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Dissecting the Gospel Groove

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Torch7, Mar 8, 2006.


  1. Torch7

    Torch7

    May 7, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    There is a post going on that asks the question "What is it that makes 'gospel bassists' masters of the groove?" An excellent thread that deals deals with the musician.

    The purpose of this thread is to deal with the music. What are some experiences you can share with a new Gospel Bassist, as to how the music works. I know Gospel is diverse, but all experiences welcome. (Please don't come with the theme I see so prevelant on this forum, of bashing the newbies.... and the blanket answer find a teacher. If you don't want to share then don't)

    I am still less than a year into playing the bass, and only a month with my new instrument, which has opened up a lot of possibilities to me... MY 5 String. From what I gathered around the net, a 5 string is a staple in Gospel.

    We minister songs from Israel, Martha Munizzi, Micheal W. Smith, Shekinah Glory, Fred Hammond, Judy Jacobs, Hezekiah Walker, Donald Lawrence, Clint Brown, Marvin Sapp, to name a few.

    What I have brought from my short experience, is:

    Israel loves the Key of E & F
    Major & Minor Pentatonic Scale Patterns are my Friend.
    Ear Training, is essential (For spontaneous Worship Songs) Don't wanna be left twiddlin' my thumbs.
    You can get bye with Chromatic Runs, during Shout songs.
    1-4-5-1 progressions are my friend

    That's my limited bit to share with the forum...
    Someone told me that once I learn to use my modes properly things will open up even more... awaiting that day.

    Again, any and all experiences welcome.
     
  2. kenlacam

    kenlacam

    Nov 8, 2005
    akron, ohio
    the drummer's bass pedal is your Best Friend Ever. I learned that early in learning to groove. If the drummer has a great right foot (especially if he/she can use the double-kick pedal), you'll find yourself a cut above the rest.
    Stamina is exremely important, espcecially when a service is running 3-4 hours and there is a lot of shouting going on. Trust me, that's the battlefield right there. Alternate your right fingers when doing shout music, otherwise you'll cramp up like you wouldn't believe.
    That's all I can think of for now
     
  3. Torch7

    Torch7

    May 7, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    Thanks for the input kenlacam...

    Do you use knowledge of musical theory, where you play... mines seems like a mute point, when I am relating to the other musicians.
     
  4. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    Never forget the blues 1-4-5 progression. It'll come back in some form or another in a lot of traditional based gospel.

    Learn to do the chromatic runs (1-3-4-4.5-5-6-7-7.5-8 - and variations on that basic theme -Restart from the 3 - repeat until told to stop... literally!) . There will come that inevitable moment when the holy ghost will hit and you may be doing this for a while.

    Learn to follow the foot pedals if you have a Hammond B3 player. And try to get them to lay off of them when you finally catch the groove or know what you are supposed to be playing. Trying to get them to ease up on the left hand or foot pedals will be a constant struggle. IF they don't stop - you stop playing and stare at them.... they'll get the message.

    In addition, don't compete with the drummer for rhythmic stuff. He's the beat master... lock with him and you'll experience a groove that will rival the grand canyon. It'll be that deep. It's almost addictive... The first time it happens, you'll want to do it everytime.... patience grass-hopper.;)

    Get some kind of set up that allows you to play a cd, run it through a mixer that you have your bass plugged into and get some good headphones. This will be the best practice set up you can ever get. You can practice to CD's forever and no one will hear your mistakes...

    Don't underestimate how much you need to practice... not learn new stuff, but improve the techniques you already have.

    Don't underestimate the application of the KISS principle. There isn't a lot of Wooten-esque style in Gospel. Slapping and popping has it's place, but good solid finger style will be your best friend. As such, so will some theory. You may not always want to play the root.... learn what else there is to play.

    If you're not accustomed to entended range instruments, make the shift. You don't need a conklin 7 or 9 string, but a good 5 with a B string is a must. In fact, take the journey into tuning down a half step or a whole step... you'll be surprised. You may have to experiment with string gauges, but it's worth it to see if you can become comfortable.... careful... you'll eventually want to have multiple basses tuned B, Bb and A.... you'll get GAS, and become a gear snob....:D
    I've played 6'ers for a while and I'm comfortable with it... but I could get by with a good 5.

    I don't use a whole lot of FX... don't know many players that do... I don't think you need them.

