Bass as a solo instrument?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Play Less Cool, Feb 1, 2013.


  1. Play Less Cool

    Play Less Cool

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    Can/should bass be used as a solo instrument to accompany singing.
    That might me a bit confusing but if you were a singer and needed an instrument to keep rhythm and add depth and to make more interesting, most people would use an acoustic guitar.
    Could bass be used by the solo artist or is it an instrument restricted to the band scenario?

    Do you know any solo musician who does this?
     
  2. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 EBMM Nut Supporting Member

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    Tony Levin does it every now and then. It's definitely possible but you definitely have to get creative with it. Basically, straight 8ths on the open A isn't going to do it.
     
  3. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa

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  4. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

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    This has been done for a long, long time. Check out any of these solo bassists:
    Steve Lawson
    Michael Manring
    Joseph Patrick Moore (sings while playing)
    Steve Bailey
    Brittanny Frompovitch
    Darren Michaels (sings while playing)
    Scott Fernandez
    Yves Carbonne
    Victor Wooten (A Show of Hands is all solo bass in real time)
    Stu Hamm
    Jeff Berlin
    Colin Hodgkinson (sings Robert Johnson while playing Delta Blues on a Fender Precision-you gotta hear this guy!)
    Dave Pomeroy
    All you would have to do is sing over the top of what you're playing.
    These are just a few for starters-Youtube has many, many more.
     
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  6. jmclearnon

    jmclearnon

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    It can be done.....
     
  7. funnyfingers

    funnyfingers

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    With a guitar you can sing a melody within a chord and sing all the notes that are being played very easily. With a bass, I tend to want the bass line to match the vocals and if I play I want to do different notes, my vocals tend to want to match what I play. Sort of like how the verses to Tom Sawyer go. The bass and vocals are the same notes. But look at Keep on Rockin' in the Free World and the vocals aren't the root notes. It is harder to sing that song to bass alone with the root notes.
     
  8. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

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    You have to play more than just a bassline . Most of the players I listed play chords with the bass notes. Some use tapping, harmonics, extended range basses and looping to create their music. That being said, check out Rob Wasserman's Duo CD to see what bass and voice can do. Again, there is a tradition of upright bass and voice in Jazz. I just saw Christian McBride and Dee Dee Bridgewater doing a great bass/voice treatment of a Billie Holiday tune last week in concert.
     
  9. bkbirge

    bkbirge Supporting Member

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    +1 for Rob Wasserman. There is a long tradition in the upright world of doing this. No reason you can't do it with electric either, you'll just have to worry more about melody than most bass players.
     
  10. ersheff

    ersheff

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    I really can't stand most solo bass. However, as I get older, I've mellowed out a bit in my hatred of the technique/genre/style/whatever and try to live by a "live and let live" motto.
    If you like it, more power to ya. I can't take that away from you, and I'd be kind of a dick for trying.
    I am still a little bummed that 99% of bass as a solo instrument is either some cheezy (in my opinion) jazz fusion exercise (with lots of notes and not a lot of space or unique sounds) or a transcription of some classical piece.
    I've watched some Michael Manring videos, and while I can't say I'm a fan, this to me is still a great example of someone really taking advantage of the idiosyncrasies of the instrument while doing something new and interesting and musically sensitive:
     
  11. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

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    Colin Hodgkinson is one of my favorite players of this genre:
     
  12. Volpe25

    Volpe25

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    Oh very much so, though as previously stated it can't be a simple bassline! Check out Andres Rotmistrovsky on youtube, some of his newer stuff involves some amazing female singers accompanied by him on the bass, its truly breathtaking!
     
  13. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

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  14. Mushroo

    Mushroo

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    Check out the Suites for Unaccompanied Cello by J.S. Bach. They make for fantastic etudes on the bass!
     
  15. Passinwind

    Passinwind Charlie Escher Supporting Member

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    Glen Moore does duo gigs with Nancy King out here fairly often, really cool stuff.
     
  16. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

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    They work especially well 8va with a high C or 24 fret bass in cello range.
     
  17. backup

    backup

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    i absolutely hate the sound of solo bass guitar. those six string bass players playing melodies like guitarists. it sounds awful to me :spit:

    but if youre talking about playing regular bass parts but as the sole instrument. well thats better.

    however, bass is an instrument designed to be played in a collective.
     
  18. iffen

    iffen

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    Sure you can!
    Check out brushy one string on youtube.
    you dont even need 4 strings
    all he need is one!
     
  19. Russell L

    Russell L

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    Well, back in the '50s there was a duo called The Pair Extraordinaire. One guy played upright bass, the other whistled. And they were GOOD!

    So, sure...
     
  20. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Thou shall not F*** up the groove Supporting Member

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    It sure is possible! :) It's possible with a 4 string bass (Victor Wooten is the living proof), but having more strings can help you create a wide variety of bass lines.

    Maybe a 5 or a 6 string bass would do it for you, maybe fretless or acoustic. If you're creative enough, no problem :)
     
  21. Mushroo

    Mushroo

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    Lots of ways to play them! My two personal favorites are up a 4th (for example the G suite in C) or CGDA tuning, capo at 12th fret. :)
     

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