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not getting it...just not understanding.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by WillySanchez, Jun 18, 2003.

  1. ive been playing bass for 5 years...things are getting boring for me, i practice, but all my bass runs sound the same, i need some spice, i play slow indie rock, ben folds style, but i also listen to mingus, jaco, and monk, but im losing the vibe, ive tried doing scales to breathe life into my playing, but im not getting it, i dont understand how committing scales to memory can help me play better...i dont understand it. i dont wanna upgrade to a new bass until i deserve it, i find too many people subsitute shopping for new gear, for actual practice, help me practice!!!!! i need something to make things interesting and fun again.
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I know where you are coming from, I have gone through ruts too.

    There are a few things that might help.

    one, just take a break, focus less on playing and practicing ,and more on listening to other music, and listening to the sounds of the world, to help you get inspired again.

    Another thing you might want to try, start playing music you normally don't play, country or latin, or whatever you might not normally play, and when you do, just stick to the basics, again, listen to the music.

    As for scales, They are important when it comes to soloing, I find that, having a comprehensive knowledge of scales and stuff, really helps making consonant and interesting solos possible, you will always know what notes will sound good and what notes are a little questionable, and be able to discern between them.

    You could try relearning all the songs you know, backwards. Or you could try learning some new songs, that are seemingly impossible.(I suggest chromatic fantasy, I never thought I could do it, and I still can't perfectly, but I spent some time, and I feel pretty comfortable with it now)

    When I got my fodera(if ever there was a bass that a 17 year old has to EARN this was it) And when I got it, I said to myself, I have to make myself deserve this, I gotta kick my ass into gear and practice...etc.
    I practice daily 4-6 hours, and I think I've improved greatly in the past year since I got the bass.

    not only that, but when I got this bass, it played like nothing I'd ever played before, My playing style changed greatly(for the better) just reacting to the bass.

    sometimes new gear is helpful, because it sounds different, plays different, and makes different and fresh things easier.

    you could also try altered tunings...there are so many neat things to try, just experiment and have fun.
  3. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    transcribe, transcribe, transcribe.
  4. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Ive done that to 2 or 3 songs. Other than makin me think of where the notes on the staff were and what type of notes they were. (1/8, 1/4 etc) The rests were the hardest for me. I was wrong on more than Id care to admit.

    How does this stuff help you to understand music better? Its bettered my sight reading to some extent and how to determine rhythmic values a bit better on paper. But other than that Im still a bit in the dark. What else should I be looking for when doing this?

    Thanks for mentioning that Pac, because its something Ive been meaning to ask for a few months now and kept forgetting to.

    Sorry man, didnt mean to hijack your thread either. But this question will also shed some light on why its an important tool.
  5. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
  6. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Transcription is a great tool for self-education. It forces you to listen deeply to the recording. For added value, don't just listen to the bass but the other instruments as well and how they're fitting together.

    A question for you now, WillySanchez - who are you playing with at the moment? Creating music in the company of other musicians might be a good way to get that mojo working again.

  7. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
  9. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Have you ever been quoted so much, Pac? :D
  10. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000

    I think every musician gets in this rut. Especially when improvising. It's easy to fall back on what you know works. I think that going out and checking out other bassist live is a great way to get new ideas.

    I'm going to echo everyone's favorite bass playing, wooten camp attending andriod, and suggest playing some different styles of music if you feel that your current style is getting stagnant. One way to be a better player is to be versatile. I assume your pretty commited to your main indie project, so if you want to jam in some other styles without being a totally commited band memeber, maybe you should check out some open stage jams in your area, or just get a friendly jam night with your friends going on.

    Because if you go about scales that way, it isn't going to help you. First, I suggest when you decide to learn a new scale, don't even pick up your bass just yet. First, memorize the scale, note for note, interval for interval, degree to degree. Why do I suggest this? Because playing in different keys on a bass is a lot different than other instruments. A C scale is played exactly like a D scale, only a whole step up. It's not like a piano where you have to be conscious about black keys, or a horn where you have to be conscious of every single note. Because of this, it's very easy to fall into "Shapes", and "Patterns" on bass. You don't want to rely on patterns, because that's how you get stagnant. You start falling back on what's comfortable, large interval leaps are difficult, your playing will sound to scalar, and your fall into the saftey net of always grabbing for the root on the 1 of the measure. If you learn scales note for note (including what interval and degree each note is) your playing will flow all the more better and it will be easier to come up with new ideas.

    2nd, learning scales just for melody purposes is half the battle. To truly understand melody, you have to get the foundation down, which is harmony. You've probaly noticed that a phyrgian scale has it's own sound, the same way a melodic minor scale does. But I met you ran to your instrument while jaming with some people, eager to try that new scale out, and it sounded like poo? That's because throwing a scale in anywhere isn't always going to work. You have to understand the harmonic devices, so you know when to use the melodic devices. I'm not really going to get into harmony right now, since that's a pretty big field, but I suggest checking out some books or online resources about the relationship between harmony and melody. Also, learn how to sucessfully utlize chromatics in your playing. Being it approach tones, blue notes, or playing above the harmony. Chromatics really help spice up bass lines.

    To true. I find that with a lot of young people. I know a lot of people a little bit younger than me who can't make it even make it through a 12 bar progression, but they still think buying a new Les Paul and Marshal Stack will somehow make them better. Oh well, I guess a lot of people are more materialistic. Not saying all young people are like that though.

    Anyways, cool to see another fellow Pennsylvainian on the board. :D
  11. Willy:
    I have the same problem sometimes, and I've been playing for almost 30 years! (Gawd) There are many things you can do to 'change it up': let's see if I can come up with some:
    1). take some lessons. Two heads are better than one, and someone who has really studied the bass can help. I studied under a 'well-known' bassist for a while, and it REALLY helped w/new insight.

    2). Listen to music more. Not only listen to more stuff, but listen HARDER. Play an album 4-5 times a week and try and focus on a different thing each time (whether it be the groove, the sax solo, whatever). Try to incorporate that (listening) into your playing.

    3. Definitely listen to different music styles. If you like RATM, listen to some Larry Carlton. Or if you're into pop, listen to some reggae. Go further; explore and find the pioneers/trend setters of the genres.

    In short - do something radically different.

    edit: it may take you forever to get to the next level. As long as you are progressing it's OK.
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I don't usually say things that smart.... :D But hey, every dog has his day.
  13. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The point of transcription is to get into the head of the other musician and find out what they are doing and hopefully figure out WHY he played what he did (this is where knowing some theory comes in).

    One thing I have gotten out of transcribing is how the simple, basic ideas always seem to work well :D Often a line that I thought was very cool turned out to differ from some line I might have played by only one or two very hip note choices.