Trying to learn to groove

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Forrest Thump, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. Forrest Thump

    Forrest Thump

    Jun 5, 2017
    I've been trying to put more of an urban bouncy kind of feeling in my playing. I've been trying to reproduce that r and b or Motown kind of funky rhythmic sound. Suggestions? Excercises? Bassists/bands to study?
    vroc38 likes this.
  2. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    IMO the only "exercises" you can do are with your ears. Listen a lot..and copy. It's more of a "feel" thing that can't be nailed with exercises. Try listening to some early Crusaders music. In those days Wilton Felder filled the bass chair (as well as saxophones) on a lot their albums.

  3. Pumpkin


    May 19, 2016
    Washington, DC
    Forgive me if this is esoteric and uninformative, but the groove must be felt. There are many things in music that can be counted, analysed and parsed to be understood; groove is not in that category. Don't get me wrong, you can listen to everything from Motown and transcribe it all and count subdivisions, analyse harmony, melody, etc., etc., but if you try to apply that mathematically to your playing you won't get to where you want to go. The groove greats like Bootsy Collins and Larry Graham could make a groove out of one note- so I would suggest starting there. Play one note and work with differing rhythm and attack until you feel the groove/ bounce that you want. Once you've felt it on one note you can add to it, but the emphasis needs to be on feeling it all the way. If You Want Me to Stay is a great example of a song with a ton of bounce, but not a ton different pitches on the bass. You have to feel the groove. Relax, enjoy it, and don't get ahead of the feel.

  4. Learn to dance.
  5. I look at the drummer's kick drum pedal and then lock in with his kick drum. No drummer then you are the beat master. In these cases I lock in with the lead vocalists. Yes it is a feel thing. If your head is not moving you are not grooving.

    Listen to some music with your bass on it's stand. Clap the beat. When you feel/hear the groove start playing. Nothing says you have to play the first verse. Listen for the beat, then join in.

    Good luck.
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    Pumpkin 's take is the correct direction, i think.

    before folks called it a "groove" --- players called it a "feel" or a "feeling." similar to the "swing" thing: the notes on the sheet don't tell the whole story. (as was Pumpkin 's point.)
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  7. Badwater

    Badwater Guest

    Jan 12, 2017
    I found this helpful.

    Before the internet, I had to learn music the old fashioned way: watch, listen, and emulate.
  8. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    There are many elements of'groove', make sure you build your awareness and skill across of all of them.
    Most beginners -and most learning materials - focus on notes and technique.
    But each of the elements can be isolated and practiced (that's the whole point of Victor's Groove Workshop DVD)

    'good' players with 'no groove' are merely skilled at some of these elements, and lacking in others.

  9. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Take some time and only listen to music with the grooves you're trying to emulate A LOT. Then, play along with it. Don't take a groove class. It can't be taught. Emulating a groove, or feel, is something that comes with experience. If you hear those grooves enough, and play those songs enough, you'll feel those grooves.
    I was lucky. I grew up listening to Motown and other great classic R&B stuff. I knew how that music felt before I ever picked up a bass.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  10. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    When it comes to funk and soul, it's a feeling, not a technique.

    You have to have a slight attitude when playing. I let the drummer pull me along, with objections. What that means is, I play with an attitude that says "You go ahead. I'll get there when I get there. You and making me go no faster."

    The "groove" is exactly that. The drummer is right in the middle. He/she is the groove. When playing rock and country, you sit right on top of the drummer. The kick and bass should sound like on instrument.

    Funk and soul is a different beast altogether. You want to be in the back of the groove. The drummer plows right on through. You play relaxed.

    You want to suck the funk out of a funk song? Rush it. (James Brown being one of the rare exceptions.) You ever see a local band play Brick House? Most likely they played it MUCH faster than the original. (Some of the bands I work with really roll their eyes when I go off on them for rushing a funk song.) It's AWFUL!

    So, the first thing you can practice is letting a song/drummer pull you along. Instead of rushing it, do the opposite.
    Big Shrek, noodler and Whousedtoplay like this.
  11. tshapiro

    tshapiro Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2015
    Jax Florida
    Learn to play syncopated drum beats (on drums)
  12. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I keep saying this, but I dunno if anyone listens to me-- but it's true. Pick a lick and play it til you drop. Don't stop. Let your mind wander, or empty. Don't think, just feel. It's like meditation, you can't MAKE it happen, you have to LET it happen. Thinking gets in the way, blocking the path. As time goes by your muscles relax and begin to become more coordinated. Keep going and you will get there. When you search for the Holy Grail, sometimes it's best to let the Grail come to you instead. Playing endlessly without thinking about it puts you in the right posture to receive it.
    Big Shrek likes this.
  13. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    Listen to OLD stuff, where they had out of tune notes occasionally, a clam here and there, and records before click tracks and God Forbid, digital recordings where they've been 'time corrected' and quantized and have all the soul of an atomic clock. You have to be able to swing, the time has to breathe, and you have to hear when the rhythm section stands up on its' hind legs and tells the rest of the band 'you better jump on this train now'.

