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Playing fast...


Gimmegroove

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Ok, so I consider myself to be a pretty good bassist, meaning I like my own playing. But the concept of playing fast simply eludes. Not that I can only play quarter-notes in 60 BPM, but I always end up laying back and just hitting the root firmly, and fill in where necessary..

 

My current fascination with slow singer/songwriter music isn't making it any better either..

 

So I've come to conclude that I don't really need to be playing that fast anyway, so I'm all around happy :)

 

(This thread was - as you may have figured out - by an unemployed person)

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Ibanez SR3005 into a Mesa WalkAbout head with a Mesa 2x10 Powerhouse

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Hehe.. Well, I made the thread mostly out of boredom, but.. I think a lot of players consider playing fast to be the holy grail in musical practice. I just don't feel the same way. Music is it's own master, and the music I've played so far in my life just hasn't called for fast playing...

Current set-up:

 

Ibanez SR3005 into a Mesa WalkAbout head with a Mesa 2x10 Powerhouse

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Well, I guess my old illusions from youth haunting me. Hehe, well, they don't really haunt me anymore. But I just meet a lot of musicians who see it as an important thing. For example, a guitarist I know.. He can play the fastest Dream Theater solos and all, but he is totally deprived of musical feeling...

Current set-up:

 

Ibanez SR3005 into a Mesa WalkAbout head with a Mesa 2x10 Powerhouse

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Your friend may not be deprived of musical feeling it may be that his feeling is developed at the other end of the spectrum from yours. It could be argued that there is no musicality in playing long slow whole root notes.

 

I think the best analogy for music is to think of it as spoken language, at times we need to whisper, at times we need to shout, at times one word can summarise a feeling and other topics require long explanation, the bottom line is that we develop full use of language skills (often multi lingual) so we can best communicate our desires.

 

I equate learning only to play slow with only deciding to use four letter words when talking. The ability to communicate is severely limited if you take this approach. My preference would be to be able to play as fast as I like and as slow as I like. I have found that it takes a lot more practice and study to develop the fast facility.

 

It all boils down to personal taste and choice.

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I would have to agree with SeamyD on this one...I've made the choice to develop a good level of versatility, AND I like to build contrast in music. Often, I might do some sparse part (whole notes, or some muted sparse riff), then follow that with a busy part that builds on the same groove, etc.

 

Fast for the sake of fast isn't "musical" in my opinion. But, fast for the sake of the groove IS musical...take a listen to Tower of Power's Rocco Prestia...talk about 16th notes that are very musical and has great groove!

 

However, all this is just my opinion and how I approach the bass. Do what you feel matches your style the best...that's what it's all about.

 

Hi Bunny...good to see (read?) ya...didn't know you were also a bassist. I occasionally play with a pick, but I've put a lot of work into mastering 4-finger picking, ghosted rakes, etc., so I don't HAVE to play faster parts with a pick to get a clean, staccato sound with lots of attack. In fact, sometime this week (if I keep practicing) I'm hoping to hit a new milestone: straight sixteenths at 150 bpm, done neatly and staccato.

 

Dave

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

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Ok, you may have misunderstood what I said about my own ability to play fast. I have no problem, physically, playing fast things, meaning I used to practice all this Victor Wooten-y stuff and the likes. But through the years, I've never needed it much from a purely band-oriented musical position.

Current set-up:

 

Ibanez SR3005 into a Mesa WalkAbout head with a Mesa 2x10 Powerhouse

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Playing a tastey groove in the pocket, is the holy grail for bassists, in my opinion.

 

That having been said...

 

If you want to master the technique of playing 16th notes, 'Come On Come Over' from Jaco's first album is a great place to start. It's a super tastey R&B groove, which just happens to involve a nice 16th note line.

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Dream Theater is a benchmark I've had no interest in attaining. Playing that fast just isn't a priority for me.

 

I'll second "Come On, Come Over" as a good suggestion, because it requires time, technique, tone, taste and feel. It's not enough to play those 16ths in the right spot with the right articulation. It's gotta groove like a mofo as well.

 

Concentrate on tunes that are just a little bit past your current technical level...rather than ones that are so far beyond that you get frustrated. Incremental improvement always wins out over trying to force yourself to tackle something too hard.

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Originally posted by Gimmegroove:

...I used to practice all this Victor Wooten-y stuff and the likes...

Have a listen to some more song-oriented yet busy playing - James Jamerson is the king of this, but there's loads of great examples from JPJ with Led Zeppelin through Tommy Cogbill, Mike Leech, Jerry Jemmott, Willie Weeks et al. on numerous '60s and '70s soul records (Son of a Preacher Man is a great example and was recently transcribed in BP), right through to Family Man with Bob Marley & The Wailers.

 

And if you absorb all that and still play 'slow' all the time, then you'll know that you're one of those sought after bassists that makes it happen with far fewer notes than most.

 

Personally, I think it's much harder to come up with a great bassline when the songs demands simplicity.

 

Alex

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I've played in several blues bands, and there is one place in a typical I/IV/V blues bassline where 16th notes sound very tastey, when thrown in occasionally. And that's on the climb up from the I to the IV chord.

 

So, for me at least, playing 16th notes sounds best when used sparingly. Less is more, as is the case with many types of ornamentation.

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I think playing fast, but clean do take skill, but sitting in the pocket and laying down a groove is an art.

I can do a whole gig and never play anything that I would consider fast, I can if needed but it is rare that it is needed. I think every bassist should be able to play fast when needed, if for nothing more than to play some of those slick licks with the guitarist. I find that it is hard for some musicians to groove; some of them want to show what they can do so bad that they forget the groove. I heard a band this St. Patricks Day the bassist was limited as far as his playing, but he did what the music called for, and they sound great. What did he do? He sat in the pocket I also find that laying down a strong groove helps keep the drummer in check, they can't help but groove with you.

