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Note for note?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Adam Bomb, May 12, 2011.

  1. Adam Bomb

    Adam Bomb

    Mar 26, 2008
    Bezerkely, CA
    Just joined a great band. Originals with a classic rock feel. The other three have been together writing songs for about a year but they’ve never played a gig or had a bass player for more than a few weeks. Guitarist is the band leader and wrote most of the music.

    So I’ve learned about 15 songs, which is all of them, in six weeks. I like them; they’re good. Only three came with officially written bass parts, but others came with “suggested” bass parts. I am reproducing them as best I can.

    It’s been a challenge (see sig), but I’ve accepted it and risen to it. The shredder wrote the bass parts and while his groove might be a little bit lacking, the notes are played very smoothly. I’m doing the best I can.

    On most of the songs, we kill. We sound tight and good. We have all expressed this.

    This morning, in response to the guitarist’s latest wave of suggestions/feedback, I sent an email to him alone that said, basically, “I am used to collaboration and am fine with trying the songs the way you hear them in your head but I am hoping that at some point the focus shifts to whether what I am playing works for the song.” There shouldn’t be any problem with how I said it. I thought about starting this thread before I sent it, but it was time for me to say something, in terms of how much more direction I am going to take from this guy about how he hears the bass parts in his head. In case this does not go without saying, I am not a salaried employee, and it isn’t an Army band or something. Just four private citizens who love playing music.

    I am happy to learn songs, but I also enjoy expressing myself and sounding a way that, when I hear it, I think “That’s a sweet bass part” before I even remember it was me. And I think that I am doing that successfully. I am sure that even the shredder would say that he is happy with 90% of what I am playing, and not terribly unhappy with very much of the rest at all.

    We are really mostly talking about the expectation in his head, not the notes in his ears. If something I am playing doesn’t work, I won’t play it.

    My question is, How much have you guys allowed yourselves to be bound by a bandmate’s subjective idea of how a bass part should go? I’m not talking feel or even general performance. I am really talking note for note. “Play the note this way instead of the way you’re playing it now even though what you are playing sounds good because I hear it this way in my head.” Like that.

    I don’t understand why someone would expect me to feel obligated to completely fulfill his personal vision for no money. I mean, it doesn’t hurt to ask, but fortunately saying no feels great. Am I missing something?

    FYI, recently I threw a song into the mix and it was accepted. I didn’t write a guitar part, and I kind of don’t care what he plays, as long as it sounds good. I wrote a drum part but I’m going to really try to just let the drummer make it his own. But he’s a really good drummer and I’m—again, see sig.


    Thanks! I’m afraid this post is just troll bait, but, we’ll see.

    --Bomb :bassist:
  2. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009
    I played in a band with a guy like that once. I used to call him the "Joseph Stalin of local bar bands"... to his face.

    When I joined his band, he tried to pull that same stunt. I told him, basically, I am in this is a band-effort... not a hired gun for a solo project. NOW, if you want a hired gun, PAY me like one... if not, then chill. He chilled. And we made good music. Especially when I took over lead vocals and primary songwriting, and the band fired him.
  3. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I'm very willing to work with somebody. I'm a bit less willing to work for somebody.

    I used to be in an original band with a fantastic guitar player. He'd come up with suggestions like "Throw in a low C right here." and viola! Sweet sweet harmony! That stuff is fantastic.

    One of the reasons I left that band was the singer / songwriter. Everything to him was ":Fwump". He'd tell the drummer "Can you make the drum part like Fwump fwump fwump right there?" or he'd ask the sax player for "Fwump fwump fwump" at a certain part.

    Not only was this Fwump hard to decipher, but he would change the arraingements constantly!!! Like backstage 10 minutes before we were supposed to go on, he'd be like "Can you add fwump fwump to the part in the bridge"?

    Long story short (Don't you love when people say that after a tediously long story?) If the guy is making useful suggestions and you like where they lead it's cool. If the guy wants to write the bass parts, he should do just that and leave you the hell alone.
  4. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    I don't mind generally. Especially if it's in a style I don't really "get", then I'll trust the person writing the songs to come up with an arrangement their audience will like more than I'll trust myself.

    On the other hand, whenever somebody wants me to play a specific part it's usually a lot more notes than I'd play if it was up to me, so I'll sometimes ask "that's a lot of notes, can I play something simpler?"
  5. Adam Bomb

    Adam Bomb

    Mar 26, 2008
    Bezerkely, CA

    Yer killin' me ... :p

    Yeah, but in your case it's a bunch of cute chicks, right? That is completely different ... :cool:

    Thanks guys for helping figure out where the lines are usually drawn here. Soon I will check to see if I have gotten an email back.

    --Bomb :bassist:
  6. Playing note for note suggestions - from a guy that has never gigged before ------- did I understand that correct?

    It's time for the talk. :meh:
  7. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    For me it all depends. I hear things in a tune that may or may not work. I have been with my band for nearly 12 years. I still have different opinions on how the bass lines go. When we break it down at an acoustic practice, every once in a while one of my 3 gui****s will offer different suggestions for a bass line that I am playing. I am always glad to give it a whirl. However, they Rarely ever tell me this is what I want you to play - note for note. Again, it is very much dependant on the writter. I work pretty easily either way, but for the most part, I create my own bass lines.
  8. powderfinger


    Feb 24, 2009
    Hey man, I think YOU should play what YOU want to play...

    I read somewhere to the way Duck Dunn learned to play bass was listening to old RB, soul songs, and playing his own basslines to them.. basically, what HE felt they should be.. and I think we all know he has a very respectable, noted style :)
  9. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    does the guy know what he's talking about? are his bass parts better than the ones you would come up with yourself? if so, go along. if yours are better show him your ideas.
  10. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    It depends on the context of the band. If it's another guys group then I'm happy to play hired gun (for a price), but if it's an original group that's established as a collaboration then I'll take suggestions but I won't change parts unless I think something is a lot better than what I wrote.
  11. Adam Bomb

    Adam Bomb

    Mar 26, 2008
    Bezerkely, CA
    Thanks for the input.

    Just to clarify, this particular band hasn't played out, but we are all experienced musicians.

    Guitarist got back to me. He seemed to understand, or at least accept, what I'd said. Cool.

    I'll still try to learn the songs his way. But then I am going to make all the bass parts mine no matter who wrote them. We all collaborate, but this just telling me what to play and how to play it is almost over, and we are all clear on that, so, cool.

    --Bomb :bassist:

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