In a Reggae outfit!!!

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by bubinga5, Feb 12, 2009.

  1. bubinga5

    bubinga5 Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2006
    Hey people, i have recently joined a reggae outfit, and im really enjoying it! Doing covers such as Toots, Burning Spear, Marley, UB40, and various riddims..
    Like with many genre's, it has sub genres, but its interesting to see the riddims passed along from the originator, to other artists, and to hear there lyrical take on it.
    Riddims like Ali baba, Slengteng, Declaration of Rights, Police in Helicopter, Forever lovin Jah riddims..Also great songs like UB40's Food for thought, and my favorite Marley's waiting in vain..

    As you may know, these riddims/bass lines have to be kept to the original, and i like to improvise , so i have to erm....reel in my ego and stick with the groove (and i mean note for note)
    Im really a funk player, but i feel reggae has a very close relation to funk, in as much as the groove and feel/touch is everything, wether it be on the one, or off the beat..

    Any one had experience playing reggae??

    Where is Burning Skies???? give me your wisdom!!
  2. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Many years playing reggae, bro. Great music, bassie gets much respect.
    You're right about having to pull in the ego and groove, but nothing wrong with that.
    This thread may be of some help:

    You're on the right track with what you're playing and listening to.
    I liked to go in waves, really digging into the grooves of different sections.
    Listen to lots of Family Man and Wailers.
    Listen to lots of Flabba with the Roots Radics.
    Listen to a lot of Robbie with Sly - I love their work with Black Uhuru, that's pretty crucial.
    Listen to lots of Burning Spear. Marcus Garvey/Garvey's Ghost have been released together on a single CD. There's a world of groove right there. Mostly Robbie and Family Man on bass.
    And listen to Ritchie and Third World - a much more "modern" approach but awfully groovy.
  3. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    No ego problems for me playing reggae- in what other genre is bass the lead instrument, and pushed so far forward in the mix?

    One thing I've found about most reggae riddims is that they are very hard to improve; almost anything you add ends up taking away from the impact, and they are so 'right' and effective changing them around can only sound different and rarely better, not to mention the effect on the listener, who is so programmed to expect the original, even a great similar line can lead to disappointment. The good side of this and the nature of the genres is the amount of expression afforded to us bassists by the slightest variations in tone, attack, and time. There is no place to hide, either.

    I love discovering early or original version of songs that have been reworked countless times. It amazes me how productive the early studios were and how many timeless riddims were created there. Sometimes a later version of an earlier bassline does becomes the standard, however, and the original largely forgotten, too, but the changes are usually very slight.

    I can recommend going to the old stuff to get inspiration, too, as those recordings are a goldmine in terms of musical and recording experimentation, just as I recommend early blues and jazz, as a jumping point for modern day musicians. It's amazing to hear a song or a lick in its original form that has gone on to create a whole sub genre or has become a stylistic cliché, removed from the original context or emotion it was designed to relate. These musicians were such masters there are whole seams of ideas and approaches that still haven't been explored or that have become unfashionable, and that are just waiting to be expanded or fit into modern styles.

    Studio One is the biggest source of original riddims that have become standards in reggae, and much of the output stands up to anything that came after or that is being done today. The quality of the songs and the strength and versatility of the backing tracks is stunning.
  4. 60s, 70s, and 80s were reggae's prime years. So much wonderful music.

    Check this line, Pablo Moses-Ready, Aim, Fire being played by a youtube fav of mine.

    As far as improvising. I'll admit that when practicing I sometimes throw and extra few notes, see if it sounds good, but nothing sounds as captivating as keeping it original.

    If you wanna improvise, during a song have the vocalist go, "DUB IT!!" and drop everything except drum and bass, and maybe riddim guitar. I wouldn't do a lot of improv, but some can be done that sounds good, especially if you got a 5 string haha.
  5. yo...check out Dawn Penn's No No No. Sick one drop stylee.
  6. Porl


    Sep 25, 2008
    Been playign reggae for years now. Best genre for bass:)!

    sticking to riddims is all good, as said before the best ones are hard to improve on.

    alos as said before, family Man is the man, even if you have heard Bob to death, go check the basslines again, they are tidy..a la I shot the sherrif.

