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Take my playing up a notch. Help please

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Freebase, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. Freebase


    Nov 20, 2014
    NW Oregon
    I'm a solid immediate player. Hitting practice hard last 6 months. Working on Jamerson transcriptions. Trying walking lines on standards- practicing major minor ii v I in all keys
    Something is missing. I can't put it all together. Is their a magic Bullet I can employ to tie it all together? I feel like there is some secret the experts all know that. No one is telling me.

    Open to suggestions
  2. Joshua Pickenpaugh

    Joshua Pickenpaugh

    Apr 16, 2001
    Here's a suggestion: once a day, check out another bass player on YouTube. Literally any _one_ bassist, known or unknown, for about five minutes during your lunch hour. Think about what heard in this person's playing...what you like, what you may not have liked. Rinse and repeat everyday for a couple weeks. You may notice some new things pop up in your playing.

    Or not. :)

    Either way, it's the journey, not the destination. Have fun!
    tonemachine and Freebase like this.
  3. Freebase


    Nov 20, 2014
    NW Oregon
    Not bad. I like that suggestion. How do you decide what to practice tho? How much time to devote to.... Tunes? Reading? Improv? Tuff to decide
    Joshua Pickenpaugh likes this.
  4. pacojas

    pacojas "FYYA BUN"

    Oct 11, 2009
    a lot if players use 16th notes to tie a pretty ribbon into a beautiful bow, ime. ymmv :)
  5. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    Learn songs. Lots of them, any and every style, and pay attention to how the chords work in them, look for similarities between the tunes, and the theory/mechanics behind them. It's also important to transcribe lines of all the great players so you can figure out what they're doing and why it works so well. It also helps to think in terms of the big picture of the generic reality of music, and not just bass. A good teacher can solve a lot of mysteries and save you a ton of time you'd otherwise use trying to figure stuff out yourself. On top of all that, play with others in any group you can get into. That's the quickest way to improve.

    If I was pressed to reveal a "secret", the secret is that lots and lots of little tiny facts, pieces of information, and experiences ultimately combine over time with consistent effort to form a solid basis of musical understanding. There's no shortcut, but it's not out of reach for anyone willing to put the time in.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2015
    tonemachine likes this.
  6. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    This "something" may well be getting together with other musicians and putting into action all you have learned.

    After all, the whole idea is to make music. ;)
  7. bass12

    bass12 Say "Ahhh"... Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    The secret is to go out and play. Exercises are one thing; playing music is another.
    goodformetal likes this.
  8. I think this is probably it. It's one thing to shed all the right stuff, but until you get in the heat of battle and call on your skills, it doesn't mean a whole lot. It really is the key.
  9. Joshua Pickenpaugh

    Joshua Pickenpaugh

    Apr 16, 2001
    For me, there's so much to practice that I tend to practice the stuff that is coming up for the next gig: Jazz gig? Shed standards and blowing over the changes. Singer/Songwriter gig? Memorize the tunes from the recording given and find melodic lines to play over certain lyrics. Rock gig? Practice playing to LedZep Youtubes with a pick. It's all cumulative and will, over time, help.

    There's really good suggestions here by other TB members, as well. Hope this all helps! :)
  10. jthisdell

    jthisdell Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    When I practice scales I will pick a key, say Gmaj. Then I do all the chords in that key. So Gmaj scale, then Amin, Bmin, Cmaj, Dmaj, Emin F#Min, Gmaj. I will alternate between doing all of the whole scales and just a part, say I, III, !V, V and back down or I, IIV, V, etc. Good for ear training, theory knowledge and muscle training all at the same time.
    Imaginary Pony likes this.
  11. There is no magic bullet, as others have said. Yes to playing with others. Yes to playing all types of music. Once we know all the scales, chord tones, intervals and stuff like that we move on to playing songs. The playing of songs sooner or later gives us what we need to pull it all together.

    Main point. I have never played a song that had everything in it. So you have to play a lot of songs to get everything that could be done into your bag of tricks.

