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Need play-along help

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Bunny McB, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. I know HOW to play, mechanically, and I 've studied music theory- all scales, pick or finger and I've stretched and strengthened my small chick hands and fingers to the point where I could now probably crush cocnuts with em if I needed to. But-What notes do I play, for cryin out loud?

    I read numerous places that the best way to become a good bass player is to play along with stuff. but I'll put something on and have to stop, figure out what key it's in, and then most of the time the only way it sounds right is when it's played the way it was written and recorded- and that doesn't teach me anything except how to play that particular song.
    What am I doing wrong? Perhaps my choices are inappropriate for this sort of exercise (Police, most recently).

    I will be immensly grateful for any suggestions on approaches to creating harmonic bass lines, especially spontaneously.
    What's your approach?

  2. Actually, you are on the right track.
    Start with simple songs. Oldies are good.
    Pick a song with simple bass lines.
    Also check bass tabs online for the actual lines.
    I've been playin by ear for decades and I still have to sit down, figure out the key,
    listen to the recording over and over, and stumble through the song for a day or two before it starts coming together.
    Remember, easy does it champ
  3. If you have an Ipad or an Iphone, buy the Irealb app, and find some songs you know in the forum. The beauty of this app is that you can listen to a bass part, then mix it out and simply jam with the drums and chords! its great for figuring out what notes to play. Then if you REALLY want to get to know your theory you can start studying the chord extensions and figure out how to add spice and how to walk.

    If that seems a little daunting there's plenty of sites online that host thousands of jam tracks for you to mess around with. One thing I think every person should do when there starting out is learn the minor pentatonic, then simply jam over a twelve-bar blues for a few hours. Its sometimes the funnest thing and the easiest way to get comfortable "putting in" what you think fits. When I first started everything I played I somehow though was ether too cheezy, not "locked in" or simply too easy. It takes time to get comfortable with playing and improvising music. Its a LIFELONG journey. Your never really done discovering what your capable of.

    Anyway that was kind of a long-winded way of saying just keep playing. The fact that you want to stretch out from the written line is a GREAT sign. I can't tell you how many "musicians" I've meet from school and other places who can play circles around me, but cant spontaneously create music to save their own lives.

    Keep Jamming along, Have fun!
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    For harmonic bass lines and harmony in general, possibly take a Harmony class at a local college.

    Buy all his books and take online lessons from this guy: http://www.edfriedland.com/instruction/

    Learn to read music so you can play bass to any song.

    Learn 1,000 songs, start with the blues. Pickup Ed's Blues Bass book. After a few hundred songs you'll recognize patterns. You'll also learn which notes the bass player chose to play over the chords of the song. Lots of TBr's improvise their own bass lines to songs.

    Learn to play keyboard chords/guitar chords to all the 1,000 songs. Analyze the chords progressions of each song. Soon you'll hear patterns.

    Learn this for all 12 keys:

    C: (I) : C-E-G-B : C Major7

    D: (ii) : D-F-A-C : D minor7

    E: (iii) : E-G-B-D : E minor7

    F: (IV) : F-A-C-E : F Major7

    G: (V) : G-B-D-F : G Dominant7

    A: (vi) : A-C-E-G : A minor7

    B: (vii) : B-D-F-A : B minor7 (b5)

    Learn the lyrics/vocal melodies and be able to sing with guitar chords or bass lines.

    Work on ear training.

    Join a band.

    Here a few links that may help you out:
    If I only knew then...
    Best musical advice
    Every bassist should know...
    How to really "learn" a tune"

    ~Instructional materials
    Over 100 DVDs/books
    Books, DVDs, all styles/ methods
    Looking for the Bass "Bible"
    MarlowDK's recommended books
    "Best" theory/harmony book
    TB Book Links
    TB member Jon Liebman's books and more
    Books, DVD's, equipment, accessories, etc. (by style)
    over 100 books of transcriptions & more
    ii-V-I book and CD

    ~Online lessons
    dmanlamius.com Dman's hands on videos and more
    playbassnow.com MarlowDK's cool videos & more
    Read music,lessons, online metronome,bass clef tutor & more
    Studybass.com Sound files/tab/standard notation based lessons..more
    thelibster.com Tech advice,drills, bass sound files & more
    cyberfretbass.com Videos & more
    activebass.com Lessons, backing tracks, articles and more. Xlnt site

    ~Software: Slow Down, Change pitch/key, Loop, Record, Metronome,Utilities
    1 Slow down software
    BestPractice-PC based, free, easy to use, slow downer/pitch shifter/looper/vocal remover/bass isolator/ backing track maker

    Good paid software for learning songs: Transcribe (helps with chords), Song Surgeon, Amazing Slowdowner

