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Frustrated, verge of giving up...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by MovingPitchers, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. Practicing scales are useless if I don't apply them to songs or anything.

    I don't know WHAT to practice. I figured maybe learning YYZ by Rush would be considered "practice", but no point if I don't know what the heck Geddy is doing and why certain notes go with certain patterns and such.

    I'm impatient.

    Christmas concert on Christmas Eve saw an incredible band playing a jazz version of Joy to the World and Hark the Herald Angels Sing...I focused on the bass player and he was walking all over the fretboard and it sounded GOOD. Thing is, I know him and I've been playing bass longer than him but he told me he practiced like crazy. He never told me WHAT he practiced or how long, he just did.

    I'm so frustrated. I can't sound as good as him...or anyone really. Why have two basses when I can't even play the damn instrument?
  2. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Try to separate things.
    You have music playing, proficiency on the instrument and theorical knowledge.
    Althoug related, these three don't have to work hand in hand.
    Have fun learning songs, even simple and develop you sense of rhythm and groove.
    Work on chords and scales to know what's happening.
    Work on the instrument so that the things you play flow and become easier.

    Don't look for immediate improvements in your playing from your practice. It's an evergoing process that sometimes takes times to fall into place.
    Eventually, things start making sense.
  3. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    You just need focus.
    For example what does playing scales do for you?
    First off they give you a physical routine, if you play scales regular and you find it hard and tiring to start with and then it gets easier after a few months, then you know you are improving the condition ofyour hands.
    If you listen to the notes of the scales you play you learn to hear what those notes are and there relationship to other notes. If you do this in tune then you learn to hear interval relationships, so you are i proving the condition of your mind.

    Now when you talk of learning, the reality is you are not learning, you are just repeating what you hear...in the same way a parrot repeats what it hears.

    Find a bass teacher, or a music music teacher, to give you the tools to build bass lines, not copy basslines. In the end you will be able to de-construct what other play, but more importantly understand why it worked in the first place.
    Learning to play does not have time limits, it does not have guarantees of skills or the hard work you put in will ever pay off. So do not look to far ahead for the goals, just enjoy the moment your in and the learn what the moment has to offer. That is the basis of learning, small steps, slowly but surely and it will not seem over whelming. :)
  4. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    Have your friend give you a few pointers.
    Be patient.
    Don't despair.
    Have fun.
    Start playing with others.
  5. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    It's not rocket science you just need some help getting started. Cheat - pull up some fake chord sheet music on the song.
    Joy to the World. http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/m/misc_christmas/joy_to_the_world_ver2_crd.htm

    Hark the Harold Angles Sing. http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/m/misc_christmas/hark_the_herald_angels_sing_ver3_crd.htm

    What's that? The old guys have told you not to trust fake chord. True a lot is not exact, but, it is someone's best efforts, and that is probably a good place to start. If you find something that you do not like; change it.

    Let's learn how to play songs by looking at some fake chord sheet music. OK both are in the key of G.

    The G scale is; G, A, B, C, D, E, F#.
    Transpose the G scale to Nashville numbers. With Nashville numbers the first note in the scale will be named the 1, the second note in the scale will be named the 2, etc. And yes, the first chord in the key is named 1, the second chord in the key is named 2, etc.

    1, 2, 3, 4,. 5, 6, 7
    G, A, B, C, D, E, F#

    Then use your handy dandy major scale pattern.
    Major Scale Box.
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    Your sheet music starts with the G chord or 1 Nashville number. Find a G note on your 4th string. Place the R (root) scale degree within the pattern on that G. Your next chord is going to be the C or 4. From your root the 4 will always be up a string same fret as the root. The 5 will always be up a string and over two frets. Your sheet music, using Nashville numbers has a 3 coming up. Where will that 3 be? From your root up a string and back one fret. Always. Piece of cake.

    Let the lyrics help you with where the song is going to. Notice the first words are all one syllable words, OK one beat per word. When you get to the word "receive" that is a two syllable word so it gets two D's or 5's. Piece of cake. All you gotta do is sing the song under your breath so you know when to change to the next chord and also use the lyric syllable as a help with the beat. Now when you get to where there is a drummer, follow the drummer's kick drum and let the kick drum give you the beat. But, until you get a drummer let the singing of the song's lyrics help you with the beat. Now the metronome guys will jump all over me for saying this. You decide how you are going to 1) decide on the beat and then 2) keep it going......

    Let's just use roots or 1's for right now. On your sheet music change the G's to 1's, C's to 4's and yep D's to 5. Now sing the song under your breath and pound out 1's till the song changes to the C or 4. Start pounding out 4's. Keep going.

    Right at first let the lyric syllable help you with the beats.

    When you can keep up with the music using only roots or 1's then add a 5 when you have room. Still have some time before the song goes off and leaves you add an 8 (R-5-8-5). Want to get fancy throw in the correct 3 or 7 (R-3-5-7). Want to get fancer than that start using the 9's, 11's & 13's or get some of your chord tones from the second octave.

