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Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Stingray, May 19, 2001.

  1. Stingray


    May 12, 2000
    Im beginning to get bored with just playing songs. i want to be able make up my own lines. i want to be able to be sitting in my room and just bust out full of slaps pops octave jumps crap like that you intersting stuff but no matter how i try i jst cant seen to be able to do that. what do i need to learn to get really good at doing improasationals and such. and if people can send diagrams in jpg and attach them it might be nice to have a visual aid. Please help me i wnt to be really good and jump to the next level and make my own stuff.
  2. John Scofield once said that "Improvisation is just speeded up composition." I think that this is a slight oversimplification but is basically true. When you improvise, you are composing something on the fly. A lot of improvisation is putting together things you already know. That is part of the reason why you can often identify a soloist after just a few bars. Musicians have an internal catalog of stock riffs and algorithms for putting together new ones and for sticking them all together. However, in addition to this, there is some other factor involved that some improvisers have more than others. The ability to pull totally new material out of thin-air. Part of it is pure inspiration and part of it is persperation. Years of practice and study along with a musical gift.

    Here's what I recommend. Start with something simple. Compose a riff and then play it over and over. Then think about how you can play it differently. Add a note here or there or change a note. Keep on doing this. After a while, you will get a good feel for how to modify what you already know into something new.

    Also, learn music theory. Music theory was developed by people who analyzed what sounded good in music and then tried to put rules together to describe it. Learning these rules will get you a lot farther, faster than you could by figuring them out for yourself.

    - Dave
  3. I agree with Sir Grossman.
    As Jaco said, to play without knowing what you're really playing is just "wigglin' your fingers". Do yourself the biggest favor, and learn some theory.
    Look at the very bassic purpose the bass serves in music. You won't be disappointed!!
  4. Oh, I wanted to add that "slaps, pulls and octave jumps" are real fun in the garage or in front of the TV, but not real useful if you want to get paid for what you do. Trust me, learn the role of bass.
  5. dawgawd


    Mar 23, 2000
    i am probably not the best person to post advice seeing how i suck and all that, but anywho...

    I agree with whoever said that you should learn music theory. When I first started playing I had this attitude like "oh, who needs convention, I'll just read tabs and make stuff up", but since I started to learn music theory and such, I realized how entirely stupid that was.

    One thing that has helped me a lot is the realization that most songs are a lot more simple than they want to let on. It's true that I listen to a lot of simpler music that isn't too heavy on bass, but there is usually a pretty consistant thing I've found, which is that most songs are simple at heart.

    I'd start by making up a simple song. Just come up with some simple simple 3 or 4 chord rotation or something, and then mess around hitting different notes within the key. This is how a lot of ska is played. I'm sure you guys aren't big on ska, but I am.

    And as far as improv goes, there is a fine line between something cool, and something overdone. You must use good taste when writing your own material. sometimes the best thing to do is stay on the same note without messing around and trying to be fancy.

    I try to remember this when I'm writing stuff: Hard does not = good. and good does not = hard necessarily. It also depends who you are targetting to. I have a friend who I very much respect as a bass player who goes crazy about primus bass lines and such, but from a non-bassist perspective, one could say that Les Claypool sucks (i'm not saying he DOES suck, i'm not saying he doesn't, i'm proving a point). So basically what I'm saying is that there is a fine line between using improv to create a tasteful bassline and improv to create a tacky one.
  6. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Urrrggh. That's a pretty limiting view IMO considering the role of the bass isn't written in stone. Do whatever sounds good. It doesen't matter if youre not playing the role of the bass (which I assume you think is supporting rest of the band?), I believe.

  7. Fishbrain


    Dec 8, 2000
    England, Liverpool
    Endorsing Artist: Warwick Bass and Amp
    IMO? wot does it mean?

  8. Lovebown,
    Doing whatever sounds good is fun, but unless you play to support the rest of the music, you won't get hired.

    I was trying to help Stingray get out of his room.
  9. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Ok, well, my main goal with playing bass/playing music is not to "get hired". My goal with music is to CREATE and BE CREATIVE. Not whoring around playing with diffrent bands to earn money (cuz if I wanted to´earn money id be doing something other than playing bass).

    I mean, when you look back at your bass "career" would you rather see yourself creating unique music that you think sounds great, or see yourself playing stuff cuz you got "hired" to do it?

