Bass Rut - Need Help
Hey all. I've been playing bass for a little more than two years and don't feel like I'm progressing very much right now. I've come very far in that time, have played a few small live shows, have experimented with writing/recording my own little weird songs. I've learned a lot about music and music theory - I know scales, arpeggios, modes, voice leading, etc... I can sight read well enough and can look at a chord sheet and follow through the changes well enough in... I dunno, its not walking bass, buts its not just roots/fifths... its whatever I'm doing I guess.
Regardless, as stated above, I don't feel like I'm progressing much at all right now and I would like some input as to what I can do to help further my musical progression. Thanks! :help: :bassist:
Stop learning about all the technical aspects of music for a little while and just close your eyes and play what feels good on your fingers without thinking about anything. Does a body good. Maybe drink two or three beers if you're old enough and get a little loose about it.
The way I see it, anyone can learn chords, scales, modes, etc. Its like learning chemistry or how to write a sentence. But some people, including some of the most insanely talented musicians I know, stop there and never put the books and sheet music down and just play something sad when their sad and happy when they're happy without worrying about whether it's "right." In my opinion if your head isn't bobbing or body swaying then your not doing it right.
First of all, it isn't actually a "bass rut". It's a music rut. The paradigm you've chosen to define your problem actually illustrates a good part of the origin - and the nature - of that problem.
BooshBass is 100% correct: You've learned quite a bit of musical "vocabulary". But what is it that you would like to actually say with that vocabulary? :eyebrow:
Mastering the concepts of music theory without any notion of what you wish to express with your music, is like mastering the English language - devoid of any inspiration, vision, passion, or point of view. It qualifies you to write elegantly-stated gibberish that nobody will ever want to read.
How do you progress to the next stage? Depends. What is "the next stage" for you? What is it exactly that you would like to accomplish, musically speaking? What prompted you to get into it in the first place?
Start to answer these questions, and you will begin to receive the answers for yourself.
Sounds like you need to join a band, learn a bunch of songs, and perform. Regularly playing with other musicians will provide positive incentive to apply what you're learning. You might also get a teacher for external evaluation / reinforcement.
Thanks for the responses all!
Again, thanks for the comments!
There is nothing more boring than to study theory without application. You've got to be SUPER motivated to do this alone, and the motivation very quickly runs dry without being able to experience what you're learning in context of MUSIC played with other people. Rather than start a band, why not join a project that is already in motion to leverage the theory more quickly? If you're a student, there should be a local supply of bands that need a bassist...
I like to plug in the MP3 player, put it on shuffle, and learn whatever pops up. I'll work through the song, and then once I have it down, move on to the next one. This has a number of positive benefits:
1) It will help train your ear and get you good a picking up material that is foreign to you, fast.
2) It will get you out of your own head and into the heads of other musicians. Instead of doing you, you'll be doing them. And this will give you some different perspectives on the approach to your own music and the instrument that you might not have come to on your own.
Yes id day that is more or less what I mean. If your eyebrows are furled and it's not because you're playing a nasty groove, then you're probably not having very much fun. Bass playing is fun not work. Sure, it's great and important to learn theory, which I haven't because it's about as fun as learning math, but it's not even remotely close to everything.
The post immediately before this one has a great suggestion with playing along with songs, but I'll do it one better in my opinion and instead of learning the songs just find a few songs that have long jams and jam along with it. Or even just play along with a song and add your own second bass line to it. I used to do this with really long grateful dead and phish jams. I know that wouldn't necessarily be a lot of people's thing, but it is a huge reason why I can lay down decent grooves with knowing very little theory.
