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Facing a lot of trouble with busy basslines...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by The Big, Mar 26, 2021.


  1. Radio60

    Radio60

    Nov 11, 2017
    Yes, most of the time that’s all you need. In fact, that’s all that was used before audio software was widely available.

    The linear, incremental process of working up a chord chart might not always lead to learning a song quickly, but it’s far less frustrating than any unorganized, piecemeal or brutally repetitive approach.

    Another benefit to charting is that you may discover a song is less complex and difficult than it sounds, particularly if it’s performed at a high tempo.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
  2. 3bc

    3bc Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2010
    Chicago Burbs
    sounds like you have a pretty good handle on it to me. i don't know how intentional you are or not about learning the notes and then pausing for an extra minute to teach yourself about how they frame the harmony as part of the arpeggio. if you're not doing that it might help?
     
  3. The Big

    The Big

    Jun 24, 2020
    An issue I have is that I never learned scales/modes/chords as series of notes, but as patterns on the fretboard, so while I know exactly where every chord tone is, I can't actually name them off the top of my head. When analyzing, I refer to the notes simply as root, 2nd, 3d, etc.. Hasn't hindered me so far. Would you say it's a harmful thing in the long run?

    As for practical use, like you mentioned, I've tried analyzing the more wild bass lines and how they fit in with the over-arching harmony. I don't understand how they pull it off. When I try to incorporate dissonant tones (maj7ths being the worst offender), they stand out like a sore thumb. Not in a good, jazzy way either. Oddly enough, b5's sound great! But maj7ths, 6ths and to a lesser extent 2nds sound awful unless I use them as passing notes.
     
  4. 3bc

    3bc Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2010
    Chicago Burbs
    Many people’s handle of theory here is going to dwarf mine. As a general rule of thumb I would stay away from a 2nd. A bass guitar is not naturally a very melodic instrument. In you sit down at a piano and play a chord in your left hand in the lower register of the keyboard, even a major 3rd usually sounds pretty awful just based on how low the fundamental is, it’s going to clash and sound pretty dissonant. At least in popular music you’ll see mostly 5ths and octaves in a bass chord on a piano. A 2nd to me is a lot less useful than the 9th, and I would usually only hit it in passing on the way to resolving somewhere else quickly, like a sus chord might. Shapes are helpful. I would stick to 3rd, 5th 7th and octave until you have those really mastered in their various shapes, for major, minor, dominant and m7b5 chords. You’ll pick that up very quickly based on where you’re already at, and will apply them very quickly. If you’re getting flat 5’s to sound good with ease, you’re already better than me, I hate that note!
     
  5. The Big

    The Big

    Jun 24, 2020
    I actually hated the flat 5 too, then I accidentally hit it in a basic 12 bar, and it really struck a chord with me. Been using it more ever since, no dirty looks so far. I assume that means it works. It's that damn major 7th I struggle with endlessly. To my ears, it clashes horribly with the root on lower notes. 9ths are out of this world though, yeah, briefly sliding up to it after an octave is very flavorful.
     
  6. Thumper

    Thumper Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2000
    Syracuse Ut
    The Amazing Slowdowner is your friend! I have a mild form of OCD that manifests itself in my bass playing. When I don't learn something note-for-note, I have an unsettled feeling in the back of my mind. It doesn't go away until the song is properly learned. The irony is, at that point I feel free to make minor changes :meh: go figure.

    I just finished learning all 8 minutes of War Pigs, I have many hours into it. At one point, feeling frustrated, I called a lead guitarist to ask him how long it takes him to learn long, complex leads. He told me it often feels like a hundred hours or more, it certainly makes me feel better about myself. For what it's worth, we've both been playing over 50 years, so don't be too hard on yourself, be patient.
     
  7. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    My comment is that we all have to face our limitations. And those are different for all of us.

    There are some songs that I just have to realize and admit are beyond my abilities. Take too much effort and I can't play them without screwing up.

    Sometimes, we can modify bass lines to songs and be within our abilities and still do decent justice to the song.

    Although it can be discouraging to realize that, "I just can't play this!".............we can find pleasure and fulfillment with what we can play and not what we can't.

    My .02 cents.
     
    nilebodgers and The Big like this.
  8. The Big

    The Big

    Jun 24, 2020
    Oh man I love War Pigs! I learned that thing note-for-note recently as well. That counter-solo is a nasty piece of work to remember, as are the little riffs in the outro. I did it pretty much the same way. Learned the thing exactly, then let myself improvise the more tedious parts, since I assume Geezer never played it the same way twice anyway.
     
    mateoloco, Thumper and bassdude51 like this.
  9. On alot of that complicated stuff (Working Man, War Pigs) I don't try to memorize it note for note (although that can be useful as an exercise).
    Instead I memorize key phrases and fills (or something close in the same style) and throw em in there randomly, well, not randomly, but I don't worry about putting them in exactly the right spots. Keeps the feel of the song real close but takes alot of the pressure off.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
    mateoloco likes this.
  10. “Your 9th is someone else’s 2nd” -Socrates
     
    12BitSlab likes this.
  11. The Big

    The Big

    Jun 24, 2020
    Yes. This exactly. That's the approach I've always subscribed to (although I try to do note-for-note first if possible). Not only will the average listener not notice at all, sometimes the result is even more engaging than the original. That's why I like Black Sabbath so much, gives you plenty of room to play on your own terms with Geezer's penta/blues riffing.

