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Band Members 'Ears'

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by mikejdexter, Mar 7, 2013.


  1. mikejdexter

    mikejdexter

    Jul 9, 2009
    UK
    What percentage of fellow band members do you think (On the jazz side) actually listen to the bass lines you play? I have been playing for quite a while & only recently have discovered 'Chord Tones' & having lessons. Up till now I have been playing bass lines in a scale'ic way.
    The reason I ask is I have recently replaced a 'schooled' bass player--better than myself---and they prefer the way I play--but will soon be going the Chord Tone way.
    Am I correct in thinking that if you keep fairly good time with good tone that accounts for a lot?

    Your views on this topic would be most interesting.
    Thanks.
     
  2. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1

    Jan 17, 2009
    N.H.
    Taste, tone, & time. You can't go wrong with that.
    I think a lot of band members just want to hear lines that fit well.
    But, there are some players with great ears that hear everything!
     
  3. Yes, you'll hear in this thread (and time and time again) that time and tone are foremost, along with creating a clear delineation of the chord progression, whether it is achieved with scales, chord tones, or a combination of the two (which is how most players construct their walking lines). These are the guys who get hired; not the ones with the most blazing technique or know the hippest substitutions.
     
  4. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    You can tell which band members listen to your bass lines by many of the same ways that you can tell if someone is listening to you speak. Do they make eye contact? Do they respond in appropriate ways at appropriate times? Do they play off of your ideas?

    There are some that never notice the bass lines unless something is played incorrectly. I once played with a band leader who told me that this was his criteria for a good bass player - if he never noticed him, he was a good player because he was doing his job without messing up.

    Regarding whether your band mates will notice a shift from scalar walking lines to arpeggiated walking lines - maybe, maybe not. If you're thinking too much about your lines initially they may notice a less natural feel to your playing. But once you relax and play both with the same fluency they'll likely not notice the more angular lines.

    As had been said above - hopefully you don't go totally chord tones and drop your scales. That would be a pretty radical shift that is unnecessary. The ideal is to combine chord tones, scale tones, and chromatics in the most musical way.
     
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Mike I just looked at your profile, I can't tell if you're a kid or somebody who's been playing for 20 years, if this is music you play a lot or are just starting. But I have to say, the question "What percentage of fellow band members do you think...actually listen to the bass lines you play?" followed by the statement "I have been playing for quite a while & only recently have discovered 'Chord Tones'" doesn't make me feel good about the "I've been playing for quite a while" part.

    The better the player, the more they hear and the more they listen. In my experience, the only folks that are OK with "fairly good time and good tone" generally don't have much depth of experience themselves. Think of the experience of learning to drive; when you start it's almost as if your vision stops at the windshield, there's so much to pay attention to. And it's like that with some players, you can tell that the ONLY thing they're able to hear is themselves. They don't hear if they're in the wrong place in the form, if they dropped a beat and got turned around, if they're out of tune.. So no, those guys aren't going to hear any difference in your line.
    And as Art points out, it's not a black and white world; not ONLY this or ONLY that. But I would go a step farther and say that the ideal is not to "combine chord tones, scale tones, and chromatics in the most musical way" but to actually HEAR what you are going to play. I think this is what happens when music is more a visual experience, i.e. reading a Real Book chart, than it is an aural one. I am very much a proponent of this music being conversational in approach. When you're having a conversation with someone, you don't read from prepared statements, you don't try to "combine nouns, verbs and adjectives in a conversational way". What you do is try to communicate what it is you are thinking and feeling with the vocabulary you have the most nuanced control of.
     
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    And just by way of anecdote, I'm playing in Ken Pullig's ensemble at Berklee, doing a chart of his, and he stops the band and asks me and the bari player "Which one of you is playing an F instead of an F# in measure 47?"
     
  7. mikejdexter

    mikejdexter

    Jul 9, 2009
    UK
    Thanks guys for your thoughts on my questions--a great insight.
    I have been playing DB for quite a few years, started off on the 'right foot' by having a few lessons from the word go by a pro. classical player to get the basic fingering right & bowing--then on my own getting into the jazz side of things. 'Knowing what I know now but didn't know then' syndrome I wish I had kept up lessons. I have been seriously into the bass now for a while---taking lessons from a really good jazz bass player only recently. Only after a few lessons he has (Or will) change the a way I play--getting me better intonation/into chord tones/into transcibing bass recordings, which I find pretty hard. All-in-all I'm sure it will make me a better player.
     
