How to work during drummer-bassist practice
First of all, Happy New Year! I wish you all health, joy and groovyness all around!
Now to the question: I found a drummer (itermediate to advanced) willing to make study/practice sessions with me (beginner to intermediate).
How do you organize such sessions? What do you work on? We're renting a studio for an hour session, so time is money (literally).
What are you trying to accomplish- a setlist for a specific gig, general practice..? Either way I'd say focus on weakness(es)
I would take turns working what each one of you wants to work on. You will both take each other to unfamilair territory and ways of thinking about stuff. It will both expose your weaknesses and develop new strenghts.
It's more of a general practice, no setlist nor group in project.
I have these books:
Steve Houghton, Tom Warrington
Essential Styles for the Drummer and Bassist: A Cross Section of Styles As Played by Today's Top Artists (volume One and Two)
I was thinking to take one style at a time, jam to it and get some variations in feel, intensity etc.
So the first thing to do would be to establish each others weaknesses?
You may want to work on a book together, there used to be some really good stuff for drums and bass, you can practice with the backing tracks by yourselves then work on the styles together, drums and bass. These books usually have a drum score, bass score with sometimes full notation or part notation to give the feel followed by a chord chart, along with some instruction on how to play the various grooves. I don't know whats available now days but books you could try doing a search for are; Latin grooves for drums and bass, Essential Styles by Tom Warrington and Steve Houghton, Contemporary Country Styles by Brian Fullen and Roy Vogt. I'm giving these as an example of what to look for, hopefully you will be able to find something that suits what you want to work on. Good luck.
Hi Belzebass, I was writing the reply while you posted, I worked through book one with a drummer and really enjoyed it. I still have book one which if I'm correct had a bigger cross section of styles and book two focused more on Latin grooves.
What to work on? Songs. Which ones? Now that is a good question. Pick a style. Which one? You two decide on one style for this month. If you need to keep going with that same style, after a month, no one is stopping you. Goal is not to end up knowing six songs. Goal is understand how to play any song in the style of music you two decided on.
Old Country is I IV V, all major keys. The time signature will be either 3/4 or 4/4. Why? People dance to Old Country music. Lead breaks are handled by the electric guitar or pedal steel. There will be a vocalist. What else should you learn about Old Country ......... and what techniques must you learn to play Old Country.
This is a great opportunity to work on various grooves without all the other instruments cluttering up the sound. Bossa, mambo, soca, reggae, dancehall, swing, shuffle, rock, country, etc. The book looks good.
Begin with harmonically simple examples of each, just two or three chords. That way you can hear how the bass and drums interact in each style. Listen for the strong essential beats and how they set up the syncopated off beats.
If your drummer is into examining each of the various styles, and is willing to slow them down, open them up, however you want to look at it - you can get a lot of work done in this setting.
Thanks for the replies.
The drummer and I decided to fix one style each week o work on, prepare it at home to use te studio time the most efficient way.
Now the book has mostly one basic drumming pattern and basic bass pattern associated with a style, no fills, no different song parts. How do you work to know te whole style better, and no just the parts writen out in the book? How do you learn to vary intensity/feel in a given style?
PS: I love those older books with only music score, no tabs. I forces me to work on my reading too.
There's so many things to do but try this:
Play Billie Jean completely straight, then play with accents (on the 1, then try 3, then try on the and of each beat on the hihat etc) on the drums and then on the bass and then together to see how this affects the sound of the groove. Even with this one groove there are many others to tease out of it. Some will work and some wont.
The other thing I would try is to play bass on, ahead and behind the beat with the drummer on the button. Then, if you can, get the drummer to do the same with you keeping dead time. You will need a metronome to do this. This may take a long time to perfect but this can be soooooo beneficial.
Example: A GREAT bass/drum book is Funkifying The Clave For Bass & Drums by Lincoln Goines/Robbie Ammeen.
Various Latin/Afro-Cuban styles & tumbaos are touched upon (Mozambique, Songo, Salsa, Merengue, etc)...then, listen to various artists playing within those styles.
One of the best bass/drum "exercises" I saw was at a clinic with Gary Grainger (bass) & Larry Bright (another Baltimore drummer similar to Dennis Chambers)...
the subject of displacement came up.
>First, they played a groove together.
>>Next, Grainger played the same groove (straight) while Bright displaced his groove (by an 1/8th note, IIRC).
>>>Then, Grainger displaced his groove while Bright went back to the staright groove.
>>>>Finally, both placed displaced grooves against each other.
Another thing to try-
See if you can move your bass figure into the backbeat...that is, if you're primarily playing something on/around beats 1 & 3...see if you can move it into/around beats 2 & 4.
Sometimes, a drummer's book (& drum machine) is helpful. I used to like taking a Clyde Stubblefield beat (1-2 bars worth) & ingrain a bass figure using his kick drum pattern (around Beats 1 & 3)...then I would try to ingrain a bass figure pattern using his snare pattern (around Beats 2 & 4).
If you get that far, try it live with a live drummer.
One more thing that a very skilled drummer used to throw at me-
He would play different time signatures over my standard 4/4 grooves...this will force YOU to keep yourself aware of Beat_1...do not depend on your drummer to keep you in your place!
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