    Start with fake chord, Nashville numbers, and the major scale box pattern. Using roots or 1's and throw in some of the other chord tones and or chromatics into your bass line.

    O'h; you want to be moving all over your fretboard. OK, move your box around, catch the G's at the 4th string 3rd fret. Go to the C's at the 4th string 8th fret. And the D's will be over two more frets. http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f22/scale-practice-1040556/

    You too will be moving all over your fretboard in no time.

    Good luck.
    NeroJazz likes this.
  6. I'm mostly a Christian praise and worship bassist with a Rush-influenced style...the flamenco technique, one finger style, and trying to make some simple yet awesome basslines to songs that are generally bland but I'd like to break the barriers of being such a typical bassist on Sundays or what have you. Israel Houghton and New Breed are an example of an amazing worship band yet follows none of the "modern mainstream" stuff people visualize Christian music to be.

    All Sons and Daughters another example. Digital Age..that stuff

    Maybe simplicity is the best creativity? (whoa...quote-worthy)
  7. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    You've heard it said "less is more". sometimes it's best.
    But going for a Geddy-like technique most times cancels that saying out.
    "Serve the song" seems fitting here.
  8. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    I think you will find that root on one and follow the chord changes will play a lot of Praise.

    Where is the message coming from? The vocals. Our job is to provide the basic bottom end rhythm. The beat that holds everything together.
  9. ZenG


    Dec 13, 2013
    Near the fridge
    "Practise" is a loose term........

    There's all kinds of practise...

    Just practising scales all day long is only going to get you to certain point...

    Practising finger positions is good.....

    But at the end of the day in order to be prolific you have to know in the back of your head where the notes are on the neck.

    Many songs have bass lines peculiar to that song.

    Even simple blues can use a multitude of different bass lines/runs/walks.

    Practise modes, switchups,changeups....etc etc.

    If you can read music you are off to a good start.

    In order to be lightning fast or really good, you have to know where the fingers are going almost without thinking about it.

    In other words the more you know your way around the corral....the easier it is.....

    Just practising one particular song doesn't really teach you much no matter how much you like that one song...

    As they said back in the day....you have to know how to walk before you can run.
  10. jongor

    jongor Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2003
  11. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    Jogging is boring but Everest is too hard.
    There -might- be something in between...

    And as others have observed, it is one thing to -play- (technique) a technically difficult bass line and another to -compose- one.

    Find some collections of music you like to play - standard notation sheet music or tabs. Learn how to play along with songs you know - the sheets are to get you started on the right note. If you can't follow the changes with a basic root only line, you may not know the piece as well as you thought. This then becomes a listening exercise (also valuable).

    Pick up a copy of 'Bass Grooves.' It contains the basic structure (rhythms and changes) for many, many standard forms of music. If you know scales, you'll be able to play Green Onions and standard 12-bar blues the first day.

    Once you're able to play something that sounds like music, it's easier to find motivation, IMO...
  12. The songs that we call "simple" I do know and I try to add a few licks of my own here and there at the right sections.

    As for harder songs...like YYZ or even On the Backs of Angels by Dream Theater...gah..:(
  13. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    I'd advocate against improving existing basslines.
    Instead, understand how they work. Timing, emphasis on a groove, accents, passing tones.
    Typically, they were created simple for a reason, not because the bassist lacked chops.
  14. dieselbass


    May 15, 2010
    Davis CA
    +1 on less is more unless your PW team is very progressive. Bass is there to serve the song in PW. Yes there are some songs where bass drives the bus, and they are fun, however, the muscians are there to serve the lyric.
  15. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    The problem becomes that you can not do the New Breed in a vacuum. Nor are you Abraham Laborial coming in a special guest adding an offering to that local church. One Band One Sound.

    After a season of playing together the band will tend to loosen up and take on their own character rather then try to recreate an iconic recording of any particular song. But it does take time. The other musicians must be ready to hear Jamerson coming from the bottom and not lose their cues when they learned a song listening to a record and hearing 1/8th note roots.

    So it is a process of rehearsals and shed sessions where the band builds trust in each others skills and musical identities
  16. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass What the .............. Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    First off.. stop comparing yourself to other bass players.. There will always be someone out there who will blow your socks off.. but take heart because there will always be someone out there who sucks more than you do .. There is no short cut.. learning songs helps .. but it will only get you so far. In order to understand why Geddy Lee does what he does.. you must learn the bassics.

    I have been playing bass since 1977 ..but I never really studied.. or went over the bassics.. and it shows in my playing. I never studied scales or arpeggios or any of that until relatively recently. There were always other things that I let distract me from that and once I got married the fiorst time in 81 it was basically a wrap.. I never did play much after that sporadic stuff.. and I played with a Dead cover band for about a year.. I started playing for my church again in 2001 and even then it was more learning the songs and playing them..

