Is there a downside to playing along with recorded music?
The thought struck me last night, and I can't think of any specific reason where this would not be beneficial - it can develop timing, intonation, confidence, reading ability, perhaps expression to a lesser extent? How many in here actually do this and, if any, what do you think is the downside? I am assuming as part of a practice regime that includes the usual suspects...
Thanks for reading!
Only problem I can think of, is that you hear mixed sound of your bass and recorded bass. That gives you wrong impression of how your rig should sit in the mix. Of course, if you are aware of this, there is no problem.
Positive sides are many, this is great way for begginers and intermediate bassist to develop speed, time, sence of dynamics, but also to learn more phrases, develop their own and generaly get inspired.
One think I like to do when I learn songs note for note is playing along with the recording... but with my bass muted.
If I manage to trick myself into forgetting I was muted, it means I'm nailing it. Of course for it to work you need to be aware of any mistake you make without having to actually hear it so it's more suited to "advanced" players.
If you want to steal someone's chops, (and everyone does) there's no better way than playing along with a recorded performance of a master bassist.
When I was learning how to play bass, I played along to lots of blues. Johnny B Gayden was the guy that I couldn't get enough of.
There are still moments when I can clearly hear Mr. Gayden in my playing. I wish I could channel more of him!
I like to play along with orchestral pieces sometimes, especially if I've never gotten to play the piece in question with a real orchestra. It feels good to put things in context and just play for a few minutes.
That all said, I wouldn't dwell on it. You need to know what you sound like on your own, and it's so easy to overlook problems when you can't hear yourself very well.
You should be aware that whoever is on the CD might not be tuned to A=440. Nor is there any guarantee the bass player(s) is(are) playing correctly.
I also like to make midi tracks and play along with those. I find comfort in the emotionless, metric precision of a computer coupled with its mindless insistence on equal temperament.
Paul wrote " I find comfort in the emotionless, metric precision of a computer coupled with its mindless insistence on equal temperament." ...very profound :-)!
I don't see anything wrong with being able to play a passage in perfect time with perfect [equal temperament] intonation, but I don't think that should be anybody's ultimate objective. Music happens when the machines get turned off.
Absolutely...as does the reality of hearing what comes out of your instrument as you said, Paul..It reminds me of a player I once knew who said "I don't play double bass...the double bass plays me.."
As long as it is a "part of a practice regime that includes the usual suspects... ", then it seems to me that there are only good things, especially when combined with different recordings of the same pieces.
I usually listen to a song through headphones and play along with my amp at normal volume. Great for learning timing.
I think it's something that everybody does and has its benefits. I think there are downsides though, particularly for Jazz, where everybody is relying on you as the bass player to outline the form and where the pulse is. I have often heard inexperienced bass players dragging back an ensemble as they are waiting to be sure of when the chord changes, rather than driving the music forwards by anticipating the changes and giving strong resolutions.
When playing along to recordings you are listening and are always effectively, slightly behind what is happening - whereas for playing in Jazz or other improvised music, you need to be thinking ahead and giving forward momentum.
I did this quite a bit when I first started playing and I think it was really helpful. I'd learn the parts and play along, or just learn the changes and create my own bass lines.
I love to play the "drop the needle" game along with a recording once I have learned the form. Just seek to a random spot in a recording and start playing along with it as quickly as possible. You learn fast how to recognize where they are in the tune, and if you don't, you'll identify the points in the tune that you're weak at. The next level in difficulty with the same exercise is find mulitple copies of the same tune by different artists and do the Needle Drop with them all, regardless of key change, tempo, or feel.
I think it also helps me connect with my bandmates where they are in the form in cases where they got lost and I need to bail them out. Of course that matters less if you intend to just let them hang out to dry.
The other thing I like to do is to play against recordings with the tempo slowed down to almost an excruciating pace. If i can nail the time just right that slow, it makes playing it faster a lot easier. It's amazing how great the time feel of the legends are - that some of them even if you look at their time with a microscope, it's still very solid.
And.....months later..... I've come to realize that there is no downside to learning songs via playalong. Heck, you could even play wrong notes the entire time and still learn something from it.
I think getting the feel, first and foremost is an absolute must. The other stuff can be figured out.:)
I always practice with the recordings of our band - I've been doing this since the 70's - Sometimes you find a little thing you can do to enhance or support what else is going on in the music- sometimes you can work on a line to make it fit better and of course it improves your dexterity when playing with a so called "live mix"
As for playing with albums or other recorded music - it's always been beneficial to me since it helps me to play the part exactly or as close as I can get it anyway.
I practice with recorded music all the time. It has helped me in ways mentioned by the OP. It has also helped me to learn different techniques and styles.
First post here. IME the only potential downside to playing along with a song is that the foundation/groove is already there.
There is a temptation to build upon it with excess.
The way I manage this is to be aware of it and also turn the bass down on the recording so that you are now providing all the groove. If it still sounds good when doing this all is good.
I do this all the time. This is how I learn new songs. As the other poster said, slowing the tempo is a great strategy.
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