Hi, I think I'm screwed

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by nicfit, Mar 7, 2004.

  1. nicfit


    Dec 30, 2003

    I don't post here often but please do help me on this :help: .Thanks. :)

    I think I'm screwed on the musical aspect of playing bass. I know a bit (i stress the words "a bit" ;) ) of theory (scales etc) but what I can't seem to do is apply it when I'm playing, especially when I'm improvising.

    See, what I do is instead of thinking about theory and what note goes best after this and so and so, I just play what feels best to me. As in without referring to theory I just listen and play. Sometimes this works but the problem here is that if for example I want to play a blues bassline, I have to actually listen to the genre to listen to the style of the bassline, and then create one of my own in the same style that I have listened to.

    So, if say I have to play a bossa nova line, and I haven't listened to any bossa nova to figure out what style it is to play in, I can't do anything much.

    This is the exact problem I'm facing now. I won't say I listen to a lot of music genres but I'm not closed minded at all when it comes to music. (I listen to stuff from rock and roll to blues to a bit of metal to alternative to shoegazer to post-rock and a bit in between but when it comes to stuff like the aforementioned bossa nova and especially jazz, I'm completely lost as to what to play heh.

    I thought of rectifying this problem by listening to, well, a huge variety of music but then it occured to me learning how to apply theory would be much better.

    So could anyone suggest good methods of actually applying theory in a practical setting? I would be eternally grateful. :cool:

    Thank You :)
  2. Lewk


    Oct 19, 2003
    i'm no expert by ANY means (yet) but i think you should learn your scales and modes and relate them to certain sounds, like "this one sounds spanish" or "this one sounds liek the superman theme" or whatever, something you can relate too. then, when someone gives you a style of music, you can pull out a bassline from your new "toolbox" and get the sound you're after much easier.
  3. I think you've figured out your problem, so just act on it. Get some jazz and latin CDs from your public library if you don't want to spring the money, and listen away.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think you do need to start learning theory if you are going to play genres like this - so Bossa Nova is very Jazz-influenced in terms of chords and to take an example - often has half-dimished chords. Now - generally bass players play a lot of root-fifth - but you need to know that a half-diminished chord has a flat five - so if you play a normal fifth this could clash horribly!!

    For Jazz, you need to understand functional harmony and you at least need to know which notes go to make up every type of chord and preferably which scales fit with which chords in tunes.

    Get Mark Levine's Jazz Theory Book and work through this as slowly as you need to! :)
  5. nicfit


    Dec 30, 2003

    Thank you all for your advice :) . I think I should get a book on theory and start from there. Are there any books targeted to those with minimal knowledge on theory? And does anyone have any suggestion on where to get such books online cheap? (It probably isn't sold here)

    Thanks :)
  6. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Hi there,

    I'd also suggest a few lessons... learning how to apply the theory to your fretboard once you know the concepts is the hard part, and IME it's easier to learn it from a human being that has faced the same problems in the past, than it is from a book.

    As mentioned, try listening to some songs in the styles you want to learn, and cop the parts. This is where a teacher can really help - they can show you how music theory applies to the bass line, and the song in general.

    Hope this helps! :)
  7. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    I think that bass players that don't even like jazz would be doing themselves a big favor by studying jazz tunes and bass lines. As noted above, the harmonic vocabulary is so much more diverse than in rock or blues. After only a couple of months playing in a jazz workshop, I have noticed a dramatic improvement in my playing of other styles. Those jazz extensions and tensions can be very useful when applied tastefully to rock or blues.
  8. This is going down as a favorite thread title. I can't help your problem, however.