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Bass Solo Problem - "Camping Out" on the 1

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Atoz, Mar 6, 2008.

  1. All:

    I was recently asked by my band to compose a 16 measure "solo" for an original song. It's pretty straightforward: The solo goes over a simple Em F# progression with a pretty relaxed rhythm (very similar to "A Horse With No Name") The only other instruments during the "solo" is the rhythm guitarist playing a 8th duration Em or F# (alternating between measures), and maybe an occasional bongo riff. I've decided on a fingerstyle approach (no slaps, etc.).

    The problem is that I've gotten into a rhythmic rut that I can't seem to shake. At the beginning of each measure, I find myself coming down on the root and holding it for a dotted quarter (assuming 4/4 time) before noodling around in the scale for the rest of the measure before plopping right down onto the root again at the beginning of the next measure and holding it for a dotted quarter. While I guess it sounds OK, I'm worried about that same rhythm becoming monotonous after 16 measures. I'd like to do stuff like walk over the chord changes or shift rhythms, but I can't seem to get this "dotted quarter, noodle" rhythm out of my head.

    Any ideas how I can break out of this?
  2. detracti


    May 5, 2006
    If you have the means, get a recording of the solo part played in the song and just listen to it.

    My experience has been that I hear more interesting things in my head when I'm listening in the third person.
  3. sounds silly, but have you tried just singing something over it to get more ideas?
  4. onlyclave


    Oct 28, 2005
    A great way to break that habit is to learn the melody and then play it to death. Then do what Lee Konitz (classic sax player) calls "Melodic Gradients". Play the melody over and over but the first time around just change one note per measure. Then the next time change two notes per measure, etc.

    There is no shame in playing the melody of the song during your solo. You are playing that song, aren't you? Don't reinvent the wheel.
  5. These are all good ideas so far, and I'm gonna give 'em a shot. Thanks for answering, and if anyone else has any more ideas, I'm all ears. :)
  6. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA
    it's all about making melodies, to me. the singing idea is inspired, as "singing" a solo can generate ideas that are beyond the usual scope of what your fingers are used to.

    also, to quote the late, great Roy Hough: "it's your solo... you can play whatever the f*** you want."

    also also, as far as the "dotted quarter, noodle" thing you keep doing, well... i'll let Bob Newhart help you out with that: (watch and learn.)

    good luck, and have fun!
    http://[malware url removed].net/vicious-smiley-1815.gif
  7. Just don't play on the 1. What's the problem?
  8. Rob Mancini

    Rob Mancini Guest

    Feb 26, 2008
    Only one way to cure it...play anything BUT the roots on the 1 for a quarter note. You're right. It does get monotonous. Also, listen to other instruments besides bass for ideas and transcribe some of their solos that you like. Hardly any great bassists actually get their inspiration solely from other bassists. And transcribing helps get the things you like about the solos to stick in your head.
  9. Fishbrain


    Dec 8, 2000
    England, Liverpool
    Endorsing Artist: Warwick Bass and Amp
    gary willis' fretboard harmony book should point you in the right direction. you can get it quite cheap off amazon too
  10. Thanks for all the help, folks. :)
  11. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Simple exercise: expand up a third! Start everything on the third of the chord. Then the 5th, then the 7th (if applicable).
  12. Ooooh... I'm going to try that. Thanks!
  13. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    Track it into a sequencer, then shift your part by a sixteenth note and play it back. Instant new ideas.
  14. -Sam-


    Oct 5, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    Instead of playing the root play the ninth. See how long you can go without playing the root, it'll sound average for a while but then you'll get the hang of it and you wont need the root.
  15. 4rest


    Feb 13, 2008
  16. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Start on the 5th. Play upper extension chords (e.g., on the Em play B, D, F#, A). Depending on the tune, some notes won't work but it'll give you something to start with.

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