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To all the church players on TB...

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by calebplaysbass, Feb 9, 2006.

  1. I've noticed that numerous people on TalkBass, like myself, are players for churches. I've never really gotten a chance to talk to many other church bass players so i thought i'd take the chance to pose some questions to you all.

    For starters, do you guys ever have to play stuff that, as far as the bass goes, is boring? Stuff like the simple 1,4,5,4 groove. And does the band leader goes off on you for trying to "spice things up?"

    Another thing is, what praise songs are your favorite to play from a bass standpoint? Stuff with a funky gospel groove or what? My personal favorite is "You Are Good" by Israel Houghton cause i get 8 bars where i get to improvise a solo :D

    This is the sort of thing that i've been wanting to talk about since i've started playing bass with my church but since i don't know many other bass players it's kinda hard...Well to all the church guys out there, keep on rockin for God!
  2. Roundwound


    May 13, 2004
    Peoria, IL
    This thread should address some of what you are looking for: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=227248

    Most of the time the songs I play are relatively simple mixed with appropriately-placed complex fills or grooves. Church bass is not about boring or fun...It has a big role in facilitating the changing mood and tempo of the worship set and is an extension of personal worship. Sometimes it's a little funky, sometimes a little rockin', and sometimes mellow, but ALWAYS praisin'. A lot of what you play will depend on the flexibility/needs/etc. of your congregation. It's an entirely different animal from playing in any other musical setting.
  3. JoshB

    JoshB A great man is always willing to be little. -RWE Supporting Member

    I've played at a few places where that has been the case. When I get called to sub at churches that aren't my own, I keep things simple unless they ask me to "spice" things up. Ususally though, the church I play at is pretty cool about trying new things. I've played with a slide and an ebow along with effects once in awhile. I love it.

    We play a lot of David Crowder and Chris Tomlin, that kind of stuff at my home church and I like it fine. But I can't say that I don't LOVE playing at churches that do a little gospel. The energy is outstanding!

    You'd be surprised how many there are that just aren't very vocal about being bassists. Keep looking, you'll find some.
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I play in church on occassion but honestly for me, first and foremost it's a gig.

    I don't consider songs with simple turnarounds boring... if you're feeling the song, how can it be? If you're not feeling the song... try harder;). If you're really in the spirit, that shouldn't be all that difficult. If you're concentrating on the level of difficulty of the song, I think you might be missing the point. No offense.

    The same goes for me in secular music... think I really want to play Brickhouse for the eight millionth time? I'm not playing it "for me" and I completely understand that. It's a gig.

    On "spicing things up": No offense again but most bassists I know don't have a clue that what they consider simply spicing it up in reality is just screwing things up groove-wise. Hope that isn't the case with you;). Listen, I mean really listen and then pick your spots. Way more effective then continually stepping on other's parts.

    OTOH some leaders don't want any deviations. If that's the type you have and you know that, the rest should be simple. Stay within the lines or find another coloring book:D
  5. pulseczar


    May 7, 2004
    San Jose, CA
    My church is very traditional, like hardcore traditional. It's always been pure piano accompaniment to the choir, but lately we've been adding bassists within our parish which is awesome, but drums are still pretty taboo.

    When I started out playing, I was very bored I tried to pull Jacoescue licks which was really a turnoff because I it didn't fit with the song at all. As I played more and listened, I realize that that stuff don't have a place in church because the music is only to help praise god and even then I'm only boosting the piano's presence.

    Every once in a while though, when I get bored or mad at the conductor (because sometimes she just doens't know how to conduct) I will make an awesome groove. There was this one time I did a calypso groove in church and it threw the choir off and all the 'seniors' in church gave me a bad look. Good times.
  6. yeah i totally understand about the fact that it doesn't have to be all difficult and complex and "fun" in worship. And mostly, it's enough to just be playing a rocking song that i know and love so i can just rock out and praise God in that sort of way. But sometimes it's just like you wanna use every part of your talent to praise God. You just wanna show off and have a blast with it cause God gave it to you and you wanna give some back. Doesn't happen often but it's a beautiful thing when it does. Seeing Abe Laboriel at a conference a few months back certainly solidified this in my mind. Seeing that man on stage is just a sight. He worships through his bass. That's just how he does it. It's really amazing...if you have a chance to go see him and listen to him speak about worship, go for it. I was greatly moved by it
  7. JoshB

    JoshB A great man is always willing to be little. -RWE Supporting Member

    To preface this...this is just my opinion on playing bass in a worship setting.