    You are asking how to pull it all together ---- most of us like two or three kinds of music so that is what we play. For me it's Country and Praise and in those roots and fives, perhaps an 8 with some chromatic or diatonic runs is all I use. Country is R-5 with the walk to the next chords. Praise is root - sometime whole tone nothing else and other times it is roots 8 to the bar, with one or two walks between phrases, if there is room. Country may or may not have a drummer so you then are the beat master, the metronome, this rhythm thing is often over looked and may be the answer to your question... the nuts and bolts of melody and harmony are pretty much the same, it's the rhythm and how you play those melody and harmony notes that sets one type of music from another.

    So relax and start playing songs that are in your music.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2015
  12. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Learning songs and playing with others is exactly what "ties it all together."
    You can study how to drive all you want,
    eventually you gotta start the car and go to the store.
  13. Freebase


    Nov 20, 2014
    NW Oregon
    You guys are awesome. Thanks for the fabulous replies and taking the time!
    Joshua Pickenpaugh likes this.
  14. JamPlay


    Aug 9, 2012
    JamPlay Berklee
    Along with all the hip ideas above, I would recommend listening as an ingredient to your musicianship skill set that can be honed and also becoming the catalyst to finding the magic , the secret as you say. Often times as players we become myopic, focusing on ourselves, our bass parts, and while doing this, we are paying limited attention to the inspiration around us. Get inside the music by freeing yourself up, opening your mind and groove to complimenting and digging what surrounds you musically and otherwise. When you read up on a successful artist they speak of the alchemy, the link to other things musically, sometimes spiritually, and quite often their surrounding cast of characters. As bass players, we are inherently team players, yet with so much shedding and shredding, you get up on the bandstand, and realize that you haven't been listening to the other players in the ensemble, which is where all the good stuff comes from. Music is dialogue. You have to become present in a situation, realize that you are transparent, sometimes driving the bus, yet always aware of the musical situation and how you want to compliment, augment, cater to, and release a bass part that is serving the situation, the song, the groove of the moment..consider where you want the groove, the song to escalate to..bottom line, your heart is in the right place, you just have to open up to the endless possibilities that a musical situation can offer. Remember that no two people, bass players view the situation identically which is why you might have great players performing on different tracks to one project...To each their own..find your voice...it's somewhere between your head and your fingertips...groove on!
  15. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    I have plugged away for years working theory and soloing.
    Once in a while a big chunk
    of info seems to just come and solve a lot of issues.
    repoman, tonemachine and jthisdell like this.
  16. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    I can't stress how much this is so right on. I realize there are those who play solo, and I appreciate their talent and really dig what they do, but for me and maybe for a lot of us, understanding that playing with others is where its at will go a long way to progressing as a player and musician. It's also a great way to approach your life in almost every aspect. Listen and watch, and become part of what is going on instead of fighting it. Much easier.
    kwaping, Red Four and JamPlay like this.
  17. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    Play live...with others
  18. tonemachine

    tonemachine Banned

    Mar 23, 2010
    OP, you sound like me and I've been breaking through over the past year. I learned hundreds of songs, as suggested by the guy I happen to be replying to but.... still missing something. You seem to have an ear good enough for duplucating but probably not the ear one of those guys who became impressive players in a few months or a year. We all know them.

    This person also suggests transcribing and understanding notes in relation to the chords you are playing with (give or take). Emphasis on this, not just robotic line learning. That got me over one hump.

    The next one, I believe, is sheer fretboard knowledge. Dedicated practice to fretboard knowledge. Yay. Again, some monster players will say it's not needed...maybe not for them. But for me, and it sounds like you, it works. The by-product of doing this is that your ear and fingers will also learn to automatically go where they need to go- like the guys you admire.
    Start this now, the sooner the better. Berklee Chord Studies for Bass and this

  19. jaybones

    jaybones Banned

    Mar 4, 2015
    Kelleys Island, Ohio
    Are you playing them lying down flat on your back? That's how he is supposed to have recorded some of his greatest bass lines.

    Seriously, I would investigate other players and styles on youtube. Play styles and songs that you normally wouldn't and try to get as good as possible on them.

    But there is no "magic bullet"- I googled it and it turned up some very, ahem, adult type toys.
    Freebase and Joshua Pickenpaugh like this.
  20. tonemachine

    tonemachine Banned

    Mar 23, 2010
    I don't argue against this but to play with top notch players (if he's doing ii V I then it sounds like he has interest in playing with jazzers), and have them have you around, you have to have done a lot of alone woodshedding and learning.
    Freebase likes this.

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