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Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by God_of_bass, Nov 27, 2002.

  1. Hello,
    I have my scales down, in every key including the major modes and some of the melodic minor modes(Ah!).
    I have been trying to expand my soloing, so it doesn't sound so much like scales but actual music. I have read a few articles, including the 'interval number system' used by Jaco and Adam Nitti. But i am stuck, it helps, but i need more exotic tones, a total musical mind shift to be honest, any help?
    My Teacher is off school for Christmass(!) so i can't reach him, please, any of the pros what help can you give me?
  2. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    By asking for a pro response in general forums you've severely cut your chances of an answer.

    So here's an amateur response

    get your self some means of recording your playing. Lay down a backing track of some sort. Forget scales, theory, shut your eyes and play. Now play back what you recorded and analyse it. What was good bad indifferent?. How does your solo make you feel? Does that feeling match what you felt when you played it? How can you improve?

    Do you want to make structured solos or improvise or use structure to start and finish? Where did the solo go or did it limp off? Now go back two paragraphs and do the solo again. Was it better? Why?

    Music is emotional. Expressing yourself by soloing should convey that emotion. Listen to music by Michael Manring. Forget the awesome technique-what do you feel?
  3. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    The only thing I can say is TRANSCRIBE!

    ALL of the good improvisers have copied licks, and whole solos of their heroes. Pick a player you dig, and a solo of theirs that you dig, that isn't TOO hard (stay away from 'trane for now). And at your own tempo pick the solo of the tune by ear. Go note for note at first. Make sure you try to play everything EXACTLY as it is off the record. Especially dynamics (soft/hard) as well as phrasing (legato/staccato etc.).

    It's definately a good idea to play something not bass, like a guitar solo or trumpet or whatever.

    If you know notation you can write it down and analyze it, which of course is even better, but if not you can just get in your hands and learn to play it.

    Transcribing is extremly important and it I'm pretty sure it is one the best way to go if you want to get your own solo ability down... that along with working on a lot of other sh*t as well..

  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I don't understand this - why do you need more exotic tones - what exactly do you mean by this?

    What is your overall aim? I mean if you want to play "Eastern" music, Indian scales etc then it might be possible to suggest sources?

    But I think you have to have an objective in mind and a focus for learning - what exactly are you trying to do/play?

    If you don't apply things you have learnt, then they will probably always just sound like scales/exercises.
  5. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    But if you want "exotic tones" listen to Michael Manring. Do what he does; play in really odd tunings. Or play with two basses at the same time. Or play with an E-Bow or a big slide normally used on guitar.

    Try different strings than you regularly use. If you play with roundwounds, try flatwounds. Or change guages; go lighter or heavier.

    Or do string bending or practice tapping or study harmonics and artificial harmonics or buy a bass processor and play with such things as a wah, various kinds of distortion or any of the many effects it offers.

    Or use different equlaization or try compression if you haven't. Or if you play with a heavy touch, try a light touch. Try a pick if you never have.

    Good luck. Let us know what you are doing.
  6. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Those things are fun to toy around with n all. But if what he wants is a more "exotic" vocabulary to use when soloing you need to go deeper IMO. You've got to study how notes sound against chords and have a good sense of what you're thinking in your head is gonne sound like on the bass.

    I think working with transcribition, melody vs harmony and training your ear is the only way to get a serious soloing vocubalulary.... I mean, he could plug in all sorts of out notes , and it could sound good... on the other hand it probably will just sound like crap.

    just my opinion,
  7. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I think a good solo starts with intimate knowledge of the melody line in a song, learn to play the melody and take off from there. Keep or embroider some hooks from the melody and it will be much better than just snippets of scales or standard licks. I actually think some of Jaco's improvised solos, as technically awsome as it was, often were just piling licks on licks. (Ooh, blasphemy, asbestos suit on! :)). Many songs had more thought and melody in it - and probably not so much improvised per se - and is much better in my humble amateur opinion.
  8. The way I learned to solo is to just play around with a scale. First try going up and down the scales but in different rythmic patterns. Then try out different intervals. The most important thing is go where the music is taking you. Another suggestion I would say is find the sheet music to something (to find out what key its in) and solo over a CD. At first it will sound crappy, but it wont take long to make it sound good. Basically, just screw around and see what sounds good.
  9. to quote myself:
    What i was trying to say is that my solos sound a lot like scales, you could tell that i had been practising the major scale etc.
    My Knowledge of chords is not bad, i think i will check Micheal Manring out and perhaps transcribe some trumpet solos for a start, hopefully that will keep me busy until lessons restart. Thank You for all your help, i appreciate it.
  10. tomtom


    Jun 17, 2002
    Philthy, PA
    try leaving the scales behind (for now)

    sing a melody...then try to play it.

    if you can sing (or at least hum) everything you play, than can successfully break out of scale hell.
  11. Basso Gruvitas

    Basso Gruvitas Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth TX
    How are your wholetone scales? There's only two to learn, but they sound cool as subs for V7 chords, especially in minor keys.

