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Some riff advice please

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by fourstringbliss, May 27, 2004.


  1. I am going to be playing a song at my church this weekend. It is a fairly straightforward praise song, but also has the potential to be very boring bass-wise. The song is "Forever" by Chris Tomlin (in case any of you have played it or heard it before).

    Here's the breakdown of the verses

    4 measures in G
    3 measures in C
    1 measure in G
    2 measures in D
    2 measures in E
    2 measures in D
    2 measures in E

    The chorus is

    2 measures in G
    2 measures in E
    2 measures in D
    1 measure in C
    1 measure in G

    I can play it straight with a few walkup/walkdown type things, but that is so boring! I don't want to be too tricky because it is, after all, a pretty straightforward praise song, but do you have any suggestions on how to spice it up?
     
  2. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    I'd spice it up with syncopation. Pretty simple idea, doesn't need to be a riff, just funk it up a tad.
     
  3. I know what syncopation is, but how would you do that here? (I understand that it would be easier to show me than to try to explain in words).
     
  4. mrbaloo

    mrbaloo

    May 9, 2002
    Sweden
    Hi

    Forever is a good praise/rock song. I usually like to play this song in 8ths with a pick (mostly [rock'n'roll] downstrokes). Then the trick is to be playing on time!

    I think you could end up with these chords:

    Intro:
    G Em7 Dsus Cadd9 (two measures/chord)
    G

    Verse:
    G
    Cadd9
    G
    D/F# (a really tasteful approach: go to the 3rd)
    C/E (again a really tasteful approach: go to the 3rd)


    Chorus:
    G
    Em7
    Dsus
    Cadd9 (2nd time of repeated chorus: slide up to high C the 2nd measure and put a break at the 4th quater note)
    G

    Please keep in mind that "less is more", i.e. play this song mostly with roots (no excess of walkings up or down). The exceptions have I mentioned above. A great tip is to play a lot softer in the verse (maybe even play using your right hand to softly mute the strings) and then dig in during the chorus.

    If you plan to play some other "riffs" the song may get into an other style...

    Good luck!

    /MrBaloo
     
  5. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA

    I don't know the song that well, so all I'm saying is lock in with the drummer, and throw in little offbeat stuff here and there.

    Do you have a recording you could listen to/play along with. Try fooling around and making a movable riff and use your little lead ins to move the riff around. Sorry I speak mostly in non musical theroy terms due to my sucking.
     
  6. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Sometimes a boring bassline for you is what fits the song best. Think of the song first, and then approach your bassline with that in mind.
     
  7. nate22

    nate22

    May 5, 2004
    You've GOT to be freaking kidding me....I'm playing the same song this Sunday too....practice was last night...

    The best bet w/ these songs it to play as it was written, honestly....less is more on these straight shot songs..let the congregation worship......and keep on those eighth notes in the chorus :D
     
  8. I agree with Ben Strange for the most part. I play that song for my church and it is best to keep it pretty straight forward. I put it on the attached Txt document with how I usually play it.

    Sorry about the notation. It's not the best in the world, but it at least gives you an idea of what's goin' on. This may not be as good as what you may have, but it might give you some fresh ideas for the song. Hope that helps and let me know if you have any questions.

    Brad
     
  9. This is cool! I like being part of a community where there are different beliefs (not that it ever really seems to come up when discussing bass stuff), but it's nice to know that there are some other believers out there.

    You guys are right - less would be more here. I was thinking about myself and how boring the bassline is - but then I am not playing Weather Report or Rush or anything, it's a simple praise song.

    I'll figure out something simple to accentuate the song.

    Thanks guys!
     

  10. I'm a relative newbie, and am still trying to memorize the fretboard. How do I play these chords?
     
  11. mrbaloo

    mrbaloo

    May 9, 2002
    Sweden
    Hi

    You don't have to play the actual chords. Just play the root for every chord.
    For this song you "only" need the two most upper strings on your bass (assuming a 4 string). When you come to D/F# you play the E string at the second fret instead of the root D. And then at the chord C/E you play an open E string instead of the root C. So in these two cases you let the guitarrist or the keyboard player to lay down plain D and C chord when you play the 3rd of these chords. Cool!


    You do not have to see praise songs as "simple". There are many popular songs that are simple but takes a good practise to get through with "the" groove (e.g. some songs by ZZ Top that makes you play a plain root C for minutes, and minutes...).

