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Repetitive lines that repeat repetitiously

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by larrysb, May 28, 2020.


  1. larrysb

    larrysb

    Mar 23, 2020
    $ilicon Valley
    Sometimes, you're signed up to play something with a distinctive bass line, which doesn't lend well to improvisation, that repeats, repeats, repeats, repetitiously.

    How to deal with it and not go bonkers?

    A good example might be Doors, Riders on the Storm.

    It was I'm pretty sure, a Rhodes key-bass line. Not hard to play at all. But the main riff just repeats and repeats. Then there are the extended keyboard solos and the inevitable 28-minute long guitar wankfest. Even if the band is pretty disciplined and sticks with the "as-recorded" song, there's still a lot of da-da-di-da-da-duh-da.... over and over stuff, without a lot of "re-centering" cues if one wanders off the charted bass line.

    Thing is it sounds tight, played right.

    But my mind starts to wandering about stimulating topics, such as "what thread size is a garden hose anyway? Why is it called a thread? If I don't have a garden, is it still a garden hose if used only to wash a car?" and of course eventually, "uh, what beat are we on?"
     
  2. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    If so inclined, it's a good moment to practice singing and playing. You can whisper distinctly while playing, provided you don't have a mic in front of you.
    If the song gives freemdom, you can also backsing.
     
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Ostinato....
    Knock knock
    Who's there?
    Knock knock
    Who's there?
    Knock knock
    Who's there?
    Knock knock
    Who's there?
    Knock knock
    Who's there?
    Knock knock
    Who's there?
    Knock knock
    Who's there?
    Knock knock
    Who's there?
    Philip Glass
     
  4. BassChuck

    BassChuck Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Cincinnati
    Shotgun.
    Stand By Me.
     
  5. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    S. Texas Hill Country
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    In the 80's I had a Top-40 cover band in El Lay and we had a gig in Santa Ana at a fashion show. We were very lucky to have a black lead singer who just excelled covering Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and, of course, Michael Jackson. We sound checked with Billy Jean and the host asked us to play that song during the actual show. Talk about repetitive, almost 1 1/2 hours of Billy Jean. Fortunately I had a great keyboard player who could do a pretty good job with the bass part while I gave my left had a rest every twenty minutes or so.
    And the venue was upstairs. Both ways!
     
  6. mike57

    mike57

    Feb 12, 2009
    Our Fair City, MA
    Set your looper.

    Go get a beer.
     
    pcake, Claymore, emoterply and 14 others like this.
  7. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Paul S. Denneman is one of my favorite players.

    A great teacher once told me something to the effect of "If you're not happy playing something simple and repetitive, you might be playing the wrong instrument." He also then proceeded to show me I wasn't doing it as consistently and accurately as I thought. It was an invaluable lesson.
     
    kobass, Kubicki Fan, murphy and 38 others like this.
  8. arbiterusa

    arbiterusa

    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    OP, you got me in one. My band was doing this one. Big crowd pleaser, can't understand why, I freakin' hate the song (and the band), on top of it being a repetitive snoozefest. But, you gotta give the people what they want.

    It's a song I have to be careful with, most bars we play in have TVs running and I'll end up VERY OBVIOUSLY watching whatever sporting event is up on the tube if I don't constantly keep in mind that doing that looks REALLY BAD to an audience.

    How to not go bonkers? Well, keep in mind that someday, the song ends. And I always try to keep the big picture in mind; even if I'm playing that POS song, hey, I'm not at my day job dealing with staggeringly inept computer users, so I'm still winning at life.
     
  9. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    "I'll Take You There." Without that solo, it's ponderous, man. Also sounds thin-gruel-terrible in an instrumental trio setting, trust me on this. (Which, upon reflection, probably explains my response.)
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2020
  10. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Get over yourself and listen to the other stuff that's going on in the song.
     
  11. Pat Harris

    Pat Harris Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2006
    Austin, TX
    I think there's something really cool and fun about digging into a very repetitive line and making it groove for an extended period of time. I think it's more difficult than people think, and when the band is really grooving, it can get pretty Zen.

    Tony Markellis is a monster in this department. You don't have to be a fan of Trey Anastasio's solo material itself to appreciate the power of that rhythm section, and it works because Tony is by and large repeating a one bar phrase.

    Somebody at some point has to "stay home and guard the fort" if that's what works for the song.
     
  12. Jeff Hughes

    Jeff Hughes

    May 3, 2020
    Use the repetition as a way to meditate and not think about other things. Make it like a mantra. Think about and get inside every motion you are making from right to left hand breathing in and breathing out. Imagine you are watching a slow motion video of you playing the rep until you understand every millisecond of the entire process. Think about where the notes are landing inside of every beat.

    Boom. The song is done.
     
    MattZilla, murphy, DaDo625 and 7 others like this.
  13. Surrender to the groove. Lose yourself to going deeper and deeper into the timing, the lock, the spaces.

    Of course it helps if the line is funkier than the one in Riders. But you have to get the trance happening, then everyone can feel it.
     
  14. Like the owner of the local Ibanez/Fender/PRS shop calls it, human metronome, LOL!
    It has put me right off a lot of bands I used to enjoy: The Misfits, AC/DC, Rob Zombie
    I love their songs, but those bass-lines are monotonous!

    Here's one:

     
  15. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    I actually enjoy repetitive bass lines. As stated above, it’s harder than it looks.
    Neil Young’s Cowgirl in the Sand is a good example. Although, there’s a little room for tasteful improvisation.
     
  16. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, chaat enthusiast Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    Well that's why I don't play rock.:cool:

    To be fair a lot of R&B and soul can be repetitive, too, but at least it swings.
     
  17. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Maybe you’re more of a guitarist at heart?
     
    Guitalia likes this.
  18. Right now I'm struggling to find bass-lines that give me joy, & there are SO many boring ones to sift through.
    I've been down the guitar road too many times, in just months I will have sold it in disgust.

    I might switch to reading as my hobby. I read now, but I have so many books that I could read for a long time & still not finish them all.
     
    juancaminos likes this.
  19. dougjwray

    dougjwray

    Jul 20, 2005
    OK, I'm going to get tough now... :eyebrow:
    Learn to concentrate!
    That's how the song goes! Play it the way it's supposed to be played and learn to like it!

    (All kinds of things about music are challenging... rise to the occasion!)
     
  20. lfmn16

    lfmn16

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I think most people on TB would be unpleasantly surprised if they actually recorded themselves and listened back. I record myself practicing several times a week. It keeps me humble and honest.

    To the OP - I try to make every note exactly like the last and perfectly placed. It helps if you're working with a drummer that want's to lock in as tightly as possible.
     

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