    Churches that I've been in are afraid to let me get a line to the board... as such, I have a Crest CA9 that will do 2000 W to a 4 ohm load... I don't need no stinkin' line to the board. Being heard clear to the back of the church may or may not be an isssue. If you become a regular church player, you'll want to think about your setup. I don't think 1000 W of headroom is too much... I think its about right.

    As for cabs: 10's are fine--- 410's are good.... 12's are better (for me...) but 15's & 18's and anything smaller than a 10"... I don't think you'll need. Oh... and make sure your cab has a tweeter. For those percussive moments when you're NOT competing with the drummer, tweeters help make it sweet and articulate.
     
  5. Torch7

    Torch7

    May 7, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    Good Post Mario,

    Lots of valuable information.:bassist:
     
  6. Awsome thread and i'm definitely camping out here for some additional insight.
     
  7. GSPLBASSDC

    GSPLBASSDC

    Jan 25, 2005
    Phoenix, AZ
    Learn to do the chromatic runs (1-3-4-4.5-5-6-7-7.5-8 - and variations on that basic theme -Restart from the 3 - repeat until told to stop... literally!) . There will come that inevitable moment when the holy ghost will hit and you may be doing this for a while.

    ...and don't forget the "praise dance" run....4 consecutive frets on 2 adjacent strings. Start on the 8th note (last fret, 2nd string) and then progress from first fret, first string.

    Get some kind of set up that allows you to play a cd, run it through a mixer that you have your bass plugged into and get some good headphones. This will be the best practice set up you can ever get. You can practice to CD's forever and no one will hear your mistakes...

    ...I use a Tascam CDMKII bass trainer. OUTSTANDING practice tool!!!

    You don't need a conklin 7 or 9 string, but a good 5 with a B string is a must.

    + a billion.......

    I don't think 1000 W of headroom is too much... I think its about right.

    I have 1200 watts available from my head.....great to know it's there for really large venues


    really great post, Mario....
     
  8. IotaNet

    IotaNet Supporting Member

    Fellas -

    You are taking me to school -- and I am digging it! (I've been looking for this kind of information since I picked up the bass -- over a year ago.)

    Out of curiousity, what kind of strings are you using -- flats or Rounds?

    I am familiar with the tonal characteristics of each but I am wondering which do you consider better for playing "chuch" (mispelled intentionally) music?
     
  9. Maverick Blues

    Maverick Blues Being a Thumper is all about ATTITUDE!

    Apr 28, 2005
    Richmond, VA
    Mario, may I ask why?

    Thanks,
    'rick
     
  10. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    The explanation is usually poor planning on their part to accomodate a bass... the house speakers are meant for voice/intended for the choir/not designed to reproduce notes in the lower frequencies for sustained periods. They may not have any subs... and they are probably not used to having to accomodate a bass and they don't know how to mix it in AND give me a monitor so that I don't need my pre, power amp & cabinet(s). I've gotten everything from "the last bass player blew our speakers" to the DI on my pre (F1X and Navigator) sends a bad signal to the board because I have control of the level, and if they set it at their end and I fiddle with the volume knob, it throws off their whole plan for eq & volume levels. So I have given up the fight and use my rig. That's why I am an advocate of lots of power via QSC PLX 3002 or 3402 or the Crest Line. I've also had Crown K1's, Stewart 2.1 or a pair of 1.2's and I once had a Peavey DPC 1400... lots of power, and a space left in the rack for cooling.

    I haven't had the luxury of experienced sound folks that know what their doing, these are mostly volunteers in the Audio Visual ministry and by the time I get their, they've got their ways of doing things... It's not their fault, and I don't see them as ignorant or anything, I just deal with it and play on...

    In better circumstances, I'm able to give the drummer his own speaker from my rig and I stand really close to him. I'm making eye contact with the drummer at critical points in the songs (intro's, breaks, accents, modulations, and endings) the rest of the time, we are locked by the beat and the movement of the bass line. I follow him... he follows me.... we're together. So that's why I say In don't need a line to the board, the folks in the nose bleed section will hear me just fine and me & the drummer are linked... The organist and the choir just need to follow along!!:D
     
  11. Torch7

    Torch7

    May 7, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    I have tried both.

    Flat
    Nice feel to the touch.
    No String noise, when hands inadvertently slide down the strings.
    Deep, mellow tones.

