In Need of Pro Advice

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Classical_Thump, Jul 7, 2005.

  1. Classical_Thump


    Jan 26, 2005
    I have been playing bass for quite a while now, and have been studying jazz the whole time. The main problem I have been encountering is how to incorporate the theory and playing I study into my playing, specifically solos. I have played through and learned a lot from many instructional books and videos, but no matter how many times I go through them, they don't seem to give me the solos and sense of melody I desire. So my main question is, how can I get to the point where my knowledge of theory and technique/chops translate into the musical and melodic solos that I want to play (like...Manring, Wooten, Baileys, Jaco ,Piazza, etc etc etc)??

    Any advice is appreciated
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I may not be pro, but I can still offer this advice. For me, when I solo, I try and focus primarily on what I'm hearing. If I ain't hearing it, then it ain't happening no matter how much time I spend learning all my theory, if I'm not hearing melodic and cohesive solos, then I won't be making melodic and cohesive solos. You've got all the bookworm stuff down, which is good, gives you more vocabulary for what you have to say, now you just gotta figure out what it is you're trying to say.
  3. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Well, this is kinda weird, but this is what I do as "practice" for increasing my vocabulary in solos. I've been doing this for awhile, but I read about it in a recent BP Magazine article, and was like "Whoa, I'm not a complete freak!"
    1. Sit down in front of the TV with your bass, amp, and whatever else you need.
    2. Turn to a movie or documentary, something dramatic.
    3. Mute volume of said TV
    4. Play a "soundtrack" to whatever it is you're seeing. The article mentioned the Discovery channel, and figuring out what sounds good to back a wolf howling, eagle soaring.
    5. Rinse and repeat a couple/three times a week

    You'll notice after awhile that you don't get that "stuck" feeling in solos as often. IME, this wasn't a "groundbreaking" feeling like when I learned *** a "tetrachord" was and how it fits into modes and whatnot, this (for me) was more of a slow burn-type feeling, more of a gradual yet significant improvement over a series of weeks/months. As always, YMMV.
  4. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    It’s true that understanding how music works won’t necessarily make you a good musician. The reason we study harmony in order to play jazz is to make sure we have the right tools for the job. But if your studies exceed your playing experience it can be a little like being a carpenter with hammers, nails, saws, and so on, but no plan for what to build. I think it’s a good idea for anyone interested in improvising to spend a good bit of time singing solos. Unless you’re Bobby McFerrin, time alone in the car is a good place for this -- that way you don’t have to feel self-conscious! Just put on a record you like and sing the kinds of things you’d like to be able to play. This is the same process you’ll use in improvising, but as you develop your listening and playing skills you’ll be able to internalize it and it will become more natural. Good luck!