Is it a waste of time trying to learn songs that are "too hard"?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Persona87, Jul 17, 2013.

  1. Persona87


    Dec 4, 2012
    DFW, Texas
    I've been playing for about eight months now, though I have a background in other instruments so I'm more advanced than I would seem by experience alone.

    I've been working on learning some fun songs after I work through my technique stuff (scales, arpeggios, and dexterity work). The problem is, I love funk bass lines. These lines tend to have a lot of large intervals, complex rhythms, and lack repetition. For example, I'm trying to work out this bass line (though its played on the saxophone):

    It's essentially a solo! My concern is that I shouldn't be trying to tackle such a complex piece right now, and that I'm frustrating myself and wasting time by doing so. Should I try to figure out some easier music and build myself up to this kind of line, or is it good to jump in the deep end and force myself to learn how to deconstruct these parts? And if so, do you have any recommendations for how to do that other than taking it slow?
  2. Bassdirty


    Jul 23, 2010
    no. it isnt a waste..especially if u like the song. ;)

    there were lots of cases in my past where i thought a song was too id maybe learn it a..simpler way...meanwhile still trying to get the hard parts correct. lookin they seem easy.

    In general,its prolly never bad to push your skills to the limits..and beyond.

    you just need to never give up.
  3. I agree you should not tackle that complex solo - right now. Later, sure. But, have you gotten your basic bass line down so it is something you like? The other instruments will get the solos; It is normally a long time before the band will give you a lead break. Work on what you will be using.

    Root on one and drop into a groove using the other chord tones - for now. You like funk, play funk. Work on bass lines for funk music; leave the solo stuff to others right now. When you start getting lead breaks THEN you can solo.

    Of course that is IMO.
  4. famousbirds


    Aug 3, 2009
    Honestly, that sax line sounds like a funky bass line to me. No runs that seem too difficult to pick up. I say go for it, that song's like a library of licks.
  5. BassinCT

    BassinCT …still tuning…

    Jun 17, 2006
    Connecticut, USA
    For the present, immerse yourself in all styles you enjoy listening to. Figure out what these players are doing and tackle it yourself- and by players, I mean any instrument, but start with the foundation. By the time you get a few tunes tackled, the learning pace will accelerate as you build on your vocabulary.

    Keep listening to the more challenging music, as well. As you develop a greater awareness of the fingerboard in terms of "geography", build the vocab, and refine your technique, you will start biting off chunks of it. Small steps first will pay off. Peace,
  6. you can copy some of the styles incorporated in harder pieces and apply in in some other way.

    Try "Something" or "While my guitar gently weeps" and see if you can replicate Sir Paul Mccartney's bass lines. These are tuff songs but there are a lot of licks and riffs that you can use on a day to day basis from these songs.
  7. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Do it - stretch yourself.

    If everyone is lifting 50lbs, and you try to lift 51, you're ahead. But if you try lift 200, and only get to 175 - look how much further down the road you are!
  8. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I'm not anywhere near on a level with some of the players on this forum. My technique is sloppy, and my pinky is about dead in the water.

    So here's what I do, and you might want to try this:

    Take a difficult song for YOU. Something that you can't play at speed. Slow it down. Slow it down to whatever speed it takes so you can play every single note, and repeat it over and over again, until your hand hurts. Do NOT play it at speed if you are slopping through any section. Memorize the whole thing without the rest of the music.

    Then, play a song with a fun, walking bass line in it. Something that is all feel and fun. Make the fun song the reward for playing the hard song.

    This is what I'm doing right now, and it's starting to show some reward.
  9. kalanb


    Dec 17, 2012
    There's a balance that only you can find. You have to push yourself to get better, but if you find yourself getting frustrated or not progressing, you may be tackling something beyond your reach.

    If you haven't, you may want to start off by learning some James Brown, Staples Sisters or other music in the genre that has simpler or more repetitive bass lines. That will build up your vocabulary of lines within this style, work on your ear, and make learning this piece a whole lot easier.

    For what it's worth, I think it's a great line, and I'll definitely study it to cop some licks.
  10. I can't see the YT vid unfortunately so don't know what you are trying to play but any "hard" song can be broken up into "easy" chunks. Learn each little run or section in isolation then try and string them together. The bits that you find difficult are a great bassis for building exercises. Recognise why you find a particular section hard and practice it over and over.
  11. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    I work at getting smooth on what's a little beyond me. If something's too far beyond me I can't play it well enough in the intended timing and dynamics to hear what's supposed to be there.

    Nonetheless -- if I were to play study something well beyond me, I would look at it from what's going on as far as chord tones and what are target notes on hard beats. A little theory mindset can provide information that would prove useful at other times.
  12. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Only 8 months into playing bass? I'd suggest putting aside *some* of your practice time each day to learning a few phrases or bars of music that's a stretch for you now.

    I'd also suggest actively listening to a lot of music that is currently outside your ability to play.

    As long as you are also giving due time to mastering the basics, there's no real downside to pushing your ability to hear, play, and understand more complicated music. Soon enough, that "more complicated" music just becomes part of the very familiar base of your musical vocabulary.
  13. S6I6X


    Jun 25, 2011
    San Diego
    As long as it's not so hard or complicated you waste a lot of time on it without advancement. Hard songs are how you get better.