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The rhythm section - locking in with drums

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by static0verdrive, May 1, 2015.

  1. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    I guess it depends on what you mean by lock in. I lock in with the drummer and primarily listen to the bass drum, but I play complimentary to it, I don't play the exact same thing the bass drum is playing. I play in a guitar/bass/drums/singer configuration and although I pay more attention to the drums, I also listen to the guitar. It's a balancing act and IMHO if you ignore either the band won't sound tight.
  2. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    And judging by this thread, it means too many things to too many people for a useful conclusion to be drawn.
    lfmn16 likes this.
  3. eric_B


    Apr 19, 2015
    The Netherlands
    Right. Don't talk, just lock in ;).
  4. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    When I started playing with some new guys, the drummer told me he got creeped out because I kept looking his way. :rolleyes:
  5. Bares repeating.

    " it just sounds better to have the two lowest frequency instruments "locked-in." In this instance, "locking-in" with the kick is more about the groove and phrasing of your bassline than tempo."

    Key word is phrasing and I'll bet whatever incredibly funky Motown record you can dig up, the bassmans melodic phrasing will in fact line right on up with the drums, particularly his kick. The bass, keys, drum combo is called a "rhythm" section for a reason, we're all drums or percussive instruments.
  6. If you're playing solo bass somewhere you better be able to create your own groove, no doubt. If you're playing with other musicians, you better be able to communicate, share ideas and play together. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that, personal preferences aside.
  7. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    it is hard to not lock with the drum if the drummers double every rythm pattern the bass and the guitar do ... just like I said in my post, if you play eight 8th note per bar ... it will be hard to miss the kick drum and the snare and he may as well play 8th note on his cymbals.

    I hate the term "rythm section" as it implies that music is made in layer and every instrument put in that "rythm section" is somekind of second class Citizen class to the soloist or the singer.

    I'm starting to think that I hear music in a different way. To me the drum is just a metronome in most music where the guitars, piano, bass and vocal are like 4 mélodies playing together in a cohesive way.
    Last edited: May 6, 2015
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  8. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I played music in a band without a drummer, we had a percussionnist, I also played in an orchestra ... no need of the drum to play well, follow the changes, have the right tempo and add something to the music.

    I also have the feeling that without a drum, the bass is freed of that "pitch percussion" mentality. We can be the 4th melody just like in a 4 parts harmony.
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    "I Can't Help Myself," "Ain't That Peculiar," "Same Old Song," "Get Ready," "Reach Out (I'll Be There)..."

    All songs where the bassline plows over the drums and doesn't line up with the bass drum. And those are just off the top of my head.
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I hate that "pitched percussion" line of thinking. If I wanted to play percussion, I'd play percussion.
    Clef_de_fa and Capt.Obvious like this.
  11. Isn't that the wonderful thing about art? All the interpretation. I think we perhaps construct the images in our mind's eye a bit differently.

    Interestingly, I see music, in my minds eye, almost opposite to your interpretation. On a fundamental level the bass is the metronome for me and music is the layering of sound textures. My jazz training taught me to indeed see the rhythm section as a separate entity, another layer. The rhythm section was not a second class citizen but rather the King of the castle. In big band, the rhythm section will often break away for smaller combo stuff, the gigs that can't afford the whole 15 piece band basically. Whatever horn players/soloists that show up is an after thought. People really come to see the rhythm section. :thumbsup:

  12. I'll need to google those tunes tonight and we can dissect them. I'm going to guess the phrase of every bassline, no matter how busy, is in fact 'groove sauce' and therefore locked in to what the drums are doing. Hell who knows how the composition process went down. Maybe the drummer built his beats around the bassman.
  13. I don't know about you, but I enjoy a little slapping and popping now and again, which incidentally originated as a string bass technique.

