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I've had enough of being mediocre, how do i become a good fusion player?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by KingCrimson, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. KingCrimson


    Oct 6, 2008
    Ok so i have a lot of questions.

    Basically i'm in college and one of the "weaker" bass players in my year. I love music and go to practise 4 hours a day but my learning curve isn't the fastest. I just got my ass kicked at a jazz jam, oh my god the players are ahead of me.

    BUT i do now know how good i want to be and what i want to specialize in for now. My goal is to become a good fusion player. And by good i mean enough of a sight reader/player to eventually be good enough to be a studio musician. The reason i chose fusion is because i love the sound of bass in it, and it combines technicality, groove/feel and the whole "thinking" aspect in the music.

    But lets not get too ahead of ourselves.

    I need advice on how to become a better jazz player. I can walk over changes but not very well. I also want to be able to blow better. All this is to gain my goal.

    So if i were to give a list.

    -need to be able to walk over changes proficiently
    -Need to be able to blow proficiently
    -Need to be able to read A LOT better, (this is some of my biggest trouble)
    -Train my ear to be better
    - Slap better

    So far my favourite jazz/fusion players are

    Stanley Clarke
    Paul Chambers
    Charles Mingus
    Ron Carter
    Steve Digiorgio (yes known for his metal but also a good fusion player)

    Is there any way i should study these players to get the most out of learning from them? Also i find there is so much to practise but i want to practise what will get me better and what is most important. Maybe it sounds egotistcal but i have a problem being mediocre, being able to play a blues or some classic rock covers is not good enough for me, its all or go home. I want to be the ****. Not for wrong reasons though, i promised myself that i ever get to the peak i want i will be a helpful teacher and share the knowledge i gain.
  2. transcribe your favorite players.
  3. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    Transcribe, and Jam. Jam every time you get the chance.

    You can only go so far lifting solos and learning them in your room. if you can't apply the stuff you practice, you'll never become a better player. You'll be a clone.
  4. fullrangebass


    May 7, 2005

    Add flavors from players OUTSIDE your influences too
  5. ben_the_bass


    Jul 12, 2005
    There's always going to be somebody "better." Worry about your role in the music and what you can do to show your love for it. All of those idols you mentioned practice(d) inhuman amounts of time to perfect their art because of that love.
  6. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    +1, If you learn a song, any song, it is never wasted effort. Sooner or later you will find that you are using bits of it in another song.

    Listen to music whenever possible, the stuff you want to learn in particular not the modern techno crap (please excuse me I am old and crotchety), it's so easy nowadays with ipods, ipones etc.

    Even if you haven't your bass in your hands see if you can spot when the changes are coming. If you can get a feel for 'when' then you have one less thing to think about, you only need the 'where' on the fretboard.

    You need to be playing with others and listening to what they are doing to get locked in with them. I know it is a lot to do when you are struggling with what you have to do but if are not fitting in properly then you are playing on your own, just in the same room.

    As ben_the_bass rightly says there will always be someone better than you. Don't worry about it, they were where you are once. Just strive to improve.

    Make a note of what you could improve on when playing with others and work on it on your own.

    I don't read so I will leave it to the guys who can for any advice on improving your reading skills.

    Concentrate on the basics first before you start trying to be proficient at slap etc. Don't spread you effort too thinly.
  7. taphappy

    taphappy doot de doo

    Sep 28, 2007
    Tempe, Arizona
    And don't limit yourself to bass influences only. All the best players I know cite at least brass/wind transcription as a huge influence.
  8. KingCrimson


    Oct 6, 2008
    Miles davis is a HUGE influence on me, as well Wes Montgomery, who is a great guitar player.

    Does anybody have any fusion bands to recommend besides Mahavishnu and Weather Report?

    Also anybody know and good bass solos to transcribe? I think i might do "red clay" soon but there must be some more good ones.

    Jamming is a funny thing, i'd love to be able to jam more but i get the feelng i'm kind of looked down upon by some people in my program, and they are very busy whenever i ask. I would love to jam because i learn more but its kind of hard when you are trying to find people to play with you. I think they grew impatient of when i was a lot worse.
  9. Tampabass

    Tampabass Going Viral By 2080 Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    I think there's a pill for that.

    Wait, they just ran out.
  10. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    Self control is a very important aspect.

    You are probably good enough to play, and play with a lot of people. A lot of people probably don't play jazz and/or jazz fusion, however. So... ...most of the people you might play with (be it jam, in a band with or whatever) are asking time from you to play music you already can play well enough, AND all that time spent in those directions take time away from doing jazz and/or jazz fusion. So... exercise SELF CONTROL, and be selective about who you spend your musical time with so that you may be able to best focus your (seriously) precious time resources as a human, musician, and bassist in a direction that will help you achieve your goals.
  11. taphappy

    taphappy doot de doo

    Sep 28, 2007
    Tempe, Arizona
    Try honesty. Find one of the guys who's got some skills. Ask 'em for help. Guitarist, drummer, pianist, sax, whatever. Doesn't matter.

