Should you only play Rhythmically or Venture also to More Melodic Playing?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by overclockerd, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. Tight Rhythm Section

  2. Innovative Melodic Playing

  3. A Combination of Both

  1. overclockerd


    May 10, 2012
    Good afternoon lads!

    The last few months i have been thinking of how a Musician should approach Bass playing in a band setting. As you might suspect this lead me to a "crossroad", should we Bass players focus only in providing a thick bottom end and create a strong Rhythm section or should we also attempt to fill a spot on the Melodic section of the band, thus challenging the art of Bass playing and innovating? The dilemma arises due to the fact that by following the second road, i feel like we are somewhat neglecting creating a strong foundation for the Band. In my case specifically, i am currently rocking a 4 String P Bass and a 5 String Fretless Bass and whenever i want to play i mostly gravitate into playing Fretless. After reading the popular thread "Confessions of a Flatwound Convert" it got me thinking...should i put down the Fretless in a band setting, put flats in my P Bass and focus solely in providing a tight Rhythm section? Is it selfish to try something more melodic in the context of a Band setting? What is your take on this?

    Thanks in advance and sorry for the long post!
    Wulfensteiner likes this.
  2. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    I try to be cognizant of the situation I'm playing in. As the bassist, playing tight rhythmically and working with the drummer to create a solid platform is priority one but where the song allows me to stretch out and add flavor I will. I like to be creative but not at the cost of the song.
  3. The song dictates what is needed. We have a skilled drummer so I can count on him to lay down the foundation. 90% of the time I'm following his kick and working toward a groove we can fall into.

    About 10% of the time I can leave the beat to him and venture into something more melodic. More melodic is more fun, but, someone has to maintain the beat.
  4. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    nobody doesn't do both...unless they can't.
    saabfender, lfmn16, Kro and 5 others like this.
  5. Wulfensteiner

    Wulfensteiner Inactive

    Mar 24, 2018
    Melbourne, Australia
    I chose a combination of both since there was no option pertaining to carrots :D

    You can be melodic AND hold up your end of the bargain at the same time, and have a bunch of fun doing it. BUT the song should dictate the choices you make, not your 'What would Flea do?' wristband :D
    saabfender, Reedt2000 and JRA like this.
  6. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    HAS to be both. Our job us two-fold, and I ain't a drummer. We MUST both define the harmony AND connect the purely rhythmic part of the music to the melodic/harmonic part. To eschew one in favor of the other denigrated the music.
    mambo4, ak56, Reedt2000 and 2 others like this.
  7. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    Well said :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  8. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    A good player knows how and WHEN to do both.

    It is a decision that must be made for each section of each song, and depends greatly on which other instruments you're playing with.

    I used to play with a singer-songwriter, doing his original songs. Over the course of a year, we did the same two sets as a duo with him playing nylon string guitar, as a trio adding a percussionist, as a 4 piece with a drummer and an electric guitar player, and as a 5 piece with a drummer, keyboard player and violinist/backup singer. Each time I had to re-calculate the rhythm/melody equation for every song, sometimes on the fly because we didn't have the chance to rehearse with all the players before going on stage.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
    MuffledBoomy and hrodbert696 like this.
  9. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    I'm listening to a "mesmerizingly-infectious" track,
    "Will 'O The Wisp" with Dave Holland, Mino Cinelu, Kevin Eubanks.

    Could anyone help me to decide if the bass line (Dave Holland) is rhythmic OR melodic?
    Or it's just Dave Holland?

    The bass starts around 1:16.

    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
    JimK likes this.
  10. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Whew...that was a workout!'s just Dave Holland being a bad ass (along with Eubanks & Cinelu. Nice to hear Eubanks stretching out his chops).

    World Music, Worldbeat...(whatever tag or label is used for this genre) is very rhythmic/ethnic.
    The melodic component is something for us in the West; makes it more relatable?
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  11. SteveCS


    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah - very nice, but I'll pass on the question. If you like that type of thing you should check out Danny Thompson's Whatever...
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  12. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    It’s a rhetorical question.
    You and I know the answer.
    SteveCS likes this.
  13. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    I have never ever had any questions about any comping(!) bass line.
    It was always a synthesis of rhythmo-harmonic-melodic notes dynamically-articulated to match the appropriate music genre/style, the specific composer’s /arranger’s requirement/s for this/that song, and “seasoned” with a bass player’s idiosyncratic vision/ embellishment/s.
    With emphasis on Rhythmo
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...I do not disagree.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  15. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    But why?:roflmao:
    Usually, my dear TB members tend to disagree with my lame comments.;)
    smeet likes this.
  16. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    You're one of the main reasons I'm still here...
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  17. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I'm for a combination of both but am mostly keyed in on having a tight rhythm section. I'm not a fan of overplaying. Or being overly creative because of boredom and such.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  18. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    A good example of both is Motown. Basslines written specifically melodic but in the pocket. More melodic would be What's Going On. Totally outside the groove. Leon Sylvers also wrote songs with melodic but grooving basslines.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  19. bass12

    bass12 Have You Met Grace Jones? Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Depends on the context (song, style of music, who you're playing with, who you are playing for). Different band leaders have different tastes. I've played with guys who want me to fill up space and like it when I stretch out more. I've also played with guys who don't want to hear anything other than what pretty much amounts to the bare minimum. On reggae gigs it's generally expected that the bassist keep things tight and not meander much (if at all). With certain other styles it's typically accepted that the bass will be less static. It really depends on the circumstances.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  20. MuffledBoomy

    MuffledBoomy Guest

    Apr 19, 2017
    Best melodies are rhythmic intrinsically. Focus on rhythm improves my melody.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.