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Jamming with a bassist -- expectations?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by miko, Feb 14, 2006.


  1. hello-

    long time no visit.

    i'm a drummer preparing to jam with a bassist who has decent theoretical knowledge and a pretty good ear, but no experience playing with any musician.

    i want to do more of a free-form jam session, where we each play something and work off one another, but this bassist prefers to play cover tunes.

    i find this a little counter-intuitive to my idea of jamming, which is 'take what you know and try to work off one another'. i figured we'd do standard rock, blues, jazz, funk progressions, trade fours, that kinda thing. the notion of playing covers while there's no other musicians to round out the rest of the songs seems odd. to me, covers are something you practice on your own time.

    what do you think is a good expectation/approach in a drums/bass jam session? and regarding covers, do you think my point is valid, or it's important to play covers as well, in this instance?

    peace & thanks.
     
  2. txbasschik

    txbasschik

    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    His approach seems odd to me, too. It is much easier to jam to cover songs, and take off on 'em, with a guitar and vocals to round things out. My husband and I, and sometimes my little girl, when she's playing with the drums, jam on progressions/patterns quite a bit. With Steve, it teaches me a lot. When I do that with my daughter, she learns how to keep rhythm with another person. Its fun!

    Maybe try this...Do a few covers with him, and let him warm up and develop some feel for how you play. Then suggest that he try a progression and just run with it. After warming up with what he wants to do, he may be more willing to try what you'd like to do.

    And if he *can't* do that, jam long enough to be polite, and then find someone else who can do what you're looking for. No harm, no foul. :)

    Cherie :)
     
  3. gdawg27

    gdawg27

    Jan 12, 2006
    Well since it's 2 of you, I think a good compromise would be to incorporate the cover songs into a free-form jam. I've jammed with a drummer friend in the past and we would keep it free-form but I would throw in a bass line he'd pick up on. For example, he loved playing the drum part from "Material girl" so I would throw in that bass line for a minute or so and then build off of that into wherever i felt like going. I think the most important part of the jam is listening to each other.
     
  4. chaosMK

    chaosMK

    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    Take a stand and don't play any cover tunes. He might not be the right bassist for you, or he isnt advanced enough for what you want to do. It sounds like you want someone who is a real innovator.

    The band I am in now started out as a jam band (but got more serious once Dr. Thunda joined the team) and they stuck to it, even though I wanted to do a few covers really bad at first. By not getting into covers and doing open jams as much as real rehearsal, we developed a really strong cohesion which is part of what makes us a good band. Each of us found our own identity in the music, rather than how to immitate someone else real well. We arent a "jam" band anymore, but the cohesion and ability to improv as a big team stuck with us.
     
  5. thanks for the tips thus far [and feel free to keep 'em comin']. sometimes i like to save these types of posts and show them to people when we reach an impasse. just to let them know there is a general consensus on some stuff.

    to me, the only real value in playing a pre-existing song is confirming that you each know the changes to it [and obviously, your own part]. and THAT only becomes valuable if you're actually planning on performing said song. without the other musicians to round it out, there's no real song, so why bother? but i know lots of people like to play covers.

    my teachers have always emphasized learning the basics, expanding my own knowledge, listening to and copping from the greats, then trying to get creative with my own ideas. i understand that this bassist hasn't played with others, but i figured since she had a good theoretical foundation and nice technique, she could run with it. i still think she can run with it, just doesn't trust her abilities.

    i'll have to set her straight.
     
  6. txbasschik

    txbasschik

    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    <<<my teachers have always emphasized learning the basics, expanding my own knowledge, listening to and copping from the greats, then trying to get creative with my own ideas. i understand that this bassist hasn't played with others, but i figured since she had a good theoretical foundation and nice technique, she could run with it. i still think she can run with it, just doesn't trust her abilities.
    >>>

    I SO empathize with her position. I have a hard time trusting my own abilities, too. But, if she feels comfortable and safe, she'll be able to stretch. So...encourage her, if you can.

    Cherie :)
     
  7. Improvisational jams can be quite daunting and intimidating to someone who's never done it before, no matter how much theory they know. I used to fear improv more than anything musically, but the more you do it the better it gets. Just expect it to sound like crap for a while, and it'll get better really fast. I think the best way to do it is come up with a good groove, not too fast, not too complicated and the bassist start to feel their way around, and go from there. Just be sure to start simple. You'll be a bit farther ahead because you're a drummer, which to me requires improvisation abilities from the start, but just be patient. If that just doesnt work, try to do some cover riffs that he knows, and slowly change them up a bit and see if you can go from there. Just be patient and have good advice prepared. When I was learning to improvise, I had a really really smart drummer who actually gave me bass grooves to start with (he had extensive theory/composition knowledge so he could tell me keys/notes/progressions). Since you're going to clearly be the "leader" of the jam, just make them feel comfortable, offer good and realistic suggestions, and you should be seeing improvement in no time. Best of luck.