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Not Playing in Piano's and Trumpet's Range??

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by jgbass, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    I am a little confused, and I have never heard of anything like this nor have I seen it discussed anywhere. Search revealed nothing.

    I was at a rehearsal yesterday. So, I am playing my walking bass lines, and someone commented about how I need to stay out of the range of the pianist and the horn player, not go "up" when they ascend their notes. Not play up on the neck ,i.e near or at thumb position, when the trumpet player is playing in the upper range.

    Sorry, I have never heard of monitoring my walking lines like this when others are doing their solos. Have I missed a major piece of information?

    I think its really nice, for example, when the bassist mirrors the up and down movement when another instrument plays the head of a bossa, for example, but in walking during a solo? I think there's things I do intuitively to follow what the soloist is doing, but not necessarily being constrained in where I play on the neck or being mindful of not stepping on anyone's toe's so to speak. Confused.
  2. uethanian


    Mar 11, 2007
    yea i've heard the same, "get out of the piano's way." thats when u stop playing and give the guy a dirty look.

    just kidding. i think is pretty inaccurate when people use the terms 'piano range' and 'trumpet range.' they both have many-octave ranges, so it doesn't mean much.

    besides which, you want your walking to flow, and move up and down the range of the instrument. you shouldn't jump octaves suddenly to accommodate a soloist.

    for a piano soloist: live up the neck, but occasionally venture down to let people know you're still there

    for a trumpet soloist: live at the bottom of the neck, but venture up to build intensity or as the soloist increases the volume

    no set rules for this, but generally, people aren't focusing on the bass when there's a solo going on. dont intrude on the soloist, thats all there is to say
  3. Thunderthumbs73


    May 5, 2008
    I'd have to say to avoid playing (literally) in the piano's range, that would likely mean not playing anything, as the piano has the whole range of the bass completely covered. There are precious few notes, if any, a bass can play that a piano can't. I am assuming this is in a jazz context, but it probably doesn't matter- the main thing is to work with the pianist to make sure that his/her voicings or notes with the left hand leaves you space to be able to play. As I'm sure you're well aware, pianists have tremendous ability to "fill" sound and to be very "thick" with the playing.

    Playing up or down the neck can work, no matter whether a horn player is playing a solo or a head or helping to fill some choral function while someone else is soloing. Context matters. I think that provided that you play with a strong harmonic sense in which you are comfortably navigating and outlining the chord changes, then you're doing many of the right things.

    Playing in the thumb position is something IMO, that should be done sparingly. Not for "effect" per se, but as a completely valid technique that can be used in a very musical way, provided it's not overused. I'm not so sure that it's that you "shouldn't" go past the octave position for a non-solo note or two or three- just how long you spend up there if it's not a solo statement or some arco bowing or something like that.

    I do hate to seem to reinforce some orthodoxy of "do this and do that," but ultimately, I'm thinking of at least what to my ears would be the most musical end result. And the good thing is that it's not up to you solely, to fix it. The pianist looms large in this sonic stew and can make/break the best bassist (and the quality of the music to boot).

    Since it's rehearsal, see if you can record these sessions. What feels good and sounds good to your ear in your moments of immediate engagement and involvement may (or may not) sound as good upon playback.

    Hope this helps.
  4. Well it doesn't often sound good to have a bass playing in the same range that a piano player is comping in. It muddies things up and can make things really unclear. You should always be mindful of your range in relationship to where everyone else is at. It's like a drummer playing on the ride during a bass solo, in that unless they are really careful, it can just feel like they're stepping all over you because of the range of a ride vs the bass.

    The same could be said of a piano player playing all the bass notes too. So be careful when you choose to play high and always be mindful of range. It's something to be aware of.
  5. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    OK. Is it just me or are there some strange ideas here. Everybody needs to listen to everybody. You don't have to 'stay out of the way'. What's that $#@%. Everybody in a group has to listen for the spaces ,both harmonic and rhythmic, and fill them or don't depending the effect (or is is affect) you are going for.
  6. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    +1!!! Play good melodic (walking or other) bass lines in a functional (primarily lower two octaves of the bass' range) way when you are comping and everyone should be happy. Of course, use the upper register from time to time, but don't live there. Tell the pianist to get out of your range in his comping if the music is sounding muddy or confused because he is voicing his chords too low.
  7. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Funny story. One of my friends (Eric... its Laura Hoffman... you may know her) was telling me when she was first learning to play jazz years ago she was doing a gig on the south side and, at that time, she didn't know to not be too busy in the left hand. The bass player on the gig looked at her after the first song and said. 'Listen, am I gonna have to saw the lid to the piano in half'. (edited for content based on the family nature of this site).

    Point is a piano player that lives down low can make things hard too. EVERYBODY has to listen and be able to hear the big picture and how they fit into it. No ego.
  8. Yeah, I have to agree with Marc here. I think that staying out of the piano and trumpet's range is a pretty stupid idea. I mean you should be listening, and if you hear the notes you're playing interfere with the soloist then adjust. These guys sound a bit hackish to me.
  9. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003

    +1 Again, and this is generally what I do. That's why I was surprised by the comment of the trumpet player. I really think the comment should have been directed to the pianist, who was muddling through an unfamiliar piece pretty much in the octave of middle C and above, but, again, yet, always being mindful of what others are doing all the time. And, as Michael mentioned above, the idea of always playing with the intention of staying out of another instrument's way does not sound right either.
  10. I'd say keep on keepin' on and don't let these people get you down. If you let it get too deep in your head, your playing will suffer. I'd also say maybe there is some little lesson that you could get from this (I always try to find how I could improve through these kind of encounters) even if it's choosing who play with more carefully.
  11. jtlownds


    Oct 3, 2004
    LaBelle, FL
    A good piano player will give you room to play by staying out of your area, not the other way around. I don't know where your trumpet player is coming from. Perhaps he has his mouthpiece inserted rectally, that might get him into your range.
  12. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I think they are just trying to say that they don't like the "ideas" that you're coming up with while the soloist are playing. They want you to stay low and depending on the group of the gig and how much you want it, it may be prudent to pay close attention to their comments and adjust your playing accordingly.

    Sometimes you don't get the heads up about stuff your doing that's "interfering" with the rest of the group and people just don't call you anymore.
  13. TomSauter


    Dec 22, 2004
    Kennesaw, GA
    I agree. Unfortunately there's no hard and fast rule for this, it just takes experience and maturity. There are times where I've noticed that what I was doing interfered with the register of other instruments, and it's usually if i get a little 'noodly' in the upper register. If I go straight up and back down without lingering then it doesn't seem to interfere, even if I'm in the same range. It does sound bad to me if I hit some of the same notes in the same octave at the same time as another instrument. It's impossible to predict what someone is going to play (hopefully) so it's bound to happen sometimes....I guess if you're in doubt, then just stay down low.
  14. jgbass

    jgbass Guest

    Dec 17, 2003
    I also think it has to do with the fact that the pianist is very inexperienced and I am kind of being asked to compensate for that. But, then again, I sometimes do get a little too complicated in the higher register and like to do these Paul Chambers types of walking up the neck kind of thing. We were playing a straight ahead tune, so that would call for more traditional walking. I think its time to watch it on the fancy stuff, at least in this group, and stick to the tried and true, and save the higher register stuff more for my solos.

    Its just something to think about, and, really, nothing I have previously given any serious thought to before. If this makes be a better player, that's fine with me.

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