Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Soloing

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by bearclaw, Apr 2, 2001.


  1. bearclaw

    bearclaw

    Nov 13, 2000
    Dear Steve,

    What has helped you gain accurate intonation with the fretless bass? Do you recommend placing your fingers behind or ahead of the fret to get the precise pitch?

    Also, could you give a little insight on soloing over progressions. Such as the tunes on your solo record. Do you think about particular modes or scales when you solo, or is it an impromptu/improvisational approach? Cheers,

    Joe Burcaw
     
  2. Monkey-T

    Monkey-T

    Jan 24, 2001
    I like to solo, I also have a fretless bass, in fact i have never owned a fretted bass. The best was is learning scales, and really learning them all the way up the neck.
    Last Saturday I did my first pulic preformance, did a solo into/intro for, For whom the bell tolls(metallica), people were coming up to me and saying 'i didn't know you could play like that'. And i did all these little bass things inside the song, sorta hard to explain, watch cliff 'em all to find out, what does this have to do with the topic you ask, well all my soloing was in the scale for for whom the bell tolls so it sounded cool.
     
  3. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    For accurate intonation, the leading edge of the pad of your finger has to be right on the line, or where the line would be if your bass is unlined. So the centre of your finger is going to be slightly behind the line. The best way to work on intonation is to start SLOWLY, very slowly. Play phrases, shapes, scales patterns, wider intervals etc, and as soon as you hit a note that's off, stop, think about how your hand is stretching or pivoting and work on a hand movement that puts you in the right place. Don't just get good at adjusting to playing in tune. That's fine as a last resort if you hit a note slightly off, but we're aiming for not hitting notes off, ultimately, and you won't learn to do that by adjusting... you'll just get very good at playing the second half of every note in tune... :oops:) Has your bass got fret lines? if not, it is possible to play in tune still, but the distribution of your reliance between eyes and ears is different. Ultimately, the ears have the last say, but with fret-lines, you've got a bit of a head start, as far as I can see. (i've had a few students tell me 'I don't need fretlines' and then proceed to play an entire tune without hitting one note in the sweet spot - all of them were just slightly off, but without a visual reference point, their ear just wasn't good enough to tell, until I recorded it and played it back to them.) which is another good point - tape yourself playing!

    I'm very aware of the 'key' that I'm in, and the function of each note within that key over each chord. So for example, 'The Inner Game' which is all in the key of G - no strange chords in that one - I know that over each chord, I can stack all the notes in the key in thirds, giving me a root, third, fifth, seventh, ninth, eleventh and thirteenth for each chord. that way, I can start on any note, and know where I am - I see all the notes not in the key in terms of how they relate to those that are - so Ab is a flat9 against the G, Csharp (no sharp sign on a Mac keyboard??? what's that about????) is the sharp11, Eb is the b13 etc....

    Now that doesn't mean that every time I play a note, I'm thinking about it's name and function - I use that theory to inform my practice, my writing, and freer playing when I'm trying to find something i've not played before - a lot of the time, or most of the time, my ear is recalling things that I've played before, or variations on them, and following those. So although I could tell you what all the notes were and what they did, I'm not actually thinking of that at the time.

    Having something to play over helps. I'm hopefully going to be adding some loops to the page on my website that's just for the people who've got the album (there's a link mentioned on the sleeve - don't say what it is here! :oops:) that way you can download them and play over them, and I'll have them transcribed so that you can record them yourself and have a go.

    As a start point, I would think in terms of 'feeding your ear' - taking a particular key, and starting on each note, play all the intervals that you can reach in one hand position - so from G, you go G, A, G, B, G, C, G, D etc...

    then starting on each note in the key, go up using each of those intervals - up in seconds is just the scale, up in thirds goes G, B, D, fsharp, A, C, E, fourths goes G, C, Fsharp, B, E etc...

    within these shapes, listen for melodic bits that you like. If you think there might be some nice way of resolving a section of it, try and find it. Don't worry about getting sidetracked into making music - follow your creativity. You can always come back and finish the exercise, but if you hear a line forming, find the rest of it.

    there's so much to be found playing inside that it's not really worth me touching on playing outside. But I would stress that I think it's important to think in terms of the notes in a key and how they relate to the chords, rather than just in terms of scales and modes. Scale/Mode thinking tends to breed fairly predicatable, linear playing, that sounds like people playing scales and modes. There's nothing wrong with playing the notes of a scale one after the other, if that's genuinely what you're hearing. but if that's all you're hearing, or you're just playing by one or two patterns, it's going to get pretty tired pretty quick.

