sitting and playing by yourself

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Wes I AM, Jan 3, 2001.

  1. Wes I AM

    Wes I AM

    May 27, 2000
    Tampa, FL
    hey. it seems like my head is so full of songs (mostly by other people) and other junk that i find it hard to just sit alone in my house and come up with cool sounding hip-hop/jazzy grooves. anyone else have this problem? maybe i'm just not that creative or something. playing is a hell of a lot easier than writing for me. anyone have comments?
  2. noise

    noise Guest

    Oct 23, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    Same here. I think that in my case, I don't sit down often enough and concentrate. I think that if I practiced a good deal more, ideas would flow with greater ease. I'm far too unfamiliar with my instrument(s, this applies to non-bass gear as well...).

  3. I can come up with stuff on my own, but it is more fun with the band. I'll get a bassline going, get the drummer to lock, give the keyboard guy a chance to figure it out ... then the fun begins ...

  4. I play with myself all the time. I mean by myself.

    Get a drum machine. Without it, I usually end up with what I call Bass Babble. But with a drum machine, I can play by myself, and come up with lots of cool stuff.
  5. Get yourself a cheap drum machine. It's really helpful IMHO to learn to play/groove over different patterns. Plus, you get to practice in time! Much more fun than playing along with the stereo.
  6. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I had this same problem. I would get stuck in this rut and feel like I'm not coming up with anything creative. In all honesty, I think an excellent tool to add to your practise, is practising melodies. I used to play trumpet also, so I use a couple of conservatory method books for trumpet. I have a book of Miles Davis solos that I'm learning on bass. I also have a Coltrane solo book that I'm studying as well. It's really opened up a lot of different ideas in my head, and gives a good understanding of how melody works in a song.
  7. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I like the drum macine idea for getting familiar with different groove structures, too.
    So you like Hip-Hop grooves? I noticed a Hip-Hop drum book at MARS last week. As far as getting "creative" & writing your own can program one of the grooves into the machine & learn the KICK drum part, put some notes to it, & groove it death. Then, you can learn, maybe the snare part & play that; then do both together; then start adding/subtracting notes as YOU feel it; try playing ONLY on beats 1 & 2; then try playing ONLY on beats 3 & 4; then you can start displacing notes(such as playing the kick drum pattern BUT STARTING ON THE "& OF BEAT 1" while the machine starts on "1"); then maybe making a 4/4 bar into a 5/4 bar...or into a 3/4 bar. Or making a 1-bar phrase into a 2-bar phrase; etc Later, you can try playing in doubletime to the "straight time" drum beat; then try playing a bassline in 1/2 time to the same beat, on & on & on.
    As you see, a little thing like programming a simple 1-bar drum beat can yield a lotta little things to work on(& it doesn't have to be an expensive machine, either; mine is a dinosaur, a DR-550 Dr. Rhythm).

    ...I like your idea, too. Horn players are the S*** when it comes to phrasing! :D
  8. Wes I AM

    Wes I AM

    May 27, 2000
    Tampa, FL
    hey thanks a bunch you guys. i have wanted to get a drum machine for a while now since my drummer isnt always around and i wouldnt have to depend on anyone. i dont know what half of the stuff you said means JimK but i understand what you're saying bro.

    PS. just cuz i said thanks, that doesn't mean i want you guys to stop commenting. its not just my thread!!
  9. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    To clarify somethin' I mentioned about ONLY playing on beats 1 & 2...then 3 & 4. Of course, I didn't mean SOLELY on beats 1 & 2/3 & 4, but all their subdivisions(DUH!).
    /1e&a2e&a3e&a4e&a/=4/4; all 4 beats in 1/16 note subdivisions.

    So, an example of playing around "only" on 1 & 2 MAY be-
    /1..a.e&........./ or Play "1"; "a of 1"; "e of 2"; "& of 2"
    /.e&a..&........./ or play "e of 1"; "& of 1"; "a of 1"; "& of 2".
    See, beats 3 & 4, YOU lay out.