    Some of the most profound changes in my playing came from working with individual players. Started when I was 16 with a jazz drummer (white guy named Munro Johnson, of all things :) who lured me into a dark room, then beat me into the pocket til I was covered in lint.
  12. pringlw


    Nov 22, 2008
    Seattle Area
    Dang that's a funny line. If I could figure out how to drop quotes into a sig I would.
  13. Plantbrain

    Plantbrain Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    Another piece of advice is write a schedule down when you practice, what you want to work on and stick to it!!
    Non focus practicing is okay....but you get a lot more done if you apply.

    This will = far more gained in shorter time.
    As always...........then other poster's suggestion of playing with a group of folks in the real world, nothing beats it.

    Try and learn, read a new song each 4 hour session. Practice a new scale and do it slow. Whatever it is.

    Ask the best bassist you know/like of to help, heck, call/email Stanley up and ask him. Go to his show, go see Manring, ask them directly. Go to a work shop/clinic. Most will gladly help any new bassist, passion and desire will do the rest.
  14. thomashawk


    Jun 29, 2010
    New York, NY
    In a practical and jazz-based sense, get your hands on the Jamey Aebersold books/CDs, and also get a program like Band In A Box. You could also benefit from the Tascam Bass Trainer.

    Also, play with as many players, combos, bands as you can. The goal is to be playing with players better than you. When I was a kid, I used to play with guys a couple hours away each week so that I could impress the hometown peeps on weekends.

    Good luck. I wouldn't worry too much about the reading part. "Feel" players always get the gig.
  15. taphappy

    taphappy doot de doo

    Sep 28, 2007
    Tempe, Arizona

    Should be the same way you replied - find a quote you dig, hit the quote button, then just copy and paste the quote (including the
  16. Tehrin Cole

    Tehrin Cole

    Mar 6, 2009
    Brooklyn,New York
    Endorsing Artist:Kustom Amplifiers
    Listen to all kinds of music,...ALL kinds of music.

    Don't limit your listening to just bassists.Listen to horn players,pianists,vocalists,guitarists,etc.

    Learn the melody to every song that you learn because,if you don't know the melody,you don't know the song.(this will also help your bass"lines",become more melodic).

    You should also buy the Charlie Parker omni books,...a great source of information!

    What you practice is important,but HOW you practice,is even more important!
    In any event,your main objective is to PLAY! Take every opportunity that you can to meet this objective.
    There are going to be players out there who'll play rings around you,...it's just a fact. Don't worry,...it just lets you know that you're in the right place,at the right time,and on the right track!
  17. Bruford! Learn and transcribe Jeff Berlin's solos with Bruford! Although Berlin himself advises to learn from the people who influenced your influences, which would be Jack Bruce, Cannonball, Bill Evans.
    Dude if you're feeling you're getting left behind, approach your teacher/s and ask for extra help?
  18. ugly_bassplayer


    Jan 21, 2009
    Start working your way through the Omnibook.

    Lifetime worth of stuff to practice in that.
  19. Devo-lution


    Jun 24, 2009
    I understand how you feel. Decided about a year ago I wanted to be a "real good fusion player". Kinda impossible (I only play for like 5 years and I have a dayjob that takes 12 hours of my time each day), but I do my best.

    about them horn players:

    John Zorn is a great influence on my playing :')...

    anyhow, seriously:

    My greatest advice is also to jam a lot. And since fusion is a melting pot of styles, you shouldn't be too picky on whom to jam with. Honestly, I jammed with some rappers and a hip hop drummer last week, also did a jam with some black metal dudes recently, I jam on weekly base with a classically trained piano player, I used to hang out and play with a lot new wave musicians also, ...

    There hasn't been any of these experiences where I didn't learn anything.

    ehrrm, great fusion bands
  20. You need to know how to manipulate scales inside and out. Transcription is usless if you have no idea what it is that's actually happening. Most fusion guys have learned zillions of patterns over all the modes and within all types of scales, plain and exotic. The lines they play are snipetts of this pattern coupled with parts of that one, that flow seamlessly depending on what they are hearing in their head at the time. Once you start learning and getting really familiar with playing certain patterns, you will start to hear them show up in your favorite music heroes playing. I was listening to a Pat Metheny solo the other day and I could pretty much take the whole thing apart in my head, because for the most part, I could hear certain parts of various patterns. I also picked up on a few that I plan to work on myself that he did.

    So to get to that point you need to internalize these scales by creating various presentations of the same information, meaning being able to subdivide a scale in as many different ways as possible.

    Once you do that for awhile (and it doesn't take as long as you might think), the stuff will just start showing up in your playing. This is the approach my teacher gave me and it actually works.

    Even John Coltrane said that you can't improvise something you've never played before.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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