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Exercise for playing out of the pocket?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by InfiniteStill, Feb 9, 2016.

  1. InfiniteStill


    Dec 15, 2013
    Is there an exercise that can help me develop the ability of keeping the main bass line in my head while playing out of the pocket, yet still knowing where I am in the song?
  2. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Learn a harmonised 'pocket' line to add to your main line, so a motif if you will.
    Learning where, and how the motif works and interplays with your main line will help you, keep in time, know where you are, and can expand the pocket you create.
    As you become familier with the motif, you can expand it, so stay away from your main line longer before returning.
    Because you are using a harmonised motif, it still works over many of the changes, if they are harmonised within in, not so much if there are key changes. But i would use this as the first steps to freeing your mind and playing.
    InfiniteStill likes this.
  3. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    You need to be able to sing (out loud) the main line while playing outside of it. To be able to do that will take a lot of time and discipline. Start off as simple as needed to make progress.
    InfiniteStill and Fergie Fulton like this.
  4. Interesting question. I know where I am as I use the major scale box pattern and place it at a specific place depending on the key of the song being played. If I'm playing a song in the key of C major, my box is placed either @ the 3rd string 3rd fret or @ the 4th string 8th fret. That becomes home for this song.

    Going out of that box for a riff or run and then getting back inside my box pattern I'm using has not been a problem. Why? Well first I play from sheet music (fake chord transposed to Nashville numbers) and the key this song is to be played in is at the top of my sheet music. Plus I know what key the song is to be played and I know where that key's notes are located on my fretboard - it's where I started my pattern.

    And I "kinda just know" what bass line I'm going to use in this song, i.e. 99% of the time I'll follow the chords and use just roots, or a root and 5, or a R-5-8-5, and this has already been decided. We decided this at practice. There may be an impromptu run or two thrown in, but, in general I'm sticking with one bass line through out the song. One generic bass line for each chord and as the chords change I move my generic bass line to the new chord. This works for me and they keep asking me back.......

    The drummer's kick drum will 9 times out of 10 play one rhythm pattern for the entire song. My efforts hitch hike on the rhythm of that groove.

    I may have missed your question, sorry if that is the case.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2016
    Fergie Fulton and InfiniteStill like this.
  5. InfiniteStill


    Dec 15, 2013
    Thanks guys for the tips! I recently bought a loop pedal, which should help. I'll definitely incorporate these methods into my practice time.
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  6. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Looper pedals are cool for this,
    Check out the link for 'real time' approach to expand on.

  7. thewildest

    thewildest Supporting Member

    May 25, 2011
    Beyond what has been said above, if your question is about how to "suggest" the harmony only by playing a melody line, i would start by making sure you visualize the arpeggios (triads or tetrads better yet) for each chord across the neck.

    These will be good "landing spots" to give the listener some guidance about where you are, as you go through your solo. Also remember to go through the chord sequence a couple of times before you jump to it so whomever is listening to this mentally follows the pattern.

    Not to always bring "The Greatest" into every aspect about playing the bass, but if you watch Jaco's version (youtube) of Donna Lee during his concert in Montreal, the sax/trumpet and him start soloing over Donna Lee's harmony only over the drums. That was, to me, one of the most classy ways to do this ever. Not only suggesting the harmony but also that intrincate melody.

    I hope this helps
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  8. Primary

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