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Knowing your chops, but knowing your place

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by sevenyearsdown, Feb 3, 2017.

  1. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I'm getting ready to do a bit more recording with a group I'm kind of a full time, part timer in. It's sort of my last gasp before I go on hiatus for a while. It's all original music, and I'm really just a support player. I work on my lines after everything is written for the most part. That's not to say we aren't all buddies, have a great time gigging together, and even improv a bit on stage when it feels good - because all of that is true. I just understand what the group and songwriting focus is all about, and I respect that I was asked to be a part of it.

    It is rare that I'm asked to play anything drastically different than the lines I come up with. I'm sure that's part of the reason they asked me on in the first place, because they'd seen my live a couple of times. When I'm doing something they don't dig, we talk it out, try different stuff, and find what works best. Everyone is very adult, very respectful about it, and I try to find the feel they have in mind. The songs are their songs after all! We work very well together.

    A couple of weeks ago we were laying down bass tracks on some new stuff, and they just didn't dig what I had come up with for one of the tunes. Basically I was getting to busy, and the groove was changing the feel of it. No problem. We talk it out, and I get ready to start laying down what I figured were just some scratch tracks for ideas. So I threw the phones on, laid way back, and threw some different ideas down than what I'd been working on. One track, and done. They ended up keeping the first take.

    Now there isn't anything wrong with what I'm playing, but man is it minimal compared to my own capabilities (and some of the stuff I'd worked on). It was one of those moments I felt like, damn those were some good lines I had to leave behind. But I've always said from day one recording with these guys though - as long as they are happy then I'm fine with it. They are the creative force, and I have no problem with it.

    Some guys might have had a fit with that. I might have if I was still 25....but I understand my role within the group. Man have I mellowed with age. The music is so much more functional though!
    rickwolff, Goatrope and neddyrow like this.
  2. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Sounds like a good gig and band.
    I've read many times that when a bass player is recording,
    come up with a line and simplify it. Seems to work best
    on a recording.
  3. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    BTW I find restraint to be much more difficult to pull of with taste in a song than getting busy or walking. I got all that time to think about notes.....without playing any of them!
    neddyrow likes this.
  4. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    I actually find it much harder to play in such a reserved fashion consistently. I play in a band that has a lot of style confusion. Trad jazz one minute, a little latin the next, then full on americana/country. It really demonstrates how differently you need to play depending on style and the tune in question. For the country/americana stuff, as far as i may try, nothing tends to sound better than half note roots and fives. Then on the next song i am walking much more freely on all four. Really have to keep myself in check stylistically!

    Strangely when i picked up the bass i really only intended to play stuff in the bop small group realm, but that's not the type of opportunity that found me. My two main groups are essentially trad jazz with extra spice thrown in, and with no drummer to boot. Luckily i get something closer to the bop fix in the community big band i play with weekly.

    I also find suggestions from other band members interesting. Sometimes i am doing what i feel is most tasteful, but get asked to actually be more busy from time to time.
  5. DrayMiles


    Feb 24, 2007
    East Coast
    You need to step out of being a good bassist and think like a producer. Your part is a slice of the whole. I've just gotten a track I did in 1992.. in the studio I played the simplest line that was hummed to me by the producer. They built a gold selling single around it. It takes the same amount of musicianship to play simple as complex. The respect comes from knowing when to edit yourself before you're told.
    Seanto and Steven Ayres like this.
  6. DrayMiles


    Feb 24, 2007
    East Coast
    Seanto.. I learned that playing too many styles will cause business people to think you're not sure what you want to do. It's nota good idea to jump around stylistically in this business before you're established. ;)
    Seanto likes this.
  7. YosemiteSam


    Jun 8, 2005
    Chatham, MA
    My girlfriend offered this yesterday: Music is often like sculpture. The art is in removing the parts that don't belong. Unless you're writing a symphony, simpler is often better.

    Last night I rehearsed with a pickup group from a local college coffee shop. I'm part of a contest where they threw names in a hat and created bands out of it (called "Band in a Hat", oddly enough). We met on 1/5, wrote some songs, and will be performing them on 3/4. One of the songs we've worked up has some space in it that I could fill with lyrical runs and such, but it's a sparse piece that sounds better without it, so I'm playing very close to root note stuff. My fingers and heart want to go for the fills, but my brain reminds me what fits with the desired sound.

    I like the analogy to "production" above. I see it as maturing as a player, as well.
    DrayMiles likes this.
  8. Check out an excerpt from an Eddie Gomez masterclass @1:25, it alludes to what the OP is speaking about.

    Also, from "Studio Bass Masters" pg. 78. Leland Sklar: "Sometimes I'll listen to things I did 20 years ago, and I realize I would never play that way now. On some things I completely overplayed. I don't think I was responding to the music in the best way possible."
  9. neddyrow

    neddyrow Captain of Team Orange Jacket Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2011
    Cortland, NY
    i think this is why talkbass exists.

    we need a support group to help us get through all the restraint we have to use!

    i too want to do more on certain songs because i can play a cool fill or something but it can muddy up the song or as you say, make it "too busy."
    DrayMiles likes this.
  10. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    I would love to stick with straight ahead jazz, but unfortunately if i did that i wouldn't be out playing at all. I'm a part timer at the end of the day, so need to take what i can get. I still enjoy playing other styles, so it is still fun for me although maybe not tied directly to my overall goal.
    DrayMiles likes this.

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