    ...oh, and then there's pentatonic stuff, which is a whole other way of approaching melodic playing, but see how you get on with that lot, and then get back to me! :oops:)

    have fun

    steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  4. bearclaw

    bearclaw

    Nov 13, 2000
    Thanks for the insight Steve. I'll take what you said into consideration and practice my tail off!

    Have you ever heard of the Guitar Summer Workshop? It would be ideal having you come to the States to teach for a couple of weeks. One of the satellite locations is in my hometown of New Milford Ct. Cheers,

    Joe
     
  5. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Joe,

    i'd love to teach on the Guitar Summer Workshop - if you or anyone else knows anyone involved with GSW wants to pass on my e-mail address to them, that'd be great! Same goes for gigs...

    cheers

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  6. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Hey Steve,

    Ever consider playing in Pennsylvania? Cuz that's where I live. What kind of setting/s do you play at? Cafe's, etc.?

    I'd love to see ya live.

    Cheers,

    ~Stephanie
     
  7. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    I'd love to come and play in Pensylvania (but not until I learn how to spell it... :oops:) - the problem with gigs like that is that I'd have to line up quite a few dates to make it worthwhile and I don't have a US agent or anything like that, so when I do come over, I have to line up the gigs one at a time, via friends, recommendations and venues that have shown an interest in the past. So playing in California is easy to sort out, cos i know a lot of people there and have sold a load of albums there so I know i have an audience. For a venue in Pensyl... whatever, it would be quite a big risk to fork out $$$ to fly me over from the UK. If I could line up a tour round the area, or even a sequence of gigs that took me from one place to another, even if some of the distances were quite long, it would be worth doing.

    the best situation for me would be for an agent to line up a tour, or to book up a series of festival appearances, or perhaps ideally, to get a support slot with a 'known' act...

    As radio airplay continues to build for me in the US, and more people get the CD, I've got more chance of getting gigs, but it's difficult to sort these things out if you run your own record label, and don't have a well connected management. So the whole process will take a lot longer cos there's no hype available, but if people like what I do, then hopefully word of mouth and magazine interviews and radio airplay will build up and it'll get to the place where I get people calling me to come and play gigs thousands of miles away... :oops:)

    what does help, to be honest, is when people who like what I do (same goes for any other independent artist) is that they contact radio shows that play that kind of stuff, and e-mail magazine editors to request interviews with me, and play my album to their friends and encourage them to get it. i just don't have the time or the ego to spend days faking letters to radio shows saying how great I am and that they should play my album all the time... :oops:)

    I'm very grateful for the support and encouragement that I get from talkbass.com, both from Paul who runs the site, and everyone who comes here for a chat. thanks, Steph, for all your questions and feedback. I hope that the answers to the questions prove helpful.

    cheers

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk (CD orderable here)
     
  8. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Hey Steve,

    LOL. I guess being naive (is that the word?) I didn't really realize how complicated bookings and such are. So what kind of stations play your music? We have a station here: WVIA that plays mixed stuff: New Age, Classical, Jazz, etc. It's one of those public supported stations.

    Anyway, ya know I completely forgot to mention the whole subject of this thread in my last post. (Where is my mind?). I wanted to say about your tips on soloing. I like the idea of working with intervals and I was fiddling with that concept tonight..and just listened..and felt...for the right interval to match my mood and what sounded right and what-not.

    And what's this about pentatonic scales? I think I've only heard of one (Am I think it is).

