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Anybody ever *really* think in terms of rhythm?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Skel, May 4, 2006.

  1. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    As I progress through the learning process, I have recently discovered how much the bass guitar is a rhythmic instrument. Just wondering if anybody has come to this point, where you are focusing on the instrument as a rhythmic instrument, instead of a melodic instrument. When I play now, I am thinking about the instrument as a drum - mainly a bass and snair drum, and the possibilities for different drum patterns for a given piece of music when you imagine what a bass and snair drum would be doing, and follow that. It's so amazing what you can come up with when you find a great rhythmic structure, and then apply melodic concepts to that pattern. I'm sure it doesn't hurt to also be in sync with your drummer, but having this "rhythmic" mindset also makes it much easier to sync with what the drummer is doing, and insures that you won't be in conflict with the drummer.
  2. bassist15


    Mar 6, 2006
    Ive played in teh school bands since I was in 6th grade( Im a freshman now) and I have a reallly good sense of rhythm and time. Im always making drum beats in my head and I even have a drumset that i mess around on. I do this to find what beats sound good with basslines. I dont think of the bass as a percussion type instrument but I think some basslines really work with beats. As confusing as this whole thing may sound
  3. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Yup.. that's the ticket. If you do a search you'll find lots of threads in this forum about the relationship of rhythm and melody. They are so tightly tied that one cannot live without the other.

    As for your statement that I quoted, not only is this a great way to come up with your own basslines, but is a great way to compose music in general. Once you get a rhythm that grooves the way you want it to (and that can be in any style of music) its easy to apply some notes for a melody and from there a harmonic set-up to go with it.

    IMO Rhythm is the most basic and important part of music. Once you are in sync with that, everything works. And I'm talking everything from Funk to Beethoven. When the music sounds clumbsy, the style isn't right and the band isn't playing together.... the problem is almost always that something is getting in the way of the rhythm.
  4. Ain't it groovy when the light bulb goes on?

    Yessirree - your bass is a percussion instrument as well as a string/melody instrument. Regarding the 'bass and snare' comment - think of your bass as and entire percussion section - not just the bass and snare. A good bass player is joined at the hip to his drummer and together they provide the foundation that permits great music to develop. He is also keenly aware of the vocals/soloist/melody makers and is supporting their efforts by either complimenting, laying off, or driving home the needed supporting parts.

  5. Tired_Thumb

    Tired_Thumb Guest

    Here's the oddest view you're probably going to see in this thread. Generally, I focus all of my attention to the melodic portion of the bass, with the group I play with. When we play, my mother listens, and when I ask her if she heard me, she tells me that she can't tell the difference between myself and the drummer. There you have it, somebody who focuses his attention on the melodic portion of bass only to have the rhythm portion be the one to show itself. Don't ask me how that ever happened, other than having been around funk bands like Tower of Power helps innately with the rhythm aspect, where the horn section (I was a horn player in high school) basically acts like a large rhythm section.
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I would guesstimate that I think 'rhythm' first 95% of the time...
    Thinking of the bass as a drum with strings("E" = kick; "A" = Tom; "D" = Snare; "G" = Cymbal) is nothing new under the Sun.

    In these type of threads, I usually suggest getting a drum/percussion book...dissect a 2-bar drum groove by-
    a)Putting notes exactly & only where the kick plays
    b)Putting notes exacting & only where the snare plays
    c)Play the high-hat groove(if it's 'funky' & not mere 1/4 notes or 1/8 notes).
    d)Some combination of the above...maybe the kick on beats 1 & 2; the snare on beats 3 & 4.

    Then, eventually, start displacing...e.g. move the kick pattern 'to the right of the timeline' by an 1/8 note.
  7. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    When I started out playing progressive metal, I actually wrote a few songs that were mainly different rhythms (albeit pretty complicated ones in odd time sigs) on one note. This type of stuff works if you and the drummer share the same vision, also can be fun if you guitarist throws a totally different rhythm on top.

    I love complicating the rhythms and am happy that my current band is letting me move more in that direction. As far as being in sync with the drummer, I often have to get him to go in sync with me.
  8. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Good ideas here. Playing the high-hat groove sounds challenging, to say the least. That's what I love about ryhthm - it's mathematical. I don't think musicians should ever loose feeling and heart, but it doesn't hurt to expand your horizons by hearing and analyzing more possibilities. Otherwise, how can you grow?
  9. mvw356


    Mar 2, 2006
    i though that the whole slapping thing came about as a replacement for a drummer, i.e. slap is the bass drum and the pop is the snare
  10. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Larry Graham is a very rhythm-first type of player...you can hear that even when he's grooving on only the Root note(s).
  11. djcruse


    Jun 3, 2002
    Norwood, MA
    Double bassists were slapping strings long before any electric player thought of it.
  12. nobody said elecrtic bassists thought of it, they were just equating larry grahams style to that of a more rhythmic sense.

    in following with this topic...i would like to encourage all bass players to learn to play drums...maybe not really well, but if you can jam with a band on drums, it will make you a much better bass player. Doing so will sink rhythm into your head and heart and so when you pick up the bass again you dont have to worry so much about playing in a rhythmic sense, because that will come natrually. This allows you to concentrate your mind on your melodic playing.
  13. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    A lot of smaller jazz clubs back in the day did not have a drum kit, nor room for a drum kit... and a lot of jazzmen back then did not have the money to own or transport their own kit. In Art Taylor's "Notes and Tones", one drummer said they sometimes had to play brushes on a few sheets of newspaper to get the brushed-snare sound, and that was all they had! So I can see how some double-bassists would have had to pick up some of the stronger percussive elements. Not to mention they often had little or no amplification for the bass!

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