    The only thing about showing off or throwing off a song, (even when the leader is pissing you off...) is that you are defeating your purpose. In a church setting, your job as a musician is to lead people into worship. When you become a distraction, you take peoples focus off of God or worshiping God and put it on yourself. When you are out playing a show, it's part of your job to be a showman. When you're playing a church gig, your job is to blend into the background and keep everything steady. Again, this is my opinion. I'm not saying to just suck it up and be bored, but remember who you're there to serve...
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    It's a fine line that sometimes must be walked. A more animated performance might inspire some and repel others.

    Taken in it's strictest sense, showing off is vanity... isn't it?;)
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I've seen Abe a few times. No offense but sometimes he gets out of control IMO. That's his thing and I respect it.
  10. Fire-Starter

    Fire-Starter Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2002

    +1 but I also understand where the poster of the thread is comming from.:cool:
  11. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I play in a Catholic church with no drums, only occasional percussion, so it's not exactly a groove-fest to begin with. Whenever I "spice things up" I usually get universally approving glances and gestures from everyone who notices.

    When I bring my fretless 6 string I play chords during some of the Mass parts, most noticably the psalm. I love playing a G chord (G on 3, V on 2, octave on 1) then going to the D inversion (V on 3, D on 2, 3rd on 1). Nobody notices but me how the notes around the center note which ends up being the D on string 2 change off with the D being constant. It's nothing special I just like the sound of it. Throw in some minor chords and things really get neat. Our guitar player likes when I play chords. I don't think anybody else notices. :)
    The christmas carol "Angels We Have Heard On High", I play a really busy part that walks around the "gloria - in excelsis deo" vocal melody in the chorus with some chromatic stuff, I absolutely love to play it. Anything with a key change in it I instantly love, but that's just in general, not specifically for church music.

    I also like playing some of the really old traditional hymns when I have my 6 string. I love to use those low notes below "E" PRODIGIOUSLY. There is no more appropriate place for those low low low notes than old hymns that were originally written for pipe organ.
  12. i dont play bass for sunday morning church, instead, i play for my high school group on mondays. I enjoy it a lot, (thats why i do it every week.) umm, as far as doing different stuff and "fancy" crap...i dont really do it cuz i've found that it takes away from the "worship" and its harder for people to focus. and thats what its all about, the worship. im not trying to show off becuase i dont think i need to. i dont need to pull off some cool lick, or something of that sort because i know my skill level and i shouldnt have to show that threw worship music.
    i do mainly root notes and make it grovey. I do some transition notes most of the time to make it flow better. but other than that....nothing else, oh yea, and i help with the dynamic in the song.
  13. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Of course. That's all part of being a bassist. Sometimes it's funky, sometimes it is what it is.

    Better not. I AM the band leader. I'd kick my a$$ if I ever told myself something stupid like that. ;)
    Playing that one this coming Sunday. :hyper: :hyper: :bassist: :bassist:

  14. scuba steve

    scuba steve

    Dec 28, 2005
    Hillsboro, Tx
    i play in church 3 times a week, and some songs get boring because alot of newer progressive worship music(not rush, king crimson, or dream theater prog, but modern worship music, ya'll know what i mean), is very "driving". alot of times when playing chris tomlin or david crowder stuff, i have to just play with the basss drum and keep the song solid and moving, but i play fills and cool little parts when i feel it will add to the song and not be distracting or hindering. but we also wright most of the stuff we play and my band leader lets me wright my own parts to the song most of the time. were recording a cd right now and i'll give ya'll a listen when its done. ya'll should give tommy walker a listen. he's not really my cup of tea, but he and his band are amazing musicians for you funky, jazzy kinda guys.
  15. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Brad Johnson brings up a great point. Amatuer and fledgling bassists often get obsessed with showing their licks instead of playing the song well. Playing a song, even a simple song well is an art. Look how much money Nathan East and Pino Pallidino make for mostly playing straight ahead pop flawlessly.
    As Brad said, get into the spirit of the song and inspire yourself to play it well. Lastly, take your time and pick your spots well for ad libbing. Recently, I was complimented profusely for a performance when I simply added some thumps and pops at the end of a song. Everything else I did was pretty straight forward yet just that one touch got me noticed. If I had done that three or four times, it would have simply been annoying and gotten in the way of the choir.
  16. i play in church about 50 times a year and i will say that being all flashy has almost no place in a church at all. stick close to the root and keep it simple and grooving, add your part to the song, but don't take away from it at all or you will be noticed in a bad way. this isn't to say that i don't tap or slap or stuff like that in church, but don't try to be jaco or wooten

