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Suggestions on how I can play like this?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Lumdingo, Nov 9, 2015.


  1. Lumdingo

    Lumdingo

    Dec 8, 2012
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Hire me to design your band's Merch.
    Out of all the bass playing I've heard online etc, this one piece inspires the heck out of me. I switched my Ibanez SR600 over to piccolo strings and am absolutely loving it.

    I don't play in any bands and I only play my four string piccolo bass at home for fun, so there's no pressure to do anything for any reason.

    Here's my inspiration.

    Any suggestions (scales and otherwise) for ways to lean how to play like this?
     
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    I have two different approaches I use to learning a new song. I won't say either is "right" or "wrong"---it just depends on my mood that day. I'll share both methods here in the hope one or both of these approaches will resonate with you.

    APPROACH A
    1. Learn the first note of the song.
    2. Learn the second note of the song.
    3. Learn the 3rd note of the song.
    4. Continue until I reach the end of the song.

    APPROACH B
    1. Learn one part or "voice" of the composition. It could be the bass line, or the melody, or the harmony, or a lick from the solo, or whatever catches my ear.
    2. Learn another part or voice of the composition.
    3. Continue until I have learned all parts of the composition.

    Good luck learning Steve Lawson's composition, I hope my suggestions are helpful to you! ps If you are are looking for a shortcut that does not require actually learning the song, I'm afraid I don't have one. :)
     
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  3. Lumdingo

    Lumdingo

    Dec 8, 2012
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Hire me to design your band's Merch.
    Thanks! Yeah I was wondering what sorts of scales I should be practicing in order to emulate the beginning of this piece.
     
  4. cycler

    cycler

    Oct 6, 2010
    To emulate a style requires a vocabulary under your hands while learning something by rote with out the knowledge of the foundation is limiting. By your question one can infer you are just beginning on the journey that will take some years to get to the level of sophistication of a song like you've posted. Scales are a must, so begin at the beginning, there is no shortcut, and in concert with chord theory, you might be able to understand and so emulate in 6-12 months maybe if you're dedicated and talented. A couple of years of study to be able to really understand it I suppose. Bassists like Manring and Jaco had the musical training to make their compositions worth listening to. So , get a very good teacher.

    Coming from the guitar world, my best analogy is the genre that Michael Hedges started. He had tremendous compositional talent as a guitarist and so was accepted at the Peabody Insitute. Unfortunately many guitarists were enamored of the style and without the foundation and recorded a lot of schlock in open tunings with hammering. Don't be that guy.
     
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  5. Lumdingo

    Lumdingo

    Dec 8, 2012
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Hire me to design your band's Merch.
    Ha! I won't be that guy. I'm studying my scales, and working on memorizing those along withe the modes. It's challenging for my old brain, but I'm getting more and more familiar with the patterns and sounds. That said, I was wondering if you could tell em what modes or scales that first part of the music in this piece is based on. That will give me a good starting point.
     
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Imagine you did not have the internet as a resource, how would you go about answering those questions for yourself?

    As you listen to the piece, is there anything that catches your ear as a good starting point for figuring out this composition?

    Something definitely caught MY ear as a good place to start learning this tune: What is the low droning bass note that Lawson plays during the first few seconds of the piece? Then what is the movement of the bass note, for example at 0:12 seconds into the song?

    Based on the bass notes in the first 15 seconds of the song, what would you say is the root note or tonic for this section of the song, and can you tell just from these few seconds whether the scale used is "major" in quality (it has a major 3rd, for example the interval from A to C#) or "minor" in quality (it has a minor 3rd, for example the interval from A to C)?

    Assuming you are still with me, isn't it amazing? We've learned so much about the key, scale, and harmonic structure of this piece just by listening to the bass line in the first 20 seconds of the song; bass is such a powerful instrument! You should do this with every song you listen to, even when you are just driving around listening to random songs on the radio.

    Check back with the answers to my questions, and we'll keep plugging away at this song a few minutes a day. :)
     
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  7. Lumdingo

    Lumdingo

    Dec 8, 2012
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Hire me to design your band's Merch.
    That's awesome. Thank you. Yeah, I'll start to put my brain into it now. Admitedly I don't spend very much time thinking my way through bass playing. I tend to just play and noodle a lot, and try to create patterns. What you're showing me will really help. Thanks!
     
  8. cycler

    cycler

    Oct 6, 2010
    Yep, and write it out, or at least begin to kern to write out what you are studying. You will learn better when the information is flowing in both directions. I tell my kids: " You know what you learn from playing patterns ? Nothing. "
     
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  9. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Do you want to replay what he did or do your own thing ? If it is doing your own thing ... Mr.Lawson used a lot of chord and obviously know how to make a chord progression. It also doesn't sound piccolo to me.

    You could also ask Mr.Lawson in the "Ask thepro" section
     
  10. Lumdingo

    Lumdingo

    Dec 8, 2012
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Hire me to design your band's Merch.
    Oh he's not playing piccolo, and I don't want to play the same composition. I only wanted to play stuff like it and thought there might be done good things to practice that would put me in the right direction.
     
  11. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Why would you NOT learn this beautiful and inspiring composition? That doesn't make any sense to me, at all. What could possibly be a better use of your practice time than studying your favorite song? Aspiring athletes study video of classic games, up-and-coming entrepreneurs study the habits of successful businesspeople, wanna-be novelists study the great books of published authors, architects analyze beautiful buildings, and musicians... musicians study songs.

