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feel and "groove"?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by qcbassman, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. qcbassman


    Jan 12, 2013
    I have been playing for about a year now. I got to play with our church praise band last week. Its made up of mostly professional musicians. I asked our worship leader for feedback and he said to keep working on feel and "groove". I have a background in music so I know I play on the beat, etc. So what is meant by feel and groove? Thanks!
  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    It has to do mainly with time, but also things like accents on- or off-beat, to reinforce the rhythmic style of the music. People talk about "groove" being what makes you want to sing along or move your body to the rhythm. Others talk about a sense of "motion" or "propulsion." It has to be consistent so the audience can synchronize their ears and bodies to what you're playing.

    It's hard to define in any precise way.

    There's a very good chance that at the one-year mark, it's related to your technique, i.e., being able to play the notes at the exact time that you want to, consistently from one measure to the next. Metronome practice might help. Ear training too, so you can begin to hear the groove happening within the band. And the quickest and easiest form of ear training is to sing along to the music.

    My kids went to a music camp, where the teachers stressed moving your body along to the music, as if your body is your metronome.

    Just some ideas.
  3. deathsdj


    Sep 18, 2010
    Wichita, KS
    I like to incorporate groove and feel into my practice sessions. I either use a drum machine or play along to songs. Moving and feeling what you play helps too, try not to tighten up and play too stiffly.

    Most importantly have fun with it. Playing is joy!


  4. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    For me, "groove" is all about articulation and control of the notes. Each and every note should start off, sound out and end exactly where you want it to, and in the way that you want it to. It's about coaxng the music out of your instrument rather than just playing it mechanically (although after a while it does tend to become more "automatic").

    The comments about moving while you're playing are valid, even if the movements are very, very slight. Try it (if you don't do that already).

    This guy is a good example of everything I've said above...

  5. Second fdeck and bassybill. It's about discipline. You start with the metronome and the decision to never practice any passage or tune faster than you can play it perfectly. You become like a parent, utterly consistent and unyielding. It's like using cruise control in 4th in hill country, all those other guys going faster, then slower.

    I thought my job was just to play bass, but I learned better one day when we sight read Rob McConnell's "Louisiana." There's a tutti in there that really challenged me. It took me a whole month of obsessing over it, and AFTER I got the notes and the time, I was able to work on what fdeck and bassybill are talking about.

    I had to learn to play the bass like a trombone, phrase like the bones, which involves dynamics and learning different attacks and releases and above all the fluidity of a wind instrument, which is totally unnatural on a plucked instrument. Had to pretty much fight my prior playing habits to the death to get hold of that.

    The fundamental skill is listening. Listen real hard. After that you just have to have faith that what you can hear, you can play. That will sustain you.
  6. qcbassman


    Jan 12, 2013
    Y'all are great! Thanks for the feedback. I will definitely experiment with all the suggestions and see what comes of it. Thanks again!
  7. Feel is a very personal thing and tough to teach or certainly demand from another player. Every player has an individual feel that makes up their musical personality and it comes through experience and the influences and aspirations you have. It's much more complicated than just where you play around the beat (lay back/push etc.) As already mentioned, it can be made up of loads of subtle music aspects like note duration.

    Groove on the other hand is related to feel but people often use the term in describing the style and feel of a specific bassline or riff. For example, feel would be used to describe a bass players overall playing including solos and other non-bassline related stuff. Groove would be more bassline specific and related to being 'in the pocket'.

    If you want to practice your groove, just try playing a variety of different basslines to a metronome, drum machine or (even better) a real drummer and concentrate on developing a consistent time feel. It can sometimes be governed by your technique because problems in your technique can hinder the feel of the line. That's sometimes an overlooked part of groove practice because people sometime associate technical practice as completely unrelated to 'feel'.

  8. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I'm glad you wrote this.

    The #1 killer of the groove is tension and the #1 source of tension is not having the part "under your fingers" 100%.

    Every song that feels uncomfortable to play presents an opportunity to improve your technique.
  9. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    Some styles of music have groove and some do not.
    Soul, funk, blues, jazz, R&B, Latin and yes even gospel have groove.
    Classical, marching band, country, Celtic, bluegrass, as well as many rock and metal styles not so much.
    Banjos and bagpipes... really hard to groove. Accordions, same thing.
    Think of it this way, if old white people can dance to it, it probably has no groove.
  10. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    (Tunnel Vision)
    You can play the accordion and groove as much as you want.
    I can tell you that from my personal 4-year experience.
  11. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    Not if you are in the Laurence Welk Orchestra.
    Umpah, Umpah mine vittle Bravarian Frau!
  12. JYBass


    Jun 6, 2012
    I highly recomend Victor Wooten's Groove Workshop video, it has very good information, and it demonstrates some good exercises to improve your control over the groove.

  13. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    What is "Groove"?
    "Groove is the sense of propulsive rhythmic "feel" or sense of "swing" created by the interaction of the music played by a band's rhythm section (drums, electric bass or double bass, guitar, and keyboards)".

    Can the accordion play the bassline?
    Can the accordion play the rhythmic accompaniment like guitar or keyboard?

    Have you ever heard about Zydeco Music?
    "Zydeco is the music of Southwest Louisiana's Black Creoles, a group of people of mixed African, Afro-Caribbean, Native American and European descent. This Black Creole society that beget zydeco is traditionally rural, French-speaking and is somewhat intertwined with the Cajun culture."
    "Zydeco bands generally include an accordion, a modified washboard called a frottoir, electric guitar, bass and drums. Secondary zydeco instruments include fiddles, keyboards and horns."
    "Zydeco, like all accordion music, is for dancing. The steps performed to zydeco music look like swing dancing to those unfamiliar with it. Zydeco dancing is intensely passionate and sexy, and many are heralding it as "the new salsa."
  14. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    How ever you develop your groove, don't try to learn it from a book. The way I developed groove and feel was to listen to a lot of soul and funk from the 60s and 70s. Eventually, the groove of those things hit me like a brick!
  15. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    no offense, but you sound like someone who has never seen live polka. live polka grooves hard and makes you want to get up and dance.

    ps i'm 27 and grew up on james brown and parliament
  16. kikstand454


    Sep 28, 2012
  17. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I disagree with this. Old white people have been dancing to jazz before you or I were born, for one thing. And anyone who's seen Irish step dancers - especially live, in a tiny pub, with actual fiddle and bodhran and pipes reeling away - knows Celtic music has a groove. Same for bluegrass.

    I would say all music has a "groove," even if it's not as customary to use the word in some of the genres you mention. Two different orchestras playing Beethoven will not sound the same, because the conductors and the players will interpret the sheet music in tiny little ways - pushing ahead of the beat just a millisecond here, pulling back behind it just a millisecond there, hitting that downbeat a little extra hard. That's a groove - the human element, particularly in rhythm and dynamics, that gives the music its pulse in live performance.
  18. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Some good points made here by a number of folks. I agree with the comments about technically nailing the piece being necessary to avoid tension, "the groovekiller". But it's also true that groove depends on your ears (and musical empathy) as much as it does your fingers.

    As for the idea that groove is intrinsic to certain styles or cultural groups and absent from others, I would respectfully but emphatically disagree. It might not be called the same thing by everybody, but it's still there.
  19. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    You know you have feel and groove when you make eye contact with the drummer and you both start smiling.
  20. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Wow what a statement, obviously never heard much cajun or zydeco, accordion and banjo nail it when used........as for bagpipes, when used in music that grooves they groove....check out some of the footage of AC/DC with Bon on pipes. :cool:

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