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Stressing over learning new band songs

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by PinkFloydDan, Jan 14, 2006.

  1. PinkFloydDan


    Jul 4, 2005
    I recently joined a new band and I Am stressing hard over learning the songs. We have gigs pretty much every weekend starting in March. I would catagorize myself as slightly below intermediate, but not a beginner. I do not read music but I understand the basic of octaves, scales, chord progressions, 12 bar blues, minors, majors, etc.

    The music is not entirely complex, some is, but my main problem is I have a hard time picking out the bass parts. My ear is not grabbing the bass lines and some of it is just beyond my technical ability right now, as the former bass player is pretty darn good. So, I am trying to learn pretty tight, fancy bass lines by ear at my level and I am going nuts. Some songs I connected with easily but others are driving me bonkers.

    So, I have no idea how to learn the tunes faster. It seems like I am not even able to technically hit the right parts because the other player is more talented. So, do I deviate from his bass lines and try to adapt to what I can do? The band seems to not mind if I play it my own style--I was told they care about timing, intonnation and groove.

    Some of the rythms are also hard to follow and groove to and that is probably even tougher than the notes. How do I find my groove in a song? Any tips?

    thanks. I stress pretty hard when I want to do well and I work hard at it (going to play after this post) but I can also realize this has only been three practices with these guys and I've got about 6 songs down well and maybe 8 about there.

    But I am looking for some suggestions.

    thanks so much

    the rev
  2. nemo


    Mar 19, 2004
    Not entirely an expert advice, but I would familiarize with these songs as much as possible. Put them to the headphones and have it on for as long as humanly bearable :)
    Then you will be at home with the songs structure and feel of different parts of the song and from that you can get into the groove. I wouldn't hesitate to build a new, simplier basslines, less is sometimes better and this could be for the benefit of the song as well. My 0.02 CZK.
  3. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Break the songs down into sections and focus only on those. I have my computer hooked up to a stereo so I can click and skip around tracks easier than I can on a regular CD player. If I'm having trouble on a song I'll focus just on the intro, or the chorus, or a verse. Usually if you break the songs up into smaller sections and try and pick those up, it becomes a bit less overwhelming.

    If you're not comfortable playing the old bass player's parts yet, you can just focus on getting the root note for each part and then embellishing on it as you get a hold of the song.

    Take it bit by bit, and you can get the songs down eventually. :)
  4. It sounds like you are on your way to learning the songs. I would substitute the too difficult parts with something easy just to get through the songs for now and add more fancy stuff later. (Then again, I don't have much experience)
  5. Listen to each tune a few times before you work on the bassline. Then start ot learn the line.

    Most CD players had a "loop" feature where you can set the start and end point.

    So maybe you want to loop a verse, a chorus, or just a small section. Listen to that carefully and it will make sense.

    Always use headphones.

    There are a couple of devices on the market that may help like the Tascam bass trainer. or the Reed Kotler bass enhancer/frequency remover. I think it the LB100 model.

    Sometimes tab can get you started on a line but don't become dependent because tab is never right and you will wind up back at the recording. (I prefer to pull the line myself than use and curse at the tab that people try and pass off as accurate)
  6. You said the former bassists lines were fancy and complicated, look for a 'core' to the lines. Leran that. Most 'complicated' basslines that seem to vary alot are just little variations of simpler lines. Figure out these lines, and learn those cold. Then improvising off them will come much more easily.
  7. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005
    Yea thats what's great about being a bassist. You can sub a lot of stuff in.. Learn the main grooves (which are 99.999% the easiest parts of the song) and u don't need them perfect.. just make up ur own as long as they jive with what's going on with the rest of the guys...and then on the harder stuff or the fills just throw something in there experiment...I don't wan't to insult anybody, but you're not in a band to "make it big" you're in a band to further your musicianship.. if you're gonna cookie cut your way through the bands songs, you will never evolve..
  8. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    - "Sketch" the tune first - just laying out the chord structure and sections

    - Build simple lines first - you can always go back and flesh them out After you have the simple versions under your belt

    - Write stuff down as you work them out. Trusting them to your brain can come later, after you have the simple versions completed.

    - If you are compressed for time, grab some chord and tab charts online. Yes, they are sometimes funky or wrong, but they can also save you some time.