    Just my opinion,

    by the way fishbrain IMO=In my opinion

  10. Stingray


    May 12, 2000
    hey thanks for the advice how do i go about learn this "music theory" it sounds like it could help my teacher helps me learn somethings along the theory lines but its not enough to help a need to be able to get more of what theopry teaches into my music.
  11. JWC

    JWC Banned

    Oct 4, 2000
    Man this might be a stupid response, but I just stay in key and run the different modes using different patterns. Say we are in G and I want to play Aeolian, which is Eminor. I just do dome runs on Gmajor and then do some runs in Eminor. Just running the scales using variations. Hoped that helped a bit. LEARN THE MODES!!
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    You can play creativly (slaps, lots of notes, largely improvised lines, "flashy" playing) and still get hired. In fact, it's bought me a house :) As long as you do both. But don't limit yourself to "the role of the bass", that's crap. My bass is my voice. Should what I have to say be valued less because I speak in a deeper octave?
  13. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    There are many levels of success in the music biz. One person may want to right his own music simply to write his own music and no one will ever hear it but him or her. Another person may want to "whore around" in the clubs and bars, sweating it out as part of a cover band, while another might want to be in the trenches writing and performing original songs to smaller crowds. Finally, someone's idea of true success as a musician might be to be part of a multi-million dollar musical "machine." It's silly to say (in my opinion, mind you) that if someone offered you money to do what you love doing, you wouldn't consider it. Or that if someone wants to earn a living at playing, even if it is just in a cover band, they are less of a bassist than you are.
  14. Gudforniet


    Jul 14, 2000
    San Ramon, CA
    dude when i started out i just played other peoples songs just to have fun with, but like ur situation i got bored with it and wanted to do some improv. and hey i had just started and didnt have the motivation to learn music theory (IT HELPS A LOT A LOT) so what i did was i took those songs i have learned and pulled an easy riff out, some blink 182 is the easiest thing to start out with, pull out a riff and just play it and play it and then throw in somethin between each chord change, just a little hammer-on or and octave jump type thing, and hey u can impress ur buddies with that.

    in my opinion bro, improv is just fun to do when ur bored in front of the tv. but if u are able to do slaps and pops and octave jumps, dude thats great and make up ur own little solo type thing and just get better and better. cuz when ya audition for a band if ya wanna go somewhere, they'll most likely pick ya up right away. but u probably wont get to much of a chance to do that type of stuff unless u can find a speed funk band (if there is such a thing). make sure u can keep time and a beat and after that, its all pretty much self explanatory.

    Frosty the Bassman
    Jonathan Frost
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I can see what T Jay is getting at - it's all very well playing wonderfully creative stuff in your bedroom; but I have always found that the best way to improve, is to play with other people. I think you just learn so much and in so many different ways, when you get to bounce ideas of others and to support them and then have them support you. I also think that you get feedback about what is good and bad about your playing -which can be "threatening", but you have to do it!

    Of course you shouldn't just limit yourself to some idea of "the role of the bass" - but if you can't do this, when required, then you will almost certainly never be taken seriously as a bassplayer.
  16. In-My-Opinion

    There ya go!
  17. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001

    Im not saying you should be playing 16th notes in slapped flurrys at all time , im just saying that if playing wacked out slap tap or whatever is what the song calls for and makes it sound great, then why should you limit yourself to root-fifth cuz it makes lifes easier for your guitarist??

    Not that root-fifth for example can't be useful at times

  18. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    True, but I dont think we were talking about improvisation here (that was what the thread was originally about though), I actually think Stingray meant soloing, and not nececarily improvising?

    Anyway, the way I see it, improvising could be just playing half notes , but it could also be shredding 16th note taps as well, right?

    I don't think in terms of showing off, if it sounds good, it sounds good. Whether the person is showcasing his technical profiency or not is not really relevant. If he is or isn't doing his "duty" as a bass player is also irrelevant if what he plays sounds good in the context of the song.

  19. Stingray,
    Your orginal post stated you were "bored with just playing songs". Did this exercise help you?
    As someone who likes songs, I wonder if you got too much debate and too little help.

    We all have different views of how our beloved bass should be played. It is important to recognize what you want to learn and what you have no interest in.

    Please leave your mind open and decide what portion of the music language is useful to you.
    T JAY
  20. I almost forgot, please "whor-around" with other musicians. You never know, you might just become pretty good!!

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