    Cheers,

    ~Stephanie
     
  9. bearclaw

    bearclaw

    Nov 13, 2000
    Hi Steve,

    I just wanted to make sure you received my e-mail from the other day? I submitted the web addy concerning the Guitar Summer Workshop. In case you never got it, here it is:(www.guitarworkshop.com)

    Let me know if you're interested and I'll try to help you get "over the pond" to Connecticut. Cheers,

    Joe
     
  10. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    That sounds like the kind of station where my stuff might get played. If you have a website address for them, that would be great, then I can get in touch and hopefully send them a CD. I don't think it's naive to not know about all that booking stuff - it is really complicated, and I'm not particularly good at it - hence the reason I don't often get to gig in the US, despite most of my CD sales being there... I just don't have a strong head for business and schmoozing - I do what I can, and am reasonably creative with things like doing my own artwork, and anything that involves the net (I fairly regularly do a search for new radio stations and review sites that may like what I do, and then contact them - it'd be great if i could afford a plugger, but with my music not really fitting into one category, it would be difficult to find an easy format for it, and with that is the added difficulty of having airplay royalties collected on little stations...) it's hard work, but I'm in no hurry. For me, it's more important that I enjoy what I'm doing, and that I get to play with and meet interesting people than it is that I end up in mags, or doing big tours. Either of those would be nice, and I'm grateful for the press that I've received, but I'm not about to start slapping and tapping like a madman just to try and get more bass mag coverage... :oops:)

    Oops, sorry for the rant - that wasn't what you asked about really was it? :oops:)

    It's been really god for me watching (albeit in print, without hearing you) the development of your understanding of where you're going as a bassist - please keep posting the updates on what you're working on!

    There are loads of pentatonic scales - pentatonic just means 'five notes', so there are loads if you work out all the possibilities... the two most common ones are maajor and minor -

    major is root, 2nd, Maj3rd, 5th, 6th and octave,

    minor is root min3rd, 4th 5th, min7th and octave - both give you an easy in to finding shapes, notes and melodic ideas that work against major and minor chords... there are obvious exceptions - like augmented and diminished chords, or minMaj7 chords, but don't worry about those for now! :oops:)

    have fun,

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  11. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Thanks Steve!

    I had a burst of creativity or something the other night. I went to see my bass teacher's senior recital (He's gonna be graduating from college with a degree in Music). I went there expecting it to be all different students...from what I recall of my own past recitals when I played the violin.

    Well, I got there and looked at the program and noticed it was just him! I was like WOW! Solo! Yes! (With backup musicians of course, tho). It was wonderful. I never saw him perform before and I was blown away. I know he's in a band but I was just thinking how awesome he'd be if sometime he'd make a solo album. As a matter of fact the other week at a lesson he played some Jaco for me and explained who he was..HAHA I got him when I said I knew who he was. LOL.

    Anyway, I got home and just had to put my good feelings to use. I practiced till my fingers hurt. LOL. And I've been getting more ideas for songs...actually lately I've been getting some ideas from classical compostions. (I'm a Mozart fan).

    Had a good lesson yesterday. He told me I was doing good work and he's seeing a lot of improvments. He kept complimenting me...man was I blushing! :D LOL

    Well, just wanted to share that.

    Cheers,

    -Stephanie

    PS: I'll try to find a website or email addy for that radio station I mentioned for you. :)
     
  12. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Stephanie,

    that all sounds great - I'm really glad that your teacher is inspiring you as well as showing you technical stuff - it's all good! :oops:)

    thanks for the web address too...

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  13. stephanie

    stephanie

    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Steve,

    Your welcome for the web addy! :) I hope you find what you're looking for...lol..like an email address, right? Cuz I couldn't find one on the site, can you believe it?

    Anyway, yeah, I do like my teacher's method of instruction. He's always saying though about being in a band and stuff. I know it's important to play with other ppl. LOL. He's also leaning a LOT towards blues and jazz...perhaps because that's the kind of music he plays?? LOL. All the improvisation he's made me do has been blues (this week it's the Bb7 blues! HA HA..with a ii V I progression.)

    One other happy thing is I'm finally learning how to play scales up to 2 octaves. I find that a lot of fun and it's helping me learn notes up (or is it down? I'm bad at directions. LOL) the fingerboard. Especially because when I'm just fiddling around trying to write stuff I find myself playing up around the 9th-12th frets or so.

    Let me know how you make out with that radio station. Any questions, let me know. :)

    Cheers,

    -Stephanie