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Bad memory or plain old stink as a Bassist

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by madjazzbass, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. madjazzbass

    madjazzbass Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2014
    Over the (many) years I've been playing Bass, I've learned to play (all by ear/just listening) quite a few ... OK, a lot of songs (mostly R&B, Blues, Soft and Hard Rock and Metal). Some I've played in a band (years ago), but most I just learned because I likes the song/Bassline and was determined to learn it (note for note, no Tab, just ear) because I like to challenge myself and feel like; 'if I learn THIS song, there'll be no stopping me (JK of course):D; but then some time will pass and I'll go back to a song that at one time I could play Flawlessly and find out I completely forgot how to play it and now (for whatever reason) feel like I have to relearn the song all over again. Is this normal, or do I just have a bad memory? ... or, Do I just plain ol' stink as a Bassist?:rollno::(:bored:
  2. Skeezix


    Sep 28, 2005
    Jacksonville, FL
    madjazzbass and Tennesseemick like this.
  3. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    That's the difference between memorization and comprehension.
    bholder likes this.
  4. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Harsh. Truth.
  5. I've personally never learned a lot of songs note for note because quite frankly I'm not a patient person so I suck at it. So what I did was learn some theory on chord construction, progressions etc... Then figured out the progression and listened to the drums and did my own thing. Doesn't always work but it served me well. My problem is I used to know the progressions to a ton of songs but I forget that more often than not! So different approaches to playing music but the same result! In my case my memory is starting to really suck! And maybe I suck on bass too!
    madjazzbass likes this.
  6. BaileyMan

    BaileyMan Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2012
    San Francisco
    I've recently been learning a bunch of tunes note for note, but not with the intention of playing them note for note. More with the intention of learning a particular player's vocabulary that I can incorporate into my own version of a tune that sounds like a reasonable representation. I don't remember every song I've ever learned, but I have charts and written music that I use to refresh my memory of the main theme, and then I take it from there....
    jallenbass and Lesgo like this.
  7. The saying, 'Practice makes perfect' says it all.
    If I haven't played a song for awhile, I have to run through it a few times to get back to hand memory.
    I've listened to songs I recorded a few years ago and on some of them I can't figure out what or how I was playing them.
    Doesn't matter if it's memory fade or I suck as a bass player, I'm having fun.
    madjazzbass likes this.
  8. Jloch86


    Aug 1, 2016
    New Jersey
    I learn and transcribe both in tabs and standard notation and make YouTube videos of me playing the lines of my favorite bassists. I do so because there are certain bass players who know how to get emotions out of me with the notes they play. I want to learn their sensibilities and habits in order to bring emotions out of the people who listen to me.

    I suggest learning basslines that help you discover what really turns you on musically so that you can make better music. I guarantee you won't forget those.
    BaileyMan and jallenbass like this.
  9. I came over from rhythm guitar where we strummed the chord to the beat of the music. See, know, or hear the chord and I'm providing accompiment rhythm for that song. When I came over to bass.........

    ....... I never got into the tab thing. Note for note has never been my thing. Give me the key and someone sing the song and I can lay down a bass line to a song I've never heard before. No brag, fact. Course to do that I need to know what the active chord is at all times.

    I follow the chords on my sheet music, or as I hear them coming up in the song and get my bass line from the chord tones of the active chord. Yes there is a lot of roots, fives and eights in what I do. I compose the bass line as I play the song. Good, bad, I'll not get into, just what I do.

    They keep asking me back so it must be OK with them. I'm amazed by the number of people that do play by rote, note for note. The point of my post; there is another way... play the chord's notes. Which ones? They all will sound good. Kinda up to you what you use.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2016
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  10. FWIW...
    I saw three different interviews; one with Jaco, another with Sir Paul McCartney and a Joni Mitchell documentary. During both the Jaco and Sir Paul interviews they were asked about a specific song they wrote and mid way through playing the song to explain the technique, each of them forgot how it went.
    Joni Mitchel, who was known for playing in multiple open tunings, had to have a music expert come in to figure out what the opening tunings were for some her songs before she embarked on a tour. She couldn't remember.

    Jaco. Macca. Joni.
    jallenbass and soktau like this.
  11. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Our band was working on a new recording for the last few months and only working on those songs. When we were done with that we started rehearsing all the other songs in our catalog and lo and behold I forgot how to play some of those lines. That I wrote. I remembered what they sound like of course but temporarily forgot how to get them out of the bass. We humans, not computers. It's what we do.

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