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Reggae bass

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by XxBlackOrchidxX, Aug 2, 2004.

  1. XxBlackOrchidxX


    Dec 23, 2003
    how are reggae lines made ? what are the common keys and intervals ? and chords ?
  2. As a fan of reggae escp. reggae bass lines , keys varie ive found out most tunes use the basic minor or major triads but then again others are based on continous riffs which can use chromatics
    But really reggae is more based on groove/feel/rhythm if you listen to recordings ie. bob marley steel pulse alpha blondie UB40 just to name a few youll find that they dont use as many notes as say jazz does but the basslines are more rhythmic
    Try transcribing a few lines it shouldnt be alot of work because the lines are repetitious well most keep in mind though there is a technique called the muted thumb pluck (if anyone knows the proper name correct me)
    But really just listen to reggae if you really wanna get in the roots of it all

    Hope Dis elps you mun
    I n I gotta go
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    It's usually roots and fifths of basic triads, as has been mentioned - but the distinctive thing about it is in the rhythmic interplay - sometimes avoiding the first beat of the bar, guitar or keys playing offbeats etc. etc.
  4. Antonio


    Jul 8, 2004
    If you want to really study reggae bass lines you need to listen to Sly and Robbie. They were one of the best rythm sections ever. You can find them on almost every major reggae album, but I think some of their best stuff is on the Black Uhuru albums. Island records makes a Black Uhuru anthology that I would highly recomend. Of course there is Family man and his brother Carly from the wailers, but I find that Family man's style just doesn't translate well to other more modern styles of reggae (just my opinion). There is a sample cd out their by Sly Dunbar that has tons of one drop loops and bass lines that you can practice to. You'd have to do a search for it though. Hope this helps.
  5. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    as for tht muted pluck, Pattitucci had a video where he showed his basic technique to get that sound. had his palm muting at the bridge, and his thumb plucking so you could get these real dead notes.

    I recommend tht video anyways, he shows a lot of different grooves.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I must say though, that I've seen dozens of great Jamaican Reggae bass players - live in concert or on video and not one has done this - they've all used normal fingerstyle and boosted the bass/rolled off the treble.
  7. XxBlackOrchidxX


    Dec 23, 2003
    |m farily new to reggae...the only stuff | heared is the Cops Theme, and little clips of it on tv..so besides what has already been suggested, what are some good reggea bands? not just good for basslines but good to listen to.
  8. Antonio


    Jul 8, 2004
    Burning Spear has a great bass player, if you ever get a chance to see him live don't miss it, Spear's awsome in concert.

    If you do a search for family man on google you should find a link to an interview with him from bassplayer magazines website, he goes all into his technique, amp settings and recording techniques, to some it up though it's all basically about going for that upright sound i.e. flatwound strings, scooped mids, he also talked about mixing DI and miked signals on recordings, 4 x10's with 18's for some balzz durring live gigs. He still plays live by the way, at least he did a few years ago when I caught him and earl (the keyboard player from the Wailers) at a very small concert in Buffalo, it was an experience to say the least, Reggae is best appreciated in a live atmosphere IMHO, there's something about that natural reverb you hear on the skank going through the stadium combined with that bassssssss that raises my hairs.

    Reaggae is what got me into playing bass by the way, it's good music to learn as it's easy and fun, but it's also somwhat uninspiring in it's simplicity. It can get real boring fast if your just practicing at home, but playing a gig is totally different.

  9. Antonio


    Jul 8, 2004
    I forgot to add one thing, and this goes for any style music; one of the best things about my digital cable (comcast) is the music stations that come with it. You have jazz, Latin Jazz (my new favorite :bassist: ) and in your case Reggae. Which of course is almost non existant on the radio. I love it because there are no comercials, you get some album info on the screen while the song plays, and you start to hear music that you normally would'nt have access to. I've even hooked up the cable box's rca outs to my mixers rca ins and recorded hours of music, comercial free, not to mention free (albeit it's not cd quality, more like radio). And no this isn't a plug for cable, and no I don't work for them. Check it out though, it's really cool.

