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Bass part too melodic= not good?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by m00t, Oct 31, 2005.

  1. m00t


    Apr 5, 2005
    Chicago suburb
    Hi there, I have been lurking around these forums for a long time now and finally have decided to post. I started bass around the time that i joined and I have been playing violin for most of my life (started when i was like 6 or 7 so like 9 or 10ish years) Currently,the music i play is from Siam Shade, a Japanese band, and their basses tends to play mainly root eigth notes. My question is regarding the job of the bass. I kno that the bass is supposed to be the "glue" of the band the link between the rhythmic drums and the guitars. But, is a bass line that is too melodic inappropriate? I tend to make the basslines more melodic and im not sure if i should be doin that.

    I know that there are plenty of bassists who play pretty melodic lines but a trend i noticed is that generally a band will have a good bassist and the guitars will step aside or the bassist will step aside for the guitarist (usually the case).

    I can email the originaly version and my version to anyone who cares to look (on guitarpro). (sorry for the long post i guess i had more to say then i thought)
  2. Hookus


    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    Melody is just fine. What could tie the song together more than melody?

    Just depends on the feel you are going for. Bass is a powerful instrument that, along with the drums, will greatly alter the feel of a song. Chuggin' 8th's is much different than a 16th funk groove, both of which may be played over the exact same chord progression, with hugely different results. Some great bass players like Paul McCartney and Sting play very melodically.
  3. Zebra


    Jun 26, 2005
    Depends on who you ask. Some people tend to think that the bass shouldn't do much melody, they sometimes call themselves rhythm bass players. Sounds like (I'm guessing) the band you're playing from has lousy basslines. Simple chugging roots can be effective sometimes, but that alone is too elementary to be called music if you ask me. I prefer more melodic players myself, but I've witnessed first-hand how horrible out-of-place melodic bass playing can be. Bass is one of the more challenging instruments to write tasteful lines for, it really requires it's own approach, and it can be pretty hard to tell what's overplaying and underplaying sometimes. Play melodically if you like, but the hard thing you have to do is step back and see if it's really working or not.
  4. Hookus said it well. The bass is a powerful instrument. You've got to keep the groove going because if you don't, no one will. If you can do that and be melodic at the same time, more power to you.
  5. groove100


    Jan 22, 2005
    all I can say is "taste"
  6. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    It's a fine line between really cool & over the top. I try to play little melodic things that don't step on the vocalist. It can be tricky...you've got to serve the song first and foremost.
  7. neonlights


    Jan 9, 2006
    Los angeles
    am i too late?

    try playing l'arc en ciel's basslines. stay away is a good start. it has a more melodic line i think. most of siam shade's bassparts sound like its just the 1 of the chords that the rythmn guitarist is playing.
  8. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    melody can be really useful, especially when i comes to filling in spaces between chorus and verses or different phrases.

    i think the safest aproach to melodic playing is to use the notes of a given chord, and to only include the variations every so often. this way it won't become stale and it won't put the bass line out of context.

    ofcourse, i myself tend to use everything i can when playing melodically(ie i use more than just the notes of a given chord) but i try to keep the original bassline as much as possible.

    That is something my teacher taught me and stresses very much. When we do add anything to the baslines, we must make sure that the root groove is still easily identifiable. This way we are adding as opposed to changing.
  9. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    I think complex playing on any instrument depends on the band. If you're playing with 2 guitars, drums, keys, and a full horn section, you're going to be sort of restricted in how "busily" you can play. You can still play melodically, but you just have to plan more.

    If you're in a three piece band, however, the sonic spectrum is open to you. Go nuts.
  10. werebunny


    Aug 30, 2005
    There are no rules. Do you what sounds good to you, and who knows.. you might happen upon something that a large amount of people will like. Obviously, if you're in a conventional band, you should lean towards being more of a 'glue' player - tying things together.

    For a good medium between rhythmic glue and melodic lines check out Les Claypool's Fancy Band (bass, drums, sax, vibraphone, sitar) : http://bt.etree.org/?search=claypool&cat=0
  11. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    In general, I'm a very straightforward player. I find that the players I work with really, really like my style and connect to my fairly old-school flavor. I always play the supportive role and keep to what the drummer is doing, with some approach notes of course. One of the things I try to keep in mind is that it's all in the right hand.
  12. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    My philosophy when playing any instrument is this - play such that everyone else sounds better.

