Christian bass players: help with songs?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by sheepdog, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. sheepdog


    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    Not sure if this would apply to just Church/Praise Music, but I usually play along to the basic chord charts. I am trying to expand my abilities and I hear some great sounding bass fills (not busy, just sounds good). Is there a better way to learn this other than to just listen, play, repeat?

    and I have no idea if this is this is the right sub-forum
  2. The one thing I've found that helps me is to listen to just about every type of music out there that has bass in it. That includes jazz, country, R&B, gospel, rock, funk, etc. Listen exclusively for the bass parts and try to dissect them by ear. It takes time and patience but it has allowed me to expand my playing tremendously.

    Also, learn your scales. You'll find that many of these fills you hear are just scale runs an as you learn your scales you'll find that the fills you hear aren't as hard to play as you once thought. It all comes with experience and patience. The more you play, the faster you will learn.
  3. PF all-star

    PF all-star

    Dec 30, 2008
    Couldn't agree more Cap'n.

    Scale/chord work will give you an idea of what notes you can play. The music styles, more of what notes you should play when.

    I'm not the most experienced player but would also encourage you to work within you ability. Better to nail a simple fill than botch a complex one.
  4. RedsFan75


    Apr 26, 2007
    What they said!

    IF you're wanting specific songs I know that Hal Leonard has released some worship team play-along books for specific instruments. I have the book "Holy Is The Lord" for Bass. That might be an avenue to look at. You can see the type runs/fills the song was released with and use it as a learning tool to further your own playing.
  5. Two things that really helped me with creating better lines for worship:

    1) Getting the set list/charts in advance. I kind of memorize the basics, then I can relax and experiment during rehearsal.
    2) Listen to different artists versions of the songs and dissect the bass parts.
  6. thesteve


    May 28, 2007
    San Diego, CA
    Good advice. Knowing the basics of the song and understanding where the melody is going can definitely free you up for doing more interesting things, whether that means playing an inversion instead of a root note or breaking a chord up for an arpeggio.
  7. sheepdog


    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    thanks for all the advice. I will be looking into those books. Hopefully we will start getting music more than 1 day in advance to help out. :D
  8. Gonna have to agree with the Cap'n on this one. If you only listen to other bassists, your musical vocabulary will be limited.

    The guys that blow your doors off right now have listened to as many different styles, and as many different instruments as they could.

    Sax is great for phrasing. Drums are great for rhythm. Piano and guitar are great for learning to hear more than one note at a time.

    Also, a great 'fill' serves the song. If you don't what the melody line is doing, it's kinda hard to support it.

  9. Hopefully we will start getting music more than 1 day in advance to help out.
    Well good luck on that, I think that is S.O.P. for praise leaders... I guess we do not realize how important they think they are. LOL any way, if you know the natural progression of the song, just go with what feels right. like you said " listen, play, repeat?"
  10. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    I require mp3s and charts 3 days in advance. ..

    The challenge for most worship stuff is that there is no predictable minor chord for drama.

    I've also learned that my bass playing really imp0roves when I learn the material on piano first.

    In our gig, we practice 40 minutes and play 1-15 hours.

  11. Agree to listen and learn other styles which do influence worship music. I had the pleasure to play with one the best IMHO keyboard players I have ever known...his ear, knowledge, and skills are just awesome. I asked him what he has learned or notices the other better bass players do. He explained to know your chords, scales, and LEARN THE MELODY of the songs you are gonna play. The last tidbit really opened up my playing because I began to move pretty fluidly through the songs we would play not just the bass lines.
  12. bassfuser

    bassfuser Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2008
    Subtle Rhythm pattern changes can add a ton. The music we use is written for Piano and a lot of times the music might be strictly eighth notes. I'll play these lines how I feel it instead of the strict eighth notes. It could be having more or less than the written music. It just depends on the song.

    The use of octaves. Pretty basic sounding, but I might play the E on the A string one time around the song and then the low E the next time. Or even go between the 2 also adding the 5th in between.

    A good way to use the scales is use the notes in between two chords as leading tones to the chord you're going toward. For instance, you're going from an Fma7 to Cma7 in the key of C. Play the E & D to lead to the C.

    Sliding up to the sixth and then going down the scale can be a good enhancement if done at the right time.

    The main thing is to not over play. You still need to keep the groove and sometimes simplicity is the best thing.
  13. sheepdog


    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    I used to attend an acapella only church, so definitely had to learn melody and harmony (I still sing tenor while playing...when I can). I will have to start thinking in those terms as well. Maybe I can snag a keyboard. I can see how plunking out things on a keyboard could be an easier start.

    When I find a job and extra money, I might search for a good instructor in town that can help steer me in the right direction. I enjoy jazz, blues, rock...heck, I can even handle some country. The trick is to learn what I can use from the styles. Thankfully my current church is patient with me while I learn. No Victor Wooten's waiting in the pews to take my place. :D

    Thanks again.
  14. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    This is not technique related. I'll send this over to General Education.
  15. dbassman59


    Dec 19, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I play in worship band also. Nothing has improved my playing as playing in the church group. Some one mentioned earlier about letting other music or bass lines influence you. I agree. For example on one of the songs we play ... the chord progression reminds me of a Beatles bass riff from "No Reply" I even made that note on my sheet music. Really listen to the melody, the words, the drums and the rhythm guitar ... find your groove and rock out.
  16. derelicte


    Dec 25, 2007
    15 hours??? where do you play at???
  17. caeman

    caeman The Root Master

    Sep 17, 2008
    I have been at the drum set in a pentacostal church where it felt like we played for 15 hours straight. One song to the next, 200 BPM, people running the isles, passing out...
  18. BigNoise


    Nov 19, 2007
    Knoxville, TN
    I play worship and praise music and I have found that the best way to learn is to force yourself to experiment on stage, I know that may sound harsh but if you always play the same thing over and over again you eventually get stuck inside a "box".
  19. cb56


    Jul 2, 2000
    Central Illinois
    Funny, I'm sitting at my computer right now looking for videos of the songs we're playing sunday on youtube and God tube. We rehearse on wednesday night and at rehearsal is when I get my lead sheets and if I don't know the song, I'm forced to invent something on the spot to play.
    We also have a sunday morning rehearsal before service. Sometime in between wednesday and sunday I'll get to listen to the songs and pencil in notes on my copy of the lead sheets. I guess you just do the best you can with what you're given to work with.
    The other church I ocasionally play at gives me music and a cd two weeks in advance.
    That Hal leonard book looks interesting. I'll have to check into it too.
  20. Everything I needed to know about bass playing I learned from Mel Bay! :D ....everything else since then was extra.

    Really, I can still see in my mind's eye the aqua-blue cover and the black type-face that told me it was everything a budding bass player should know to start playing bass was book 1 in the series.

    Beyond that, as many have said here, being somewhat fluent in a variety of styles and distilling the essential character of each will go a long way when the director asks you to to play in the style du jour.