If you smell something stinking, it's juz me, I'm funky like that
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Again, it's not because I can't.. I play "Come On, Come Over" on a regular basis, as well as Jamerson stuff and Family Man stuff. And yet again, what I meant is that I dislike it when speed becomes a criteria for how "good" a musician is. Meaning basically that bands like (please don't flame me) Dream Theater are rather off the point IMO.

Current set-up:

 

Ibanez SR3005 into a Mesa WalkAbout head with a Mesa 2x10 Powerhouse

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Originally posted by Gimmegroove:

I meant is that I dislike it when speed becomes a criteria for how "good" a musician is. IMO.

I hear you bro I feel the same when it comes to slap. Ppl tend to not hear the melodic stuff, but focus on whether I can slap. I truly understand you.
If you smell something stinking, it's juz me, I'm funky like that
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Originally posted by Gimmegroove:

Again, it's not because I can't.

Yes, we know.

 

Originally posted by Gimmegroove:

I play "Come On, Come Over" on a regular basis, as well as Jamerson stuff and Family Man stuff.

So is the 'problem' that you can play these 'fast' basslines but can't think of your own original 'fast' basslines? Because that's what this implies:

 

Originally posted by Gimmegroove:

But the concept of playing fast simply eludes. Not that I can only play quarter-notes in 60 BPM, but I always end up laying back and just hitting the root firmly, and fill in where necessary..

This approach is usually a reliable one. It doesn't mean it's always the best. Sometimes a more intricate bassline that contributes via hooks, counter-melodies and expressive rhythms, can give much more to a song than a simpler bassline with or without fills.

 

Originally posted by Gimmegroove:

And yet again, what I meant is that I dislike it when speed becomes a criteria for how "good" a musician is.

But the wise know that it's a foolish criteria, particularly amongst bass players. If you care about what the fools think, why are you playing bass? It's just a guitar for luddites that can handle neither chords nor solos, let alone those extra strings...

 

Alex

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Well, I think everyone has pretty much covered my point...but IMO it's all about expression. No two people express themselves EXACTLY the same way. Music is a form of expression. Somefolks can express themselves very well with 32nd notes and fingers flying all over the place. On the other hand, some of the absolute best musicians I've ever seen weren't so because of their amazing technical abilities, but because they honestly felt each note they expressed (notice I didn't say "played"). If you express yourself with slower, more deliberate phrasing, etc...it aint wrong! It's just how you express yourself!

Love God...Love People!

 

 

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Well, thanks for all the replies... I didn't mean for it all to go so far, but fair enough, it's always good with a little music philosophy in the morning. I guess what tipped me off was a jam-session I attended last week, where a bassist I know, who can't get a band for the life of him, started showing off with slap and speed playing like his hands and bass were on fire... Thing is, he drowned out the rest of the band.. And what actually surprised me was that a lot of people saw it as a WOW-thing... So it basically seemed like an attempt to dazzle the unknowing listener.. Just didn't feel like very generous art..

Current set-up:

 

Ibanez SR3005 into a Mesa WalkAbout head with a Mesa 2x10 Powerhouse

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Me and my band mates write our songs between 180 and 210 (with the exception of 1 song that the metronome is peaked out at 250). I play with a pick and with my fingers. One thing I've come to learn about picking as fast as my guitar players is that some of the lower bass frequencies are lost because of the recoiling of the speaker. The lower notes simply don't get a chance to breathe when I match the guitars note for note so sometimes I have to play half time to get that fullness in there.

 

So for bass, sometimes slower is better.

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Gimmegroove,

I hate that sort of thing. One thing that annoys me about people and music is that people always seem to have to make it into a contest of some sort. "OOH, such and such plays a lot faster than so and so." I really wish people would begin to grip the idea that music is an art...not a competition. So when players (not musicians)get in front of people, they think they have to dazzle everybody with their flying chops instead of speaking to their souls and spirits through quality musicianship. I'd anyday rather hear a well constructed bassline with quality hooks and groove than flying Billy Sheehan bass solos. Again, I think if we are true musicians, we need to develop all the technique we can muster to provide those quality lines. But to me, it's oatmeal to get on a stage and fly around on the neck with no musicianship whatsoever. It's a smokescreen for bad musicianship.

Sorry for the rant..

*Climbs down from soapbox*

Love God...Love People!

 

 

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Hehe, seems I have a brother in arms here in Carpede.. Good thing. The thing is, it doesn't really bother me that people play fast and without any real content, it usually means they just don't get jobs (like the aforementioned bassist). What bothers me is hearing people raise said musicians to the skies..

Current set-up:

 

Ibanez SR3005 into a Mesa WalkAbout head with a Mesa 2x10 Powerhouse

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

You don't have to play fast, until you have to play "What is hip" on a gig.

I've played in a band that played that song by TP it is a simple song, but it is work. We always did it at the end of a set. I think they were trying to give me break.
If you smell something stinking, it's juz me, I'm funky like that
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I like to play because my soul vibrates at a faster rate, not because I'm trying to be hot shit.

 

Playing faster feels right to me just like tuning to anything lower than the standard BEADG feels right...just my personal expression. :thu:

 

I think the point of playing bass is to be solid no matter the speed.

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I can play a string of 64th note rests that will knock your socks off!

You can stop now -jeremyc

STOP QUOTING EVERY THING I SAY!!! -Bass_god_offspring

lug, you should add that statement to you signature.-Tenstrum

I'm not sure any argument can top lug's. - Sweet Willie

 

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