BTW, I didn't realize that you haven't even played music with other players yet. You are just beginning your journey, young Skywalker. :smug:
Back "in the day", when I was first learning to play, I often had a lot of excess time on my hands during the summer. I'd get stoned, turn on my local AOR rock radio station, plug in my '66 Precision Bass, and proceed to play along with any song that came over the speakers (i.e. Boston, Foghat, ZZ Top, The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, The Edgar Winter Group, Savoy Brown, Robin Trower, etc.), for the next 8-10 hours straight (minus breaks to refresh my head, etc.). These days people refer to it as "classic rock". But at the time, we had no idea it would become classic. We just called it "rock".
With tunes that I already knew, I'd just groove along with the recorded bass part, and have fun with it. But the point was to see how quickly I could pick up the bass part (or at least a compatible part) of music that I had never heard before. After awhile I became quite good at it, and would pride myself on being able to grasp the basic structure, chord progression, and rhythm of the piece by the end of the first chorus (minus the bridge, if any) - roughly of course, and not without mistakes - but well enough to actually improvise on it by the end of the song.
The conventions of classic rock are pretty standard, so that helped to simplify things and make the process easier, so I was often able to anticipate what the next change(s) would be, and guess correctly - thereby developing something of a musical instinct. It was fantastic ear training that has helped me greatly to this very day. Not to mention a lot of fun for a music nerd like moi. :smug:
The problem with finding a local band that's already doing something is that my only exposure to people right now is at school and the only person I know of that I like and who has interest in doing a music is my guitar-playing friend, so we'll see how that works. I also think I'd rather start something where we can do whatever we want than for me to join something else and thus probably not have the same input. Just the way I am, I guess.
As far as the recommendation to learning songs or jamming out, I kind of do that already - I often find myself playing along to RHCP, usually live songs, and I never really know what the actual base line is, and I usually dont know the actual key or chord progression, so I'll just sort of play over the music. I think I should try and make an actual practice out of this? Like spend an hour or 30 minutes a day or whatever playing along to some live music and figure out the chord progression and just kind of act as a second bass player?
Learn songs and learn them for what they are before you change them, or you are not learning why those songs work, and use what you learn from them and apply them to your knowledge.
You are young, you are busy, you have distractions, you have excuses....don't sweat it your time will come, but come on...if you have' limited time or access to musicians then the little you have at least do it right and as fully as you can.:)
Also doing this absolutely teaches how the song works. Maybe not rigidly as in A B C D... but you'll certainly get the feeling out of it.
Sitting there and doing the boring work of learning all the chords and stuff is important to, but it seems like you already do that. My impression was this thread was about somehow being inspired in a new light.
As for you practicing for 30 minutes or an hour and so on, I think the structure is good in some ways and bad in others. Leaving the rigidly structured approach to learning bass I think is a first step in coming up with new things.
By your responses it sounds like you're extremely motivated and will become awesone at bass
What ends a rut is new thinking and application of the understanding of the new thinking.
So the player jams along with the RHCP how does he recognise what is worth working on and what is not, how does he judge the worth of what he is hearing? What he will do is play what he recognises, so he is playing what he knows, again he is not learning just prolonging the realisation that he is still not learning any thing new........he is in effect setting questions he knows he can answer.
But its his time and he can waste in any way he sees fit as he is young and allowed to do so.;)
Here is the thing, a rut, or disatisfaction is a mental issue, not a playing issue, it happens in all walks of life from work, to relationships, to just life itself.
What gets over it is a better mental attitude, not better playing, this applies in all playing ruts.......:)
You may not be interested in this but its just a thought. When I pick up a bass and play the same thing over and over in different forms I just stop playing bass for a little bit and work on something else. Messing around on the harmonica is something I enjoy when I start to get frustrated with my bass playing. I'm starting to try to learn how to make effects pedals, and eventually will probably start making basses when I can get the tools. Still music oriented, just in a different way. Doesn't have to be for long.
Speaking of effects, if you haven't already done so, maybe thrown on like an overdrive, envelope filter, chorus, or something - they often make a player play differently including myself. Might open some doors for you, maybe not if you want to be pure. I don't see the harm though.
