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Songwriting and other un-natural acts

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by mijarra, Feb 8, 2001.

  1. mijarra


    Jan 20, 2001
    I have mentioned before in this forum that I was a guitar player long before I became a bassist. I feel reborn with the bass and get the impression that I was meant to be a bassist all along. I say this because the bass just feels better to play than the guitar. Whenever I pick up one of my guitars it just feels all cramped and un-inspiring, where as my bass feels loose, comfortable, and fun to play. I am also interested in listening to and playing many different types of music as a bassist, while on guitar I felt really limited and one dimensional. There is only one problem...I just can't get over the feeling that I don't have the same creative freedom on the bass as I did with the guitar. I feel like I can't even write a song without some other mo around with another instrument. I was always known as a very good song writer when I was a guitar player, and I am desperately searching for a way to regain that creative sense as a bassist. I know guys like Steve Harris and Geddy Lee do a lot of writing, as I'm sure do a lot of people on this forum, so there seems to be hope. Anyway, creating original music is the most important thing to me as a musician, so please, any advice, encouragement, recommendations, or past life experiences will be greatly appreciated. Thanks. :)

    BTW, I'm not saying I can't write basslines, cuz I have no probelm with that. What I mean is I can't find that overall song vision...I can't sit down and come up a with a tune in my head and work it out like I used to with guitar, with no other musicians around. Is it possible?
  2. I find it fun, and inspirational to hear a good drum sound and develop a good bass line around it first. Then I can go back and add guitar and whatever to it to make a song out of it. The drum can be a machine, but working with a real drummer is more fun (not always available). If your recording, you have to be aware of arrangement and stuff like that. Works for me, try it.
  3. Just my thoughts, but if you could do it on guitar before...why not keep doing it on guitar? Write the song with the guitar, and since you have no problem with creating bass lines, you could throw a bass line onto the guitar part you've got nailed down.
    Of course, maybe you think you've lost your songwriting ability overall, in which case I wouldn't be able to help. But for what it's worth, when I find myself wanting to write a song (haven't actually WRITTEN one yet... :p) I tend to pick up my guitar first, and go along with that and then throw on a bass line afterwards. Of course, in jam sessions with the band it's usually drums setting the beat, then me with the bass, and finally the guitarist throws some guitars over it, in which case that could work too... :D
  4. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    Due to the profiles changing I have no idea if you are a band or a sideman or solo. So blanket answer coming up.

    If you play for someone (sideman or join established band) you role will probably be providing basslines to other peoples songs. In my experience you rarely get to write songs for that band.

    Some bands have a jam approach to songwriting. You all stand in a rehearsal room and 'brainstorm musically'. What comes up gets used and changed or rejected.

    If you are solo or the band leader then theres nothing to stop you writing songs by any means you see fit then teaching the parts to others.

    I worked for a singer/sogwriter who did not play in a band (he could play bass drums guitar and piano). He wrote songs by working stuff out in his head and when he was happy with it prgrammed sequencers and drum machines to provide the band with a tape as a guide.

    I write on a 4-track the inspiration can be a guitar line or a drum part. If I write on bass it tends to be off the wall and I want the songs to be a whole not a bass workout.
    This is the danger of writing a song on one instrument.
    Music is a jig saw puzzle, get the pieces to fit without using a hammer.
  5. When I first started playing bass I still wrote music on the guitar. It was how I first started to write music and was easier then trying to convert songwriting to the bass.

    At a certain point I joined a band where we came up with a lot of song ideas through jam sessions and then developed them from there. Since I was playing bass during these jam session, I slowly learned how to come up with song ideas on the bass. If I came up with a basic idea on my own, I would introduce it to the band and see if it sparked any other ideas. We were co-writing just about everything so I didn't feel like I had to have a complete song idea in order to introduce it to the band. That took a lot of the pressure off as far as writing on the bass.

    One of the things I've learned since that time is that it helps a lot to know theory. When I come up with a bass line I know the key, the relative chords, and what harmonies will work well. That way, I could come in with a basic bassline but make suggestions as to how some of the other instruments might go.

    The biggest drawback in coming up with song ideas on the bass, for me, was that I had to rely on other people to take my song ideas to the next level. Initially I worked with a guitar player who was very good at that and I had no problems. When we parted, though, I found it hard to create a good songwriting chemistry with another musician and found my songs suffering because of that.

    Since then I actually reverted back to writing a lot of my song ideas on guitar. That way, if I need to, I can completely develope a song or keep the idea basic and give the other members an opportunity to contribute. I'm not at the mercy of some egomaniac guitar player. :D


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