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Can "Groove" be taught?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by brumshine, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. brumshine


    Apr 27, 2012
    I wanted to get some TB'ers opinions on: if the ability to groove is something that you are born with or if it is something anyone can achieve through hours of woodshedding?

    If anyone knows of any exercises or tips for helping me improve my groove they are much appreciated.

    Thank you,
  2. bubinga5


    Jun 6, 2006
    its a bit of both... you can learn the techniques of certain styles that can help you play groove.... placements of notes, ghost notes, etc... my tips are, listen to alot of groove... shalamar, early rufus and chaka khan, delegation, chic... then again groove isnt just in funk/groove etc...

    what makes a great groove bassist though is a natural ability that makes you stand out... bernard edwards is a great example of this... there is no right or wrong answer as there are so many variations of what groove can be... imo..
  3. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    It can be taught and improved by understanding of what is involved, not just by practice.
    Some players practice the wrong way and the wrong things in an attempt to improve. They belive constant practice will sort the problem out. The truth in their practice is just "grooving" all their faults, not eliminating them, they are actually grooving not being able to groove....if that makes sense....making it harder to undo their problems.

    Learning to groove, is an understanding of whats going on, what is needed, and then doing it. Its not about putting the notes under the fingers, but the feel.....notes are not usually the issue, its their delivery. Think Shakepeare, think of the words, then think of how they need to be delivered....then think Slyvester Stallone, Kenneth Branagh, Patrick Stewart......which one of those three cannot groove Shakespeare? The words are the same, but all the sets, costumes, props etc..will never help the delivery in this genre for Sly....as other genres would not help Ken or Patrick.

    Bass playing can be seen in a similar way, instrument, amp, pedals, venues etc will never compansate a player that cannot groove with in a genre, they need to learn what it is that makes a genre groove and harness it.
    So take in some workshops, read some books, check out DVDs, listen to lots of different types of music, it is all about internalisation and reference rather than just knowing it.
    History has giving us thousands of players that can groove, but not really be able to explain how they do it, so you learn from them the same way they learned by watching and listening.
    But we also have many great players that can explain and articulate what they do, and they release that information in many media formats, as well as workshops, demo days etc..

    Also the web has some great videos, and of course the technology we have today lets us get a deeper understanding...check out the clip, the slower it gets ther easier it is to see and hear it.....but it still grooves even at its slowest speed.;)

  4. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    I think it can be learned if you were born with the talent and work to develop it. I have never believed that everyone can become a great player. I know plenty of people who work lot harder than I do and still can't play well enough to join a band. There is always a degree of natural ability involved to become a good player.
  5. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I think relatively few people are born without the ability to groove, just as a few are without sight. However the specific techniques needed to translate that natural groove to your fingers and body are learned. First through listening to what your community considers a musical groove. Then through developing the techniques to get the sounds out of whatever noise making technology you are using. In the end some will be extra special just as in the sports every child plays in the school yards but only that select few have that special spark which makes them rich and then sees to it that they are honored in halls of fame.
  6. Brent Hahn

    Brent Hahn

    Jul 25, 2009
    For me, it wasn't endless woodshedding. It was more of a sudden epiphany. Right around the time my next door neighbors snuck me into an Ike & Tina Turner Revue show at the Benld Ballroom (yes, that's how you spell it) in southern Illinois. I was 12.

    A couple years later, the opposite occurred -- a Grateful Dead show at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis. A giant cloud of smoke enveloping 5,000 people (band included) who wouldn't know a groove if it bit 'em in the ass. The kind of folks who clap on one and three. Badly.
  7. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    I used to rock. Now I groove. A few more years, I just might decide to swing.
  8. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    It's simple, you just have to keep trying. I could hardly stay with the nome until I was 25.
  9. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I don't find grooving to be so academic, but rather something that comes through repitition. There have been many times while playing alone when I have found a lick, or phrase, I like that when I play it for a long time my muscles get more and more used to it. At some point I become more relaxed as my muscles warm up. After more time I seem to be able t0 articulate better. It's something I discovered as a child while playng around.

    But, as Fergie said, it also helps to understand what is going on. Knowledge never hurts.
  10. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    >>The kind of folks who clap on one and three<<

    Ooo, I hate that!
  11. CraigTB


    Feb 16, 2012
    It's like everything else - some people are born with incredible innate talent for it, others have to practice to get it, and there's probably a tiny percentage of people that could never get it (like being feel-deaf instead of tone-deaf).

    Play along with lots of groovy music, you'll get better at it.

    To me a good groove player has a lot of patience in their playing - nothing is ever rushed.
  12. Groove is the "thing" that makes you bang your head and play drums with your fingers on the desk or on your lap.
  13. bassnat


    Jan 31, 2011
    Groove = Feel + Note Choices. Feel = born and developed. Note Choices = learned and practiced.
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    That could also be a cultural thing...I have had a few "Live In Japan" Jazz records where that was the case.
  15. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Well stated. I'll add that if you play with a drummer who can groove, then your own groove-ability should improve exponentially. This has been my experience.
  16. I dont consider myself anything more than a novice bassist at best. Im a drummer 1st and percussion major. But lately, I've had a few people come up and say man you have a nice touch on that bass. I got to thinking about it and how I approached my playing and realized once I had the notes or melody I wanted for a particular passage or entire song, the drummer in me came out and I approached the timing as though I were dropping the bass notes in the pocket of a 16th note paradiddle groove a drummer would use. Im constantly thinking 16th notes. Its just my way of feeling it I guess, We all have our own. I get inspired listening to drummer Dave Garibaldi of Tower of Power work a groove with the bass and Hammond B3 in the band... Thats groove.
  17. conqr


    Feb 16, 2009
    I feel that, yessir! That beat is just IN you, and when you naturally break it right down to 16ths you can pick choose and refuse notes in tasty ways across multiple styles. I think the very best musicians (on may instruments) do just that.

    Right now I'm listening a lot to Tommy Emmanuel - human groove machine who needs nothing more than his acoustic - incredible musician.
  18. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    Listen. Listen. Listen to how groove is accomplished. That means listening to everything going on, not just the bass player, who is in fact, listening to everything that is going on.
  19. hsech

    hsech Work hard. My Social Security needs a raise.

    Jun 27, 2012
    Central Iowa
    I've always thought jazz was a good way to learn to groove. Listen to some jazz and big band music. If you haven't listened to either genre much before, you will be amazed what all is going on with the bass. I really think the ability to groove is a natural talent, but it can be learned with hard work.
  20. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Feb 28, 2021

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