1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Advice on playing blazing tempos?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by telarcfatigue, May 9, 2002.

  1. telarcfatigue


    Mar 16, 2002
    I'm very interested in hearing any of you guys' tips, tactics, or techniques for playing uptempo walking lines. With me, it seems I can develop some interesting lines, etc at slower tempos, and when I take them into a brisk tempo, my lines fall apart and I find myself chasing the hopes of an interesting or varied line like an old hound dog chasing the proverbial fox----I know the metronome will help, but I'm wondering if there are any exorcises or devices you guys may have used along the way to get your uptempo playing happening----
  2. My main enemy when playing fast lines is muscle tension: the faster I go the more I tense up both my left and right hand (and arms and shoulders and neck and jaw and back and....). This, of course, leads to a rapid crapping-out of chops.

    Therefore, I've been practicing fast tempos with extreme concentration on relaxing. As soon as I feel the tension coming I stop and shake it out and start again after figuring out which muscles are tightening up. It's getting better, but its a slow process (especially for an old dog like me).
    nicechuckh likes this.
  3. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire

    I think you are asking two questions, right? Physical & Creativity.

    "With me, it seems I can develop some interesting lines, etc at slower tempos, and when I take them into a brisk tempo, my lines fall apart and I find myself chasing the hopes..."

    There are very specific ways to practice to overcome up tempos.

    A bit more clarification please.

    Jim Stinnett
  4. telarcfatigue


    Mar 16, 2002
    Actually, I'm talking more on the physical level, to clarify. I am seeking any exercises, ideas, and devices for coping with fast tempos. I often find myself playing less lyrical lines the faster I play, and keep coming back to repetitive, memorized lines at times, where at slower tempos, I of course have the time to substitute note choices, visualize what's coming, etc-I'm working on doing that in uptempos as well, but I am looking for techniques and exercises in speed, primarily---
  5. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    For me I strive to overachieve in practice anything that I'll be doing in actual playing. That way when it comes to playing live where you're undoubtedly a little more tense you can stay relaxed and in turn smoother.

    I'm not sure if you're reading your lines or creating them yourself but either way I'd reccomend learning your scales inside and out up to 2 and 3 octaves that way you'll have a grasp of the entire fingerboard and you'll find it easier to improv things because you'll have already played the notes and patterns countless times.
  6. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    Have you ever sat down and listened to early Django Reinhardt recordings? Some of the fastest, hardest swinging tempos I've ever heard. Two guitars, and a bass player- playing in two. Okay, I'm not helping...

    On fast tempos I concentrate on relaxing, breathing easily, and keeping the time STEADY. I also try to keep my left hand from staying in one position: creating lines up and down the neck. Minimizing right hand string crossing has helped on faster tunes, as well. After all that is taken care of, I worry about note choice. Steady time is my priority.
  7. I like to think in bigger phases of the the tune, not so much chord to chord,more like soloing in eight notes. Relax as much as posible, throw in some pedals, if it's appropiate,you can rest and let your listeners feel less like there being attacked by bees. But it you usualy you end grunting it out and thinking "that ******* isn't going to take another chorus is he"
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Feel longer pulses. Feel one and three, or if it's fast enough, just feel one. All of this instead of the frenzy of trying to feel all four quarters. Lighten up your touch. Know your material. Keep your jaw loose (you gave yourself one of your best clues in your question).

    Most of the advice given so far I agree with, but take what works for you. I find more string crossings (within reason) helps me.

    Do it a lot. Self preservation will teach you how to do it. And do it every day.
  9. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I've often wondered why we tense up at blazing tempos; I'm certainly not immune to that one. It's always seemed odd that I can psych myself into a frenzy playing uptempo, when I could easily play the same line off a piece of paper if it were a series of 16th or 32nd notes at a slower tempo. Weird. Emil Richards taught me to feel uptempos in groups of three when it gets out of hand; that seems to relax me a bit.
  10. I was talking with Mike Richmond about this regarding soloing a couple of months ago. His reply seems like it might apply to your situation too.