    Only recently, within the past 2 years or so, have I started to do things that should have been done decades ago and it is frustrating because now I have less time.. stiffer fingers .. among other joints and a less discerning ear but it is well worth the effort and I wish I had done it long ago. I always learned the song and played by ear but that will only get you so far.. at least for most folks.. There are those who can just master an instrument and never go through the fundamentals.. but they are rare and from the looks of your post you are not one of those guys.. You have to do the work. I have found that using a simple drum machine can do a lot to make practicing things like scales and arpeggios a lot more fun and a lot more musical.. and at the same time help you to lock into a drum beat. I use the drum machine in my B3 for just that purpose and I am seeing results.. technically my playing is what it is and I play what my fingers stiff fingers allow but even that gets better with time as the muscle memory of playing scales comes into play. Some days I cannot even tune my bass easily because I can't lift my left arm high enough without it hurting. The bottom line is if it still matters to you then don't give up.. and set realistic goals.. I can't play as well as most of the players here on TB I would be willing to wager.. but I do me very well.

    Do you ... be true to the music.. serve the song.. do the work .. and you will look back a few years from now and have something to be satisfied about. Remember .. music is a language .. and you have to learn the vocabulary in order to participate in the conversation.
  17. ZenG


    Dec 13, 2013
    Near the fridge
    It doesn't have to be fast to be good........
  18. nudirection


    Dec 29, 2013
    A good thing to do is to learn the 5 positions of the Major scale one at a time. Click Next after going to the link to see each pattern. If you start pattern 1 on the 8th fret of the E string, you're in the key of C Major or Ionian mode. After learning the first pattern, go to Youtube and find a backing track for the key you'r playing the first pattern. If you you use C Major, here's an example of a video you can use (Am Ballad Backing Track). Oops. this video says A minor. I didn't make a mistake. This is because C Major and A minor are realtives. They have the exact same notes (No Sharps and no flats). In any Major Scale, the 6th degree is the relative minor key.

    C Major Scale

    1 2 3 4 5 (6) 7 8
    C D E F G (A) B C

    Above is the C Major Scale. Since the A is on the 6th degree, it is the relative minor. The relative minor always has the same number of sharps and flats. In this case, since C Major has no sharps and Flats, neither does A minor

    A Minor Scale

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    A B C D E F G A

    Practice the first pattern you learned over the suggest backing track. Learn pattern 2 and also play over the same backing track for practice. Repeat this process until you have learned all patterns and have played them over the backing track. You have now learned the Ionian mode and have covered the entire fretboard.

    Now you want to learn how to visualize the patterns in your mind so that you know the shape of each pattern visually. This can be done by just observing the patterns without your bass in your hand. Make sure you recognize each pattern visually. The next step is to move these patterns around which allows you to achieve other modes.


    If you take pattern 4 and play it with your 2nd finger on the 8th fret of the E string an play the other patterns in the same order as before with C Major across the whole neck, you're now playing C Mixolydian mode. Find yourself some C Mixolydian backing tracks on Youtube and play the patterns in that order for the Mixolydian mode.

    To make this C Aeolian (Minor), start with pattern 2 (First finger on the 8th fret of E string) and play the patterns in the same order as the before. Start with your 1st finger on the 8th fret of the E string. You now are playing C Aeolian (Minor). If you take that same 2nd pattern and play it starting with your 1st finger on the 5th fret of the E string and play all the other patterns in the same order, you're now back to C major.

    Now find yourself a C Minor and C Major video on Youtube to jam on.

    Here's a quick reference:

    Starting Pattern 2 with your first finger on the 5th fret of the E string is the C Major key or Ionian Mode.

    Starting Pattern 2 with your 1st finger on the 8th fret of the E string is the C minor key or Ionian Mode.

    Starting with Pattern 2 with your first finger on the 11th fret of the E string and playing all the patterns in the same order gives you the Mixolydian mode.

    If you take all this and move it up 2 frets, It's all now D Major, D Minor and D Mixolydian. This is how you change the key.

    Hope this helps you get started. I hope I didn't make too many mistakes. Trying to finish this up quickly so I can hit the sack.
    You can email me at nudirection@hotmail.com if you need something clarified.
  19. JPMo


    Dec 27, 2010
    Canton, Ga
    Fantastic advice! I've found my playing to be quite stale as well
  20. StormeeBee


    Oct 31, 2011
    Vancouver, BC
    I think there may be a bigger issue than what you should play. I mean this in the nicest and most respectful way but I feel you may benefit from a little meditation before you practice. I feel your pain when trying to focus on the fundamentals. It's boring, doesn't make sense at first and trying to think on your feet while remembering theory is a recipe for anger. That being said, once you center yourself, you'll see that practice is a great way to explore, create and tighten up your game.