    Keep up the good work!

    /MrBaloo
     
  12. Danksalot

    Danksalot

    Apr 9, 2003
    Dallas, Texas, USA
    Endorsing Artist: SIT Strings
    Something you could do to keep it simple, but still add a little flavor would be this:

    If you're staying on the same chord over four measures, go up an octave half way through with a little ornamentation (not necessarily a walkup) just before the 3rd measure. Example:



    G|--------|--------|--------|--------|
    D|--------|-------5|--5-5-5-|5-5-5-5-|
    A|--------|-----57-|--------|--------|
    E|3-3-3-3-|3-3-3---|--------|--------|



    Also, it helps people know where they are in the song if you play differently in the chorus than you do in the verse. For example - play the notes shorter in the verse, and longer in the chorus. This makes the verse sound a little more sparce while still driving the song, and creates a nice crecendo when the chorus comes in and the sound fills out.
     
  13. I understand playing the G root, but how do I play the Em7, Dsus, and the Cadd9?

    So, here you are playing the F# instead of the D, then going to the E on the "Sing praise, sing praise" part, right?
     
  14. Danksalot

    Danksalot

    Apr 9, 2003
    Dallas, Texas, USA
    Endorsing Artist: SIT Strings
    Just play E, D, and C. Let the guitar players play the rest of the notes in the chords. Keep in mind, this is the intro, so your band may do it differently.



    I think that's exactly what he means. Just play and F# when everybody else is playing a D chord. One of the notes that the guitar players will be playing in the D chord is F#. You'll just be bringing more attention to that note than it normally gets.

    This is good to do sometimes, but not every time you see a D chord. This is a really good thing to do in this progression G D Em. Just play G F# E. That way it sounds more fluid and melodic, as opposed to jumping up to D and back down to E.
     
  15. Thanks so much! I hadn't even thought of replacing one of the notes with one of the notes in the guitar chord. Is there a reference out there that shows alternate bass notes that can be played along with different guitar chords?
     
  16. mrbaloo

    mrbaloo

    May 9, 2002
    Sweden
    Yes, Danksalot has a good point. Your band may play the intro different. For the most part of this song it's easiest, and perhaps most good sounding, to stick with the root of every chord. Just play the tone marked in the chord name with a capital character (except for the F# and E bass notes for the particular C and D chords before the chorus). It's also a good advice to step up an octave as the bass tab points out.

    I have one good paper on building chords, but it is in pure swedish. Sorry!

    /MrBaloo
     
  17. What about this situation?

    Another song I am playing is called "Victory Chant".

    It is a cadence type song, and the first half of the song is all in G then moves up to C. So this is what it would look like:

    G
    //// //// //// ////
    //// //// //// ////
    //// //// //// ////
    //// //// //// ////

    C
    //// //// //// ////
    //// //// //// ////
    //// //// //// ////
    //// //// //// ////

    How can I spice this up, or would it be best to just play the root as 8th notes?
     
  18. Danksalot

    Danksalot

    Apr 9, 2003
    Dallas, Texas, USA
    Endorsing Artist: SIT Strings
    If that's the Victory chant I know, it's cool to play just the rhythm that the bass drum is playing on bass instead of a constand rhythm. That takes some of the "music" out and makes it seem more like a chant (not like a monk). It leaves a little space in the song.
     
  19. Yeah, that is the Victory Chant! Our churches must have the same songbook. So, maybe playing a steady beat of triplets would work - is that what you mean?
     
  20. Danksalot

    Danksalot

    Apr 9, 2003
    Dallas, Texas, USA
    Endorsing Artist: SIT Strings
    Not really, I meant play like a bass drum. Some of the notes can be muted, and some regular. Lots of times I'll just "slap" my whole hand down onto all of the strings and dampen them, like playing a conga, to get a big thump on these beats.

    |G--GG---|G--GG-G-|G--GG---|G--GG-G-|

    That's not really a great bass drum rhythm, but without breaking it into 16th notes, that's pretty close to one. You'll want to line up to what your drummer is playing on the bass drum the best you can. Rest on the - symbols. Leave a little space where you're not playing at all in between each of your notes. The idea is not to give the song a foundation here, that's what makes it a chant. The idea is to provide mostly rhythmic groove.

    As always, this song could have a completely different feel at your church that needs a consistent foundation out of you. This is just what works well at the places I've played. Feel free to ask more questions if you have them.

    Danksalot