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Practicing Jazz Bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by mynameisjack2, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. mynameisjack2


    Jun 22, 2009
    Dallas, TX
    So I joined my high school's jazz band several months ago. I love playing in it, but there's one problem: practicing.

    No tune we're playing is particularly difficult, I've been playing for around 4 years, so there's not a ton I can't play without practice. But while the lines sound great in an ensemble format, they just don't sound good myself in my room with a metronome. It used to not be a huge issue, and we weren't playing a lot so I could upload the music to guitar pro or play with a track online. But nowadays, there's a lot of music, and most of it doesn't have a professional track online.

    So herein lies the problem, i tried practicing for an hour with just a metronome, and I absolutely couldn't do it. I lost interest, wouldn't play the right notes, etc. This is a problem since most of the songs involve just a straight quarter note part that's pre-written. When improv-ing I do just fine in rehearsal, but when reading it sounds off a lot, something that a little practice would cure.

    I'm trying to practice with the pianist as often as I can, but is there any other advice some of you would like to share to make practicing uninteresting lines more bearable?

    Thanks ahead of time!
  2. Sarbecue Boss

    Sarbecue Boss

    Jul 9, 2006
    I ran into the same exact problem when I jumped in a big band for the first time. Playing roots thirds and fifths over a chord sure works, and sometimes is very good, but usually more color helps the tune out. There are tons of great tools out there, like band in a box, which is a program that plays any voicing you would want on sets of chords to a click or drum track or whatever, and I wish I would have used those more. What helped me the most, though, was getting a guitar/piano, the tune, and a chord glossary. I would go through tunes, not learning them, but just playing the chords, trying to sort of internalize their sound. for example, in a diminished chord, the color, to me comes from the flat five, so when your running through a chart, and you see that come up, you know what notes are going to either make that chord sound safe, maybe a root and minor third, and you know that the flat 5 will build a little tension. A good practice to do, is to have a piano player sit across from you, pick a chord, and play all the different voicings of it, and try to identify each one, eg. flat 5, sharp 7, whatever they are.
  3. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    Practicing with just a metronome is where you will develop chops. All your technique and time keeping issues will stick out when you take away all the other instruments. Stick with the metronome, make each note clear and articulate, learn to groove/swing by yourself, sing the words to the tune or melody as you practice. If you can keep time and be musical with just a metronome you will be a much better musician
  4. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    +1. You can also work on your false notes once you get the quarter notes down. That's what adds the swing.

    Quarter notes played with attitude sound completely different from those played limply.
  5. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    Agreed. Sometimes you need to add interest to focus. Try using the metronome this way;

  6. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Cool Wooten vid. Thanks.

    Also, there's nothing wrong with knowing and playing the melodies to the songs your jazz band plays. This can help in constructing walking lines. For instance, if you have a Am7b5 going to D7, it might seem line a good idea to put a Eb (the b5 of the Am chord) in right before the D, but if the lead line is playing a Eb there, perhaps another note (C the 3rd of the Am chord) might be a better sound.

    In other words, don't just practice bass, practice the music.
  7. frisbieinstein


    Dec 29, 2007
    Same here, walking lines used to bore the **** out of me.

    The goal is to play a melody in the bass. A real melody. Rock bassists never do this. Listen to Paul Chambers and you'll see what I mean. You don't have to hit the root on one every time.
  8. frisbieinstein


    Dec 29, 2007
    And if you want to play melody, you have to memorize the tune. Otherwise you can't really get your ear involved. That's why they call it a "fake book."

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