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root 5

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by ImaStupidBaby, Oct 6, 2006.

  1. i've heard people around here talk about bassists who only play the root/fifth in a somewhat disparaging manner.

    why is this looked down upon?
  2. Probably because it's often seen as "the easiest way to go".

    Maybe. I dunno.
  3. yeah, but if the song is already complex, why muck things up with an overly complicated bass line?

    i'm talking about rock and pop mostly here.
  4. The way I see this, if the song is complex, to mock it up would be to make an overly simple bass line, not the opposite.
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Root 5 worked for Ray Brown, it'll work for me.
  6. DaemonBass


    Mar 29, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    The root/5th. The basics of any bassline. No flavour. Of course there is nothing wrong with playing roots and fifths, but personally I'd rather hear something a little less traditional myself.
  7. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Inactive

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    Because my bass only has 2 notes on it.
  8. jomahu


    Dec 15, 2004
    Bos, MA
    and alot of reggae. and i love reggae!

    i admit, it's my fallback when i play, but...hey, if that's what needs to happen, i'll at least try to vary my right hand rhythm.
  9. KPJ


    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    No flavor? It depends on how the root-5th is played. There are multiple rhthmic variations and different ways to play root-fifth. Challenge yourself and see the variety that you can get from two notes. I've heard and played lots of non-traditional things with just two notes.
  10. butterfingers9


    Sep 6, 2006
    It's a matter of playing what fits. Some players look down upon Root fifth because a it's an easy way out. If it works go for it. Think James Jamerson. He worked around a root fifth pattern and as the song progressed he introduced some passing tones and octaves to give his lines more flavor and movement. Remember Music is an art. It's not about playing like Vic or Jaco, heck its not even about playing meat and potatoes bass as a lot of guys will tell you. Its about personal expression. The challenge is fitting it into a band context. Once you know how to do it you'll be making your own artistic statements.
  11. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    +1 ... well said ... it leaves a lot of room to expand as the song progresses also ... it also depends a LOT on the drummers style ... if he is more flashy with a lot of fills, you can get away with a lot more, IF you can stay locked in with him/her ... the important thing here, IS to get and stay locked in, and withing the song/bands context ... some of the best drummers and bass players I have heard used a lot of 1-5 and then an octave for emphasis ... they were obviously capable of a lot more, but nothing locked better, simple fills and lead ins were used at a minimum ...
  12. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    Ignore those comments.

    Root 5 is very important in many styles. Playing simply, tastefully, and with space is overlooked by many. Lots of players underestimate the importance of the plucking/fingering/picking hand technique, which IMO/E is really where it's at.
    Yes, you need to know the notes and such, but the rhythm is almost more important than the notes. Try a 1-5 samba at 150 BPM...
  13. Well if you don't play 1-5 in a samba line you are going to get fired from the gig. Even Jaco with his patented fast samba groove ala Invitation is based around 1-5 with some cool variations.
  14. Swimming Bird

    Swimming Bird

    Apr 18, 2006
    Wheaton MD
    A root 5 bass player is exactly the same as a guitarist who only plays power chords. You can get away with it, but it's lazy and it leads to less interesting music.
  15. It's funny that the more experienced players are convinced of the importance of keeping it simple and the younger players think it's boring. I'll admit that when I first started trolling around this site I would have agreed with the "it's boring and lazy" comments. Now after more than a year of taking the ideas I get from this site and applying them at every chance I get I agree that space and simplicity can sound just as good and probably better than the complex lines.

    I've noticed a lot of people on here don't care for Vic's playing and when he's just seeing how fast he can play I can understand why. But on his instructional stuff he talks about how you should be able to play a simple scale in any style and make people bob their heads. It just goes to show you that it doesn't matter what notes you play it matters the amount of expression and groove you put into it.
  16. Swimming Bird

    Swimming Bird

    Apr 18, 2006
    Wheaton MD
    I acknowledge that I'm a younger player, but I hope that age and experiance won't turn me into a boring and lazy player.

    Root 5 bass lines are boring and lazy, but not because they're simple. Simple is fine; keeping it simple keeps songs from getting muddy and can add more to a song than an intricate part and all that is obvious.

    That said, a simple bass line doesn't have to be a stupid one -- it can add to a song harmonically as well as rhythmically. A root 5 bass line adds nothing harmonically because it works for almost every song as pretty much every western scale has a perfect fifth. Any other intervol would provide more emotion and musicality to a line as any of them can harmonize with a chord or be dissonent. Choosing the 5th is backing out of that decission; it doesn't really hurt the song, but it adds nothing. If you're going to play root 5 you might as well just jam on the root or thwack the string in time, it has the same impact on the song.

    Case in point, let's look at bebop and other hard jazz. Most of the famous swinging bass lines are straight quarter- or eighth-notes, which I think we can all agree is pretty simple. What makes these lines sound good and interesting (not to mention difficult to play) is how they add to the overall sound. Notice that for several chords at a time (and chord changes do come fast in this type of music) a bassist may not hit the root, let alone the fifth. They instead imply the whole chord by playing select, meaningful notes in the scant few beats they have AND transition to the next chord.

    If you're gonna just groove and abandon all harmonic/melodic responsibilities, you should go pick up drums. The wonderful thing about bass is its dual role of rhythm and melody and to not use both is a disservice to the instrument, let alone the song and the band. Vic's right though, take a simple scale and groove, but he didn't say two notes make up a scale.
  17. I whole heartedly agree. Everything you said is true I just know that it's easy to forget that the importance of playing what will best fit the song. A lot of times what sounds best just happens to be a simpler bass line. One should always play what sounds best whether that's simple or complex. There is a time and a place for both.

  18. Agreed! +1
  19. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    Also, dont forget ... R-5 doesnt mean you have to sit in the first position and thump ... adding simple scale lead ins can dramaticly contribute to the substance of a particular song ... the tension created (or released) can be what makes the other band members work effective ... now you toss in tasteful slides, and some mid/upper neck work, and you can have one very busy/full bass contribution ... and most wont even realize your bass line is just R-5 ... I find it anything BUT boring and lazy to try to create the mood/groove for a song playing less notes ... in fact I often create a bass part, then start to toss things out in attempt to make it more 'groove recognizable' ... quite often, as the part simplifies, its impact increases ...
  20. Basso54


    Jul 22, 2003
    Dalhart, TX
    It's all a matter of taste. Sometimes the root-5th is the best thing for the song, sometimes it's dull and needs something more. Sometimes you gotta step back and realize that a song isn't based solely around YOU, and that there are other musicians around, and that the sum of the parts is what you want to sound GREAT.
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