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The more I think about it, the more it's starting to itch to just forget about the whole classic rock scene and start a funky band. My dad COULD pull it off, vocally, and I know at least one drummer who would qualify AND be willing to participate ...

 

I'd just need a guitar player, a horn section and some backing singers. Oh and a sh*tload of bass lessons to get the hang of it all :D But seriously, one of these days (and it might be sooner than even I expect) it'll happen. Here in Belgium it's a safe bet !!!!

 

You see, EVERYONE here plays classic rock (except for cloclo :D ) and they all play the SAME classic rock :D If I'd bring the funk to a bar, people would undoubtedly dig it. I let my mom hear "Soul With A Capitol S" by TOP and she LOVED it. Wanted to dance immediately. And mom hates music, so that IS a reference ... :D

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

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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The past year I've fallen in love with my local jazz station, WBGO-FM ( CLICK HERE to listen - RealPlayer required)

Mostly listen to the older classic jazz but also to the "blues hour" they have in the afternoon. (more like the evening for you) They have a wide range of jazz (from big band through "crooners" through bebop and Latin and fusion) so it's not always the same material. Some of this stuff may intimidate you more, but I assure you it's healthy for the mind and eventually the spirit, and someday, somehow, you may make a transition. And you'll find when you return to the "usual" music you'll be energized and maybe inspired to take a jazz riff and insert it into a rock piece.

I compare the process to reading good literature now and then instead of just newspapers and popular bestsellers. Just like the body, the mind needs to be fed healthy things so it can stay young and perform for you. Incidentally I don't want to come off as a jazz snob because I also make aural forays into classical, traditional, folk and new age music...

...and I can still rock when the moment calls for it... :wave:

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Originally posted by EddiePlaysBass:

I'd just need a guitar player, a horn section and some backing singers.

 

You see, EVERYONE here plays classic rock (except for cloclo :D ) and they all play the SAME classic rock :D If I'd bring the funk to a bar, people would undoubtedly dig it. I let my mom hear "Soul With A Capitol S" by TOP and she LOVED it. Wanted to dance immediately. And mom hates music, so that IS a reference ... :D

a good horn section can be absolute bliss! they are hard to find though. and they always seem to drink a lot :D;)

 

everyone plays classic rock? hmm, let me check that right here

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Originally posted by EddiePlaysBass:

cloclo, my Belgian brother, I should have known that you'd be able to recommend me some good stuff :) Don't you play in a funk/r&b/hip hop kind of band? I should check to see if and when you guys play somewhere close to home ;) I'll definitely check out those discs (are they available through Fnac, Freerecordshop or Bilbo?)

errm, i do not remember, i've had it for quite a while now. BBE is quite a famous label. most should be able to order it i think.
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As with any new style of music that you branch out into, I would suggest that you listen to as much of it as possible! Listen, steal, borrow, take, whatever ideas and lines from the music. Listen to how the bass interacts with the drummer. Listen to how the bass and the rest of the instruments interact. Listen to it so much that it becomes a part of you and you can do it without thinking about it.
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"Most musicians I know here in Belgium play in a classic rock band ... Except for you Not sure what A Head With Wings does."

 

Our band is 15 drummers/percussionists and 1 bassplayer. Starting point is African rhythms, but we use and mix them in a way to create something with a more Afro-american ambience (funk, blues). We get flamed by purists of both sides. We are now working on a piece that will have bass § drum, hiphop and freejazz thrown together. That will teach them!

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