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R&B audition -- help, I am a rocker

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by LeftyLB70P, Apr 27, 2006.

  1. LeftyLB70P


    May 4, 2005
    Athens, Ga.
    I am 34 and have been playing bass for about 10 years. Most of that time has been spent playing classic rock, heavy metal, and blues.
    Tonight I have an audition with an R&B band that is looking to work a busy schedule and make good money. I would really like to pull this thing off. I know that I am a competent player (I don't have to rely on riding root notes in total confusion) however when I am nervous my playing deteriorates in an embarrassing way.

    Can you guys/girls give me some generic (or specific if you have them) tips into playing solid R&B lines?

    Tell me anything that makes sense to you. I have played some older Motown stuff in practice type situations (alone - not with band) and I totally appreciate the stlye, I just am not familiar yet.

    Something that I am bringing to the table with this band is a good work ethic however I just got the call late last night and therefore don't have a lot of time to 'prepare'. I am listening to various Motown, Stax Volt, and so on stuff all day to help me get the feel but what I will doing tonight really will be raw. Typically I work my butt off in order to show up more than prepared so we'll see.

    Thanks for any & all advice.
  2. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Well, many people will tell you that Jamerson is the man. And they would be right, but it's sometimes difficult to get his lines into a band that has players (drummer) that is too busy. I can't tell you the times I've copped his parts at home only to find that I had to simplify them in rehearsal.

    Probably the way to go, at least in the audition and until you find your place in the band is to listen to Duck Dunn. He really is a master of simple and effective lines.

    And as far as R+B goes, I've found it very helpful, even if the bass line is super simple, to still have a triplet subdivision in my head as we play. It helps get the feel right on many R+B classics.

    Good luck.
  3. Lefty,

    If you've been listening to the old Stax/Volt stuff, you're going in the right direction. Have they given you any set lists?

    After I'd played with an original alt-rock band a couple of years and driving on top of the beat, I found that I had to back way off on r&b funk situations.

    Be aware of syncopation, and be aware of the timing of the dummer's kick (finding the pocket). Get comfortable and lock-in!
  4. flatwoundfender


    Feb 24, 2005
    +1, also Dunn style lines are a lot easier to come up with. Jamerson was a musical genius, Dunn speciality was how solid his lines were.
  5. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Royal, Oak, MI.
    Just play with your soul.
    Lay back and just groove. Blues and rock are really not that different.

    Most inportant: listen to the drummer. His kick and his snare.
  6. +1 on the syncopation.
    +10 on getting further behind the beat.
    +100 on locking in with the drummer. In rock / alt / metal you have to watch the guitars nearly as much as you have to watch the drums, locking in with both as the rhythm guitarist(s) will often play precise rhythm patterns and drive the songs as much as you and the drummer. In R&B situations I really focus practically all my attention on the drums to lock in to be come a 'real' rhythm section and drive the rest of the band with the drummer. Make sense?
  7. +1
    Green Onions. Perfect example of the pocket.
  8. flatwoundfender


    Feb 24, 2005
    That was actually Lee Steinberg their first bassists, but it is a great pocket. My favorite Dunn line is "Be My Lady", but yeah anything Dunn played was in the Pocket.
  9. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    All you can do is play what you can play. At some later date you can immerse yourself in the genre and get a better "feel" for the music.
  10. Ditto on asking for set lists. If they are doing covers, some R&B bass lines provide the hook for the tune as well as the groove. Listening to the original lines can only help.

    And good luck - I play in a blues / R&B idiom because it is way more fun than Rock for the bassist - IMHO. :D
  11. LeftyLB70P


    May 4, 2005
    Athens, Ga.
    Guys this is great!

    I am familiar with what all of you are saying in theory so it sounds like I really need to just keep my head on, control the nerves, and lay back.

    I think a big challenge it in my thinking - I often want to throw in those great melodic running (guitar player and I often play unison lines) licks but tonight I need to do what all of you are saying.

    No, don't have a setlist -- that would remove any fear or doubt that I have, heck I would call in sick and spend the day learning the music ------ I have my priorities straight :hyper: :bassist:
  12. flatwoundfender


    Feb 24, 2005
    Yeah don't play melodic guitar runs, they don't fit. Just hold the groove, it's the most important thing.
  13. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    If you haven't ever focused on playing R&B, there's not really much you can do to get up to speed in less than one day. It's not the kind of thing you can "cram" for. At this point, it's either already in you, or it's not...