    ~Ear training
    Test your ear
    Free downloadable ear trainer (basic/advanced) Xlnt program
    Trainers/tutorials. Music theory, ear training, read music, chords, intervals, etc.
    Online Visual Beginning Theory, ear trainer
    Discussion of Solfege

    ~Sight Reading
    {www.studybass.com/lessons/reading-music/bass-clef-fretboard-notes/bass-clef-notes-fretboard.pdf}Note: paste web address to your search bar to Download this cool doc: clef to fretboard translation. Memorize this!
    1 Learning
    Sight reading source material
    Transcribe/read transcriptions free online

    Useful music theory info with audio
    Learning basic theory
    Intro scale & chord theory
    Theory links list
    Theory (from the DB side of TB)

    Learning "modes"
    Reason for modes
    Using modes
    Putting it all together (scales/modes)

    Key signatures/Circle of 5ths/Cycle of 4ths
    Circle/Cycle of 5ths/4ths (spreadsheet format)

    Playing over ii V I progression
    3rds & 7ths?
    Tri Tone Substitutions

    Check my >500 links below for more great TB info.

    Good luck.
  5. m0ranwad


    Jan 29, 2013
    Not sure I'd start with The Police :)

    Songs like "Message in a Bottle" are slightly off-beat, and might be confusing at first to play along with (I know that I struggle playing along with Reggae, as lot of the groove happens AROUND the beat and not ON IT).

    I like to spend time with backing tracks that have the bass-line removed, that way I don't feel like I need to mimic anything. I'm free to be an expressive player. If you're not sure what to play, triads are usually a safe bet.
  6. Stumbo - good to "see" you again, been awhile.

    Bunny - All good advise, I'll just add this:

    What notes do we play? Harmony has to do with the melody line and the bass line sharing some of the same notes. Again, which notes? Notes from the chord and yes they have to be from the key everyone else is using. If you follow the chords good things happen.

    I know that begs a little more...... There is a book called Pentatonic KHANceots by Steve Khan that goes into detail - over this chord here are your choices. For example:

    Over a Fmaj7 (F, A, C, E) chord here are you choices:
    Scale / Mode Option:
    F major F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E
    F Lydian F, G, A, B...C, D, E And if we really want to hear Lydian; a modal vamp of Fmaj7, Cmaj7 (C, E, G, B) will let Lydian's raised 4th (B) sustain the Lydian sound. To get the modal effect you need to utilize a modal vamp.

    Pentatonic Option:
    F major pentatonic F, G, A, C, D
    A minor pentatonic A, C, D, E, G
    E minor pentatonic E, G, A, B, D
    D minor pentatonic D, F, G, A, C
    Before this book I would never have considered those minor pentatonic scales.
    All of those choices share like notes. Which brings up the next great question. How many like notes are necessary for a bass line. Answer, one per measure. That's why roots work, two shared notes are better (R-5) and three per measure are probably not necessary as once you harmonize, the rest is just gravy. Which brings up the question chord tones or scales.......

    I think you will enjoy Pentatonic KHANcepts it was one of my WOW books. There is a CD play-a-long included. My notations, in the margins, were put there when I was playing the 6 string guitar, but, theory is theory.

    Have fun.
  7. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Good reference.

    Good to "see" you too. TB time for me reduced by 90%...been busy with life.
  8. Thanks to you all
    I've been dinkering around with basses for several years, going through periods of - What the hell am I doing here, a grown woman trying to play bass guitar, can't play for (@*@ anyway- so then I wouldn't play for a while. Then over this past summer I got a wild hair and bought an acoustic/electric. Wheeee! I can play chords!! That's been fun but ultimately the experience left me: 1) re-committed to bass as my instrument of choice 2) knowledgeable about chords 3) improved my ear.
    So you could say it was like - a fun affair, a romp in the hay that made appreciate my real true love, but wound up teaching me a few things too. Thanks again!
  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I recommend to learn more songs imperfectly rather than fewer songs perfectly, at this stage of your ear-training development. Listening to the radio is perfect for this, because you can't pause the song, you have to play in real-time just as you would on stage.

    A good place to start is to listen to the Oldies station and set the goal of, by the end of each 3 minute song, be able to answer: what key is it in? what is the chord progression (I like to use Roman numerals)? is there a "bridge" or modulation or other "twist" to the song? what is the predominant rhythm? (quarters? eighths? shuffle? Bo Diddley?) If you can figure out the exact notes of the bass line, that's great, but that's not the primary goal of the exercise at this point in your learning.

    Also are you familiar with the band Talking Heads? Tina Weymouth is a very groovy female bassist, and her lines are generally repetitive, prominent in the mix, and easy to learn. :)

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