    Like you, I thought my technique was to blame, especially my right hand. Mike said my technique had nothing to do with it. He proved his point by having me play a bebop head that I had memorized at a fast tempo. No problem. He suggested I wasn't thinking fast enough. Also, at really high tempos theres really no time to think so so you have to have a lot in your hands already. Listening, transcribing, playing transcriptions, taking an idea whether it's your own or someone else's and working it out in different keys's, altering notes to make it fit different chord types, etc. etc. is the answer.

    So you indicated you're experiencing this problem when you play walking basslines. My guess is you need to work out some stock lines for standard progressions. You should probably have the usual scale and arpeggio types (maj., minor, half dim., dominant) under you fingers a lot better so you don't have to think about it while you're playing. Work out a few ideas and figure out how to fit them over different types of chords and progressions and play them until you can play them as fluently as you speak.
    bass183 likes this.
  11. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire
    This is EXACTLY right!

    It is real convienent for the student to think he needs to be more creative when the solution is, he needs to be more prepared.

    David's practice suggestions were perfect.

    When you transcribe a whole bunch of stuff from one player you will then realize that they have a lot "in their hands already". i.e. Their pet licks. These licks come out even more at faster tempos because there is less time to be thinking.
  12. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    In my opinion, this is OK. Keep in mind that when you're playing uptempo music, especially in a straight ahead jazz setting, your job as the bass player is solidfy things so that the people doing all the uptempo blowing have a nice, steady foundation. So, if you're playing a simple line that you already have memorized, that's fine. Vary it over time. Only change one thing everyone chorus. And remember, as everyone has been saying, to relax. If you play simpler, you're time is garunteed to get better. And no one is going to turn around and yell 'Quit playing so many roots!'
  13. HA!! sorry, I've just been here so many times this really struck me as funny.:D
    mrgoodbass likes this.
  14. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Forgive me if I've posted this in another thread some months ago.

    A long time ago, I asked Michael Moore what to do when some long-winded type launches into Chorus #23 of "I Lack Rhythm" and I was getting tired. "If you just stop, they may get the message," was the gist of his comment. Don't overlook the option of laying out!
    Jeff Bonny likes this.
  15. I've found there are 2 schools for approaching bass lines. chordal and scaler <sp?>
    or if you prefer, chicken, egg

    Try thinking in scales for up tempo

    One advantage to thinking in terms of scales is you can think in longer phrases by applying a single scale to a number of chord changes. This allows you to think less since you don't have to think of every chord change.

    In terms of physical challenges of up tempos, just work on relaxing. This can be done by the old gradually increasing metronome routine.

  16. what you meant by "groups of three"?

    Sounds interesting, but you meant three what?
  17. Ed,

    I hear what you are saying about hearing things at a faster tempo, in fact I am aware that this is your motto - its not going to be good unless you are hearing it, and have an actual idea rather than rote meanderings. I agree with this.

    However, I just want to emphasize, that this doesn't make things any *easier*, its still just as hard to get to the point where you are effortlessly playing what you are thinking/hearing. I am finally really starting to hear things up high, and my thumb's all red as a result. In other words, where the mind goes, the body must be taught to follow.

    What I do think it brings into the equation is a personal goal/vision, something that pedagogy alone won't.

    I am definitely not there yet, but I am trying every day.
    nicechuckh likes this.
  18. Playing slow is often much harder than playing fast. (just thought I would add that in for the heck of it)
  19. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    The "groups of three" thing is just a little mind trick that seems to sometimes works for me. It's just a matter of changing the way I'm hearing the changes go by; i.e., instead of just hearing it as ONE, two, three, four, it becomes ONE, two, three, FOUR, one, two, THREE, four,one, TWO, three...etc. What happens then is I start feeling it in groups of one, which for some reason relaxes my psyche, my breathing, and my hands follow. It goes back to the idea of hearing the music in progessively larger chunks; at that point, I can sometimes surprise myself at the tempos I'm capable of. I've been working recently with a Gypsy Jazz type group with no drummer, so I'm getting some great uptempo workouts there.
  20. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    ...unless you're playing a Greek wedding, in which case it's ONE, two, three, FOUR, five, one, TWO, three, four, FIVE, one, two, THREE, four, five...etc

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.