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Learning vocal leads on bass by ear?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Sonorous, Dec 24, 2005.

  1. Sonorous


    Oct 1, 2003
    Denton, TX
    I heard this jazz rendition of James Brown's "I Feel Good" on the radio the other day with a piano playing the vocal part. It was pretty cool, and made me want to learn the vocal part on bass.

    I tried it, but I'm absolutley lost. I can figure out bass parts alright, and in fact I already did for that song.... but I have no idea what to do with something as complex as lyrics.

    I don't know what the jazz version I heard was, or I would have tried to learn it from the piano.
  2. draginon


    Oct 4, 2004
    Stick to the bassline. Obviously your strongest beat is the 1 (in 4\4 time). Its usually a good idea to play the proper note on the 1.

    You can do the vocal changes on your bass but first listen to music that does this to get a good idea how to do it. THe only person who I can think to listen to for a good example is Ruben Studdard's gospel album. The bass player andrew gouche accent's ruben's vocals on the bass often. Listen to the whole album thoroughly to have a good idea. He sticks to the bassline and improvises often but it is always on target
  3. Sonorous


    Oct 1, 2003
    Denton, TX
    Thanks for the help. Anyone else know some albums that have a vocal/bass link characteristic to it?

    Also, I bet it would help to hum the vocal melody and try to learn what I'm humming. I'll try that out as well.
  4. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Yes! This is how it's done, and playing melodies can be great fun
  5. A good artist for you to listen to would be Marcus Miller. On just about every one of his cds is a cover tune where he plays the vocal melody. His latest has two good examples, Boogie on Reggae Woman (Stevie Wonder) and Girls and Boys (Prince). He also does a cool version of Come Together by the Beatles on his Tales cd. The vocal melody on that tune is very easy to learn by ear.

    You hit the nail on the head by humming the melody to lean it. It's a good thing to do for ear training and will help you play solos over chord changes.

    For an exercise I used to pick out popular melodies and try to learn them. Take something easy you know the melody in your head like a nursery rime or a TV theme and pick it out without hearing it. I did tunes like the Jeopardy theme, Bugs Bunny, and Over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz. It's a fun way to learn if anything.
  6. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    A bass player who is really interesting to listen to, and sadly has recorded very little is Lynn Seaton.

    Lynn sings the bass solo he is improvizing. He's an amazing jazz player.

    That's how he teaches, singing and playing. Takes a long time to get into it, but its worth the effort, even if you never make it to his level.