    "Thou shalt hit the root on 1 gracefully" - Apostle John Paul
     
    mateoloco and LowActionHero like this.
  12. Relative to ADHD and losing focus: Can you swim or play tennis? These activities will help you "learn" to focus better (my wife is a psychologist, always talks about this type of side help to ADHD treatment in kids).
    Relative to learning a new song: Can you read music? When I had to learn something complex and had time, I turn into "acquiring" the song, would listen carefully a couple of times and then write down what I listened. Play it and compare it to the original, for some reason this works great for me on the parts I get wrong. I'd repeat this until I get the entire piece and if is too complex, I'd deal with it in sections. Pretty much like reading a chapter of a book and then writing it down and re-reading to get some of the details you missed the previous time. Hope this helps.
     
  13. WrapRough

    WrapRough

    Jan 26, 2021
    London
    Can't play it YET...
     
  14. When I run into this playing live, -more often that I'd like to admit- I always remember the great phylosopher W.C. Fields quote: "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with B.S." LOL
     
  15. Thumper

    Thumper Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2000
    Syracuse Ut
    You're right, I learned the Basement Tape version, then listened to the official LP copy, and they are different. And then Live, different again. I'm up to 97% speed on the Amazing Slowdowner (once I had it learned I started playing the entire song at around 87% speed).
     
    LowActionHero likes this.
  16. I went and looked into Isn't She Lovely some more because it is a cool tune.

    IF I wanted to play it I'd first concentrate on the chord progression and rhythmic feel far more then the individual notes.

    I'd start with nailing the verse chords- the good thing is they repeat and I don't think they ever change- so you bounce along on C#, F#, B, E- with walk downs and walk ups between the chord tones. Also he uses the 5ths quite a bit. But the MOST important part is that main rhythm, nail that with just the roots first. Without that rhythm the song doesn't work. The good news is the rhythm doesn't really change much and it kind of matches the vocal, Du, da Da Da, Du Da Da DA DA... Try to sing that part to yourself.

    Then you have to work on the change- A to G# to C# then F# and resolving on B where it stays for a couple of bars then E where it has the signature walk up riff. That riff is important to get down.The rest of the riffs and fills are HIGHLY improvisational and IMO aren't all that important to nail exactly.

    This is exactly how I would learn this tune if I were playing it in a cover band.
     
  17. The Big

    The Big

    Jun 24, 2020
    The rhythm was a little bit tricky. I do some jazz-drumming, so luckily, I'm at least familiar with anything that swings. The shuffle wasn't all that bad for me, except Isn't She Lovely has that one skipped beat. That was a bit tricky.

    Other than that, I think I'm finally figuring it out. Believe it or not, I only just discovered that there are corresponding modes for chord types. Just knowing this now makes a world of a difference. Knowing I can use Dorian over m7 and Mixolydian over dominants is like being freed from a pair of shackles. Don't really need to learn it note-for-note anymore (besides the signature climb), I can somewhat decently BS my way through it. My soloing also actually sounds like soloing now. Can't believe I didn't know about this before...
     
    obimark likes this.
  18. I have chosen to play parts from live or alternate versions before If I like them better.

    I've also 'learned" parts from faulty memory or ear, then chosen to play the 'wrong' part if I like it better. (sometimes someone will spring a song on us at rehearsal and I don't have time to listen to more than a few seconds of it, if any. So I make up something that fits)

    I guess the takeaway is, I PLAY WHAT I LIKE :laugh::bassist:
     
    obimark and Thumper like this.
  19. WrapRough

    WrapRough

    Jan 26, 2021
    London
    I hear you brother. I'm trying to focus some time every day for improvisation over backing tracks and, like you, understanding this stuff frees me from the pentatonic scale abuse.

    It all starts coming together and making sense...

    Glad you've had a breakthrough with the song. You'll be sick of it soon :D[/QUOTE]
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
  20. OK, since it isn't the actual changes that are throwing you I will share what I do when I encounter something that has more notes than I'd like to learn all at once.

    First I learn an outline of the song. I listen. We sometimes forget to do this. I learn all the notes that bring the line its basic harmonic and rhythmic value. Usually those are the notes that happen on the beat or the pickup notes that reinforce the beat. The notes that support the overall groove. Play that until you're comfortable with it. Once I have a good outline of the bass line working well, I go back and start filling in the blanks.

    What notes are missing? How important are they? Grab the ones that are the most important and work on that version until you feel very comfortable with it. Then repeat the process as many times as it takes until you're satisfied that your version of the song contains everything you want it to.

    Sometimes you'll find there are ghost notes you can leave out without really destroying the overall feel. Sometimes those need to be in there. But the goal is always to end up with the best version of the song you can develop, and to learn how to be a better player in the process.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2021
    Malcolm1935, WrapRough and obimark like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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    May 8, 2021

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