    This might be why I was so initially attracted to the bass. It seems to me the perfect synthesis between drums and melody. We can slap like a percussion instrument, pluck like a stringed instrument or bow as if we're mimicking the breathiness of a singer. All while playing with the biggest frequencies in the string section.
  14. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    yeah but ... unlike slap on DB, slap on bass is pretty much a rythm thing and too often lock in a pentatonic Emin line ... I heard some rock-a-billy where the slap line add something to the drum or percussion stuff and the guy played a walking bass line or a more melodic thing during solos, it sounded more alive and free to me. On bass I like what Alain Caron and Victor Wooten do with it as it is more like another plucking sound to them, they could play the same line either finger style or slap and it wouldn't matter, most of the time when people slap, the line stop being melodic and become a drum with pitch.
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  15. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Like you said we are at the complete opposite and I think a lot more people think like you do than I do.

    As for this is art ... let's not slip on that subject :p
    Capt.Obvious likes this.
  16. I'm relatively new to playing bass. It was my first rock instrument and I always wrote bass lines, but I rarely have played bass until the last 8 months. Since then I've been thinking about this idea a lot: the idea of the relationship between drums and bass.

    There are many songs with bass lines that only follow the root in 8th notes without regard to the kick (in terms of emphasis). These bass lines can function well, and in fact, sometimes they are necessary when other instruments are taking on more melodic roles.

    Then there are bass lines the way I tend to write them: as melodies that emphasize the root notes most of the time but sometimes use passing tones on weaker beats, but tend to move to the next root by scale steps, chord tones, or both. This kind of thinking is inline with what someone else here referred to as the bass as 4th voice, though for me, if I'm writing a bass line to someone else's tune, I will try to write contrapuntally, with as much contrary motion as possible, to make an interesting bass line; though many times the songs written in my band begin as a bass line and I rely on the other players to create a counterpoint to my bass line.

    The bass players that I have noticed that often play bass with the kick drum tend to do so in (what I would call) a somewhat boring way (not always, of course). The rhythms of the kick sync with the rhythms of the bass: this is generally a good sound, so that the kick articulates the bass sounds. The two basic ways this happens is that either the bass follows the kick or the kick emphasizes the bass rhythm.

    I tend to write bass lines in two ways:
    1) either as bass melodies, or
    2) as driving lines (that can take the place of a rhythm guitar so that it can freed for solos, while also trying to fill in enough harmonic space; i.e., not just root notes).

    In both cases I've mostly given up trying to use the kick drum to articulate my bass lines. Though of course I use my ears to make sure I'm in time. I have not, however, found it any more advantageous to listen to the kick specifically, since the entire kit is working together to maintain the tempo, and kick drums are rarely mic'ed in rehearsals anyway.

    I suspect that the idea of listening to the kick drum is more of a pedagogical aid to teach bass players to listen, but syncing bass and kick drum is only one technique for writing an affective bass line.
    Last edited: May 25, 2015
  17. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    This has been discussed a lot over the years here on TB. I'm always surprised to see so many people saying that "locking in with the drums" means that most (or even all) of the bassline notes should be simultaneous with kick drum hits. If you listen to some tunes at random from a range of styles you'll find that doesn't actually happen that often, as Jimmy showed with just a few examples.

    To me, locking with the drummer means just playing well-synchronised, complementary time and feel (and feeling it when it happens).
    Howlin' Hanson likes this.
  18. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    "locking with the drummer"
    "playing in the pocket"

    for all it teaches, you may as well just say "playing well"
  19. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    Which is why we often mic only the kick, even in small gigs or rehearsals. It's not so much to make it louder but mostly to hear it better.

    I like the sound of the bass melding with the kick. It's almost like it's only one big instrument.
    static0verdrive likes this.
  20. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Of course "playing well" is not a concrete, discreet concept.

    My point has always been that the answer to the question
    "how do I lock with the drummer / groove / play in the pocket?"
    is effectively the same as the answer to the question
    "how do I play well?"

    and the latter avoids distraction by slippery non musical slang, metaphor, and clashing interpretations.

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