    In so many cases, music now doesn't breathe, and no better than a lot of playing you hear on current records, you too will learn to have all the groove of an egg timer.

    There's no better quick lesson than listen to a lot of James Brown, then follow the branches from his tree. JB's grooves are built on the various players LOCKED to a pattern in the tune, with no parts that require NAMM-Show skill levels. Simple parts individually that combine to a groove that swings like a large machine's flywheel. Take this to heart, and you'll see there would have been no Prince, Sly, or a lot of others without those giant roots.

    . . . . . . there, I feel better.
  14. BassAndReeds

    BassAndReeds Guest

    Oct 7, 2016
    A lot can be learned about ones own playing by recording oneself. Maybe try recording yourself alongside tunes you admire, listen back, and self analyze what you think you played vs what you heard in the recording. I know sometimes I think I'm doing one thing, but in reality it doesn't sound like I intend.
    btmpancake, lfmn16 and Nashrakh like this.
  15. Polfuste


    Sep 10, 2010
    South France
    As previously said; the groove must be felt. One example i dig: listen to the groove between bass, drums and singer.

    This feeling is like, well; everything is at his exact place at each moment and can't be elsewhere. Like a big perfect wave from the band on which the singer surfes as hell. :D
  16. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    I disagree with people saying it can't be learn. Groove is like the new word from "feel" ... to me it is like being an actor. You play sad when it is time, you play happy, angry, unsure etc etc etc etc

    same with music, you are acting in a way, especially when you do cover.

    All music groove ... not only funk, reggea and rock. Metal, jazz and classical music do too !!! Groove is more than dancing music. and yes a lot of classical music is dance music. The feel is just different because the dance is different.

    So yes it is possible to work on playing a part with a lot of emotion, love, angry or whatever. A lot of classical music had word written to tell you like this place is to be played like gigue or this part is played poco a poco etc. Why it would be different for rocker ???

    I still don't understand why rockers need the feel to reinvent the wheel.
  17. Listen to the music enough and it will come naturally
  18. bass12

    bass12 Have You Met Grace Jones?

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    I think there are plenty of programmed and time corrected parts that groove pretty hard. :)
    Whousedtoplay likes this.
  19. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    Well, and Grace Too, to me it implies that the time of the assembled musicians is not going to cut it (and believe me, there's plenty that need help, I must admit), but I am not willing to universally apply that to anyone and everyone. I just feel like that all the possibilities offered in a digital recording environment do not have to all be used always in every case. And yes there are some robo-funk records that work, but I always prefer humans, warts, time imperfections, and all.
  20. Whousedtoplay


    May 18, 2013
    I would highly recommend Ed Friedland's "Bass Grooves" book.




    When I've started playing the bass, there were no Ed Friedland's or Groove Master's books about "Groove".
    I, kind of, felt it inside and created my "vision", my explanation/s of that feeling that made me "move".

    One of the BIGGEST .... I've heard and seen at some Forums is that
    ONLY(!) Motown Music grooves!

    Country music can Groove.
    Pop music can Groove, even Trance music can Groove.

    P.S. I have nothing(!) against newly-found academic terms like, "negative rhythm", but, somehow(!) I've survived without knowing about that term for decades!

    P.S. 2. Yes, "groove" can be taught but I think that it's more about any musician's internal "gift/talent" towards swing/groove.

    I've watched some of the videos from this thread and was a little bit disappointed - too many notes, too much of intricate rhythmic patterns, no "breathing", etc...

    P.S. There are quite a few songs/compositions where the arranger wants to purposely mess up that groove, but this thread is not about it.

    There are SO many - hundreds of thousands of songs/compositions that groove.
    Here is one composition from the album that I'm currently listening, "Kenya Kane", from one of my favorite "easy-listening" multitalented and extremely-wide ranging (classical, folk, swing, funk, etc...) musician, Nils Landgren's album, "Funk For Life".

    Here is a short - Intro - soundclip from that composition, just slower in order to hear the bass notes lengths, dynamics, etc...
    Listen to that bass line, to its interaction with the drums and other rhythm section instruments. Try to describe in your own words what you "feel" about that rhythm pattern. Can you explain that rhythm groove to other musicians?

    P.S.3. I hope I won't get involved in any lame argument like in the thread about the use of the Metronome.

    Attached Files:

    Big Shrek and bholder like this.