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Beyond The Realms of Octaves

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Bachh, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. Bachh


    Apr 8, 2014
    I'm in intermediate bass player. I can play mostly anything from jazz to funk to stoner... you name it.

    but one thing that's been bothering me lately is being stuck on octaves. whatever key i'm in, I unwillingly get stuck on playing the octave of the root note.

    this may sound strange judging on the large number of notes on the bass, but it just happens especially when slapping.

    I know each note in each scale in each shape, but can anyone give me some insight into some new theory or how to write more articulate bass lines beyond octaves and fifth or something?
  2. bluesdogblues


    Nov 13, 2007
    It's interesting that (as you say) you can play anything from jazz etc, but you're always stuck on octaves.
    Good for you.
    But I feel like somebody has to learn some more. As Carol Kaye said, don't just learn scale, but also learn chordal note,..For start, maybe copy note for note of some famous or your favorite bass player's basslines can be very good.
  3. OldDirtyBassist


    Mar 13, 2014
    Best thing to do in your case, would be learning guitar chords on your bass. Keys too.
  4. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
  5. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Yes review the link Lobster gave.

    I tend to use Roots or R-5's in most of what I do - Praise and ole classic Country. But, like you said I know the other "stuff". Sometime that other stuff just does not fit.

    Lately, at home, I've been jamming to some of the comping bass lines in the Jamey Aebersold Jazz play-a-longs. Decide on the key and then just mess around with the notes of the key. Letting the music take my fingers - little more than noodling, I hope. Now I would not do this at any of the public places I play - the band mates expect certain things and I try and give them that - and that ends up being roots and R-5's locked to the kick drum. In Praise sometime just one root note on the chord change lyric syllable is all that is needed, other times more is called for.

    I do like to add something more - I think that is the old 6 string guitar influence coming out. And have started letting runs, diatonic or chromatic fill that want. Does not seem to go beyond what is expected by the bands, and I enjoy a well placed run now and then.

    With Country a run to the next chord is expected and just comes naturally. In Praise I've been looking at Real Books with the bass clef shown and looking for where a run might fit in. Can normally find a couple of spots, and then check them out at rehearsal, some work out and then some do not. Depends on there being time (room) for the run so it does not interfere with the lyrics being sung.

    Jazzbooks.com is full of play-a-longs. Might check some of them out.

    Know how you feel, finding what fits is the task. You use roots and 8's; the 5th is just below the 8......... R-8-5-8, now that is about as generic as R-8 - slide a few 5's in there.

    Good luck.
  6. lexington125


    Sep 11, 2013
    hollywood, baby......
    someday I will find 4 or 5 other guys who want to play the blues the way it was played before it became all about guitar heroics
    this may seem obvious, especially to someone who knows how to play jazz, but learn to walk, really well. First with a solid understanding of chord tones, and then go all the way with chromatic lines.

    done correctly, you will reach a point where there are "no wrong notes" as every note on the bass can be considered either a chord tone, scale tone or chromatic passing tone. But to really make that work (in real time, no memorizing lines!) will take some serious work - i've been working toward this goal for many years.
  7. squidtastic

    squidtastic Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2013
    But that's not at all strange for slap as octaves are one of the fundaments of the style.

    I wouldn't over-think it. Just try chord tones. When playing in mixolydian (which is practically every funk tune), you can make 7ths and 3rds sound good pretty easily.
  8. jking138


    Oct 6, 2013
    Don't be afraid to hit 'wrong' notes.
    When I'm jamming with my band I start off with octaves and fifths, I don't know much theory at all (bare basics might be an exaggeration), but I know some pentatonic and chord shapes (after playing guitar). After, I expand into other areas, I go exploring. Don't always get it right, you learn from your mistakes, but some times these notes add another slant to the music.

    If you can play nearly anything (and your not just blindly following tabs, right?) you should see patterns from other songs and various fills and riffs you can adapt and add to your library (I'm not suggesting plagiarism but a way of understanding what your playing rather then just playing it because you were told to).
    If you know all the notes and scales then it shouldn't be a challenge to play them, just experiment, I doubt more theory would help.

    None of this was aimed to sound condescending BTW, apologies if it reads that way.
  9. Learn your scales and modes. Great way to be able to traverse your fingerboard from one end to the other fluidly and fluently.