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Making stuff up when playing covers

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by NickInMesa, Apr 15, 2010.

  1. I have been trying to cover Dani California (RHCP) and Are You Gonna Go My Way (Lenny Kravitz) note for note and I can't get it right.

    Flea seems to improvise during the chorus part, every other time he plays the phrase.

    And Kravitz (I believe he played the bass) has a very cool funky groove and a great bass solo (which I am sure I can play note for note eventually), but again during the chorus phase, he improvises a lot.

    How ok is it to make my own stuff for these hard to decipher impros, and also how do you get it to sound like it's exactly what was intended to be played?

    I can't be Flea :)
  2. Quite Honestly unless the bass part is super integral to the song I almost never play note for note. Dani California has a basic riff in the chorus with variations throughout the song. You could probably learn the basic riff and use it only and no one would know better. Make it your own.

  3. well i guess

    theres two people

    one is the original bass player

    the other is the players clone

    they are both playing the same song but thinking different things

    so to answer your question, your not flea, as I am not whover's song Im playing

    so you can never play the same exact thing with the same yknow, soul in the music

    so no matter what your playing different music

    so if you know the parts and how to play them correctly go for it man, but if you dont try to learn by ear, and if you cant, make stuff up

    and if someone says your playing it wrong, tell them your not flea

    ......................:ninja: i hope that made sence
  4. jbalou02


    Mar 8, 2010
    No, No, NO! Ziss iss NOT OK. You MUZZT NEVER play zees zongs until you can play zem NOTE FOR NOTE!

    Gehen Sie jetzt ins Bett!
  5. Chris K

    Chris K

    May 3, 2009
    Gorinchem,The Netherlands
    Partner: Otentic Guitars
    Be Nick then.

    Make it your own.
  6. learn it note for note and THEN play it however you want to...
  7. Murph#2


    Mar 24, 2010
    Don't worry about it Unless you are playing in front of a bunch of bass players who are note for note snobs standing there in their ampeg shirts with their arms crossed looking at you like they are going to beat you up if you don't nail it note for note.
  8. David1234


    Jun 1, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: SWR Amplifiers
    In front of people who aren't bass snobs, don't worry, just do your thing.
    In front of people who *are* bass snobs, don't worry. They're just bass snobs ... who cares!
  9. Thanks, I think I am just going to do my own. When I got the song, then I usually liberate myself and do my own thing, usually.

    Oh and for the Kravitz song, the bassist is Tony Breit.


    Justice is done.

    Regarding the latter bass line, I believe it may make more sense playing close to the original, but the solo, I want to nail it or not play it.

    Makes sense?
  10. stiles72


    Mar 20, 2009
    Albany IL
    +1 One of my all time favorite basslines :)
  11. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    It really depends on the song. If there's a distinctive bass line that audiences will recognize -- and miss if it's not there -- I think you have to make the best effort you can to recreate it. If not, do as you please.

    My group is working on a cover of the Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down" and they're saying to me, "don't sweat the details, just play the root notes," and I answer "are you crazy?" That song would never sound right without McCartney's bass line. But when we play "Mary Jane's Last Dance" I pretty much play whatever the hell I feel like.
  12. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I am not a huge proponant of playing things exactly like the record unless you're in a tribute band! I will fight tooth and nail for the freedom to play what I want (within reason of course). If someone wants the exact same thing as the record.........go hire a DJ 'cause it ain't gonna happen!

    Granted some songs just gotta be played true (i.e. Boogie Oogie Oogie) but for the most part, I play what is most comfortable for me to play!
  13. paul_wolfe


    Mar 8, 2009
    You've had some good advice already.

    Particularly this:
    The one other thing to throw in is that even if YOU have learned something note for note, there is no guarantee that the rest of your band mates will have done. And sometimes you'll have the choice of playing it as the original was played and clash with something that the drummer is doing (or not doing) OR taking what was played on the original and varying it slightly to tie in with what your band mates are playing.

    At the end of the day how the song sounds to the listener is what is important. They won't care if the overall song sounds crappy but the bass line is spot on what the original line was. If what they're hearing sounds great and the original bass line has been modified, they won't care.
  14. paul_wolfe


    Mar 8, 2009
    Just had another thought about this (great question by the way) - the parts that you can almost never alter are riffs that have to be delivered note for note that are part of the song and doubled by other instruments.

    Eg these songs have all got distinctive riffs that are part of the song that guitars/keyboards etc will also be playing:

    I shot the sherriff. Play that funky music. Masterblaster. I'm sure you can think of dozens more.

    And the other types of lines you can't alter are things like the bass line to Another One Bites The Dust or Walking On The Moon. Where the bass lines are sub hooks of the tune and changing them makes the listener's perception of the song change.
  15. Chris K

    Chris K

    May 3, 2009
    Gorinchem,The Netherlands
    Partner: Otentic Guitars
  16. My personal opinion is more from a classical background. In classical chamber music, there would be places where the composer purposefully left blank, and left it for the performer to improvise.

    If the original artist improvises something there, why not improvise something there yourself?
  17. Electric_Spank


    Jan 20, 2009
    I agree with what most have said so far. As long as you capture the "essence" of the main riff you should be ok. Maybe try and pick up a couple of the fills/variations and throw them in at your leisure if you want to sound more like the original. But it doesn't all have to be note for note.
  18. I'm in favour of playing cover tunes as close to the recording as I am able. That's just my philosophy and I don't expect others to feel the same way.

    That being said I do check out live versions and incorporate elements from those versions that I like. My version of Superstition is a combo of the live studio version and the live sesame st version. Gotta love youtube!

    Making stuff up is a bit of a slippery slope. A few guitar players I know will play Van Halen covers note for note because they like them but will make up rubbish for covers that they don't care for or are indifferent about. An example that I have seen is playing Malmsteen sweep picking riffs all through Brown Eyed Girl or CCR tunes. That guy was eventually fired from his A circuit band for this.

    I do play Dani California and try to play it as close to the recording as I am able. A good video that will get you most of the way there is below.

    PS Where do I get my Ampeg T shirt?
  19. A bit of an aside. Hey Nickinmesa or any other arizona folks.

    My brother is buying a house in the Queen Park area. There are planeloads of Winnipegers buying houses in that neighbourhood as investment properties right now.

    What can you tell me about that neighbourhood and the local music scene?
  20. Queen Park? :) No such place.

    Local music scene? How much do you like metal? This is like Little Quebec.

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