1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

stuck in a rut - argh!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Blunk, Jul 28, 2004.

  1. Blunk


    Aug 14, 2002
    I'm stuck in a rut - or that's how it feels.

    my band has begun writing our own songs, well we've
    been pooling our ideas - riffs, bits of lyrics etc.

    so far we've got 2 complete songs, 2 songs without
    lyrics which is great and i really like the songs,
    one is balls out rock, the other is a slower funk
    rock sort of song.

    i've been trying to come up with some more funk
    songs, because i love playing that sort of stuff and
    its great to see people dancing to songs (the funk
    rock song we wrote gets a great reaction)

    but...i just can't get any good funk basslines out
    of my fingers, everything comes out quite rock/punkish,
    i've tried to cut back on the number of notes i'm
    playing and focus on syncopation (if that's even
    correctly spelled!) but nothing's really working:(

    i've only been playing bass for about 2 years, so
    i'm beginning to wonder if my musical knowledge, or
    more precisely, lack of is what's causing my problem.

    i'm aware that a lot of funk is mixolydian and blues
    scale based and so i've started to include them into
    my practice routine now.

    i know that the only way to be able to play something
    is to practice and experiment...so i make drum tracks
    to play along with...am i just trying too hard?

    does anyone have any tips? i'm not looking for a
    "funk kit" that'll instantly make me a funk bass player!

    or any patterns that you can recommend?

    i'd really appreciate any feedback at all.
  2. rockness


    Jul 30, 2003
    Stratford, CT
    1. Listen to as much music as possible, specifically the styles you'd like to imitate. Even (especially) listen to genres that you wouldn't neccessarily associate with your style. That will help any musician IMHO.

    2. Learn fingerstyle funk techniques and theory, what works and why. Learn general theory overall if you don't already. Hopefully someone more experienced than me will give some more advice. Good luck.
  3. Blunk


    Aug 14, 2002
    thanks for the tips.

    i've been listening to all the funk i can get my hands on - Larry Graham, The Whispers, The Meters, RHCP, James Brown and the list goes on (or the beat if you listen to the whispers ;)

    i'll keep trying!
  4. Are you learning the songs, or just listening to them? Learning them helps the style into my head/fingers more than just listening does.
  5. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    If you want to funk, become one with the one. Funk tends to be heavy on the 1 (1st beat of a 4 beat measure).

    You can listen for all the scales, chord tones, etc. you want. You can play all the crazy syncopation and what not. But if you aren't mindful of the one, it won't Funk.
  6. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    I believe one of the biggest problems bassists have with playing funk is the duration of their notes. They play the actual note at the right time but aren't paying attention to when the note should end. The note needs to end in perfect time. Attack the rests, if you know what I mean. Also, experiment with playing notes sticatto. Funk lines really breathe and come to live when the right amount of legato and sticatto notes are employed. The sticatto notes can actually help to setup or emphasize the legato notes and things start getting funky when that happens. Muted "dead notes" can breathe life into a line as well. It's often the subtleties that make one person sound funky and another not playing the same bassline. One last thing - if the drummer's playing real busy it might be better to play more simply while if he/she's playing simply you may be able to be a little busier. There's no rule about that but you can tell when it's grooving by watching the dancers. If they're having a hard time getting their groove on you know something's gotta change.

  7. Scot

    Scot Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    I love that quote! Kind of reminds me of the Standing in the Shadows of Motown movie where J. Jamerson Jr. says his pops used to pluck a rubber band fastened to a stick and make the ants dance.

  8. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    One thing I do is write from my heart and soal. I don't have any preconcieved notions, a riff or run pops in my head I run with it. Whatever it turns into it becomes. But to answer your question for funk I like to start out with a funky drum beat and lay it down from there, it's a lot easier that way.
  9. Blunk


    Aug 14, 2002
    i listen to the songs and try to understand why certain things were played and why something else wouldn't work.

    i've spent a lot of time focusing on using muted notes, and rests to give a line a good groove and so far the results are becoming quite promising:)

    i've also started to focus on the snare - kick drum relationship to get a feel for the timing...its working well.

    thank you all for your advice, i greatly appreciate it!:)