I need to sound more interesting...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BottomFeeder86, Feb 27, 2005.

  1. BottomFeeder86


    Oct 18, 2004
    Ok, when i play and improvise anything, it always sounds the same. Always kinda pentatonic minor kind of bluesy, it sounds cool, but only to an extent. I'll say this up front, so if theres some people on here who will automatically look downward towards me, they dont need to read past this. I'm not great with musical theory, i know the very basics, but i learn great by ear. Here's a prime example played by urb_munki that just sounds great.


    Now if i attempted to make something like that up, i would be clueless. I can understand certain parts, except some of the faster runs. I don't want to steal his awesome playing, i just need some help to get me started creating my own I guess my question is, are there any distinctive scales that make up jazzier sounding basslines? I can learn from them and build off of that if someone could help me. I've been depressed about this in my playing for a long time, i've tried a teacher a while ago, but it was way too expensive for me, and it just didnt work out at all. ANYTHING will help in getting me started, i feel so primative and ignorant asking this but i had to ask. :(

    I love playing my bass as much as i can, but whenever i am reminded by myself that i always sound the same when i improvise, i just can't stand that anymore. :bawl: Please, help me out here. My name is IHave5strings on AIM if anyone would be kind enough to talk to me on there, if you prefer. Thank you so much for reading this.
  2. Jleonardbc


    Nov 12, 2004
    Well, there are melodic minor scales, bebop scales, blues scales (the blues scale in C would be the C pentatonic minor scale with one note added: C Eb E F G Bb C)...but scales aren't what it's about. You can create an incredible, rocking solo with just the C major scale over C major chords. You can know every word in the dictionary and every grammar rule in the book and still have nothing interesting to say...I recommend listening to lots of excellent music, especially jazz (you can start with Miles Davis' 'Kind of Blue' and work from there) and transcribing it, too. Ear training will really help you, too- I recommend this book/CD's set, I got it awhile ago and it's great so far..here's the meat of what I'm saying:

    Any great soloist hears a melody in their head first and then plays it with their instrument. The point of technique and scales is an organized means for your hands to know where to go to play what you're hearing and to play it with facility. I would recommend visiting aebersold.com and investing in some Jamey Aebersold jazz play-a-longs (it has suggestions on the site for which ones to get for starters) and possibly his video about basic improvising. I got some recently, and it's really helping me to organize my practice time better. Even if you're not into jazz, it helps to just turn on a play-a-long track (it could be a vamp in D dorian minor, a 12-bar-blues shuffle in F..it depends which book you get, each has about 10-20 tracks or songs) and think of solo ideas in your head, maybe try to tap them out on a piano, and of course figure out how to play them on your bass, what scales they use, etc. The books have lots of great suggestion and guidance as well.

    In summary, use your ears! They'll lead you to the music you want to make. Those Aebersold books cover scales, too, but just knowing "better" scales won't make better solos: it's better listening. The more you listen to good players (live or recorded), write down what you hear (with the ear training book and transcribing recordings), and practice playing what you hear (with the Aebersold recordings), the better and more expressive you'll get.

    I hope I was able to help you out, I'm in the same boat.

  3. BottomFeeder86


    Oct 18, 2004
    Thanks for the response, once i get my next paycheck, i'll look into some of that stuff. The play along thing sounds like a really good idea.

    Is it just me, or when you hear things like that video i posted, it just seems like night and day between that and average sounding, more prominant bluesy pentatonic type playing? its both inspirational, and EXTREMELY frustrating hearing things that just dont click a light bulb on in my head.

    Any more scale ideas will help, i wont rely on just learning straight scales, i'll try and build around them, try to get these mroe interesting sounds and ideas into my head and develop my technique from there, hopefully you guys know what i'm talking about :meh: Thanks again!
  4. Jleonardbc


    Nov 12, 2004
    There are definitely some great ideas in that video (by the way, a lot of it is in the key/scale of A Dorian minor). Techniques such as slapping, tapping, and harmonics help accentuate and add flair to solos and such, and great technique will always help you express yourself better. But you can also be able to play 32nd notes at 300 bpm and tap a piano sonata at that speed but still be uninspired in your playing..if you listen to some of the songs on 'Kind of Blue,' be aware of how much Miles (on trumpet) can express with just a few notes..blazing speed and dexterity (which he is very capable of, but knows when and how to use) aren't always required to express yourself. Practice to become a good technician, but also to be a musician..I imagine that really being able to play "from your heart" is one of the most satisfying experiences you can strive for.
  5. A good source of inspiration and information on music that is "out of the box" and interesting is www.trevordunn.n3.net . The "questions/answers" section discusses alot about getting a unique voice, along with many other issues about being a bass player. The site also has the sheet music for "Dead Goon" by Mr. Bungle, which makes it even more worth a visit. :cool:
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    there's a fellow by the name of Jim Stinnett that posts here, he's a bassist and teacher and great player. He said something in another thread here that really gets to the heart of the matter. When you ask questions like "are there any distinctive scales that make up jazzier sounding basslines?", Jim says that is akin to somebody who's learning to shoot asking for more ammunition rather than asking how to improve their aim.

    You didn't have to go out and buy a dictionary and memorize all the words in it, or memorize a bunch of big words to communicate where you are and what you want, right? Music is similar, if you HEAR what it is you want to play in relation to your aural environment and you can UNDERSTAND and IDENTIFY what you are hearing with enough CLARITY that you play that on your instrument, you can play in a creative way that communicates how it is you are hearing to the other members of the band (the ones that can hear at any rate). And just like in real life, when you want to gain insight into areas you don't have familiarity with, you read, you talk, you think, you get insight from people who have a greater depth of understadning than you, you think some more. And FINALLY those concepts start coming out in your communciation with others. Music is similar.

    When I first started out, I thought I played great by ear too. But I discovered that what I could actually HEAR with any kind of clarity was very, very limited. You say that you didn't have a good experience with a teacher before, I would recommend you find a good teacher and try it again. You say that it's too expensive, I say it's an investment in yourself and your future.
  7. The main bit of advice I would give is; be fearless and take chances. One of the worst things to do is, while you are playing think "oh **** I just messed up" because then you're not paying attention to what your playing anymore. Also when you think that your not going to do anything worthwhile in your improvisations, you wont. You have to have the comfidence to just let go and know that your ear(developed either through listening or theory, whichever works for you; I use a combination). When your practicing play around with different rhythms and melodic ideas, keep what you like and forget you ever played what you didn't. You can make some very interesting stuff using just blues or pentatonic scales, and they are a good place to start, so don't worry about scales at this point. In the end scales are just frameworks anyway. So yes, let me emphasise by saying it agian; be fearless and take chances. If you don't take chances you'll be one of the multitudes of boring bass players and another reason why people don't think basses should be lead instruments or take many solos.
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