Does it have to be technically superior to be a good line?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by cassanova, Sep 23, 2001.

  1. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    In your honest opinion does a bass line have to be technically superiour for it to be a good well constructed bass line, or can it just be something catchy, melodic and simple?

    IMO i dont think a line has to be done to the extent of Jaco's, Patitucci's, Wooten's ability for it to be good or for the bass player to be a good player.
  2. A good bass line (to me) is one that sounds pleasing to my ears. Technical superiority has nothing to do with it.
  3. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i think that a bass line must be technically superiour _AT WHAT IT IS TRYING TO DO_ to be good enough.

    i don't care if you're playing open E string quarter notes, they better have consistent dynamics, note length, and tone.

    as far as note choice and "tricky/easy" lines are concerned, as bassists/musicians/artists, that's pretty much THE BIGGEST decision that we have to make, the most important. that's where the "art" of what we do comes out. there is no answer that is right for everyone for every situation.
  4. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    A bass line has to SOUND good - that's the bottom line - we are dealing with music, which is about sound, which leads to feelings - good or bad.

    Some basslines need a lot of good technique to sound good, while some basslines can be played by a beginner with bad technique, and still sound good (in the context of the rest of the band which drowns out the imperfections).

    You mentioned about being "technically superior" - I suppose this is all relative - superior to whom? In the end, it depends on the song, and on the player.

    Even if it's "simple but melodic", good technique is always desirable, as JT pointed out.
  5. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Larry Graham's line in "Everyday People". 2 notes. "Nuff said! :cool:
  6. I find the easiest stuff may sound dumb alone, but you put it together with other instruments and it sounds great.

    IMO it is all about if it fits the part and has nothing to do with it being difficult.
  7. air_leech


    Sep 1, 2000
    technically superior?

    IMO no.

    I would appreciate a simple, functional, grooving line much more than a techincal line thats ment to showcase the players technic but has nothing to do with the song.

    I don't however like root-quarter-notes-on-the- chord-changes lines, I like lines that are original and sound unique.

    also I feel that sometimes a bassist has such a distinctively great tone that he can play very few notes but they turn out to complement the song by offering a clean bass sound which is fun listening to.

    Sleeping Satelite-Tasmin Archer
    Once Upon a Time in the West-Dire Straits
  8. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    I agree.
  9. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    I don't think so. 2 of my favorite bassists aren't technical wiz's. Paul McCartney & Sting.
  10. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Depends. Superior to what?
  11. melvin


    Apr 28, 2001
    I completely agree.
  12. No. The bass line should fit the song. End of story.
  13. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    wise and true words, i agree.
  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    There's a flaw in your thinking. Catchy, melodic and simple IS technically superior!
  15. I agree with everyone saying "It has to sound good"
    But to me, "sounding good" will often depend on the song and what the rest of the band is doing.

    For example, I might come up with a nice little solo groove that I dig. I might bring that groove up at the next band rehearsal, and when everyone else comes in I might decide I don't like the sound of it as an ensemble piece, or at least not with what the rest of the band was playing that time. :)
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well as people have pointed out, this begs several questions - like "superior to what?". I would also say it depends on your definition of "bass line" - if you mean a through-composed line that is written by the composer as an essential component of a pieces of music, then there can be rules for what the most "technically-correct" line is - say in a Bach Fugue or when harmonising a hymn tune.

    But this is completely different to what is expected in Jazz for example. So you mention Jaco and John Patitucci who have worked in Jazz quite a lot. Now if I go along to a Jazz gig, the audience expect improvisation and they expect solos that involve and interest them - whether they come from the sax player or the bass player. John Patitucci says that he sees the 6-string bass as his "Tenor Sax" and he like to think that he can be as melodic as a sax player.

    Audiences at Jazz gigs I attend, expect a level of technical proficiency from all the musicians and they like the music to swing or maybe groove in some contemporary stuff. But the expectation is very different from another type of gig and so I don't think it's fair to compare and say one player is better than another when we are talking about vastly different styles of music and audience expectations.

    If you listen to a lot of South African "township" music - the guitars are playing very rhythmic patterns and it is the bass that is playing more complex stuff - often in a high register.

    I suppose what I'm saying is that there is no simple answer that applies to all situations and I think personally, that as John has pointed out; just because you are playing a simple style of music doesn't necessarily mean you can somehow "get away" with less technique. A lot of Afro-Cuban music sounds quite simple - root-fifth - but fitting it into complex patterns of percussion can be more demanding than music that has more chords/scales and sounds "busier" to the casual listener.

    On the other hand if John Patitucci writes a tune with a particular bassline and you try to "simplify" it to make it "rock" more, (for example) then I think he would be entitled to say that you have simplified his intent to the point where it is no longer a "good bass line"!
  17. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I like this answer. ;)
  18. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Any bassline that doesn't not contain syncopated 32nd notes in 5/4 time, at 280bpm is seriously flawed, and cannot, and will not ever, be good.

    Please excuse me. I'm seriously jetlagged (don't know why I can't readjust) and am insanely tired and delusional at the moment.
  19. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    IMHO, technical "superiority" has NOTHING to do with a good bass line. Sometimes, the context of the music requires it, it isn't what makes it great.

    I think of players like Entwistle, John Paul Jones, Berry Oakley. None of those guys are techincal wizzards. Sure they have some chops, but nothing that any decent player can't pull off.

    It is their creativity and feel for the groove that makes their lines great, and makes them an unreplaceable part of their bands music.
  20. True very very true, but 32 notes, please let us not be a wuss. Syncopated 64ths in 7/4 or I won't pick up my bass.