    I suggest you just relax and let it go. Get into a groove mindset. Go for a groove feel.

    If you can, slap a set of flatwounds on your favorite bass and go for a warm, deep, organic tone. Forget all that fancy rock riffing stuff, and just lock in with the drummer.

    If you can really groove, here's where you're gonna find out. Relax and have fun with it...

  14. Okay to be melodic, but make sure to leave some "space".
    Knowing when NOT to play greatly enhances the groove.
    Good luck!
  15. LeftyLB70P


    May 4, 2005
    Athens, Ga.
    hey, let me ask a couple specific questions - sorry if I display some ignorance here but my thinking is that if the only harm in asking is me looking dumb - call me a dummy and educate me :D

    What is a 'scrunchie'? Is it the hair thing? I have seen instructional videos where the guy talks about using them and I am considering using one if it gives me a flatter - ?duller? - tone but I am not sure if I am understanding correctly. I actually have played a bit with using my picking hand to mute and am just wondering if this is kind of a similar thing?

    Also, would anyone argue strongly in favor of using a 5 over a 4 string? I am planning on using my 4 because it has a better tone and I am slightly more comfortable with it but will probably take the 5 along for the ride.

    Lastly, let me state clearly that I totally appreciate the different genres have different dynamics and I expect tonight to clearly reveal me to be a rock bass player -- however -- I believe the key word there is 'bass' and as such if given the opportunity to improve (and if instruction is clearly provided on what to do differently) I am confident that I can learn to be a great R&B player. (I also have to agree that the genre is appealling because of the role that the bassline plays as opposed to rock).
  16. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    +1. That's the first piece of advice that I thought of when I saw this thread. Leave lots of space, and "play the rests." You can play whole or half notes, or even sit out entire sections if it feels appropriate - but keep your head or body moving, so the rest of the band doesn't think you've had a brain fart or stopped digging the music!

    You mentioned dynamics, albeit in a different context, but this is really, really important: play with dynamics. I'd stress that in any situation, but it seems to be less of a priority for rock, where everything's often at a constistent volume (very loud). If you adjust your levels to the rest of the band, or vary your dynamics in a creative way - e.g., playing one verse mf and the next verse p - you'll score points as a good listener and a team player.

    Answers to specifics -

    Scrunchie is a hair tie. Unnecessary unless you're tapping, and that's often a really bad thing to do at an audition. Just mute the way you normally do.

    If by R&B you mean stuff from the 90s and later, I'd get comfortable with the 5 string ASAP. If by R&B you mean stuff from the 80s and earlier, I don't think it's necessary.

    Good luck.
  17. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Listen to me. I'm black! j/k. Seriously, everyone has given you great advice, but I'll add one small, but major thing, as far as the feel goes. Stand VERY close to the drummer, and make sure YOU can dance, bob your noggin, sway, tap, etc. to what you're playing basswise. Once you start to move without thinking, you've got it! Find the 1, and tap your foot on the 1 and 3. As for your chops, you'll be fine. R&B, Caribbean vibes, funk, and hip hop are more about feel than chops, although chops are important. As for the ballads, hone in on the kick drum. Check out the attached clip. It's me playing an R&B ballad. As far as I'm concerned, that kickdrum IS the singer! Good luck with your NEW band! ;)

  18. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Royal, Oak, MI.
    What he said!

    BTW Woody, is that the new Sadowsky??
  19. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Yeah. That gig made me not buy the VTC. She sounds great without it.
  20. lay back and pay attention to the syncopation... Rock bass is all straight up on the beat, R&B is not... Hard to describe, but if you are listening to it, and you can hear where its on the beat, where its between the beat, you'll be all set.

    The bass lines are sort of like the difference between playing a classical melody and a swing melody.

    See if you can listen to a song you're not familiar with first before winging it. Or before a 2nd run through the song. Shows you learn fast, want to do it authentically, and gives you a good idea of the feel for that particular song. Especially if they're expecting something close to the original line. You might come up with a really appropriate line, but different.

    Otherwise, keep it simple and bouncy, locked with the bass drum and hi hat. Don't forget to complement, leave space for the backbeat.


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