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Afrobeat Learning curve

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Groovist, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. Groovist


    Oct 15, 2008
    Hi everyone ive just joined A really good Afrobeat Band with a member who was part of Egypt 80

    ive learnt alot fast i.e

    -Groove is really important
    -feel the music and do not count it
    -listen for the Kick drum for placement of the groove
    -most of the music involves pentatonic scales

    but i am haveing trouble at picking up the opriginal bass lines from Fela back catalogue for all the covers we do.

    i turn up to rehearsals and im told im missing 16th nots hear or there, or im playing the wrong notes, and it seems to wast time at the rehearsal as i have to unlearn the rong bass line and relearn the correct one

    if any body has any tips on getting these bass lines right when i learn them it would be much appreciated?

    even if its just some feed back of any Afro beat band anybody else has played in ?

  2. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    If you guys are doing covers then I would recommend just getting the recordings and learning it from there. If they're telling you you're hitting "wrong" notes then that must be what they're referring to.

    (Just for the record, there are no "wrong" notes. Just the ones you like to hear and play. That's a big pet peeve of mine when people try to imply that there are wrong notes. We're artists, people! Let's open our minds! :rollno:)
  3. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Really, the only tip I can think of is "concentrate your listening more". It doesn't sound as if the issue is the music itself, but your ears. Perhaps you're just not familiar enough with this kind of music. Afrobeat bass lines tend to be repetitive and I would have thought that the timing/feel would be more of an issue than wrong notes. I guess the only thing you can do is play with the EQ of the recordings and try to isolate the frequencies that will help you to better hear what's going on. I don't know what your musical background is, but if it's not in Nigerian music, than I would suggest boning up on your Juju. This might help you develop a better sense of where the music you're playing is coming from. By the way, who's telling you the lines are wrong? Maybe you should get together with this person outside of rehearsal time so that he can clue you in to what he (or she) is hearing. Good luck!
  4. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    There are no wrong notes, just the ones that will get you thrown off the gig.:p
  5. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    I played in an original AfroBeat band in the late 1980's. It was a great gig, and a great learning experience.

    I don't have much to add about learning the lines off the record, but pay attention to the syncopation and the feel (ahead or behind) and try to nail that. Interestingly for me, my bandleader, who was a trumpet player, had a pretty poor ear for melodic intonation (he could be pretty flat and not notice) but he had an INCREDIBLE ear for rhythmic "intonation" - if I was off even microscopically from where he wanted the beat to be, he'd hear it and correct me.

    One other tip - because of the polyrhythms that hare happening, sometimes I would have to listen to (or not listen to) particular instruments. There were songs when I would lock with the drums, but if I listened to the guitar parts I'd get thrown off. And interestingly, there were songs where I'd have to lock with the guitar parts (or the conga part) because the drumkit part was syncopated so differently than the bass part that I'd be thrown off if I tried to play off of that.

  6. Groovist


    Oct 15, 2008
    Thanks for the replies so far

    kesslari i totally understand what your saying some of the time i have to ignore the horn and guitar rhythms other wise they will mess you up !

    funny enough i dont have so much problems with the rhythms (even tho i was brought up in England), but they guy who is leading the band is a keyboard player and he used to train people up for Fela Kuti's band so he is really hot on the notes. even the ghost 16ths have to be played over the right frets

    But going back to what bass12 said about playing with the EQ on the original tracks might be a good idea as the original Fela recording are old and are hard to hear, and perhaps my ear could use a bit more training
  7. CharlieDog


    May 29, 2008
    Atlanta, GA
    If you play a wrong note once, it's okay. If you play a wrong note twice, it's jazz.
  8. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    HA! Good one!
  9. newbold


    Sep 21, 2008
    uh...you have to play a note 3 times for it to be jazz, and as long as your 4th pass sounds like resolving, you've got the turnaround.

    With afrobeat - any GOOD afrobeat, the arrangement comes together for a more complete arranged phrase. Y'all need to listen to the music together and talk about how you hear it and what everyone does individually to come together.

    It's often about playing less and playing it for 15 minutes straight without change.

    3 instruments hit at the same time to produce chords...hi hats finish the guitar player's phrase...hand drums andwer the singer's questions...

    As a bass player you've got to be at least as solid as the bell, and what's more solid in your phrasing is where you play the notes on the neck and how your tone pushes everyone forward.

    It's not just a complex groove, it's a bunch of simple melodies grooving together.
  10. Groovist


    Oct 15, 2008
    thanks newbold, i had another rehearsal today and in learning so much about arranging rhythms and instruments to make chords and a full sound

    the band leader has also told me its very conmen for westerners to miss picking out some notes from the recordings as the drums cover up some of the staccato notes

    anyway got a 4 hour gig on tomorrow (sat) with this band and im looking forward to it but i know my shoulders going to be killing me afterwards lol


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