    OK enough ranting, time for productive suggestions. ;)

    Curious if you are making any progress since Monday? Did you learn the first note of the song yet? Is it C? C#/Db? D? D#/Eb? E? F? F#/Gb? G? G#/Ab? A? A#/Bb? B? Those are the only 12 notes in our "musical alphabet" so it has to be one of those choices. Or do you think I am crazy and what I'm suggesting (learning 1 note of 1 song) is not a realistic goal after 2 days of practice?

    You may not find value in learning the entire composition note-for-note, but I promise that using your ear to learn at least the rough outline of the bass line, melody, and chord progression would be an excellent use of your practice time. You can even look back at the video and see exactly where he puts his fingers, if you want to double-check whether your ear was correct. Let us know how it goes. ;)
     
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  12. Lumdingo

    Lumdingo

    Dec 8, 2012
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Hire me to design your band's Merch.
    Absolutely. Sorry, I don't get to practice quite as much as most people. I'm working a lot. That said, I will learn bits of this composition note for note because, as you said, it's excellent ear training. Plus I will learn the patterns and hopefully link those to scales and modes I've already heard or seen. I just need to put in the time.

    In the meantime, here's some excellent six string bass work to enjoy.

     
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  13. manbass

    manbass

    May 20, 2004
    Tampa Bay
    Guys wait a minute....
    This is Lawson for G*d sakes. He can compose on the fly. Lumdingo - This "piece" or "style" you want to emulate is a couple atmospheres above Masterclass level learning. If you're up for it begin at ground level with fundamentals, chord tones, keys, fretboard mastery. If you feel you have the basics of music theory perfected then... Ask yourself why it inspires you and find that answer in Lawsons piece. Learn from that answer the harmony, arrangement basics in the piece, like a detective, understand the theory that makes it real music to you. (IE break it down measure by measure note by note, transcribe it, Is it intervals, how they are placed in rhythm, chord progression, ascending or descending, inversions and how they work with the piece, etc) Then....

    What I've read, seen from Lawson and similarly Jeff Schmidt over the years is they have focused some portion of their technique on perfecting fingerstyle guitar performance on tenor or piccolo bass setups/tunings. Schmidt follows all the latin guitar masters and Michael Hedges. Expose yourself to more of this type from Manring, Lawson, Schmidt and their Guitar equals like Don Ross, Andy McKee, Hedges. One thing that always inspires me about these masters is their production of "tension and release and resolution".
     
  14. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1

    Jan 17, 2009
    N.H.
    Yup! Scales, scales, scales.
    Play & learn them in all keys.
    This will open your ears more when you hear a piece of music
    and be able to identify scales/modes easier.
    Also transcribe a tune. My first attempt took 40 hours and
    it had a lot of mistakes.
    Ultimately find a good teacher, he'll save you years of dubbing around.
     
  15. Rather than trying to bite off that chunk where you know nothing about the song or how to approach it, try learning to play solo bass as a style, then learn songs you do know well. Mike Dimin has a book that can get you started with that. After awhile, once you get some tools in your belt, come back to this and figure out how to approach it.

    Years ago, when I played piano, I did the same thing, starting out learning Bill Evans songs and just copying them, and after years and years of that, I realized I didn't know squat about Bill Evans or how to approach his or anybody else's music. I had to start all over again and learn the right way.

    Having thought about it: I guess there's really nothing inherently wrong with copying a song you love, but it's just kinda limiting.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2015
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  16. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Hi Lumdingo!

    I wanted to check in and see how you are doing with this song after a couple weeks? Have you had much success figuring out what key it is in, what is the chord progression, what scale or scales make up the melody, what rhythms does it use, or any other musical details? You mention this song is very inspirational to you, so I hope you are working on it at least an hour or two every day. Please don't get discouraged by the other posters who said "oh just give up already, it is much too hard for you," as the beginning or "A" section is is actually very simple, compositionally speaking. ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2015
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  17. Oldschool94

    Oldschool94

    Jan 9, 2015
    OP here's what I would practice to sound like the intro. I'm sorry if it seems simplistic. ON a 4 string E-A-D-G tuned bass, try just playing the open A string, and letting it ring, while you play various note combinations on the D and G strings. Maybe start with just a simple power chord shape and move it up and down along those strings. Knowing your scales will of course make this easier, but you can just use your ear to find what you like. I'll make you a video later today. But basically just keep playing that low A every once in a while whilst playing various power chords on the D and G strings. Once that get's boring, try doing thirds on the G and D string. Try harmonics. Try occasionally playing the open E string instead. Most of the chord progressions here are not that complicated. I think this will be pretty easy to get started on by just pedaling the low A string and moving a specific shape around on the G and D strings.
     
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  18. Lumdingo

    Lumdingo

    Dec 8, 2012
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Hire me to design your band's Merch.
    This is exactly what I started doing. Trying to let that E or A string ring out without interrupting it, while I pluck the harmony notes. It's actually a lot more tricky than I thought since I play finger pedaling style.

    Thank you for this response. I've been working an awful lot lately and not putting in the time I should on bass. I intend to change that. I enjoy it.
     
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  19. Lumdingo

    Lumdingo

    Dec 8, 2012
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Hire me to design your band's Merch.
    I work an awful lot, and seem to have lots of discipline for that, but little for practicing bass. I'm changing that. I'm slowly picking my way through this song starting with that opening melody. That in itself is a challenge since the string above needs to ring out. I'm enjoying it though. : )
     
  20. Lumdingo

    Lumdingo

    Dec 8, 2012
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Hire me to design your band's Merch.

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