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Best way to learn melody/ improv?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by NicJimBass, Nov 10, 2005.


  1. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Is this thing on!? Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH
    Endorsing Artist: DR Strings, Source Audio, Hipshot
    I've some to the realization that I have no real sense of melody (i.e., writing melodies is extremely difficult) and my improv skills are sorely lacking. I think I've become the weak link in my band, and it's not a good place to be. I've tried learning my scales, and I've tried to learn to read music, but I think I have ADD (or I'm just extremely lazy... yeah, that's probably it) since I lose interest after about a day. Are there any good books/ videos that address either melody or improv? I've been playing for about 6-7 years, so I can get around a bass pretty well, just can't play as well as I should. Any and all help is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Can you sing melodies? If so, record them and play them on your bass with the same phrasing.

    If you can't make the music happen in your head, it won't materialize on the bass; Improvisation definitely comes from within. I'd say that you should get a proper teacher, especially because you say you're lazy (something I can sympathize with). You'll progress much faster in the specifica areas you're interested in and learn a more well-rounded curriculum with the right instructor.
     
  3. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Is this thing on!? Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH
    Endorsing Artist: DR Strings, Source Audio, Hipshot
    I understand that I have to make the melody in my head first, but that's what I'm having trouble with. I guess it doesn't come naturally, unfortunately. I want to learn though...
     
  4. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    I think you need to crack that reading/scales problem. Once you do, it opens up a whole world of possibilities. Do you have a teacher available? (Even a piano or guitar teacher, just for reading.) Just a few weeks of lessons would probably be enough -- it really isn't all that hard. You just have to get over the initial hump.
     
  5. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Is this thing on!? Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH
    Endorsing Artist: DR Strings, Source Audio, Hipshot
    My mom or wife should be able to teach me... that'd be a good first step, eh? I think I'll go for it. Thanks!
     
  6. Correlli

    Correlli

    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Try learning scales on guitar, then tranfer it to bass. That approach helped me alot.
     
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Since you say you "lose interest" after a day, let me put it this way: how much effort ARE you willing to put in to become a better musician?

    Practice and study can be fun at times and boring at other times, but they are necessary. A teacher can help with direction but YOU have to put in the effort to learn.

    Can you sing along with recordings? Pick out simple melodies (maybe a guitar or bass riff) and learn to sing it, first along with the recording then without until you have it MEMORIZED. Then note by note find the notes in that melody on your bass. Then pick out a new melodic line and repeat. This is what is called learning or playing "by ear" and is a necessary skill.

    Most importantly BE PATIENT. It may take DAYS before you can pick out that first melodic line on the bass. So what? The second one will be easier, the third easier again, etc.
     
  8. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    Sweden
    Have you been playing for 6-7years and cant play a scale... ?

    And if you're to lazy to play then why do you even own a bass... ?

    woopsie daisy
     
  9. Eddard

    Eddard

    Oct 28, 2005
    Spain
    You must practice scales and arpegios in every key, that will improve your ear and to recognise the sound of the notes and intervals. Then play along with a CD that you really like and try to listen every instrument and play all the music (the bass, the piano, the guitar ...) even the melody of the voice. If you do this, your bass lines will be better and you are going to improvise without difficulty.
     
  10. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Is this thing on!? Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH
    Endorsing Artist: DR Strings, Source Audio, Hipshot
    I can play by ear with no problem at all. I learned to play both by listening to cd's and playing with other musicians in my church. That's not what I need help with. I need to learn how to create melodies, or at least come up with a melody in my head ( if this is something that can be learned). Coming up with a bassline to a song is not as difficult, in my mind, as coming up with a line that can be turned into a song, or can be a sub-hook by itself.

    Yeah, I never learned my scales. That may be sacreligious to most people here, but I've never really felt a need to. I guess I've always wanted my lines to be as organic as possible, in that, when I come up with a part, I want it to come about because it sounds good and is right for the song, not just because the song is in a certain key and has a 'major' or 'minor' feel, and therefore should be based on a certain scale. Would learning my scales help me with that? Apparently so, and thus, I want to try harder to learn them now, especially since I feel it is necessary at this point in my life.

    The main thing is this- I don't want to be a 3rd wheel with whomever I play with. I want to add to the music, not detract. I want my lines to come from my heart, not from my head, and I want the notes to flow as naturally as carrying on a conversation. If learning how to read and how to play scales is what everyone suggests, I'll overcome my laziness and learn them.
     
  11. NicJimBass

    NicJimBass Is this thing on!? Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Lancaster, OH
    Endorsing Artist: DR Strings, Source Audio, Hipshot
    Oh, and I wouldn't say I'm too lazy to play... just too lazy to learn theory and such. Like i said, I don't want theroy and scales to dictate what I play. To avoid that, I just didn't learn them... stupid? sure, but it made sense when I started.
     
  12. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    You don't "play from" scales, at least once you get going. It's more that by learning scales, chords, and the rest inside and out, your ear learns to hear better and more accurately which makes it easier to get what's inside outside where other people can hear it. And, in addition, done right, theory causes you to be able to imagine things you otherwise couldn't have. Like, with minimal reading skill, you could take on Patterns for Jazz or the Slominsky book and -- or at least I was able to -- greatly expand your musical horizon.
     
  13. mattsk42

    mattsk42 $100 off new Directv subsp.PM me BEFORE signing up Supporting Member

    Since I can't tell over the internet how you play, or what kind of work you're actually doing, the best advice I would give is to listen to everything. I've found that I have really expanded my ear and new ideas and melodies from listening to jazz. Or techno, or country... I didn't believe it at first when reading on here, but the more and more you listen, the more music "flows" through your head. Try listening to every style you can get, and listen to how the bass blends or stands out in each. That might help. If nothing else, it will stimulate some musical ideas.