At what point does grooving become too much?
I was watching this video of a Michael Jackson cover:
Now I for one really enjoyed it...dude's grooving, and it just sounds really funky. Guy's got chops, basically.
Then I scrolled down and read some (perhaps uninformed) comments. Some folks seem to not like a real "busy" bassline. So it got me to thinking...at what point does it become TOO much? Obviously this is a really general question...but I think if it's mixed right, you can play pretty much anything without it drowning out the vocals. IMO
What do you guys think?
When it loses the basic pulse. Groove is rhythm. If the rhythm gets lost in a sea of chops it's no longer groovin.
I don't think you can groove too much, I mean groove is supposed to be a good thing. Support the rhythm, give it life. Saying someone is grooving too much, to me, is like saying- "you are in too much balance with the universe"
You can be too flashy though, which is how I'd describe what I think you are getting at.
If there were a bassist's credo, it should include the phrase, "First, do no harm."
Listen to Rocco Prestia carefully, and you'll hear that, although superficially busy, he maintains very strong pulses and patterns, making a comfy pocket where the rest of the band feels at home; IMHO, his embellishments are seldom intrusive.
Although the guy in your video is a good player, some of his licks reminded me of the way 2-year-olds say, "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me." He was playing along with a recording and had no bandmates to concern himself with. I wonder if he plays as busily with other musicians (if he gigs at all)?
I found him a little too intrusive and forward in the mix.
Too many notes.
The bass needs to propel the music forward. Playing a zillion notes doesn't really achieve that, and the folks that dont care for "busy" bassline are not necessarily "uninformed".
Sometimes less is more. ;)
It's just one of those things you know when it's right or wrong by hearing it. Depends also on how much else is going on in the mix. I just try to be sensitive to what's going on around me.
I've been working on the same song recently. IMO, the original (Bob Babbitt's bassline) gets really busy and technical at times, but for he guy in the video, it's all the time. And he is working at upper register at the same time as vocals, trampling all over. He puts licks when the song is on "pause", thus stealing the "kick back in" effect
I thought it was ok. His groove is good. There's one lick he does twice over the "band rests" that sounds really out of place to me, but as for the rest I think if he was tucked into the track like a real mix it would fit fine. Some of the YouTube comments are pretty ignorant. "Tune down a semitone"... How would being a half step flat be an improvement?
Well, I think he's stepping over the arrangement and especially the vocals.
"This doesn't sound very good"
"No no, you're just uninformed. It actually sounds very good"
This is what i'm reading here
I didnt listen, but if I can't feel the pulse, its lost.
if its too much it aint grooving
When it is stepping on the rest of the instruments and becomes a distraction. As they say, "sometimes less is more".
Well it is busier than what I would do, but he hits the "one" nicely every time. There's a lot to be said for that.
Most of what he played was pretty good.
He's busy, but with a little more low end and a little less presence in the mids what he is doing would sound more supportive and less wankish.
With a tone like he has there he would be better off laying back to a more basic line and doing those little fills over the changes.
Rufus w/ Chaka & Watson-
FWIW, I dug the youtube guy's version.
I liked it. I think the thing to bear in mind is that he's playing in his home to make a youtube video, not in a band in a live setting. As such, I think he's not wrong to take a more "foreground" role and show off his fills. This isn't a video to say, "This is how you ought to play this song live," it's a video to say, "here's me having fun with the song at at home." Notice how he even titles it "My personal bassline."
He does walk over the vocals sometimes, especially in the pre-choruses. I don't think he ever loses the groove, though. I hope he dials it back a little if he plays it in a live setting, but I think the video shows some great musicality.
Thanks all for the replies...maybe I'M the uninformed one. :hiding:
You gotta admit, some comments across Youtube are downright silly. So that's why i decided to come here. I'd trust TB over YT anyday.
But anyway, I guess if it tramples the vocals a bit, it becomes overboard.
I'd def agree that less is often more, groovewise, and that a bassist can easily kill a groove by overplaying. IME, that's what I've been guilty of, sometimes. When I play at the limit of my technical ability, my timing and phrasing can suffer, so I've learned to avoid pushing it that far.
I'd also agree that the crucial thing is how the bassist's lines fit with the other instruments, in the context of the song's arrangement.
That said, it's not always the case that a lot of notes necessarily degrade the groove. There was a thread here about Ethan Farmer with NKOTB a little while back. Farmer was playing a lot, but in context he made the groove, for me. YMMV, as always.
Here's the thread, and the video clip is linked in the thread starter post. Whaddaya think?
Edit: man, the vocalist's bad note at 1:48 rattles my teeth!
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