Becoming a complex player

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by danteL, Oct 20, 2022.

  1. danteL


    Jan 31, 2018
    I’ve been playing for close to 7 years and have mostly tailored my playing style and practice routine to fit into a band setting. Working on groove, timing ECT.

    Now It’s just me and I’d really like to work on stuff that I’ve always wanted to do, mainly work on speed, complexity, and technicality. What are some ways to approach this in my practice routine. Should I work some specific exercises? play more complex songs? A mixture of both.
    JRA likes this.
  2. IamGroot

    IamGroot Inactive

    Jan 18, 2018
    Have you tried playing jazz?
  3. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    You want to play fast. Practice fast pieces. Getting all you want to put into a measure before the song goes off and leaves you will take a lot of playing fast pieces. Can your fingers handle fast bass lines?.
  4. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Motown is full of songs where, although the bass could be simple and the tune would be OK, it...isn't. And it still works. Mr. Jamerson made a career out of playing busy bass lines, and it didn't get him fired - it got him more business. Try learning a few Motown tunes - that'll take you a lot longer than you might think.

    One of my ideals is to "overplay so tastefully that nobody complains" - which I think is where you want to go as well. Fast and/or busy for the sake of being fast and/or busy is a dead end, but if you can weave in musicality at all times, you got something.

    Speed is something that is simple to work on. There are lots of software programs you can load music into (I use Anytune) and change tempo. Find something with a snappy beat, play it through a few times, run the speed up a notch, play it a few times, rinse, repeat. I do this, not so I can play fast, but so that, if I do run into a line where I need some speed, I don't trip over it - a bit of "velocity headroom" is a good thing. In my case, it's not so much absolute speed that I work on, but being able to keep up a consistent fast tempo for a while.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2022
    SteveCS likes this.
  5. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    have you tried playing prog?
    pretty much the definition of complexity for its own sake

    ok mini rant coming

    It was very easy for me to mistake complex for sophisticated. I have found again and again that what sounded simple ( country, salsa, blues ) , once I delved deeper, was anything but simple. Sometimes the complexity is hiding in plain sight - a rhythmic shift here, a chromatic run there, a delicate interplay between voices. So I gave up seeking complexity and instead focused on deeper dives into what sounded good.

    I guess I'm saying: seek complexity in the subtleties of your preferred music.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2022
    WrapRough and SteveCS like this.
  6. danteL


    Jan 31, 2018
    Ive tried to get into playing some jazz pieces, though I love listening to jazz and studying jazz theory. Ive been working on autumn leaves and working on walking.
    IamGroot likes this.
  7. danteL


    Jan 31, 2018
    can my fingers handle fast bass lines... sometimes yes most of the time no. thats what im trying to improve is my ability to hit higher speed songs fills and lines.
  8. danteL


    Jan 31, 2018
    I actually really appreciate your response i will absolutely check out more Motown and especially Jamerson. "overplay so tastfully that nobody complains" oh man you hit the nail on the head, exactly what im looking for in my own playing.
  9. I'm not a fast player except with a pick, but otherwise I have no real technique at all, I just use my right thumb, but I can still get some fast tunes going by using the fretting hand to help get energy into the string when my thumb can't get back there fast enough. This works very well with fast legato lines.
  10. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Perfectly stated!
    danteL likes this.
  11. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    PVG Membership
    Anything can made be complex, that’s easy. As his been said, often what appears simple can be complicated and often what sounds complicated can be incredible simple.

    I have a lot of students often marvel at how deep the well of the simplest major scales, triads and pentatonics can actually runs when you lift the lid on it and it exposes how little of the basics players actually have a command of.

    Also consider context. Jamerson was the man but while we worship at the alter of the greatest we all too easily forget than when Motown moved to California and Jamerson moved out that way his career struggled because his playing wasn’t what people wanted anymore. In that regard you have to pick your battles!
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  12. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    A very nice comment.

    The following is only my personal amateur musician's opinion about simple music, nothing else.

    A seriously good musician - BASS PLAYER, even in a simple Root-Fifth pattern includes COMPLEXITY.
    When lots of bass players just see the quarter note, some bass players see that note divided in the 16ths, 32ths, even deeper.
    If so, what is the correct rest length between the Root and the Fifth note divided in the 32ths?
    Not on the paper but in the bass player's rendition.

    Now, let's say, if a bass player performs an intricate "run"/embellishment of eight or twelve 16ths notes, usually everybody says, "WOW."
    What if a bass player decides to see those 16ths notes as written as 32ths?
    Now, if we remove a few notes from that "run" - let's say, the 3rd, the 5th, the 6th.
    Is that bass part going to become more or less complex?

    For me, the bass player's seriousness - COMPLEXITY - starts with a few unwritten rules:
    1. It's all about, more or less, some kind of TEMPLATE of the bass pattern.
    (It's a long conversation about it.)
    2. Developing the bass line - dynamics, note quantity(maybe), more embellishment (maybe), adding some notes in higher register(maybe), etc...
    3. Integrating (tutti/"stapling") with the other band musicians parts - the drum player, the keyboard player, etc...
    4. It's all about that FORM, form, form.
    No amateur changes of that preconceived bass pattern withing the song's form/section.
    5. Knowing (and/or "sensing") harmony and its changes.
    and so on...

    P.S. When we are discussing about complexity of the bass line, we need to know about the style of this/that song, mood of that composition, the arranger's, composer's, BL's requests, etc...

    In the OP's situation, I would start working on the rhythmic part of the bass line in tandem with some programmable drum machine/app. And it's not about "just including more fast notes", but about finding the best compromise between the "saying more with less" and the drum part - the Kick.

    Sorry, I've written too much; therefore, just a nice track of simple music by Michael Wolny.
    Bass - Tim Lefebvre

  13. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    probably all of that and more! ;)

    FWIW: a good teacher can size up both your basslines and your baseline to help you move beyond what you're currently playing. these are great questions for a competent teacher! also, the best teachers are all about how and what to practice....way better than guessing! try it! good luck! :thumbsup:
    BrotherMister and 12BitSlab like this.
  14. IamGroot

    IamGroot Inactive

    Jan 18, 2018