drums and bass relationship

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by kindablue, Jun 24, 2003.

  1. kindablue


    Jun 15, 2003
    this is what i'm trying to understand.i'm a guitar player who's been toying with the bass for years but never took it seriously,until now.what i'm asking is how does the bass correspond with the kick drum and other drum/bass relationships like that.how to lock in with the drums and to think like a drummer?is that something bass players do?think like a drummer as well as bass player?any tips and exercises would be appreaciated.thanx
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    There's usually one element of the kit that you should pay particular attention to. It can shift around depending on the style, so there's no strategy that works in every situation.

    In blues, rock, pop and R&B, it's the kick drum. In jazz, it's the ride cymbal. In Latin music, it's whatever instrument is maintaining the clave. If you're playing funk, you can imitate the interaction between the kick and snare with slaps and pops.

    You don't have to follow "rules." Some of the funkiest bass parts happen when the bass isn't playing unison with any other instrument.
  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    The general rule in pop/rock based music is to place your bass notes on the kick drum beats.

    This doesnt mean the drummer or bass player wont put in extra beats or notes in places.

    It also isnt a hard and fast rule (obviously!). Some tracks use a lighter touch on the kick and have the bass working on the offbeat of the kick. So for example the kick might hit on the 1,2,3,4, while the bass notes fall on the & of each beat.

    The most important thing I think is to just listen to the drums. There's little practice you can do other than playing with a drummer and a drum machine - to get the feel of certain grooves into your head. To feel the 8th or 16th hits on the hat, the kick on 1, snare on 2 etc etc.

    Another thing worth doing is to write down some beats, obvioulsy start with some simple ones, you dont have to know drum notation, just write 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & - at the top of the page and write K S beneath where the beats lie. This helps visualise the pattern I find.

    Also, when you're listening to music sit there and count to try and figuire out where the beats lie, how the grove works

  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    i never consciously listen for where the kick drum is, nor the snare. i think it's just important to tune into WHATEVER it is the drummer is doing, and then play what feels right. practice with a metronome does wonders for timing and honing the ability to lock into a groove. drum machines are great for practicing to different feels. live druumers are the best for learning to really pay attention cuz they don't always have the best timing :eek: . and they're sometimes unpredictable too. imagine that.
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Interesting. I usually make an effort to listen for the kick specifically - I love the way the kick and bass notes work together. At the same time, I think you're right - whatever works, works... but as a start point matching the kick and snare is a goody.

    MetroKnomes, indeed essential for timing.
    but not much cop for specifically learning to play WITH a drummer in my opinion.
    When my band has new material (such as now), we have rehearsals without the drummer to go through chords and structure etc. so I learn the structure, or a pre-defined groove if the guys have come up with one... then as soon as the drummer comes in it all changes (for the better), but it does change. The clock allows me to understand the basic feel, but until the drums are there I try not to write too much. if that makes any sense whatsoever!?!

    i practice with a click quite a lot, but man do i hate them!!!
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999

    IMHO, 'thinking like a drummer' is very important.
    Take Latin Music...pianists, horn players, bassists, & even guitarists are 'thinking like a drummer/percussionist'.

    Interesting comments & approaches here...
    Gary Willis sez the hi-hat is important 'cause it's the most consistent component of a drummer's groove(on-stage, that's where bassists should be; next to the hi-hat).

    There are a couple guys I play with where it's the ride cymbal....thank God it's doing quarter notes(1-2-3-4) 'cause everything else is 'out'.

    While I think it's important to be able to play the kick drum's pattern on the bass...it's also very important to be free enough as a musician & move/shift/displace the bass OFF the kick. That is, 'fill in the cracks'. You can check out some minimalistic Latin tumbaos &/or Reggae bass lines as examples.

    Trust me, some drummers will move the kick into the backbeat...then whatdayado?
  7. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    break the beat down to the lowest subdivision and play off of it. :D
  8. Bass and drums TOGETHER provide the rhythmic groove for a tune in most of the the popular western music genres (rock, blues, Soul, R&B, bluegrass, country, jazz, etc); sometimes playing off beats and synchopation, with the total sound being the groove. I try to hear the whole groove and find (or make) my place in it.

    Basically what everyone else is saying.:D
  9. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Usually the hihat gives you the pulse for a song, e.g. when it's 8ths, you should mainly play 8ths, when it's 16th, play 16ths.

    This is not always so, but it's a good rule of thumb.

    Then you decide whether to follow the kick and snare, or play in beween - or mix both approaches.
  10. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I was programming a 2-bar 'pattern' for one of my groove/tunes when I stumbled onto something-
    The bass was playing an 1/8th note groove.
    The kick & snare were playing a busy/syncopated 1/16th noted pattern...in order for my lame ass to keep count, I put the ride on 1/4 notes(1-2-3-4 or ding-ding-ding-ding).

    I played it for the drummer & he smiled-
    "...where did ya learn that"?
    "Learn what"?
    "Well, the bass is doing 'the time' while the kick/snare are doubletiming to the bass while the ride is halftiming to the bass; that's three different points of reference happenin'".

    One of my favourite things to try is playing halftime over a busy drum groove...or when the drums playing in halftime over a busy bass groove.

    Anyway, just food-for-thought.
  11. The Kick is essential, but the most important thing is you both play in TIME. The drummer and you have to understand what and where the pocket is. Learn to play together and not fight each other. If you play slightly ahead and he plays slightly behind, you have to adjust to each other and find the pocket together.
    Listen for the drummers pattern for adding fills. After a couple gigs I can usually sense when a drummer is gonna go for it and what kind of pattern he is likely to lay on me and I can play along with the fill and make us both look like we're intuative genius'.
    I like to bounce/dance to the groove too. I find this helps me and the drummer I'm working with as he can physically see where I am just as I can physically see where he is. I've never understood guys who can stand still and not even tap their foot.
  12. waxlabltabler


    Aug 24, 2002
    Care to post an snippet?
  13. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Don't have that much technology...

    It's pretty simple when thought about "mathematically" & on-paper-
    1/16th note rhythm between kick & snare
    1/4 notes on the ride
    1/8th note bass rhythm
  14. i was playing back in church a while ago when i didnt have much experience, and the dummer just suddenly puts the kick on the 1 <b>&</b> 2 <b>&</b> 3 <b>&</b> 4 <b>&</b>.

    Man! was that an eye opener, mid song i was trying to change to make it sound right but it wasn't easy, i tried just putting root notes on the the same as the kick which, while making it sound 'locked in' kinda added to the wierdness! :meh:

    so i ending up just going eigth notes like some metallica style simple stuff.

    so what would be some good things try when this kinda stunt is pulled!?
  15. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    The guy I played with wanted me to stay on MY course...basically, I stayed 'in/on' while he displaced.
  16. lowendgrumble


    Apr 13, 2003
    Chicago, il
    The best way i have found to think like a drummer is to play the drums a lot. See how it feels to play a beat and keep it solid. Try and get a decent bass player to jam with you, that way you know how it feels to play THE GROOVE from both sides of the coin. hope that helps.