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Making notes "musical"

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Moongarm, Apr 11, 2004.

  1. Moongarm


    Apr 10, 2004
    In my 12 years of playing trombone through middle, high school and college It was always ingrained into me to make each note I played do something. Attacking a note then either a slight crescendo or decrescendo depending on what style of music it was. You know what? All those teachers were right! The music sounded so much more alive when I did that and when a whole ensemble does it it adds such extreme depth and color to music it's astounding what such a simple thing can add. To me this really makes a good muscian stand out from an average one. If you can make a whole note sound interesting at 60bpm you're obviously doing something right.

    How can I translate this into my bass playing? I know I can give a stronger attack, but not too extreme of a attack. Which is being quite the challange for me to learn. I really can't find a way outside of a volume pedal to add crescendo's in there, decrescendo's on the other hand are natural due to physics of the instrument. Are there any more advanced techniques to really make the notes you play do more musically?
  2. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    Instead of increasing volume, try changing techniques for your crescendos. Try slapped notes, octave double stops or palm muted notes. You can try other variations with the double stops as well to see which fits the mood best.

    Those techniques can really spice up an average line.

    Hope that helped, good luck
  3. Moongarm


    Apr 10, 2004
    Thanks, that does give me some things to experiment with. I'm still fairly new at bass. I've played guitar for nine years now and could never really apply it there either. I've been playing bass for about one year now and I'm really lighting the fires to try to become a well rounded bass player and learning all that I can.

    I'm still in the process of developing my right hand techniques fully so it will be good for me to try to develop good habits early. I'll try sinking my teeth into that ASAP.
  4. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    Try using finger vibrato with your left hand. This will probably not create any discernible crescendo, but will slow the decrescendo considerably.

    Also, you could pluck a note with the volume knob slightly down, then quickly turn it up (more often used by guitarists). This is difficult to do with consistency and requires extra concentration, but, for the occassional effect, might help.

    I do this occassionally, usually on a slow ending where it's easier to execute.

    Could get sustain by using a slide - like guitarists do.

    You could try bowing the bass. Difficult to do, supposedly, and rips up the bow quickly I've heard.

    Also, remember that the bass is a different instrument than a trombone. While it cannot replicate all of the great sounds and effects of a trombone, the bass has its own set of great sounds and effects.

    Listen to as many recordings of good bass playing as possible to discover these sounds. Good luck.
  5. Not only would I reccommend learning more techniques, but also to play variations of rhythms and fills. James Jamerson was a master of this and his transcriptions are readily available.

    Also, I would say that right hand placement makes a difference. The thumbtrailing or floating technique is great for cleanliness and eveness in sound. Adam Nitti talks about this extensively on his website.
  6. grovest


    Feb 26, 2002
    Try a fretless if you haven't already.

    Otherwise, try different right hand tricks. Finger placement and angle of attack really offer a variety of sounds.

    Some right hand modes I use (P BASS):

    *Fingers perpendicular to bass, very near the bridge, fingers stiff and rapid (in a staccato fashion).
    *Directly over the pups using the tips of fingers
    *Directly over the pups using the pads of the fingers
    *Between fingerboard and pups, fingers crossing strings at 45 degree angle, plucking with side of finger tip (DB style sound)
    *Using just the thumb, or using thumb + remainging fingers on top of the pup
    *Wrist angled a little beyond perpendicular so that fingers almost pluck the strings from 'below' (lift the strings)
    *Good old slap and pop
    *Picks, too...

    Another trick for greater expression is to learn palm muting
  7. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    one approach i use is to hum or (sing?) with the part i'm playing(mouth usually closed)...
    this helps to put my body in rythm and aids in breathing with the groove and/or melody. besides helping to develop my phrasing it helps me feel the individual content of each note and this in turn effects the approach to every note i play.
    the only drawback so far has been a lightly sore throat (sign of a good performance) and some laughs at my expense when soloing a room mic in the studio :p

  8. Fliptrique


    Jul 22, 2002
    Szczecin, Poland
    Endorsing Artist: Mayones Guitars&Basses
    i really dig the way you can mute the strings just by placing your left hand fretting finger ON the fret instead of before it. It really makes a difference - slapping with this left hand mute gives some very cool, old school funk sounds...

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