No point in forcing being an awesome bass player if it's making you frustrated. Bass is not going anywhere - it will always be there to be your best friend, and if you don't stop for good you won't get worse.
Here is how it works in basic form, most players left to their own devices only learn what is familier to them, if they look at it in a deeper way they will see common links to why they like and learn what they do, it is the same information but just rearranged.
Now i am not here to preach to anyone, but i see a lot of time being wasted by young players going down dead ends, doing things or looking as so called musical approaches that are not.....but it is their time..... and we really learn better from mistakes, making mistakes is good, it reinforces what we do not want to do.
Play a line great and that is it, you play it a thousand times great and you learn nothing, play it bad once and you learn more from that one performance than you did from the thousand great ones, and you learn a different lesson.
So what is a C chord ? If you know that then playing it slap does not teach you anything else, nor does playing it with any effect, nor does playing it in any time sig, or any genre.
Nor does playing it on a different instrument, or on a different bass, or in a different band, you learn no more information about a C Chord than you already know.....this is the foundation of dissatisfaction, this gets you feeling you are lacking, this demotivates you, makes you question yourself and ultimately start thinking about what you do and is it worth it.....now you have a rut forming.
Now i can speak from experience, not from being in a rut, but for taking players out of them and that is done by changing their thinking, so changing their learning process, this means feeling un-comfortable and a bit out of their depth or right out their comfort zone.
Now they cannot think about anything other than learning the task in front of them, so no more time for negative thoughts because a positive new task needs the attention.
Sure we can doubt ourselves and feel we may never do it, but all that is is an overwhelming feeling, trying to much to fast.
As a player and as a teacher i share this burden and together we get through it, as should other player/teacher relationships should do. We break it down together in to small parts and slowly build it in to something bigger, but it is not a single player job, it takes more than one perspective in thinking to make it work.
So recognising it within your playing is one thing, being comfortable with it is another, a player should always be comfortable in their playing skin, do not base your worth on what others do, base it on not how you think of yourself, but what you believe in yourself.
When push comes to shove it will be what you believe you are.......... that will always win over what you think you are...........
Shakespeare wrote, in Measure for measure,
“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”
Even though written centuries ago, it is a truth observed then as is now, that many just fear the act of trying, not fear the result of it.....and so it is with learning, they feel failure is not worth it, but as i have said "we learn more and better from failure than we do from success" as it makes us have to look deeper in to ourselves, and not only do some do not like what they find, they will not confront it till it confronts them.
But that is usually not their choice, so they cannot control its consequences and choke on what comes out.
Enough philosophy for one night and just changing thinking by having another opinion does wonders.:)
^^^ listen to this guy, haha. he obviously knows what he's talking about.
But don't turn into a robot who has music theory implanted into him. Sometimes something played in one key is far more interesting than something that has many switches. And sometimes how something is played is far more important that how much you need to know to play it. I think sometimes some people loose sight of that in an effort to just know all the modes as opposed to knowing how to really put all you have on the table.
I guess that's what I was trying to say with my first post.
I was actually going to suggest checking out a band in a genre you're not all that comfortable with, that would definitely teach you a few new tricks. Obviously don't join a band whose music you hate, but you know, if you're into classic rock, try out an alt-rock band instead.
Easier said than done sometimes, of course, but in any major centre there's usually a number of bands looking for a bassist.
Try learning a song that isn't a bass song, on the bass.
Try learning a really, really simple song but make it your own, do something unique with the sound of it, rather than your chops.
Make a sound that you don't think of as coming from a bass. I did a part for a song one time that I tried as hard as I could to make sound like moog pedals. I had to get all the click and clack out of the note attack. Very valuable exercise.
Above all, remember that you have your whole life to do this. You're just momentarily confused and lost, and you'll find your way again. You have a huge resource I didn't at 17, so you could conceivably find a band and even record music with them without ever seeing them in person.
|All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:01 PM.|
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.12
Copyright ©2000 - 2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.