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Need some groove and feel help.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by mebusdriver, Oct 15, 2004.

  1. I've been playing rock, and prog., and pop stuff since I started playing. I play a lot of King Crimson style stuff, Radiohead, and Tool in the rock area. And I'm having a serious problem.

    I'm starting to study jazz, funk, and a lot of motown stuff. Mainly I've been listening to Miles, Jaco, Herbie, Mingus, and Coltrane, and Ron Carter. And what I've found out about my playing is that I'm really stiff. I have almost no groove. I can play the Radiohead bass lines with all the groove in the world but those are big long notes that don't require a lot of technique and finess. But when I sit down to play some Jaco or over some Miles I just feel so dang stiff.

    I've found that all these walking lines and funk and jazz lines are all about groove and not placement. Less is usually more but you have to use the right notes to make it swing and sound funky.

    So what I'm asking is is there any techniques anyone can give me to work on to get my mind thinking groove instead playing spot on time with not feel but a lot of notes. Make my touch lighter, softer, and with more feeling. I'd also like someone to point me in the direction of some scales and theory based on jazz. I'm so used to playing fifths and walking from there but it just doesn't fit.

    Really sorry for the ramble BUT THIS IS KILLING. It's making me hate to play. I need this fixed. :help:
  2. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Ha ...

    I'm not the one to ask, but I did get a chuckle out of hearing yet another say "I thought I was doing OK until I tried to play Jaco, and now I feel like a dork".

    Happened to me too. Maybe we should do one of those polls for this one - I'm pretty sure that most serious bassists have been through this same experience as us.

    I'm sure this thread is going to draw a lot of "practice, practice, practice" advice.

    ..and don't forget: WITH A METRONOME!!


  3. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    I will try to convey groove as technique if that is even possible. Groove starts with the drums. Let's take blues as an example (all good drummers in all styles of music groove like this). You need to listen to the drum beat mainly the snare hits on the 2 and the 4 of the measure in blues 97% of the time. Boom boom "tap" boom-boom boom "tap" as an example the tap represents the snare hits, boom is the bass hits. To create groove the real time is considered to be on the two and four of the measure where the snare hits. The drummer will sometimes drag or play real deliberate between the snare hits, almost hold the beat until the very last mili second and then hit the snare right on the 2 and 4. But as long as the snare hits are accurate and in time the drummer can add funk, and drag between the hits, he can do whatever he wants to do as long as he hits the snare on time and that what creates the feel in music, or groove whatever you want to call it. Now to hear this you must listen to some good blues (anything except BB King his drummers play right on the beat) and listen to the drums. Listen to where the snare hits and what the drummer does between those hits to create groove. Listen to John Bohnam or Ringo or any good rock drummer from that era and you can even hear it in their playing. I hope I explained it so you can understand? But as a bassist if you lock onto and understand this you will be able to groove.
  4. good advice Ricplaya...also check out any of the Stax stuff - Booker T & the MGs, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding. The Stax drummer (Al Jackson) was a master at holding the 2nd beat.

    Start slow and simple and work your way up from there. Mustang Sally is a great example - it's basically a 3-note riff.
  5. the way it happened for me:

    I just relaxed my right hand. Pretty much everything else fell into place.

    You have to listen hard, too. Try and hear whether a drummer is pushing, playing right on, or a little behind the beat. Where is the bass player?

    Example: Tony Williams played a little on top, while John Bonham played pretty far behind. They both groove like mad, just different in their approach. It's all about your concepts... that is what I have learned from a very wise man.
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I love drums...that said, any musician should be able to groove on their own & in any type of feel. It need not be in a straightforward 1&3/2&4 backbeat, either.
    Example: A drummer may play in 1/2 time relative to the bassist playing 'the time'. In this case, the snare hits on the bassist's "3"...if you make yourself a slave to the drummer & expect a snare hit on "2" & "4", you may get 'lost'.

    Bassist playing 'time'
    = Drummer playing in 1/2 time

    Anyway, back to mebusminniedriver-
    You can buy a couple of drum books...pick a transcribed groove(like Clyde Stubblefield)put notes to the kick drum's rhythm. Then put notes to the snare drum's rhythm...then maybe play BOTH parts together; or maybe play the kick rhythm in the 1st bar with the snare drum's rhythm in the 2nd bar, etc