  17. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard Commercial User

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Black Dog Bass Works
    p.s. For me, the thrill is just locking into a groove with the drummer and feeling the energy of hundreds of people getting closer to God.:D
  18. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Sometimes you're the dog, sometimes the tree Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Palm Coast, FL
    I like the variety and musicianship!

    We have really good musicians and I don't feel like I have to carry things - just do MY part and know that they others won't be off doing bonehead stuff. Lots of communication and trading off, too.

    In some ways I like the mid-week service (much smaller - only about 800) better than the 3 weekend services since it is only piano, bass, and drums. Lots of space there to add TASTY stuff - not just lots of licks that don't fit.

    Also, much better hours, better PA, no smoke, no drunks, no payment hassles, and appreciation! And you still get people dancing to the groove! Can't beat that in any other place I've played.

    Dan K. :bassist:
  19. chilliwilli


    Aug 17, 2005
    Well shout music has alot of simple progressions, but its very fast and exciting. Im not really bored when i play gospel music, there is always a nice variety and plenty of different approaches.

    Some songs are need a ballad approach and require alot taste, others are jazzier, and most of the stuff is pretty funky.

    It might depend on the church you play at though. I for one have played at a Haitian baptist church and an African American baptist church. I also helped a friend out in a non denominational church that had a predominantly white following. All three were different.

    The non deominational one wasnt all that great and boring at times. Lots of ballads that all sounded similar and singers who had difficulty singing in key. We never rehearsed, so it wasnt all that great, but at least i had chord changes so i wasnt totally lost.

    The Haitian church was more interesting since we played kompa and i had started playing 5 string recently so the b string came in handy on kompas and more traditional gospel numbers. It still wasnt that great though. We never had a rehearsal and there was no written music plus we played different songs every week so i couldnt get familiar. It was very unorganized. All we had was drums, keys, and bass with ppl from congregation taking turns singing. I remember one time there was a song with a vocal intro. i figured it would be a good time to ask what key it was in since we werent doing anything except waiting. He said he didnt know the vocalists change it every week :meh:

    Now the black church im starting to get with now is great. They have some serious musicians in there who are dedicated. I met the guy who is musical director at Sam Ash when he approached about my playing. Hes been filling in on bass now because there guy left, hes real good considering hes only been playing a year. Hes also amazing on the drums and can play keys well. Im starting to play there and we are gonna start chilling since he doesnt have many bass playing friends. He knows alot of great gospel musicians outside of his church too, some of them touring with artists, so i mgiht get to play with some of the best. Well anyway i get to do alot of stuff here: Thumping, walking, etc. and since the other musicians are of a much higher caliber ill learn.

    And about the flashy argument:

    I dont agree that it has no place in church. Some of it has flashier slap lines, walking and if the spirit moves you sometimes you just cant help it. Its not like you trying to make ppl think more about you than God. I also dont think it disrupts focus. A show of musicianship doesnt sabotage the service because you are doing it for the right reasons.
  20. The Owl

    The Owl

    Aug 14, 2005
    Well. this Owl does alternate and fill in for my church's regular bassist every so often (I just came off a 4-week stint as he and wife had their first child).

    I'm extremely fortunate to work with a music/worship director that is extremely generous to the musicians, has more than enough faith in our God-given abilities as musicians and people that he lets us read the tunes and interpret/create as needed. Never once has he gotten upset at me for adding spice to the songs, he actually welcomes it. The repetoire ranges from folky/introspective things to R&B-ish worship songs and the occasional old hymn reinterpreted. His willingness to surrender the need for absolute control really frees him (and everyone else) up to put their hearts fully into the service and have a great time doing so.

    I've enjoyed the quieter more introspective tunes because, where it works musically, I can interject litle countermelodies, I like the all-out rockers a ton too, and there's one song "Take My Life-" I enjoy because I get to make this powerful dramatic entrance on low-E on the last chorus. In the end, I just enjoy being able to praise God through passionate playing and supporting the music directed to Him.

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