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I'm boring!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Oysterman, Oct 20, 2000.

  1. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Here's a thing I've tried to deal with but never gotten anywhere...

    Whatever I may play, be it a heavy metal line or an improvised jazz/fusion solo, I find myself playing the same things as I always do. I never come up with new, interesting lines, I never actually play a good solo anymore - I'm either out of ideas or don't care to try! No matter how much I listen to others, I don't seem to be able to adapt their ideas to my playing anymore. I'm just becoming such a bore, but so far (and lucky for me), I'm the only one realising this...

    Have I fallen into apathy finally understanding that I'm never going to be a new Jaco Pastorius?

    What should I do?
  2. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Next solo opportunity, try imagining you're a trumpet player. Or a piano. Or a nightingale.

    Try and write a TUNE right there in the spot. Don't play notes -- play a MELODY.

    You sound like you need to put your HEAD in a different place. It is easy to get in a rut but it doesn't take too much to get out -- just a little revised focus.
  3. furtim


    Dec 12, 1999
    Boston, MA, USA
    Eli's got some great ideas.

    My suggestion is just to spend time with your bass noodling around outside of performance time. Don't even think about what chords you want to play over or anything like that. Just start out playing notes and let the inspiration flow. If you come across something you like, rythmically or melodically, just make a mental note and keep going. Once you finally run out of ideas, just go back and try to figure out what you did and how to apply that to a general situation so you can use whenever you need it. That out to give you more material to work with.

    For inspiration, Eli has the right idea. Another thing you might try is listening to new artists or even new styles you haven't tried out before. You could be pleasantly surprised with new ideas. If even that doesn't work, just spend some time away from music altogether: listen to anything that could give you an idea.
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...join the club!

    Really, it's called being HUMAN; we're all gonna have periods of ups/downs...plateauing, stagnation, etc. At least that's what I keep telling myself.
    Hang in there, bro.
  5. thayer182


    Oct 1, 2000
    furtim and eli has some really great ideas. I sometimes think that some people make music too complicated. just pick up your bass and start playing. don't even look at the fret board or pay attention to what string your on. just wherever your finger falls, play that note. and then go by the way that sounds and play other notes, even if it's just going up or down a couple of frets, just play and don't worry about what you're playing. believe me, I've written some truly amazing riffs by doing this. I mean, it feels really good when you're just messin around and u come up w/ this really cool riff that just blows u away. and I don't know what's so great about chords. if I wanted to play chords I would get a guitar. well... I do play some chords on my bass, but that's only when I'm feeling really creative.
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I dunno, thayer...
    Just my .02-
    I think the sorta "finger wiggling/randomness" is what Oysterman wants to avoid. I mean, from my experience, the "randomness" isn't really "random"; we're gonna fall back on what's famaliar & easy. That's why, IMO, everything's gonna sound the same & "boring"(as Oysterman has pointed out).
    ...then again, if that's what's working for you, keep on a-gettin' it.

    How 'bout getting into a different genre of music? If you're not into Afro-Latin stuff, check out FUNKIFYING THE CLAVE FOR BASS & DRUMS(Goines & Ammeen)or THE TRUE CUBAN BASSIST (Carlos Del Puerto). There's also a lotta cross rhythms goin' on in this type of music; feeling that kinda groove will make you better, trust me on that.

    Also, for Ss & Gs, take a known 4/4 figure & turn it into a 3/4 or 5/4 figure.
    Example: Bass intro to "A Night In Tunsia" in 4(1/8 notes).


    ...now turn it into a 3/4 figure-
    Plug in the same notes(notice it's now a 4-bar phrase).

    ...now turn it into a 5/4 figure-
    Again, plug in the notes.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree with this entirely - I think it's more often than not, the players who "just play" that fall into the trap of endlessly repeating themselves - I know, I did this for about 10 years! ;) Probably longer. It was only when I took up Jazz seriously and went to some classes, that I realised all the other approaches there are and different ways to practice and learn.

    I used to think that if I went to teachers or studied theory, I would just sound like everybody else and wouldn't have an original "voice" for composing songs, for example. What it did mean though, was that I was doomed to play around with the same few chords and ideas for sequences and never break out of what I knew without it sounding a mess.

    Since looking at Jazz, I now realise how many scales and chords were always available to me, which I just never would have thought of by myself and I just wish I'd started earlier on this. And that's not including, different time signatures, different cultures - like incorporating elements of Cuban or African music.
  8. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    I tried out the "sit down just play"-thing and fpund that it wasn't "random" at all.
    So, JimK was right. I should have looked at the stuff you posted, but I got two examinations coming up, so I think the bass will gather some dust this week... pity, eh?