  10. Thats true but UB40s Earl falconer uses his thumb :bassist:
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I saw them live a few times in the 80s and I'm sure he was generally playing fingerstyle - but he may have done it for "effect" at times?

  12. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    I think that style is mainly for the 'effect'. I don't think it actually is the main way to play, but I have heard that, and feel like I have seen it done, many times, but not for the majorite of tunes. Sorry about that.
  13. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    The muted plucking is optional, but it does give you a little more thump and has a more percussive sound. My wife hates this tone, but I love feeling it.

    As far as the reggae style is concerned:

    -Accent the three. Where funk accents the first beat of a 4 beat measure, reggae tends to have the accent on the 3rd beat.

    -The bass is a mostly a melody instrument, and the guitar mostly has a percussive role. Play approriate minor/major melodies that groove. Bass, to me, is the most important instrument in conveying the reggae feel.

    -Feel free to syncopate, and use silence to your advantage.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's a good point - in Reggae, especially Dub - what you leave out is just as important as what you actually play - more space, man!! ;)
  15. slam

    slam Guest

    Mar 22, 2000
    The Cops theme is done by Inner Circle. They are a Jamaican band now based in the US. Their original singer was the great Jacob Miller who is now deceased.

    Reggae is kind of unusual in that there is Jamaican style reggae and then non-Jamaican reggae.

    Jamaican reggae has, with a few exceptions, been music produced in the studios and not by bands. The musicians of Jamaican reggae are only a handful for each instrument and you see the same players on nearly all the albums.

    There are a few Jamaican reggae bands, but most of the reggae played in Jamaica is heard on sound systems, that is DJs, and not by live bands. Usually the bands play for the tourists and the djs are for the locals.

    Jamaican reggae concentates heavily on the singer and most of it is released under the singers name. Also male vocal groups were very popular back in the sixties and early seventies. There are many great reggae singers. Some of them are The Abyssinians, Alton Ellis, Barrington Levy, Buju Banton, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear, Delroy Wilson, Dennis Brown, Freddie MacGregor, Garnet Silk, THe Heptones, Gregory Issacs, Horace Andy, Israel Vibrations, Johnnie Clarke, The Meditations, Peter Tosh, Toots and the Maytals and Yabby You.

    There is also dub reggae which is a remix of a song with instruments dropping in and out and wild effects applied. My favorite is the master King Tubby. Also Scientist is very good. I would recommend listening to dub to learn reggae because the bass lines are even more prominent.

    And there is dj reggae from which rap originated. This style developed on the sound systems when the djs would talk over the records. Somebody thought to put it on record and a new style was born. Some of my favorite djs are U Roy, I Roy, Big Youth and Yellowman.

    Non-Jamaican reggae tends to be almost exclusively produced by bands and not studio musicians. I dont really care for it as much as Jamaican reggae personally, but I know many people who love it. It tends to be a bit slicker than Jamaican reggae. Some of these bands are Steel Pulse and UB40.

    The only way to learn to play reggae is to listen to as much of it as you can. Another funny thing about Jamaican reggae is that they reuse the same rhythms over and over. Some rhythms, or riddims as they are known in Jamaican patois, have been used for hundreds of songs. Ed Friedland's book, Reggae Bass, has a lot of the most popular riddims in it and is a great place to start.
  16. stagger lee

    stagger lee

    Jul 11, 2004
    for timing don't do what most first time reggae bassists do, play the offbeats. the guitarist and drummer (or keyboardist or organist, whichever you have in the band) will take the offbeats. iff the bassline is constantly going all the time it brings out the guitar and keys more.

    this is best used in a dub setting. if you're just playing offbeats in the bass it sounds a bit empty when dropouts are being used and the bass is the only thing left.
  17. Roll off any high oe midrange on your bass and turn up the BASS.
    Also play fingerstyle but right off of the neck.

    De envelope filtah set to de low sensitivity be gibbin' you a MASSIB dub biss tone mon.