    I would also suggest picking up Jamerson's Standing In The Shadows Of Motown book + cds.
    ...maybe even Goines/Ammeen's Funkifying The Clave For Drums & Bass book + cds.
  7. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    The 2 and the 4 is a easy starting point for the sake of example. Oh course there are many other ways to groove but I though to identify how and what the groove is this was the easiest example.
  8. How do you groove ? QUOTE
    The more I think about this question the more confused I get in thinkin an answer theres alot of possibilitys
    So I've come to the conclusion that alot of time listening and studying players that groove will help alot with not only your groove but how and what notes are the best
    For Instance you said you groove well when you cover songs of tool etc
    Tell me if Im wrong but I bet that players on talkbass would've done alot of listening and playing other peoples styles to help them to groove
    So study alot of styles Motown,Disco Funk,Blues,Jazz etc and not only playing there lines but importantly why they played their notes in doing this alot you'll begin to realise they will play the same notes but in a different seqeuence
    As for Jazz alot of studying is required in this area as well as listening
    Then comes the technique part of grooving ie,TIME,Finger coordinating
    If you can transcripe there lines even better
    So Bassically LISTEN STUDY PLAY
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    My advice would be to listen to jazz until it comes out of your ears! Learn to sing the melodies in a sort of cheesy scat style "do be do wap bwee do ba daa" etc, as well as learning to play them. I swear every jazzer I've ever met does this, and for good reason, it works in getting the feel.

    Dont forget that you've played rock for ages, then moved to a new style of music and you're not familiar with it. You wouldnt expect to walk into a room full of scientists and hold an in-depth conversation about particle physics without years of education/experience!

    I wouldnt get too tied up in what the drums are playing, or the description of the swing rhythm or any of that stuff. I would concentrate on feeling the grooves in any music you listen to. Just let yourself feel the groove, tap your foot, sing the melody or the bass line while tapping your foot.
    If you do this with EVERY piece of music you hear on the TV adverts, in the cinema, on the radio, EVERY SINGLE ONE (even if you just do it in your head), you will soon be ableto pick up on grooves, and melodies, better. You're basically learning music away from your instrument.

    Another top tip is to sing in your head as you walk with your foot steps being the beats :)
  10. Virus


    Apr 16, 2004
    This isn't much help but....

    Someone said to me that in jazz you should hear what you're playing in your head before you play it physically. So lots of concentration is needed.
  11. FWIW - This is how I wrap my feeble mind around groove:

    In my head, groove is what happens when:

    1) you don't think about your right hand playing the strings

    2) you feel what the drummer is doing, in conjunction with what the song needs to bring the swing, the funk, etc. (groove, or pocket if you will)

    3) when it locks in, you know it. You eventually become more comfortable in getting it, and letting it happen.

    Hmmm, now that I've re-read that, I guess I couldn't describe the color 'blue' any better than I can describe 'groove'.

    :confused: :)
  12. Mellem


    Feb 1, 2002
    Greenville, MI
    This probably won't help as much as the other sugestions, but I guess I learned to "groove" basically by jumping in and playing jazz with a band. Granted, it was the high school jazz band, but at the time I had only picked up a bass a month or two prior, and when you play in that situation, you can definitely "feel" the music, like everyone's been advising. It's hard to feel it when you're not there, and that's the only way to learn the true meaning of "behind" or "on top of" the beat.
  13. Dance. Move around as you play. Get into the groove, you know?
  14. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Not just jazz, ALL music! Rock, latin, fusion, hip-hop, rnb, blues, soul, motown, metal, it all has a groove!

    ...and there's even a JB smily :D
  15. nemo


    Mar 19, 2004
    Great advices so far. Mostly based on listening, though.
    My advice is put off your bass, put some some groovy music on and tap you hands to your thighs, desk, small drum, whatever.
    Enjoy it. Feel the music and let your hands dance.
    Do it regularly, anytime.
    This way you can release yourself from tone/harmony task and focus on improving your feel for pulsing of the music.

    Later this experience will emerge in your bass playing too. :cool:
  16. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Get new pants, because you can't hold no groove if you ain't got no pocket!
  17. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Well since we've gone this far, how'bout someone give a more technical explanation of 'pocket', and how it relates to groove?

  18. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    The pocket is where each bass note should be. When the bass is in the pocket, you know it.

    Seemingly cryptic as it may be, I cant think of any better description...
  19. Learn to feel it. Listen to those who can do it and absorb how their basslines relate to the song and to the groove. Don't copy them, but get used to the feel of those lines. When you're grooving with a drummer, find the pocket, the place where your notes sound right, and sit there.

    This is too abstract to get more detailed, I'm afraid.
  20. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Dennis Chambers describes the pocket as placing the note right after the count, i.e. 1 2& 3 4& - assuming that an eighth or 16th note misplacement is appropriate. Also, I'm sure Dennis doesn't advocate keeping it there all the time, only a silly white boy would do that.