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how do you practice feel?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by deepbob, Apr 14, 2003.

  1. deepbob


    Oct 3, 2001
    left field
    (no message)

  2. CS Bass

    CS Bass

    Feb 18, 2003
    For me, the longer I play, and the more people I play with, the better my "feel" gets.
  3. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    What do you mean by 'feel' exactly?

    If you mean having a feel for your bass, I would say playing and practicing, becoming comfortable with your instrument. And what CS Bass said.

    But if you mean feel as in emotion I'm not sure if that's something that can be practiced. It's inside of you. It's up to you to decide what you are going to do with it. Are you going to allow it to come out and pour into your bass-playing?
  4. GrooveSlave


    Mar 20, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    I agree with CS Bass and I'd add the following:

    I'm interpreting your question as something along the lines of "How do you practice your groove?" because to me groove = feel.

    My answer would be twofold:

    1. Practice playing along with any recording that has a feel you like and you can get into. Close your eyes and become part of the song. Just try to melt into it.

    2. Practice the same groove(s) with a metronome and try to make it feel the same way. After a few minutes (60 - 90) :eek: :D with the metronome, then try it by yourself and see if you can make it groove the same way.

    I think it is important to note that you should pick something within your playing abilities. Don't try to practice groove (in general) with a line that is too hard for you. You can do the metronome steps above with a hard line at a slower tempo and learn to play it at speed by gradually increasing speed.
  5. DaveDrummer


    Nov 2, 2002
    feel cant be learned, its more of the gift in music that just comes differently to people and its more of a personal thing. Basically the way you sound mood wise when you play, etc is all feel. its a large category

  6. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    If I let myself move while I play, as opposed to standing or sitting rigidly, I get into the groove better. It's hard to get into it unless I move a little. I'm more relaxed that way, I guess.
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    How do you not practice feel? You practice "feel" every time you touch your instrument, whether you admit it or not.
  8. Listen.

    As opposed to just fretting the note and whacking the fat metal thing with your finger.
  9. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    In the words of Louis Armstrong...

    "If I gots to tell ya', ya' ain't never gonna know."
  10. deepbob


    Oct 3, 2001
    left field
    what a depressing set of replies =(


    i asked because i have my own theories and techniques and wanted to share some ideas, but i was hoping at least someone would have something of some depth to contribute (while i appreciate the concept of listening at least =).

    20 years ago i'd have no idea how to respond given the limits of technology and my own personal finances - however, today things are remarkably different as most of you know (or at least evidenced by many posts/articles/etc throughout this site).

    one of the more difficult aspects of music execution/comprehension is understanding the concept of relativity, in the context of music.

    that is, the notion that all voices, patterns, ideas, etc., are relative to each other when executed in the same composition or performance.

    this might be exhibited in the relationship of the singers voice to the guitar player's strings, as the two will greatly impact each other, even tho they might be the same person/source.

    feel has various meanings: it can simply mean the style of play one incurs in their own articulation and tempo manipulations (decieving as it implies there are no relativity dynamics at play); but another important aspect of feel is one's ability to control that 'style' in relation to another voice or element of a given performance/recording. this latter perspective takes the relative nature of music into consideration more carefully.

    a lack of awareness or even comprehension of the subtleties of said relationships can often make musical 'conversation' impossible or just plain unfun, as it dampens an incredibly dynamic aspect of musical participation, and the universe of music, much the way a lack of awareness of accent and inflection can resonate deeply behind the spoken word and create an entirely new and more meaningful communication.

    given this, one is left wanting to know how to practice such things. i've found that the relatively inexpensive digital recording studios of today offer exactly this chance, and quite simply.

    when i was a young horn player, i'd heard a story about an amazing drummer i'd known who went on to gig for some of the world's biggest acts.

    he was notoriously dangerous on jazz set, which was unusual for his age and setting, but undeniable once heard/seen live. the man had amazing jazz feel on all percussion and played the drum set like a master in that dynamic, wide-open genre, as well as translate it competently to others.

    problem was, he completely lacked the ability to play to a click track. and in that time (late 80s) this was a critical skill for the aspiring studio musician, as few musicians had the opportunity until very far down the chain to practice such things outside of trying deparately to hear a simple metronome. it took him many years to overcome this issue.

    in imagining this task of having to relearn your ability to play in an ensemble, to perform beautifully in live situations but run into trouble when set against the precise nature of the automated metronome or a computer generated/executed tracks - i began to focus more on using my recording equipment to provide various practice modes i'd always had great difficulty recreating in the past (mostly because of the human resources and group focus needed just to recreate the dynamics):

    - improvisation. beyond mastering one's language, one has to spend time actually speaking it. the bass lends itself naturally to driving open improvisational jams in a solo recording environment (ie, practice). improvisation helps your ability to practice feel by constantly putting you in a situation where you must listen to the ensemble to have any sense of controlling feel. and this process is a direct result of the nature of relativity.

    - listening. sure, listen to others, it's critical, vital. however, by recording, and on separate tracks which can later be isolated, it is easy to drop out the sequenced elements you might be playing to at any point and listen carefully to how well you approximate >>your<< intentions "feel-wise", your own feel - often just as vital. given an appropriate amount of objective ear time, this can yeild amazing results.

    - variation. one of the easiest ways to understand small is to experience the contrast of large. say you're in a punk band. drummer always plays punk. guitar sings and bangs out punk. maybe once a month you have a 'jam' session and kick out some surfer music. but in the privacy of your own digital recording studio, you can set the sequncer to kick out the base of a crazy jazz piece on the fly, so you can go try to improv walking lines, perhaps 4 times a week. in addition to funk, reggae, classical, et al.