    Then try playin' around with beats 3 & 4; or even beats 2 & 3.
  10. Wes I AM

    Wes I AM

    May 27, 2000
    Tampa, FL
    i think my problema was just thinkin too darn hard ya know? i sat down tonight and just plyed and came up with a great soundin' jazzy groove no prob. thanks guys. and keep discussing this frustrating issue! laters
  11. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    I just got some great advise to record myself playing in time with no specific chord changes for about fifteen minutes every day. Then to listen to it back the next day (important to sleep on it) and write down on paper the best ideas and then compose a piece of music based on that. Even if you don't write them down or compose pieces this will work to glean out the good creative stuff you're playing right now (and you are) from the crap. Doing this for the last three weeks or so has noticeable changed my playing and probably my life. No sh*t.
  12. virtual.ray


    Oct 25, 2000
    Some of the older machines are really cool and can be had for little money.I found a Roland R-70 last month for $99.95 with the Manual and Wall Wart.It's got a cool feature in line with the above discussion that's called Song Expert.You choose from approx. 10 styles,specify the "feel" and # of measures,and it "creates" a song for you that you can jam with and even save to the internal memory if you really like it.A way cool box for kickin'around,although some of the samples are a little dated sounding.
  13. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...sorry for goin' off like that; first off, what I mean by DISPLACING a rhythm-
    A simple bass figure like this:/1..&3&.&/1..&3&.&/ etc
    That means play on "1"; "& of 2"; "3"; "& of 3"; "& of 4".
    (You supply the notes)
    Now, DISPLACING that figure by an 1/8 note=
    /.&..3&4./1&..3&4./1& etc
    See, everything is shifted(displaced)to the right by an 1/8 note. The figure no longer begins on Beat "1" in bar 1; the figure now begins on the "& of 1" in bar 1. Now, if this is played against the straight drum part, a push/pull/tug feel may result. If you're not used to counting(or not yet comfortable with it)...get on with it! Take it from a guy that has had the rug pulled out from under him on a few occasions. A drummer with advanced skills/knowledge MAY "move" stuff around & if you're just playin' along with him, going with the flow, not thinking or counting...KKKKRRRRAAAASSSHHHH!

    Making a 4/4 bar into a 5/4 bar-
    Something simple(just to give you an idea)-
    /1_..3&../=4/4 Play on "1"; "3"; "& of 3".
    Change the note durations; in the above example, Beat "1" is a 1/4 note; the other 2 notes are 1/8 notes.
    Now, change Beats "3" and "& of 3" to a dotted 1/4; that becomes-
    /1_..3__&__/=5/4 Play on "1"; "3"; "& of 4".
    Do you see how beat 3 is now "longer"? And how Ex.1's "& of 3" hadda be moved to "& of 4" because of that?

    Anyway, that's the sorta stuff I try when I'm in rut-mode.
  14. Jeffbonny's post (above) is one of the best replies I've seen in a while. There is absolutely nothing on this earth as valuable as taping yourself and listening to it. It is also the most disheartening thing, but ya gotta do it if you're serious about getting better.
  15. What I'd like to throw in here is to have some way of recording yourself IMMEDIATELY available! So many of the best ideas are lost because you can't remember that cool line you came up with yesterday....
  16. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Absolutely. I sprung for a portable minidisk and a decent mic. Very portable, easy to use and the sound is better than good. Steve Lawson actually recorded his solo cd with a system like this. Well worth the $$$.
  17. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999

    ...write 'em out! Pencil & notation paper is still a Helluva lot cheaper than a 4-track or some mini-disc recorder. If ya can't write out what you play...???
    In fact, even in the car, I have pencil/paper ready just in case(God forbid)I hear some cool figure bein' played on the radio.
  18. Writing is good..but I prefer to jot down my idea at the time on my dig. studio so I can capture the "attitude" of the riff.