My technique suffers but my sound evolves

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by diverse379, Jun 30, 2020.

  1. diverse379


    Mar 4, 2015
    Lately I have been doing song fragments or daily groove recordings. Daily.
    They start out as some guitar or piano progression built on a concept rhythmic figure or groove concept I find a drum beat. Then I look to play some sort of bass line.

    I notice that sometimes my lines devolve to some sort of root 7th concept

    or cringe****** picked bass 8th notes
    What I am finding is these simple lines make the groove sometimes very commercial sounding and really make the groove groovier.
    It seems the best thing that has happened to my bass playing from a production perspective was when I stopped focusing on technique
    Oddly and jj.833 like this.
  2. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    Exercises and technique are good for keeping you in shape, performance is whatever sounds good for a track regardless how simple it is.
    diverse379 and MonetBass like this.
  3. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    YMMV, but I suspect you might be confusing complexity of the line with good technique. Good technique not only makes the simple lines easier to play,, but also makes them sound better. All that time spent playing difficult stuff and developing good general technique will have had a beneficial knock-on effect on your execution of the simple stuff. You are making the simple stuff sound good because you are playing it well, would be my hypothesis...
  4. luciens


    Feb 9, 2020
    I play anything well extremely rarely, so I have to struggle to think of specific instances. But when this does happen - I play something well but I cringe/get bored/etc. anyway - it's usually because I've managed to force myself to play something I don't really enjoy playing.

    What I've found is I tend to suck the least at playing the type of music that I like to play. By the same token, I don't seem to ever be able to reduce the suckage in my technique with music that I don't like to play.

    In a nutshell, if I don't like it, I never really learn how to play it very well, if I can manage it at all. But if I do like it, I tend to suck the least at that particular music.

    It took me a lot of years to finally realize this and decide that's kind of how it's going to be with me and my bass playing. In fact, this is one of the reasons I slowly lost interest in playing bass for a living and eventually gave that effort up. There's just enough (in fact, more than enough) commercial music out there that I don't enjoy playing that I would have to play if I were being paid to do it. And, even if I accepted that, there would always be a hard upper limit on how good I was going to ever get at playing those parts, songs, etc. that just didn't ding the bell.

    This is a decision that probably all of us bass players face looking forward to what we want to do with our playing, and some are probably more suited to it than others are.

    For example, jazz just doesn't move me. My eyes start getting heavy after 10 or so bars no matter how amazing it is. I don't doubt it's great music, but it just doesn't stir me. Also, Jaco Pastorius's parts, while they're absolutely jaw dropping in all those amazing ways, don't hold my attention for very long. I can't remember the last time I actually listened to a Jaco/WeatherReport tune all the way through. Just not my style of music.

    So with those styles, the bass doesn't jump in my hand like it does with other styles of music. Like, if I put on something like this, for example:

    the Tony Franklin just jumps off the bed onto my leg almost all by itself and just begs me to hammer on it. The jaco also blasts out of its case and runs over to me too. So I have to hammer on him for a while too, then go back to the Tony Franlkin. And over and over again like that, all day if I had the time.

    I still suck when I play along with this, but the suckage is a little less than when I try to drag myself through a Jaco part. Ironically, my other preferred bass being my jaco Artist, but... :).

    So that's the approach I take these days. I don't force myself to try to get good at music I don't enjoy playing. That doesn't mean I don't still do non-musical (in the Jeff Berlin sense) practice on the instrument, just to get better at it generally. But I do tend to spend the most time on enjoyable music and that's what I also tend to learn to play a little better.

    As I said, it took a long time for me to accept this and admit it. I was just never going to be able to play Donna Lee because I don't want to play Donna Lee. And so on... So I don't worry about not knowing Donna Lee as much these days as I used to.

    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
    herbygardener likes this.
  5. diverse379


    Mar 4, 2015
    You may be right I may be confusing terms
    I certainly am not changing how I hold my fingers
    And yes the years of drills scales appeggios etc probably allow me to play the simple lines effortlessly

    perhaps what I meant to say is that my bass theory seems to have gotten covered up i am not doing anything fancy flashy or even remotely interesting from a melodic standpoint

    but groove seems to be there
    SteveCS likes this.
  6. Transcribing songs is the best way to broaden your musical vocabulary.
  7. diverse379


    Mar 4, 2015
    I will do more of that

    do you mean mimicking what I hear on a recording?
  8. I find this a wonderful idea. You'll quickly find what kind of style you really want to play, and you'll broaden your composing/improvising abilities.

    When you feel you play the same stuff all over, go with what @Groove Doctor says and learn from others using your ears.
    Groove Doctor likes this.
  9. diverse379


    Mar 4, 2015
    The groove recordings yield all sorts of lines the surprising thing

    this is one of the last ones that I did