  8. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    Another terrific post Ed, but its 'further'. ;)
     
  9. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    Long Island, NY.
    Ha! I actually have a funny story that happened recently regarding this. My band just went into the studio to begin laying down our newest tune (see the Soundcloud in my signature!), and before I did my part I was warming up on the verse riff of the tune. My guitarist turned to me while I was doing it and asked me what I was playing, even though we had been playing the song for close to a month by that point and were in the studio about to record it! :eek: :D
     
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    That's not what my farther said.
     
  11. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    And Ken Kesey's school bus read, "Furthur"! :D
     
  12. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I got a call through a referral to play a gig at the end of the month was a big Louis Jordan type show band, was told that they are all "professional players" and blah blah blah. They've got a good booking with a promise of more and lot's of impressive marketing collateral.

    I met them and rehearsed last week. The drummer was very good and he and I locked in really well (grey haired guy), everyone could play, but the leaders were all over the place. At the end of very simple songs like Caldonia, the keys/singer would say "well, we all got lost in that one, but otherwise, it sounded pretty good".

    The drummer and I shared a silent look that said "I wasn't lost, it's ****ing Caldonia, how can anyone get lost in Caldonia?" So not only was he (they) lost, but they weren't listening well enough to know that the form was right where it should be, which would have helped them. Lots of chops and ...showmanship, though.

    On last weekend's gig with some of my regular guys, that wouldn't have happened. If anyone strayed, everyone would have heard it and given them what they needed to find their way home.

    So, it depends. I likely will honor this gig commitment, then duck away from this project, unless it turns out that they were just having a bad day. No matter how good their chops or how good of bookings they get, it's not worth it to play with people who can't hear and aren't trying to listen. It's like trying to swim in a whirlpool.

    I had an injury a few years back and had to take about 6 months off of playing. All I did during that time was listen. Changed things for me forever. I'm grateful now for that injury.

    And farthermore...!
     
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Quoth the TroyKen, farthermore....
     
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I'm a lousy upright player compared to most folks on here, yet one guy I work with sometimes calls me because, as he puts it, "You're good enough to play the music but not so good that you ruin it with crap I don't want to hear."

    I took it as a compliment ;)
     
  15. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I think we have a thread somewhere on the backhanded compliments that we've all received. That's a good one to add to the list.

    I've had many. At top of mind is "I really like playing with you because you're not overbooked." Uh, gee thanks, I guess.
     
  16. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    Seattle
    Ah man, you should have seen that warning sign right there! In my experience, if someone has to tell you that they are professional, they ain't. I've had lots of those experiences, though. Someone (usually a singer) calls for a gig, says we will need a rehearsal or two to get the book together. Show up for rehearsal, I read down the singer's book, no problem. The singer on the other hand? Gets lost on every tune. In her own book. That she's been singing for years. Don't call me for a rehearsal that only you need.

    Sorry if that was a little off topic and not really farthering the discussion. Back to the subject:

    Good time and tone counts for a whole lot. I imagine that is probably why the band likes you. As far as the whole scales vs chord tones vs whatever--just remember, that stuff is important to know, but not to play. Does that make sense? Probably not. What I'm saying is you need that knowledge in your head, but when you're playing it needs to just be music. Imagine a writer worrying whether it was more important to think in terms of vocabulary or grammar: "Man, I don't know too many big words, but I conjugated the s*** out of that verb there!" Nobody cares. They want to hear a story. People will hear if you are telling a good story. Or at least they will know when you aren't!
     
  17. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    Seattle
    Hmm...just noticed my post was a lot like what Ed was saying. The language/music analogy is always a useful one I suppose. I'm intrigued by the slight difference in our emphasis, though. Ed's seems to be on "having a conversation" while mine is on "telling a story." I think, in my opinion, jazz in a group setting is often a combination of the two: "making up a story together." Listening and responding to each other while jointly working towards the goal of creating a unified piece of art. Live! That's crazy when you think about it. I love this music!
     
  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    And that's the name of THAT tune!
     
  19. MLysh

    MLysh

    Oct 11, 2007
    MD/DC/VA
    Ken Pullig: great teacher, great guy. Had him for a Harmony 3(?) class up there. He was someone who could, almost literally, hear around corners.
     

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