Getting to play a song to the tempo cleanly

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by belzebass, Nov 27, 2015.

  1. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012

    I'm currently working on some song that are technically demanding (at least for me :))
    I have learned the songs (it's Tower of Power songs: What is hip, Only so much oil in the ground and Down to the nightclub, and more songs to come). The songs to the original tempo are too fast for me for the moment. I would defenitely need to play the to tempo live (even though I have a couple of month before it).

    So what is the best way to practice to get them up to speed? Let's say I have 10 minutes to practice What is hip at 100 bpm. What should I rather do: play it against metronome, or with the recording? Just sections or the whole song?

  2. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    You'll get a lot of different, perhaps conflicting answers. Try them all, take what works.

    Take the tempo that lets you play the whole song. In other words, don't fluff through the easy parts at performance tempo and the difficult parts slowly. Think of the song as one whole idea. Don't worry about how slow you need to go to get the tough parts, just drop tempo and get it right. Increase tempo as you can and don't push that too much at first. Be as patient with yourself as you would be with a student you cared about. Some people get this stuff really quickly, others take longer. Don't obsess about where you are or how long it takes to get up to speed. Everyone is different and as your skill level increases, you'll learn songs faster. After you get it going at tempo, push it a little more. That way you'll increase your technique and you'll have some headroom in case things speed up in performance.

    Make learning your goal, not finishing. In other words, you're doing a great job if you understand the song better than the last time you played it. No matter how well you play the song, you can get a little more polished. Enjoy the journey.
  3. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012
    Thanks a lot. I have thought of doing the following: in 10 minutes I can play the song 3 times: once at highest confortable tempo (say 80% of original), than play the song twice at a little higher tempo (say 85% of original) until 85% becomes my confortable tempo. Rinse an repeat. Replace playing at highest confortable tempo (the first tour) with playing with only metronome at same tempo if possible. Should get it going.
    As a matter of fact, I'm still interested in results, since I'll have to play them live.
  4. Gotta hear the beat to keep the beat. May have to slow down for awhile and then move back up to tempo. It's like we can not play fast if we can not hear every note. Gotta hear each specific note, if you can not hear each note how do you expect to play each note.

    What helps me is to clap the tempo while listening to the song - bass on it's stand - when you can clap the beat comfortably go get your bass. Listen for the kick drum beat, that is the beat your groove is supposed to be based upon.

    No drummer, I listen to the lyric words - normally one beat per lyric syllable. No lyrics hum the tune let the tune set your beat.

    Have fun.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2015

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