Slap in the face! (I can't groove?)

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by count_funkula, Oct 17, 2001.

  1. I just got my feelings hurt at rehersal tonight. :^(

    Our guitar player, joking around, said I couldn't groove. Ouch! That hurts.

    Sad thing is it was true. We were playing a song we have done a million times and our music director decided to jazz it up a little. The drummer, piano player, and guitarist all start grooving along and I'm sitting there stumbling around all over the neck sounding like complete crap. This happens every time we change a song around like that. Why can't I groove on the fly? I can of course learn songs that groove and play them great. I can also write bass lines that groove, given the time. But when I'm looking at those charts I've got nothing. I hate leaving practice feeling all depressed because I stunk.

    What can I do to improve?

    I think I may order "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" and let James Jamerson take me to school.
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    It sounds like what you need to practice is the art of getting a STYLISTIC grasp of different types of music rather than just learning pieces one at a time. Most tunes can be played in just about any style you'd ever want. As you get more experienced, you'll develop ways to recognize the elements which make up each particular style in general; once you have done this, all you have to do is apply these elements to different songs. It takes some time, a lot of work, and a decent knowledge of theory (especially rhythmically), but it can be done. Do you have a teacher?

  3. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Sounds like his guitarist tried to "teach" him -- what an arse!
  4. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    Sounds as though you knew the song already - they just changed the style of the song. If that is the case, you can play the same chords and bassline, just with a different "feel". Listen to the drums, and play with the drums. It's not what notes you play, but how you play the same notes for the same song in a different way. As the feel of the song changes, the drums will change, and thus you as the bass should follow - it's about syncopation and rests.

    Groove is in the heart.
  5. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Get all Les Claypool on 'em (think of Michael J. Fox playing guitar towards the end of Back to the Future).
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...that's exactly right!
    For 'fun', re-invent a 12-bar Blues.
    Take those 12 bars & play 'em in a
    2)Latin vibe(Samba, Bossa, Songo, etc)
    4)Straight "rock" 1/8ths
    5)Hip-Hop Shuffle 1/16ths
    Eventually, you can try 'em in ODD feels...

    Like Durrl has said-
    Most tunes can be interpretted in a multitude of styles. Cross-breed 'em & have some fun.

    If you're baffled, think-
    "What makes a Reggae groove 'feel like a Reggae groove'. Why is Swing a different feel vs. a Shuffle"? Blahblah.
    Get a drum/percussion book & learn/add some rhythms to your vocabulary.
    Get a drum machine & practice differing feels...

    Can you make "Come Together" 'groove' like a Latin bassist?
    Use the same notes(more or less)& apply the 'needed' rhythm. It's fun!
  7. one of most important jobs a bass player has is to groove...

  8. Thanks guys. Don't know why I didn't think of it as more a style issue than a technical problem. Guess thats why I'm a member of this forum.

    I like the idea of trying to play the songs I know in various styles. Sounds fun!
  9. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I think it's great to get knocked down once in a while, as long as you're committed to becoming a better player, and come back punching - which it seems you are. A couple of years ago I got into a group, thought I was playing great, and the drummer told me I was playing everything too much "on top of the beat". I had no clue what she was talking about, but I was determined and learned all about playin all around the beat.

    I think experience will be the best cure for your problem. The more styles of music you learn, the more you'll be able to adapt to different feels.

    What I often do if I cant get the feel of whats going on is stick to the roots, relax, play as simply as possible and wait until the music leads me somewhere. If it doesn't, fine, if it does - then better. Listening is SO important.

    Last note - a friend of mine a long time ago urged me to put on any album and play random notes along with it (unplugged). Just get my fingers moving to the groove and not concern myself with the notes at all - play any nonsense, forget what key the songs in - just get the fingers moving. You just need to make sure te music is louder than the bass so the notes don't get in the way. I used to do this a lot (don't any more), but people have praised me for my ability to pick up on the feel of a song. Maybe it worked?
  10. furtim


    Dec 12, 1999
    Boston, MA, USA
    That's an interesting technique, JN. I like it a lot, actually! I used to do kinda the same thing. Just plug in, put on a song I like, and try my best to play along. It sounded like crap and the neighbours probably hated me, but I have a really natural feel for groove now (I think). Now if only I had the theory to back that groove up with the right NOTES. ;)

    Another thing you might try is learning to dance. Hip-hop, swing, salsa... whatever. Anything but ballroom, really. Take some lessons. Being able to dance, in addition to be a lot of fun and a good way to meet people, will help you internalise the grooves a bit more. If you can think of moving around to the beat while you play, that's great. You might even improve your stage presence at the same time. ;)
  11. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    "You can't learn style from books and theory."

    crap. i forgot who said that.
  12. The radio is good for three things;

    Switching off

    Hearing the news on

    and playing bass to.

    After a while you can kind of slip into the feel of almost any song you hear. The best thing it teaches you is how to listen while you play. If you don't listen, you sound like crap and it's obvious. If you spend more time listening and being suitable than pumping out 32nd notes that are only vaguely in key, then it's good fun.