    - Listen to the music even when you are not at your bass.

    When I joined the current band I am in, they wanted me to jump into the gigs Immediately after they chose me. I auditioned on a Tuesday, and I played my first gig with them that Saturday, cramming simple versions of almost 50 tunes that week. It was stressful, but it felt great when I surived it.
  9. PinkFloydDan


    Jul 4, 2005
    These are all originals. I have until March 4 to get about 15 tunes down strong. It worries me and sort of pisses me off because most bassists probably would wing this stuff. I am learning a crapload of stuff though and my fingers are moving in ways they never have.
  10. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Don't let it piss you off. This is a Great experience for you.
    Have fun with it. You have time. ;)
  11. fr0me0


    Dec 7, 2004
    Winnipeg Canada
    hey man even if the band kinda bombs at least think of how much you're learning and think of how much motivation you are getting to work your ass off!

    I joined a university jazz band this year and man it was scary. they threw down a bunch of charts first day and everyone had played these tunes a million times and I'd never seen any of them. I hadn't even read music since I was playing piano when I was 10.

    I had to weakly admit my grasp of reading music was very weak but if they photocopied the charts I could take em home tab em out and learn them on my own time and also promised I could be there every week for practice, and the diretor said good enough. And although it was kinda intimidating being the worst muscian there by miles I learned a ton and the shows we played went over great and they even gave me a solo in Birdland. All though it was dicy for the first couple weeks its been a great experiance and I'm looking forward to the rest of this semester and comming back nenxt year.
  12. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Lot's of good advice here. All I would add is to not let it get in your head what you think 'other' bass players would do... or even what former bass players in this band have done. YOU are the bass player now. Do what you do best.

    As long as you are in the harmony and supporting the groove, you'll be fine.

    And in the end, its far better to learn this way than to practice for years in your bedroom waiting to get perfect.
  13. PinkFloydDan


    Jul 4, 2005
    It's a stressful time. I'm coming along, but I am putting in at least 3 hours of practice a day. It seems to be paying off, but these little changes are really confusing me. And, because none of the music is written out, it is hard to know where I am going when guitar player is soloing--I am expected to listen to the key note that tells me when to change. That's f-ing hard, but I am learning a lot buy it.

    In 3 full band practices, I think I've learned about 8 songs. 16 I have the framework for and 3 or 4 are really bugging me.

    March is full of weekend gigs. Is it possible to make leaps and bounds in 1 month? I hope so. Whose got some feel good stories of reaching that new platuea when the pressure was on.
  14. Write yourself out some lead sheets - chord changes, key breaks and intros, solos, etc. Use them in a few practices.

    Makes a massive difference to getting the structure right.
  15. nemo


    Mar 19, 2004
    + record your rehearsals and listen to it later.
  16. fatsobasso


    Dec 24, 2005
    Ormond florida
    yes and it is always better to play with better musicians then yourself,it will help you improve faster and try jamming with just the drummer or guitarist,private.
  17. dave_p


    Dec 20, 2005
    a lot of my progress came from doing just what you are doing, bite off more than i could chew, and then find a way to live up to it. it really helps you to apply yourself and push yourself to do things you werent sure you could do. and in the end you learn that you can do it. worry about being solid more than flashy, and try to have fun with the music, it will help your groove
  18. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA

    Remember, if you're the bass player, make those lines yours! Rewrite them the way you want them. If you weren't good enough for the job, you wouldn't have been hired for it. Surprise them with what you know by making the songs yours.
  19. Paulb7664


    Sep 30, 2004
    Kent UK
    I to am stressing about learning songs, I'm a self thought Bassist and play by ear!! I play in a Rock\Pop covers band and try to work out the songs note perfect. Some times I find it hard to work out the faster parts. Then I got the Tascam BT1MII this has made it a lot easier. I also use tabs or chord charts.

    All the best.

  20. primemover


    Oct 16, 2005
    Baton Rouge
    I'm a newb too and when I had a chance to jam a few songs with some friends one day I had a problem with "Are you gunna go my way" by Kravitz so I just kinda did it my own way on certain parts and it sounded just fine.

    Most people in the crowd are not gunna notice litte nuances or you deviating from what was exactly written by the original performer. Just dont get outa time and stay in key and you will be ok.