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The Audience Really Doesn't Care...

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by P. Aaron, Mar 18, 2016.

  1. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    As we have progressed musically, and we're groovin' along on the gig, where there's space and where it does no harm, we all play a lick, or a passage, or some flurry of notes 'cause we hear it and/or think its cool.

    I have moved away from much extraneous playing because of a few reasons:

    1) It doesn't matter to the audience
    2) The PA/rig/venue isn't always good at projecting those subtleties
    3) Most great songs with awesome grooves leave 'all that' on the cutting room floor.

    I haven't lost any love for learning new stuff. I have found that the empty spaces are as, if not more powerful at times than any note.

    Anyone else moved in this direction? By all means, comment.
  2. jazzyvee


    Aug 11, 2012
    United Kingdom
    I'm not a busy player and resist doing these extra's unless it's absolutely necessary not just because there is a space to add more notes.

    1) No it probably doesn't matter consciously to most of the audience because they may not focus on the intricacies of the basslines but that does not mean it won't benefit the song if done well. Quite a few of the pro bass players I know are really good at doing this in a way that does not detract from the song being played. Some just ruin the groove or power at a key moment.
    2) Agreed most times the I see these notes happening on stage but can't hear them clearly.
    3) Depends what music you listen to. :)

    I'm about to do a stand in gig with an acoustic/vocal band where the music has lots of space and sustained bass notes leading up to changes so the temptation is there on some to run up a scale or arpeggio to the next part but the current bass player doesn't do that and I can hear the songs being better for it. It's a good discipline and i will honour their music by using restraint.
  3. rufus.K

    rufus.K Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2015
    In the last decade, I've moved in that direction
    jazzyvee likes this.
  4. tbirdsp


    Sep 18, 2012
    Omaha, NE
    Probably not the right forum for this (this one is supposed to be about PA topics) - but yeah - space is important. I play in a cover band that is basically a power trio - guitar/bass/drums. Lead vocalist plays some keyboard, but only occasionally. Sometimes this frees (almost requires) me to play "more" to fill in - but often I need to play less - because I may be the only one holding down the structure of the song. Also - we just got a new drummer who is fantastic. There are places that I might have done a fill or something with our old drummer, but now I sometimes just hold down the beat and let the new guy do his thing a bit.
  5. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    There's a lot of power in them empty spaces. Gotta have the nerve to leave 'em be sometimes. Having a good drummer who understands that is so valuable.
    Atshen, bassbobh and AEVAREX like this.
  6. shawshank72


    Mar 22, 2009
    I do both being im in a trio.
    Bassgoodness and Groove Doctor like this.
  7. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I've played in trio plus one settings a long time. When I'm with a drummer I trust, a guy who brings style and flair ... I think early Led Zeppelin and ... The Eagles... Bonham was making LZ interesting and JPJ was very musically giving him the space and support to do so... Timothy B. Schmidt is a study in the understated school of pop bass playing. I mean really, why play quarter notes when a half note will do as well ? Not to mention the guy sings his butt off... I came to The Eagles late. I sure do appreciate his playing now... But the key is while I'm busy being glue and providing a mattress... Somebody else better be freakin busy being on it ! If not, I'm happy to step up...
    amusicalperson likes this.
  8. Doing a Creedence tribute - need lots of space at times (Green River), other times there's crazy runs (Hey Tonight verse, Suzie Q). There's a time and a place for everything.

    Played fretless in an acoustic-folk group. Simple lines mostly, lots of sections not playing at all (added to dynamics), but cracked out a few pre written feature bass solos each gig. Very satisfying musically.

    Actually, a couple of songs I didn't even play bass on live. Some I played less than half the song, some 1-2 notes a bar only. Mostly it was all about space. You could clearly hear everything everyone played, very tasteful.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2016
  9. Choosing specific songs that showcase a specific band member is a very tasteful addition to a set list. Solos sound less forced or contrived IMO.

    Other ideas:
    - extending a song & ending with a solo,
    - breakdown section in the middle of song eg. guitarist drops out for bass/drum focus.
    - 8-16 bar drum solo can really lift a gigs energy too.

    Everyone playing all the time gets tiring to listen to on long gigs IMO, and squeezes out these creative moments you speak against. Try something different.
  10. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Less is more. In my case more out of necessity and just lucky it suits my instrument of choice.
  11. blowinblue

    blowinblue Kind of not blue. Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2006
    SoCal USA
    Yes, I've already moved in this direction. I'm now the John Cage of bass players. I just stand there for four sets ever so slightly swaying side to side, never making a sound. ;)

    M. M.
    Gabbs and Jah Wobble Fan like this.
  12. Son of Wobble

    Son of Wobble

    Mar 8, 2010
    Now we know why wages are stagnant or falling -- because your productivity is flagging.
    hrodbert696 and blowinblue like this.
  13. The fewer notes I play , the more I get paid for each one of them.:thumbsup:
    grrg63, Gabbs, P. Aaron and 1 other person like this.
  14. Busy is SO passé.
  15. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    2 Things:

    1. The less I play, the better I sound.

    2. Silence is a note. And it works in every key.

    So eventually I'm just gonna play nothing and be a virtuoso.
    skwee, P. Aaron, bassbobh and 3 others like this.
  16. Absolutely. What you don't play is as important as what you do play. I wish more musicians would realize this sooner in life - I'm not immune.

    It matters to the audience -- Most audiences will love this simplicity :thumbsup: This is especially good in live contexts, since sound is often compromised -- compared to a studio recording.

    I'm not saying fast or complex has no place. I'm saying many musicians play more notes than necessary IMO. Similarly, a good writer can communicate more using far fewer words.

    Every note obscures another ~ Brian Eno
    Winfred likes this.
  17. jthisdell


    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    Listen to Nickel Creek or the Punch Brothers if you want to hear the importance of sonic space.
  18. tshapiro

    tshapiro Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2015
    Jax Florida
    I play in a very tight band where we create lots of space and time for each other throughout the night. Generally, when we have a stand in player he's like "Look at all this space for me to solo over". Drives us nuts.
    Groove Doctor and P. Aaron like this.
  19. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    No, but I hope to get there eventually. :D
  20. Kinsman


    Jan 6, 2016
    I used to play a lot of notes. I was newly blown away by Jaco and was out to be the best bassist in the world, which of course meant lots of notes.

    Then a player I respected a lot (drummer Mel Brown) suggested that I play less, and he explained it a lot like some posts here..spaces just as important as notes.

    That was an important step in my journey.
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