    Anyway, thanks to everyone for their words on this. I appreciate it a lot!
  9. furtim


    Dec 12, 1999
    Boston, MA, USA
    I don't recall saying anything about being "random". To me, it's not so much being "random" as freeing yourself from the pressure of having to play a "real" solo and worrying about how it sounds to the audience and how well it fits with the tune. You dig? More like making up your own tune as you go along.

    And yeah, theory is important. I know that I certainly need to know more of it than I currently do. I was assuming that Oysterman already knew quite a bit, though, and wouldn't have much room for improvement in that area. Very well, then. =)
  10. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Well, furtim, you said earlier that "Just start out playing notes and let the inspiration flow.", which seems pretty "random" to me. Anyway, random or not, I have tried this out, and it won't let me break new ground. I'm no good at improvising, it's as simple as that, really. <:-/

    I know quite a bit of theory. I know chord harmony, some scales, although I have been lazy on this point and not bothered to relate the actual playing to the theory behind it. Maybe I should try to have a more scientific approach to the songs? Or would that result in me being even more boring (or sterile)?

    Argh, damn hard for me, all this. I swear to myself to play the hell out of my bass in the weekend! Then I'll know what to do.
  11. furtim


    Dec 12, 1999
    Boston, MA, USA
    Hmmm... Well, if you do have a good understanding of theory but just don't know how to put it together... Start experimenting. =) Take some intervals or chords you haven't really used before and play them to see how they sound. Try stringing a few of these together and maybe incorporating some of the things you're already familiar with to see if you hit on something you like. If that's still not a good solution for you, I suggest maybe you should start focussing on finding some new rythmns. You said that you played jazz/fusion and heavy metal... so how about listening to some Latin beats or getting even funkier and trying some kinda African tribal stuff to see if there are any rythmns you like. That would probably apply better to your jazz than to metal, but any start is a good start. Either way, I think you should try listening to some of the more rythmic style of music for ideas you can bring back to your playing. That way, you can still stick to the same old notes but still make them sound fresh and exciting. Ya dig?
  12. Player


    Dec 27, 1999
    USA Cincinnati, OH
    A couple things I've done. Pull out something you haven't listened to in years. I have heard tunes that I've been playing, but haven't heard (the original recording)in years and find that I sometimes get new inspirations, Parts I never heard before jump out. Another thing I do is sequence a simple progression to play along with and set down some rule like OK no 5ths or no successive notes from the scale or both. Force yourself to take a new approach to jamming with it. Play things backwards. Take some lines you fall back on and learn them backwards. Sometime you come up with real interesting things by just turning it around.
  13. furtim


    Dec 12, 1999
    Boston, MA, USA
    Backwards, eh? Actually, that sounds like a REALLY good idea... I'll have to try that some time. =)
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...yeah, playing backwards is another "exercise" that forces you to use your ears & avoid your typical fingering PATTERNS(KungFu's favorite word...NOT!).

    Take something like an Aebersold walking bass lines book & try reading the lines from right to left; later, you can turn the book UPSIDE DOWN & try that. What I've noticed is you'll hear a resemblance to, in this example, a Blues...you're kinda fighting your fingers from goin' where they usually fall. Kinda neat & fun...I should be doin' more of that stuff.
  15. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    Put down your bass for a day or so...and have some fun. Take a drive in the country...think about the things in your life that mean the most to you. Dwell on some memories.
    Fantasize...:).....what pleases you?...fightens you?
    Then...go back...pick up your bass...and interpret it all thru your hands and into your instrument.
    Sometimes....you just need to break your routine...:)
  16. bobbisquick


    Oct 27, 2000
    My first question would be, are you playing with other people presently? Playing with other musicians in any capacity is my greatest inspiration. For years I woodsheded like crazy, and when I went through these stretches of not being in a band, I would burn out. When you are playing with other musicians, you can sit back and just groove and check out what others are doing around you. This can be just plain fun, but you can also get all sorts of ideas. Also, practicing takes on a whole new meaning if you know the stuff you are working on will be used in a few days at the next rehearsal / jam. Personally, just sititng around practicing scales is so boring that I can't do it anymore. Not that I know all the scales or anything, not even by a long shot, but lets face, playing music with other musucians is what its all about. If you wanted to be only a soloist, you should have played the viloin or something.

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