    You do that, and nobody will complain (unless you just have a different vision about how to complement the group). Let the melody and rhythm flow together. Groove, baby, groove.
  13. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Depends on the style of music. Also how you want to present your own songs.

    Paul McCartney was a very melodic player and it suited his band well.

    DeeDee Ramone was as simple and straight forward as ya can get and his style suited his band to a tee!

    Both great!
  14. m00t


    Apr 5, 2005
    Chicago suburb
    I see and thanks for the replies. But one thing i notice in music (at least music i listen to) is that one instrument is always subdued. usually, i notice that when the guitar is very complex, the bass line is very simple, and when the bass line is very complex, the guitar lines are very simple. But i never hear any songs with a lot going on in the guitarist part and the bass part and thats probably because the song will sound busy. but do you guys ever hear songs where a lot is going on in both parts?
  15. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Something to remember - the harmonic series is such that notes below about middle C tend to get muddier faster. And unless you've got an ERB, middle C is 17th fret on the G string. Not a lot of room for playing above that (unless you have an ERB).

    Add to that rumbling low harmonics (I usually like to cut back on anything below 100hz) and general rumbling of idiot guitarists and floppy bass drums, and you've got a recipe for a big ole mud pie.

    SO... play more notes if you want, but you'll just have to be a lot more specific about where, when, and what you play - ESPECIALLY if you want to involve your guitarist being "busy" as well. Remember that the guitar is only an octave higher than the bass, which means that middle C is first fret on his B string. He's gonna be thrashing down into your range a lot of the time, making things even more muddy (again, made worse by guitarists who think that their bass knob must be all the way up).

    So just keep that in mind. That's one of the reasons why you rarely hear lead guitar players doing those wicked fast hammer on licks on the lower strings (aside from technical difficulties). The lower notes simply need a more determined effort for them to come through clearly.
  16. m00t


    Apr 5, 2005
    Chicago suburb
    that makes a lot of sense but what's an erb ?
  17. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    This is really an interesting observation. I like to take the view that music (regardless of style or age or anything) is a simple expression. I mean simple in that even though there may be many, many sounds going on at once, there is ONE that is most important at any moment. All other sounds have to take a supportive role.

    Now, you might have some music that has that main concept changing rapidly from one instrument, voice, sound to another... but it is a very rare thing to have several concepts of equal musical value at exactly the same time.

    When all things are truely equal, none of them have any value at all (at least in relation to the other parts). This is true in art and life and society and all cultures.

    When all things are everything, nothing is anything. Or, as our kindergarten teachers would say: "Wait your turn!".
  18. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    I feel that it is generally a bass player's job to define the root of the chord, as it plays a huge role in the sound of the harmony - as it can mean the difference of a major/minor/dominant13th/dom#9/etc. So with melodic bass lines, I feel that you still have to keep the foundation of the root of the chord audible, so the harmonic structure remains intact. One other thing to watch out for with melodic basslines is stepping on people's toes and taking away melodic space from other people. Melodic basslines are great, but I think the main thing is to make sure the bassline is grounded and reliable. Be sure to be respectful for other players. Also, in many styles of music, melodic basslines stick out like a sore thumb. If you're playing Ernest Tubb and go off into Jaco land, the other players probably won't want to play with you. Especially with some traditional country, bluegrass, and rock - a bass player runs into a much more restricted area of 'melodic freedom', where a much more traditional role on bass is expected, and often sounds better.
  19. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    ERB = extended range bass. Like a 6 string. Typically I define an ERB as anything extending the range upward and exclude anything extending the range downward, simply because extending the upper pushes the instrument out of the "bass" range... and extending the lower pushes the instrument deeper into the "bass" range. Some go ahead and include any bass that's not 4 strings.

    I'll agree with BassChuck to an extent. I think you CAN have multiple lines going on, all with the same importance, but it's VERY difficult to sustain for any length of time. Most of the time, when you think of multiple melodies going on, you're talking about a conversation between parts, in which each part swells when it comes time to "speak" and pulls back when the time comes for another instrument to take over. Most of the time, that happens to subtlely that you (as the listener) don't even know that it's going on.
  20. Check out the solo part in Freewill by Rush