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Finger style funk help.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by 73jbass, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. 73jbass

    73jbass Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2004
    Ok folks,here's the situation. I hooked up with a great corporate/dance band about a month ago. The set list consists of a lot of Motown, specifically Stevie Wonder. I got a copy of Superstitious and learned it in no time.I pretty much already new it,it ain't tricky. I play it just like the recording,and now after a month of playing,the drummer tells me I'm not playing it right,or,I should say,his version.Apparently he wants me to play it like Mr.Jamerson or Rocco would. He says the original too straight(tell Stevie that),and I need to play it with more backbeat."That's waht all the corporate bands do with that song".As far as I could tell,there is no bass backbeat in this song. So he sends me mp3's of Funk Brothers,(great stuff) and he want's me to play all the Motown/funk tune like that. I don't see how playing in that style will fit a tune like Superstitious. To be realistic,I don't know what a backbeat is. The real kicker is,when I told him "just tell me what you want me to play",his respone was,"I'm not a bass player,and I can't explain it to you,you have to find that out for yourself". That's a lot of help! So can anybody out there tell me what he's talking about? This one thing will keep me in or out of this project,and I don't want to loose it. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
  2. adisu

    adisu I admit it, I'm a "user"

    Apr 8, 2005
    HI there.
    I can't say for sure what does backbeat means but if the drummer said it i can guess that he feels that you might be too much on-beat maybe you stick to the beats too much ... That might sound funny at first because we always train to be on time and play with a metronome but funky/soul music (and many other genres) is based also on involving lot's of feel into your play. If you play too much on beat it might sound a beat too "robotic" and i think that's what the drummer might feel about your play.

    If you didn't see the movie "in the shadow of motown" you must rent it...(it's a must really).
    There's a part in the movie where james jamerson's son (he is also a bass player) talk about his father and said that he always used to tell him "IF you don't Feel it don't play it"

    Anyway as I said I just assume that that's what the drummer meant but I don't really know so i hope maybe I at least gave you something to think of.

  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    He should, at the very least, be able to play you a rhythm(no Notes required) that he wants you to try...then, after you decide upon the notes & get a grasp, he puts his drum part in the mix. That, to me, is called communication between the bassist & drummer.

    Back beat bass could mean laying off the downbeats(typically "1" & "3" while emphasing the upbeats("2" & "4") or playing withing the 'cracks' of each Beat(the 1/16th note subdivsions..."e" "&" "a").

    A very general example?
    Maybe a rhythm like-

    I believe it was Stevie Wonder who played the bass on the original version of "Superstition"...there is a Quincy Jones' version with Louis Johnson on bass; to me, he's playing little funky fills duirng the verses.
    I guess I won't mention Beck, Bogert & Appice's version.

    When I played this way back when...no keyboards, I tried to dupe the clavinet part with some very staccato & forceful plucking back near the bridge.
  4. 73jbass

    73jbass Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2004
    The funny thing is,everybody else in the band plays their parts like the original recording,yet the drummer insists that version is too sterile,or too white,as he likes to call it.He keeps insisting that if we play it just like the original recording,we won't get taken seriously.I was always under the impression that you played covers as close to the record as you could,because that's what people hear on the radio,and that's the version they know. Maybe I'm just out of touch,I have no idea.
  5. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Back beat = 2 & 4
    I haven't the slightest idea what your drummer thinks a Rocco Prestia 16th note groove is gonna do on supersticious except make it feel way different than the original. If he's got an arrangement idea, it might be worth trying it and see how it feels. If it's a dance band, keep your audience in mind. They aren' t there to do anything but dance.

    Many times in cover bands, the musicians get bored, When that happens many times they overplay and do things to amuse themselves which has the effect of killing the groove. If that's what's happening here then you have a choice to make. That's why I can't play the same songs night after night and if they aren't your songs, that is even worse.