    - freedom to achieve awareness. one of the hardest things in music to achieve is group momentum and focus. so many musicians stay solo because they have great difficulty sharing their ideas. so just taking the group off to practice something that is the opposite of your own favorite styles, ie the feels you think you've mastered, is much easier said than done. so it may be never that you really try hard to get a good sense for that foreign feel you have no desire to play, but that makes you much more capable, through a careful awareness of the full universe in which you reside.

    - creativity. all of the above are some of the most intensive creativity exercises you can engage in. creativity is a skill like any other. if the only time you get to be creative is once a week during drum solo and for 5 minutes in your warm-up, then i wonder where your creative exercise is coming from =)

    oh well, call bull**** all you like on my ramblings - i think it's important we start cracking open some of these things and stop relying on such linear focuses in educating ourselves. at very least there might be an idea or two in there.

    i think talent is a skill, and i wish we'd stop pretending it's something that can't be practiced/approached/understood.


  11. I dont think you can "practice" feel. You can only gain feel by playing and making music that sounds good to you.
  12. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    So why do call yourself 'deepbob' again ;) :D

    Asking how you practice feel is a perfectly valid question.

    ...but, no offense intended, I think most of what you're written is of little consequnce or relevance to the actual question you asked, which appears to have been rhetorical anyhow ;)

    You've outlined a bunch of things we all endlessly need to work on, which we'll never master, (obviously, a musician can always improve).. ..but I don't think you really related those aspects of practice to actually practicing feel.

    ...and the reason for that is that is because I dont believe you can specify any method for practicing feel.
    If you can't define feel, which neither you, I, nor anyone else for that matter can, as it's subjective, then you can't define how to practice it.

    Jimi Hendrix had feel. Flea has feel. Ask these guys for practice methods and you'll get whole load of mindless hippy bullsh1t comin right back atcha!

    ..but you cant deny they had/have it right?

    ...and I'll bet Jimi hendrix or Flea never practiced to a click!

    Personally, I think Chris A nailed it right on the head there when he said:

    "You practice "feel" every time you touch your instrument"

    No matter what you play, who you play it with or when you play it, everytime you play you are practicing feel.

    Don't get me wrong, your pracice methods seem spot on to me... but I dont believe they are specific to practicing feel... but are more just essential practice methods.
  13. Sten


    Nov 18, 2001
    That's exaclty where I'm at. The sad thing is, with my need for variation I may very well be their idea of the music(by playing riffs that are not that punk). Playing other styles of music at home do not give me what I need...hence why I'm looking for a second band to play in(for the sake of having some progress).
  14. deepbob


    Oct 3, 2001
    left field
    howard, i agree, anytime one picks up the instrument, they can potentially impact their ability to control feel.

    we always laughed at how the isle of wight album of hendrix went from "drunk" to "baked" in terms of execution, mimicked in his comments over the course of the recording. feel flows.

    and i find using exercises which adopt a holistic vantage point - one which let's you see the beast from many or all angles, needs and concerns - you can begin to approach feel with some sense of awareness. as an exercise. as an introduction.

    i was serious in my question (it wasn't entirely rhetorical =P) i was hoping some might impart some ideas that would prompt other ideas. but my ramblings about relativity seem incredibly important in terms of approaching an awareness of feel.

    i discovered through many years of toil in other artisitic dimensions (graphic design) that this holisitc approach to relativity can yield amazing awareness for any given task or any desire to develop a given skill.

    exposure is the gist of my assertion here. exposing one's self to the dynamics of relativity, in it's entirety, can yeild amazing results in terms of developing an awareness and ability for feel: including the terribly difficult task of developing your own.

    - deep :bassist:
  15. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    relativity? holistic approach?

    Sorry, what you're saying just sounds like a flashy explanation for well a formed 'practice' routine.

    Do me a favour and put what you're saying into words that aren't difficult to read, into plain english, with nice easy-on-the-ear sentences etc :)

    See, what gives me an awareness of feel is whether the band is playing a band or not. whther the groove is there, whether my lines 'feel' right or don't.

    personally, i just 'know' when it's working and i 'know' when it's not. only when it's not do you need to analyse, and that i just tackle case at a time.

    an awareness of feel, is just over complicating 'good performance' Vs 'bad performace' in my mind.
  16. Feel, to me, is just being into the music you're playing and making your bass lines flow into the music. It's not something that can be practiced with a particular exersize, but just by playing as much as possible, listening to the music you're playing, and creating lines that "work" for the music.
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

  18. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002

    deepbob is a superiorly suitable psyudoname.
  19. Heavy_E


    Jul 2, 2002
    Maybe this is an example...

    Last nights practice we are playing a song called Heart of Worship... We were playing it "by the book", note for note... there was no energy, no groove, no feel...

    After practice was over, I started playing the song by myself... our lead guitarist start putting some fills in and the song begain to "breathe"... becoming alive. The drummer kicks in and we start doing this improv thing... Let me tell you there was some energy flowing in the room... I love that when it starts happening!!! It is like the music has a soul...

    That's my interpretation
  20. Deepbop it would seem as though you are 'zenifying' (i like new words) feel a little bit too much.

    Which might be a little bit paradoxical as feel is more of a natural intrinsic thing than a concept underpinned by complex ideas.

    Then again maybe I am just an unenlightened bassist, which is quite likely when one considers my playing ability.

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