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Melodic Bass

Discussion in 'Ask Anthony Wellington [archive]' started by iwearpumas, Nov 6, 2014.

  1. iwearpumas

    iwearpumas Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2011
    Middletown, NY
    In my playing, I realize that I am the rhythm of the song. At least in church where I play. Bass is rhythm, drums is beat, organ is harmony. Without the bass, there really isn't that much rhythm, aside from the beat of the drums. There have been times when I was playing that I abandoned playing rhythm to play a melodic content, but after a few seconds, the song felt empty and I quickly returned back to my rightful role as the rhythm. My question is, where does melodic bass playing fit into a song, if we are the rhythm section?
    Gospel Bass Player likes this.
  2. I understand what you are saying. I too play in a church, and find myself holding down the rhythm while adding some tasteful melodic phrases along the way. There is alot of improvisation and I try to evoke" emotion " in my playing style. I trully am enjoying this forum. Shout out to all of the Gospel Bass Players out there !
  3. slapfunk987


    Feb 8, 2011
    Melodicism happens "on top" of the music. Bass which deals with rhythm happens in the background of the music. Unless you are soloing or are taking the leadership role of the song or unless you possibly do some melodic fills and runs, it's almost impossible to be melodic throughout the song. The bass drives the song in the background. As soon as you stop, it WILL become empty..
    If you check out Marcus Miller you will hear some examples of songs where he takes the leadership role and does some melodic stuff.
    Gospel Bass Player likes this.
  4. True that ! You are so right man. As a part of the rhythm section, I've got to stay in the pocket to keep the foundation solid and tight as the song progresses. Although, I interlace melodic phrases here and there. Do you have any practice tips for a "family man" short on time ? :)
  5. I struggled with this when I was called upon to solo in a Latin Jazz group. How to keep the pulse going while soloing.....hmmm? I'm sure there are lots of ways to approach this, but what I did initially was try to "plan" my solo. We recorded our rehearsals and I would work out my solo with the recording keeping in mind the chord changes/modes for note selection and using my fingers to keep the pulse going. I would sometimes also hit a pedal to boost volume and increase mids/bass a touch in order to be heard. It was also recognized by my bandmates as a time for them to concentrate on helping with the pulse also until my solo concluded.
    For general melodic playing, as I gained more experience I got better at including some melodic fills by listening to the vocal and being mindful of the chord tones. I was a sax player in high school so maybe there is some cross pollination there.
    Gospel Bass Player likes this.
  6. GastonD


    Nov 18, 2013
    Belgrade, Serbia
    If you take a song like "Papa was a rolling stone|, and I mean the Temptations version, you notice that the bass line is the main rhythmic device, but it leaves plenty of space to be melodic in between the repetitions of the main rhythmic figure, i.e. ostinato. In that particular version, that space is filled by all kinds of different instruments, but you could add some bass fills and passages just as well.
    tonemachine likes this.

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