Creating lines from a drum groove

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Backspacez, Dec 24, 2013.

  1. Backspacez


    Dec 3, 2013
    This is something I would love to improve on, when playing with my friends, we usually just make stuff up on the spot based off the drummer so it'd be nice to get better at that. I have a drum machine to practice at home... but I was wondering if there was anything in specific you guys do when building a line.
  2. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    The best bass players I know think rather like drummers with respect to time. When I'm collaborating with drummers, we both keep things as simple as possible when establishing the basic framework of the groove. When either of us adds embellishments, it is with an implicit goal of never losing sight of the basic groove. I recently saw a fascinating video interview with bassist Michael League (leader of Snarky Puppy) which you may enjoy (he talks about his approach to bass at about the 20-minute mark):

  3. fmoore200


    Mar 22, 2011
    Start off doubling the bass drum and go from there
  4. Precision101


    Sep 22, 2013
    Become a drummer :D I'm mainly a drummer anyway but bass is great so..
  5. play more with real drummers?
  6. bhunt1

    bhunt1 Vintage Lefty Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2009
    Upstate NY
    Older than dirt ;)
    I practice along with the drum machine, I vary the type of drum track (rock, pop, hip hop), pick a key or chord progression and try to build a bass line. I think it helps you with timing and groove. Don't go too crazy with complex fills, just try to get in a groove and stay there with little embellishments thrown in at appropriate times.
  7. phoenixjmw


    Jul 9, 2013
    I don't think as much about building a bassline as much as I first try to hear what the whole song should be like from the drum groove. Is it a country song, a metal song, a ballad? That usually sets a feel for me. Than as others mentioned start by simply following the base drum in the style of the song and add as you go.

    Maybe this seems backwards in a way but works for me.
  8. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    ironically this is the only thing i'm good at, that's why i think the guys keep me around, they are willing to ignore the amateur technique and the rudimentary theory questions for the riff generation, for me it's listening and math, i forget who posted the groove workshop video on here, but it layed out really smoothly the measures and the on beat off beat stuff
  9. superfly8564


    Sep 23, 2013
    Start simple and follow the bass drum. Try not to mute to follow the snare. Pick out a progression like a I, IV, V so that you can move around the neck and get used to what notes need to fall under your fingers. I practice with backing music 95% of the time. I highly recommend this approach. Your timing will improve and your improv will become solid very quickly.
  10. JPMo


    Dec 27, 2010
    Canton, Ga
    Great advice here guys!
  11. Eatapeach1965


    Nov 29, 2013
    What drum machine would you guys/girls suggest?
    Or an app???
    Just a few good ones is all I'm looking for at the moment, so nothing fancy needed
  12. Precision101


    Sep 22, 2013
    An app of some sort.
  13. Eatapeach1965


    Nov 29, 2013
    Any one in particular stand out?
  14. Precision101


    Sep 22, 2013

    Easy beats. It's free and actually kind of fun. Make your own rhythm
  15. Precision101


    Sep 22, 2013
    But you can get more kits if you buy it
  16. LazyGecko


    Nov 19, 2013
    Well here's what I like to do that I have found success with. If the drum part is simple, follow along equally as simple and if you want you can add fills where they may seem appropriate (end of a line, verse, whatever) if the drum part is complex, you can try beat boxing the drum rhythm. You won't get all of what the drums are doing but you will get a manageable groove you can work with with important hits highlighted and that should help. Sorry if that was a bad description.
  17. Eatapeach1965


    Nov 29, 2013

    I'll look into it
  18. Spala


    Dec 29, 2013
    As a drummer myself, I can offer you a few pointers based on my own experience.

    First: be sure that nobody is being too greedy in their playing and hogging all the space. By that I mean nobody needs to fill in every open space with a note or lick, leave that space for your other members as well as creating a contrast in texture. Your drummer should not be overloading the groove by playing too "busy" and adding in all sorts of bass drum notes, loud ghost notes, offbeats, etc - many drummers are plagued by the thought that playing everything will make them sound good, when it's quite the contrary.

    Second: have a balance of unison and contrast. The bass drum of the drumset will help push the punch of the bass guitar playing, so some unison is great, but there needs to be different places where you aren't 100% together, otherwise both of you get muddled together. Your differences don't have to be in the form of self-indulging licks either, simply playing a note where the other person isn't is fine enough, and you can always improve on that space to create a more sophisticated musical phrase.

    You'll be able to feel where and when it's appropriate. Play a lot together, take a lot of chances, and make a lot of mistakes. The only way to know what sounds good is to know what sounds bad. As long as you and your bandmates have a mutual respect for the practice space and what it really means, then you should be just fine.

    Experimentation is where you'll find your success.
  19. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999

    I have yammered on this topic since my 1st day here.
    I have several drum books...a couple have some examples of beats by Clyde Stubblefield (one of James Brown's funkier & busier drummers).
    I took 2 bars of his beat...learned the kick part & made up my own bass figure to that rhythm. Played that along to the drum machine (programmed with Stubblefield's 2-bar beat).

    Next...I learned the snare part...and made up my own bass figure to that rhythm. Played that along with the drum machine.
    Note: Here, it puts the bass into the this case, not playing on "1" (or "3") all.

    Back to the kick pattern...and displaced it by an 1/8th note...played along with the drum machine. Doing this makes the bass figure cross the barline.
    Here you really need to be able to count!
    ...and be confident enough to lay off the "1" 'cause the bass is coming in on the "& of 1".

    Have fun.