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On the essence of thinking in bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by phillesh71, Sep 17, 2000.

  1. phillesh71


    Sep 10, 2000
    Sorry this may seem a little abstract of a question, especially to those of us who are not -yet- pros.

    I find that you could say (lets not get too tangled up in objections to this theory) that there are two major ways to go about playing the bass,

    The first is thinking about your playing as a movement of fingers
    The second is thinking about your playing as a musical sentence, i.e. a measure on a staff

    While I always find that it is a lot more rewarding to think the second way, because it tends to lead to more creative improvisation, it limits how fast you can play, particularly in slap, because you have to think ahead some about the movement of your hand.
    I find that playing music as a collection of rhythmical pitches often leads to cooler chunks of melody, however, I find that thinking in terms of notes often has me pausing halfway through a measure because I havent sent instructions down to my fingers quick enough. However, the flip side of this is I often find myself frustrated because I just played two measures of slap doing little more than slapping the octaves during a jam.

    Maybe Im wondering how those of you who can improv at lots of tempos naturally find some type of harmony (pun intended) between these two types of thought.
  2. You really just need to practice more. It takes you so much time to figure out what you want to play because you haven't practiced improvising. To be a skilled improvisor you have to be able to think a thought and instantaneously be able to translate it through your instrument. This means you have to have an idea of how each note sounds and how all of the intervals sound. You need to have a solid command of all scales and arpeggios. Practice the rythms you want to use.
    And, to be able to improvise at fast tempos, you will need to have practiced all of these things at fast tempos.

    Musicians that are able to improvise well at fast tempos
    are able to do so because they spent *lots* of time practicing and working up to it. You shouldn't have to think about how you're moving you fingers, you should have worked out that in the practice room already.
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Learing to play bass is similar IMO to learing a new language. At first you have to learn the vocabulary, grammar and the right pronunciation. It's hard at the beginning because you're too busy thinking how to apply the rules the right way, and you'll have difficulties to express what you want to say. But with practice those rules will become more and more natural to you and those rules will be applied subconsciously, like driving a car. This will enable you to put your 'new language' to a creative use.
  4. Mandude


    Apr 19, 2000
    I've found that once you reach a certain place in your playing, your fingers start to do what your mind was thinking a moment earlier, kind of like thinking ahead of the song. I think of it as drawing up a blueprint a split second before breaking ground.
  5. phillesh71


    Sep 10, 2000
    These comments have helped me to think about the subject a lot.
    I guess lately my problem is I feel like Ive come to an impasse in my technique, like writer's block kind of and I feel like my creativity is stagnating, at times this can be really frustrating and I feel like practicing is only helping me play memorized music and not particularly original. Does anyone know where I can download like some Jam tracks or something, -

    My guitarist is very proud of himself and likes to solo very loudly and I dont get too much chance to create when we jam. Anywhere that I could find some tracks with rhythm and light guitar chords for me to practice on? Or any advice/ I hate the fact that practicing bass almost seems like work sometimes lately.

    Once again, thanks
  6. You need some new tools. These plateau periods happen when your learning on your own. A good teacher will push you out of it in no time. You could start listening to some new music. That usually helps to spark ideas. Then there's always new scales to learn, start learning about the way chords function, learn about voice leading, learn about complex rythms (eg. superimposing 3 over 4 or 3 over 2, etc.) Sometimes even learning about something as simple as chromatic approach notes or mordents will lead to a flurry of ideas.

    It boils down to a student's creativity stagnates when his learning stagnates.

  7. Steve S

    Steve S

    Jul 26, 2000
    I agree. Find a good teacher to take you out of that rut. I was stuck for a long time before I asked for help. Within three months, everything changed and my playing became much better and more creative.

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