    Round:
    Can rub you fingers raw until you are used to them (The Stainless Steel ones flat out hurt, at first)
    String noise when moving around, causes, you to develop better technique.
    Mid and high sounds are more bright.

    I think I prefer the Round Wound.
     
  12. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    I use roudwound steels. Gotten good success with the over priced Elixir's and Labella Super Steps with exposed core windings at the bridge help with good low action up and down the neck.
    Remember, fingerstyle (and fluent execution of your intended phrase... we're making the bass SPEAK) is what I'm primarily into and low actions eases the translation.

    Flats give the bass a deader, more wooly and less articulate sound IMO. Good for a 4 string in a old school R&B gig, not good for two octave runs in an upbeat Hez Walker song... it'll all sound like mush, no matter how technically superior your technique is.

    Just my $0.02
     
  13. Torch7

    Torch7

    May 7, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    I am currently in the same boat... I am not running through the PA. Our stage configuration is all wrong, due to me leaning heavily on the keyboard players left hand to fiddle my way around, they are gonna move me soon :crying: b/c I need to lock with the drummer, I have been stalling them for a few months now... but the move is coming... So I gotta get myself together and stop playing copy cat with the keys...
     
  14. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    You and I said the same thing, I started on the 1, you started on the 8.

    Now, expand that and let the 8 that you end on be the one in the same run just an octave higher and instead of going bacl to the higher 1/8... walk it down from the higher 8 back down two octaves to the original 1.... then for grins and giggles, do it twice as fast getting back to the original 1 in the same amount of time.... or... double the notes playing each twice in regular time....

    This can be fun... if the rest of the group (usually in my case just the organ / B3 and a drummer) are together, you've got an entire playground at your fingertips... and there are variations if you're into modes as to what plays over what... I've never known any of that, but I find it by ear looking for something else to play insted of the same run because (1) it gets boring and (2) the variations spice up the moment and (3) it'll add to the show off factor... and you KNOW we like to show off....!!!
     
  15. Torch7

    Torch7

    May 7, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    Here is a clip illustrating what these gentlemen are speaking about:
    http://www.gospelchops.com/booyah.wmv
     
  16. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    Funny thing is.... I know him!!!! That boy is BAD!!!! and he's the one that I mentioned in another post that practices at least 3 hours a day!!!

    That's the goal.... If I can get half as good as he is.... :hyper: :hyper:
     
  17. Torch7

    Torch7

    May 7, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    He does have some skills in that video... 3 hours a day... wow that is some serious practice... I can only get about an hour in.
     
  18. GSPLBASSDC

    GSPLBASSDC

    Jan 25, 2005
    Phoenix, AZ
    Rounds.....without a doubt!!!

    I use DR lo-riders....great for a fat, funky tone and slap style playing!!!:hyper:
     
  19. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    Download and listen to this one....

    http://www.gospelchops.com/session2.wmv

    At about minute 19 or a few seconds before, you can get a feel of the environment that I live in, thrive in, love, and won't ever leave... the traditional call & response of the black church. Playing along with a preacher, backed by an organ.... man... ain't nothing like it.

    Note the moment when the preahcer modulates up and the organist follows him.... as soon as possible, learn that there IS a key associated with the preachers voice, singing is nothing but elongated speech,and organists (good ones) pick up on that and learn to play around in the natural key of the preachers spoken word.... when you're doing those modulations, and the spirit is rising, live in that moment.... it's a beautiful thing!!

    Not bragging, but I played with Tolefree when I first got to the Bay Area. Funny thing is, he can play the bass too. But because he has such mastery of chords and is an absolute monter on keyboards, he's thinking in zones musically that I can only imagine. One good suggestion is learn keys or learn some theory.... it can only help.

    That environment I spoke of in another thread where Bass Players get eaten alive.... yeah, I had my experience with him... I just couldn't keep up and deliver what he wanted and man did I get down on my self.... but it inspired me to keep trying.... that level of proficiency and mastery of our instrument IS attainable IF we're willing to devote the time and energy to it. Just a word to the wise....
     
  20. Torch7

    Torch7

    May 7, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    I've seen that video prior... nice stuff...

    Does anyone shed around there town... I don't know a single other Bass Player in my city..

    That cat... Dave... i think his name is... is nice on the keys... my goodness.

    Playing with the preacher seems like a nice experience I haven't delve into it yet... do you have any advice on that area, of ministry?