    Also check out the Abysinnians for great bass action. fave reggae bass!

    On a more modern bent, for good basslines see Midnite and Groundation for some awesoem playing.

    I often learn riddims of modern Dancehall, the electronic stuff too. A great way to get awesoem modern feel.

    Check out Mavado/alborosie/lutan Fyah/anthony B/ jah Mason.

    hope this helps:)
  7. bubinga5

    bubinga5 Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2006
    I guess you cant improve simplicity, so why try to improvise it!
  8. pbass2


    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Indeed. But I know personally, I been playing reggae and dub for years, but STILL sometimes some of those old lines that sound so simple, are a lot harder to pull off than they sound! The way someone like Family Man can sort of bubble along--it's so loose and rolling but totally consistent---always blows my mind. I work on that all the time.
  9. Yea, it can be hard to get the simplicity right sometimes. I don't know, every once in a while my finger is on the wrong fret, it's almost as if you groove so much you loose track of yourself haha. At least that's how it is with me. I'll start grooving so much I'll forget I'm the one that's gotta make sure everyone else groovin haha.
  10. Sounbwoy

    Sounbwoy Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2005
    Clayton, NC
    Been playing reggae for 15+ years. I take a little different approach and ask why CAN'T one do something different? The philosophy of the band is important here as they might be purists and want you to play exactly like how the songs were played, but there's no rule that says you can play something DIFFERENT and keep the groove and feeling (example:
    That is Toots' son on bass, now playing with Morgan Heritage (Desi Jones from Chalice on drums)
    Listen to stuff from Benji Myaz, Courtney Panton, Derek Barnett and others, and you'll see that these guys are able to put stuff in , but still stay TRUE to reggae. Snaps, slides and runs here and there are a part of my deal, BUT it DEPENDS on the SONG. Night Nurse, for example, is not a song to get all happy The thing is to not get carried away. Even Fams didn't play the same thing all the time but his improv stuff was so subtle it sounds like part of the song.
    I'm just glad to see the elevation of musicianship of people playing reggae..and as a born an raised yawdie, it does my heart good
  11. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    Good point, Sounbwoy. I never say never, myself, especially if you can pull it off.

    It's incredible how much impact the tiniest improvs within a song can have when the bassline is simple and repetitive. Restraint isn't necessarily a good thing for all musical situations, but for most reggae it's what's for dinner, and that's some good eating.
  12. Sounbwoy

    Sounbwoy Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2005
    Clayton, NC
    Mi full awready!! ;):D
  13. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    Have some dessert (I found this on youtube yesterday; I also have it on vinyl in a basement in Montreal) perfect illustration of killer tone and timing. I love how you can hear the attack of each note while it's still so huge sounding, and Robbie Shakespeare even made me laugh out loud during the bridge part. But the slightest timing variations make a great bassline into a killer performance. The organ cracks me up, too. I don't think you can add or subtract a note from any of the instruments that wouldn't make this a lesser track, and the percussion and bass and just create so much tension against the rock solid drums by playing behind the beat):

    Revolutionaries, Black Ash Dub:

  14. bass12

    bass12 Blistering barnacles! Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I don't think there's anything wrong with changing up a riddim if it's done tastefully. It depends on who you are playing with and how much room you have to move within a given riddim. A lot of classic riddims from the 60s and 70s were reworked to great effect by various bands in the 70s, 80s and later. Take for example, the riddim from "Feel Like Jumping" and compare it to "54-46" - they are "pretty much" the same thing but, at the same time, quite different. Then take the classic "Real Rock" and compare it to Cocoa Tea's "Rocking Dolly" - it's the same bass line but slightly spruced up (courtesy of Flabba). By the same token, a riddim like "Heavenless" might be a bit more difficult to change without altering the effectiveness of the line. Of course, it's sometimes a matter of ensuring credibility by playing the original bass line for at least part of the song - just so people know that YOU know how the line is supposed to go.;)
  15. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jun 20, 2021

Share This Page