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Help please! Funk bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by richardjones89, Jun 25, 2007.

  1. richardjones89


    Jun 6, 2007
    im trying to learn Love Foolosophy by Jamiroquai. it may seem like a simple song, but im having real difficulty with it. i got the tabs off the net which seem right, but the problem, im having is with the timing of playing the notes. funk sounds like a really hard thing to play, its like everything is scattered. ever time i try to learn it i struggle with even getting the first riff and i have to walk away and try again another time, but its very difficult to hear and work out. its driving me nuts! :crying: i cant seem to transcribe the tabs to bass with the correct timing along with the track.

    can anyone give any advice?
  2. when i have trouble with timing, i learn the notes first without worrying to much about timing and when i got them down i listen to the song over and over again and try to play along with it. it may take a while but eventually i'll get it.
  3. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Ya just can't fake the funk. That tune is simple when you only consider the number of notes being played. But like you've realized, the magic of funk is in the timing. I don't think there is a short answer for you here; just practice, practice, practice. It takes many years to develop the touch and timing required to play the funk you're hearing in that recording. If you are determined, you will get it.

    Here's a few tips:
    1. Throw out those tabs. They are a crutch. Time spent listening to the recording for the right notes will help you develop your ear, printing tabs only wastes ink.

    2. Listen to the subtilties of the playing. How are the note being played? Are they plucked, slapped, slid into, hammer-ons? Do you hear any ghost notes? The funk is in the details.

    3. Sing the bass line first, then play it on the bass.

    Learning tunes like this will make you a better bass player in no time. Ditch the tabs, use your ears, and practice it till it is perfect. You will improve your ears and internalize much of the original bass players style and sound. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but improving as a player is never easy.

    If you don't care much for becoming a better player, then please disregard my post. I'm sure someone will send you a better tab.

    Good luck.
  4. richardjones89


    Jun 6, 2007
    you talk sense boyo, and i dig it ;) lol funk is in the magic i am aware. and becoming a better player is more about learning it yourself than reading what someone else has learned.

    but the problem im trying to get across is the general 'working out' part. yeah the timings one thing, but hearing the bass over the rest of the song is hard, because it all just sorta blends together and the notes merge, i cant make out the bass sounds very well.

    dya think listening though headphones will help me pick out the bass easier?
  5. uethanian


    Mar 11, 2007
    tabs are useless if the bassline is rhythmically complex.
  6. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    The notes are there. I have listened to that song many times, and IMHO they are very prominent in the mix. Hearing the bass over the rest of the song is hard at first to the untrained ear. The more you do this exercise, the easier it gets. Eventually you'll get to the point where you hear a tune, and can just play it.

    You might want to try the headphones. That might help if your regular listening source (PC, stereo) is not very accurate.

    Try listening in small sections. Start with the first four beats of the verse riff. Learn the bass line is sections, constantly adding to what you just figured out. This requires a lot of pausing and rewinding. Back in the day I used to do this with cassette tapes. I can't even imagine trying this with a record. If you have the means to create a loop of the section you want to learn that might help. (Download free Audacity program)
  7. Scatterblak


    May 12, 2007
    Nashville, Tennessee
    Endorsing Artist for Low End bass guitars, DNA Amplification
    Da funk is in the space -- listen where *not* to play, and da funk will arrive unbidden.
  8. PocketGroove82


    Oct 18, 2006
    To transcribe tunes like this it is essential that you have a firm grasp on the 16th/8th note subdivisions within a beat.
    The difference between the feel created with an accented 16th note on "the 'e' of beat 3" vs. "the 'and' of beat 3" is huge, yet they are so close together in time.

    It always helps me to pat 8th notes with my hand on my leg, that way I can catch the 'e's and the 'ah's.

    Also, if you can't real actual notes, you could still broaden your rhythmic vocabular by patting out rhythmns from a simple snare drum book.

    Or if you can read, then check out anthony vitti's books, FingerFunk vol 1/2. Volumn 2 even has TABs...which is insane to try to read with all those 16ths, but still pretty cool.
  9. +1
    If I'm having trouble I always count it out in 16ths and subdivide, find out exactly where the notes hit, and take it slow.

    One thing that has really helped me in transcribing is Amazing Slow Downer. A $50 piece of software that IMO is some of the best money I ever spent, in terms of bass instruction. FWIW, there may be a free program out there somewhere that does what ASD does, and ASD also has a free trial that only plays the first fraction of a song--which works fine if you're learning a riff just at the very beginning.
  10. KidFunky


    Jul 15, 2005
    Ah the amazing slowdowner. I have tyried it and it is indeed amazing, yet I am hesitant to ever use it again for figuring out a bassline as it is a bit of a shortcut. I need to learn to decipher at speed and I can't train that if I slow it down. Or is that mad?

    In regards of funky basslines, it would help tremendously to find the actual timing if the song is slowed down. It would make it easier for sure. I am undecided on this issue myself, it can be seens as helpful AND as a deskilling crutch.