    Do you know any African or Middle Eastern modes?

    How are your octotonic or diminished scales? Whole-half AND half-whole?

    How are your arpeggios and broken chords? How about for major, AND all 3 minors (harmonic, melodic, natural)?

    How are your 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6th, and 7ths in all keys? I like Adam Nitti's suggestion of combining 3rds and 6ths, or 4ths and 7ths. Starting in a major key, Go up a 3rd, down a step, then up a 6th...and alternate like that all the way up the neck.

    Open up your Real Book to Giant Steps and solo through the changes with a metronome.

    Listen to other instruments besides bass guitarists. I listen to R n B vocalists for ideas. Billie Holiday is a huge influence on my playing. Listen to how she shapes a phrase and swoops around.
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Great replies from Team Sweden on this one. Two important points have been raised here:

    First, as MOLL FLANDERS points out, playing melodically is usually what people are aiming for when soloing, so it's smart to look at what the melody of a song is doing over the same changes when it comes time to solo. Often times, the biggest thing people notice when looking at the melody of a song as opposed to a solo they're trying to play is that the melody has a lot more space than the solo. Space and phrasing are two of the things that make melodies melodic, so if you're overplaying in the solo section, you might want to simplify a bit and try to think of the beginning of your solo as a countermelody or as an ornamentation of the original melody.

    Also, as SKELETONLUST astutely points out, you need to take a look at the way in which the scales you are playing interact with the chords you are playing them over. If your progression is diatonic (all chords from the same key), you may think that you can just play the notes from the overall parent scale and everything should be fine. But if you want to get deeper into it, you'll notice that it's your stopping points or long tones in a solo which really stand out, and it's a good idea to be able to control whether these end up being chord tones of the overall harmony or not. In the rock idiom, a good example of someone who always "lands on his feet" on a chord tone whenever he chooses (which is most of the time) is David Gilmour (sp?) of Pink Floyd. Sure, he's a guitar player, but in the pop/rock style, I'd have a hard time thinking of a more melodic player who illustrates this point any better than he does on most of his solos. Good luck.
  13. I just re-visited this post and re-motivated myself! You guys are brilliant. Thank you, thank you, thank you..

    Ciaran Toal
  14. shon


    Nov 27, 2002
    Healdsburg, CA!!
    Let me add that you should just play what you feel. That gives you a voice of your own. You have the ability to be unique. Use it.
  15. Basso Gruvitas

    Basso Gruvitas Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth TX
    Of course, but acquire a vocabulary of WHAT to say from listening to others. Even the greatest instrumental innovators throughout history had their influences.
  16. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA
    Wow... you'd think the ( self-proclaimed ) God_of_Bass could enlighten himself... :meh:

    j/k :p
  17. Practically all my stuff is in a minor/c major, and no problems, so I guess I can't relate :D

    Anyway, if you are PURPOSELY going for the scales-thing, listen to more Bach, that'll give you some ideas. I come up with alot of stuff when playing bass..not paying attention..watching tv..and suddenly I might hear something I like lol. It's weird..

  18. em, er, I like fish? honestly...
    Well no one else had it,I thought i'd just steal it before Holland or Wooten started looking for it...
  19. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Some great advice here...

    "listen to manring"

    "learn these umpteen zillion weird scales"


    One thing, the vast majority of 'exotic' scales are just cut down or added to versions of existing scales, major, melodic minor, blues, whole tone & diminished. So learning a bunch of thse scales serves only to put new sounds in your head. I personally really dont see it is as something essential to commit it memory through hours of practice etc etc.

    ...and listening to Manring will probably inspire you heaps, but at the same time it's a zillion light years awayso why not start with something a little more accessible. Go through your music collection and pick something!

    A solo is part of the song. So context and content are the most important things.

    I have just finished a day in the studio with my new band. I had two bass solos in one track. The first was written and the second was improvised. How did I approach them? Well I took the feel, the groove of the song, I took the key centre - C minor dorian and I listened to the space where the solo should be until I heard a start point and 'feel', then i plyed it over and over until it worked :)
    For the improvised solo I used the same feel and just let it fly :)
  20. mark beem

    mark beem I'm alive and well. Where am I? Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    Alabama, USA

    Was just messin' with ya..

    Don't know if anyones suggested this yet, but Mick Karn would be worth a listen... He's IMO non-Euclidian.

    Another bit of advice is if you're familiar with what you normally do.. Dont do it!! I know that's not much of a recommendation, but nobody can tell you how to think differently. It's a skill that requires time to develop just like playing itself.

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