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Is funkyness a manadatory element of a good bassline?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Blackbird, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I have a working theory that a certain funkyness is an important element of any successful bassline,although certain styles don't lend themselves to obviously funky playing.

    IMO, there's always a certain bouncy, dancing quality that makes the funkyness implicit. I think Geddy Lee is a good example. Bill Wyman too.

    Any thoughts?
  2. I agree, though there are a few lines that seem to lope along rather than dance that I find entrancing. If it entices you to move (other than to get away... :p ), it has that certain something.
  3. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It depends how broadly you define 'funky'. However, there's a lot of mellow music which has luscious basslines but which doesn't make you want to to dance. It may make you want to chill out, reflect, or whatever, but it's not 'funky' by my general definition, however good it might be.

    For example, Jaco's Portrait of Tracy. Great music but not 'funky' in my book.

  4. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I think more then funk... a line needs to have conviction, strong attitude and purpose. Look at "Running with the Devil" from VH or "One" from U2.

    It just has to be played like it's the most important thing in the Universe at that moment in time.

    :bassist: but the funk kicks it! :smug:
  5. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    Outlaw torn by metallica is a good example of a good tune that doesnt need to be 'funky'. however, the song by queens of the stone age (i forgot the name, but dave ghrol is the drummer in the film clip) has a really good rock/funky bass line as the bridge, its just 2 notes, but its amazing on how funky those 2 notes are!
  6. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I'd say funk music is largely rooted in feel above all, you feel the music, it makes you feel good...etc.

    Likewise, every bass line(imo) needs that sense of feeling to keep it interesting. You could be only playing roots, but if you have that conviction and feel with each one, it'll sound great.
  7. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I think it would be fair to say that a good bassline should express some kind of feeling but does it have to make you feel good (funky)?

  8. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Jeeze, I hope not, because that means my cracker behind will never produce a good bassline.

    <--- The Amalgamated Messiah of Unfunk
  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    To me, Wyman was/is the antithesis of funky playing.
    (Sorry, "Miss You" was not funky!) ;)

    I do hear some "bounce" in McCartney, though.

    I like what the others here are saying about feel, attitude, AND conviction.
    Play whatever you play like you mean it(coming from the heart/soul)...play it like it's the last time you'll ever play.
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I was going to say exactly the same thing when I saw this thread.

    I think "feel" is a vastly underrated quality that really makes a bass line - but is rarely studied or discussed on forums like this" ;)

    So - we were talking about Paul Jackson - and every one of his lines has a great "feel" - every note has tremendous conviction and care in it .

    So - this approach will stand you in good stead in every type of music - even if it's not funky - when you are playing bass lines.

    If you mean every note and take great care in how you place it in the bar then this will help you with loads of styles - from rock to salsa. Led Zep to Latin Jazz! ;)
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think what WR is saying is that funk is an example of a genre where the "feel" is vital - but if you apply this to playing basslines in other genres - you can't go wrong!! ;)

    I think we might need to distinguish between playing with feeling and the "feel" of a bassline - I know what WR means - but it's hard to pin it down in words - with getting very convoluted...
  12. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I was thinking more along the lines of "Rock and a Hard Place", form Steel Wheels. I know, it's a hated album, but it was the first stones album I bought and there were a lot more pitiful releases when I bought it in '89.
  13. IMHO the answer is obviously no. I love funk, but not everything is about funk, I don't care what George Clinton says. ;) There's plenty of great music--and great bass--that's really not funky IMO, unless you want to stretch the definition of the word beyond the point where it has any meaning or utility.
  14. I must have read too much into the question, I thought it was stretching the definition of funky to be short for "that certain something special that moves you (physically, emotionally or mentally)". But I am of the tail end of the generation that thought the phrase "I'm funky" meant "I need a shower". :p
  15. I think that Bruce is on the right track. It's not so much if it's "funky", but rather does it have the right "feel" for the song. Does it marry the rhythm and melody together?

    Lee Sklar’s basslines in James Taylor’s music are by no means funky, but they are perfect for the songs.

    "It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing", so to speak.
  16. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
  17. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    For the most part, we're given a set of chord changes and have to come up with a way to make the transition from one chord to another interesting.

    We "rotate the chordal inventory", so to speak.
  18. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002

    being a bass player is so :cool:

    :D :D :D
  19. bggeezer

    bggeezer Guest

    May 25, 2001
    I think we`re talking "dynamics" here!
  20. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    "Your Smilin' Face"?

    Was JJ laying off "the 1" or playing more back beat?
    ...was it a tune like "Mexico" or a couple tunes.
    Do I need to re-visit my James Taylor Live cd set?

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