    Ok I listened to the track. That is NOT a simple song man, that is advanced bassplaying and requires excellent time and technique to pull off with any serious groove and feel so don't be too hard on yourself. I guess where the slow downer CAN help alot is teaching you what exactly is happening at high speed when you don't even know what is going. was that a ghost note? a muted slap? a choked note? etc. That way you can recognise it next time at speed.
  11. I am going to echo some established proffesionals advice:

    Music is like a language and in order to successfully learn that language you must surround yourself with it and internalize the language and everything about it. Well, in order to learn to play funky bass lines I suggest you constantly listen to funk and soul. Don't just listen though, internalize. Listen to the beat and the way the lines interconnect, this will improve your internal timing sense and most likely your ear for melody and harmony. One thing you may notice is every instrument plays a "part" and in the majority of popular music forms you will hear the drummer accenting the two and four with their snare or high hat. As a bassplayer you should stay out of their space, so when playing lines don't play on the two and sometimes the four. THIS IS NOT WRITTEN IN STONE. I am not saying that if you play on the two or four its not funky I am just giving you something to work with. Listen to many funk and soul recordings, mayy times the bass is not playing on the two and sometimes the four. As someone said the funk is in the space. Try that out for awhile.

    By the way the professionals that I were reffering to that said that music was like a language were Victor Wooten and Marcus Miller.
  12. spindizzy


    Apr 12, 2004
    All of the suggestions above are good but after taking a quick listen to the tune you mentioned (YouTube, I wish they had this back when I got started) and really it is simple in my opinion. First, don't learn every note...learn the chords or for your purpose the roots. Play along attempting to hit the the major syncopation (the pulse of the bassline) only using the roots of the chords until you have the entire chordal structure of the tune down. Then use bouncing octives and chromatic runs in between chord changes. This is all the player did originally and I would argue that unless someone wrote the bass part for someone to play faithfully note for note the player would do it slightly differently each time.

    The part is simple R&B/Soul bass playing with an ear towards supporting the groove. George Clinton would not call this funk but he would appreciate a bassline that has its footing in the old school and this is a good example of that sort of bass part.

    Now I am not saying that learning this note by note isn't a good exercise but in my opinion it is the spirit of how a bassline like this is played and the actual chord structure of the tune itself that matters. Besides if you do want to be funky it is more about you putting your own stink on a part as it is about how faithfully you play another persons baseline.

  13. KidFunky


    Jul 15, 2005
    If that is simple I am in much more trouble than I thought :)
  14. spindizzy


    Apr 12, 2004
    Not to worry. It sounds complicated but it really isn't. You'll get it and when you do you will know what I mean. Just keep at it and remember regardless of what bass star plays a part they all must work within the context of music theory (even when they don't understand or know music theory) and therefore the map for these things was created hundreds of years ago. You simply have to rediscover it. Even the most complicated bass parts are being played by humans and what one can do others can learn to do...it is how we are made. You'll get it and when you do I want you to post it here so we can share in your accomplishment.

    I have confidence in you!!! (I also have a good thirty five years of playing under my belt so I wouldn't suggest that you consider my thinking that this is easy as an indication of your own ability...Given time you will certainly blow my old rear end out of the water...at least if you keep learning you will!).

  15. stealth51


    Jan 26, 2007
    Chicago, IL
    Throw away the tabs. Listen to the bass in the song until it's in your head then work it out from there. Break it down into small parts even if it's learning 1 bar at a time.
  16. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Hey - at least you recognized that you need to work on it. I'll bet there are plenty of bassists out there (not many on the TalkBass Technique Forum, I'll bet!) that think if they're playing all the notes, they've 'nailed it'.

  17. I don't know the song, so I can't help you much there.

    Keep in mind that a large quantity (but not all) of the tabs you get off the internet were created by people who simply don't know how to play the songs the right way.

    I'm not saying that to be arrogant, but just as a fact that there there is a lot of low quality stuff out there. A band with really really dedicated fans (like Rush) will have some good tabs because good players spent many many hours creating them.

    So, assuming your tabs for this song are crap, follow the previous posters' advice - listen to the song over and over and over again until you know in your head how the bass line goes. Once you know it you will have an easier time figuring it out and playing it.
  18. Axel F

    Axel F

    Mar 2, 2005
    Loughborough, UK
    There's sometimes benefits from sites like youtube - there's often many videos posted of either live performances by the band or just people playing along to the songs in their bedroom. The challenge then becomes making sure you're watching someone who actually knows what they're doing, but the bass is usually a lot more prominant in the mix due to their amp and you have the benefit of watching someone's left and right hand technique (again make sure it's worth watching!) I did a v quick search on youtube and it threw up these (not me by the way!)
    Love Foolosophy
    Love Foolosophy

    But as has been said, nothing can beat time and effort spent learning and practicing - it's all worth it in the end ;)
  19. MiguelAngelCH


    Mar 20, 2013
    Hi! I think the bass on this song is that difficult because it contains a lot of details (specially articulations and silences) that makes this bass line so unique and complex. It costed to me a lot to get close to the feel of the bassline, but i think i did a good job at the end. Check my cover and feel free to comment/criticize :)

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