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Discussion in 'Ask the Berklee Bass Department' started by Folded Horn, Sep 26, 2013.


  1. Folded Horn

    Folded Horn Banned

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    Hi Guys,
    I have played bass for years and am a pretty good player in that I can hold down a gig , reproduce complex lines easily, get a very good tone & volume, have a good sense of rhythm and feel for the song . I cannot seem to create lines though, and my melodic sensibility is poor in this respect. How can I get better at passing notes, a melodic underpinning , and creating lines?
    Thanks!!!
     
  2. jazzcat_13

    jazzcat_13

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    You need to start to study some theory. Memorize the fingerboard if you haven't already. Also, what style do you mainly play.
     
  3. Folded Horn

    Folded Horn Banned

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    I am in a covers band that does rock, folk, pop and anything apart from power ballads..!
     
  4. jazzcat_13

    jazzcat_13

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    A bassline is built around three central notes of a chord, the root, third, and fifth. You have to play the root on the first beat so the band and audience can hear the chord changes. From there, put heavy emphasis on playing the third and fifth and use appropriate passing notes to get to the desired notes. Don't focus one specific chord tone. When you say melodic playing, I assume you mean soloing. The notes to emphasise will be the third and the seventh note. Avoid the fourth no matter what and use the second, fifth, and sixth as passing tones. If you can, take a couple of lessons. If not, learn a lot of jazz theory as pretty much all jazz bass playing is built on improv. Hope this helps.
     
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  6. jazzcat_13

    jazzcat_13

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    I also want to let you know that I am not affiliated with Berklee and this is all coming from experience and private study.
     
  7. Steve Bailey

    Steve Bailey Supporting Member

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    Sounds like you have a good ear...There are many ways to get to any destination. Knowing only what I read about you I might have you start by.... deconstruct the baselines by the players you consider your model. Analyzing them for the theoretical elements that Jazzcat refers to, and then simply recreate them changing one note at a time. For a melodic approach to creating practice starting on anything but the root, getting used to the sounds of the 3rds 5ths and 7ths as starting notes. Doesn't mean you would do this all the time, but it is a good exercise.
    I would also have you create lines on one string for a while, then two, etc...
    Then I would have you create lines that are always moving upward thru the scales and passing tones. Then downward, then mix them up.
    All the while listening to the masters and learning their "ways". For me there are many, including Sir Paul, Lee Sklar, Chuck Rainey, Jamerson, Steve Harris, Sting, Pino, John Paul Jones, Will Lee, etc.. all of whom approach it a little (or a lot) differently.
    It is impossible to put it all into an internet post, but that is one simple approach.
    At Berklee we teach a lot of perspectives from different stylistic experts and include several classes devoted exclusively to bassline construction.
    Good Luck!
     

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