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What am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by TheIndieKid, Nov 30, 2017.

  1. So this might be a weird one, but whenever I play, my grandma keeps saying to me “put some emotion in to your playing”. She’s not a bass player, but I play harder in some parts, so as to accent my playing, and she says “Don’t play loud, just less methodical. Let your notes fall short (staccato, I guess) or ring out a bit more.”

    I’m doing all this, and and she still says there’s something lacking in my playing. I thought my feel and groove is okay. I guess you wouldn’t be able to tell without hearing me playing, but anyone hazard a guess at what she’s on about?
    Drang22, Spin Doctor and Torrente Cro like this.
  2. LOl this reminds me so much of a story I read somewhere.

    So a musician goes to study with a master teacher. He studies and works hard and the teacher always says, "hmmm, something lacking..." This goes on for years. There's always something lacking. Fed up, he leaves the teacher and goes out on his own. He goes from town to town trying to get something going, but it's not happening for him. He basically loses everything but is still trying.

    He's homeless, living like a bum, playing on the streets. So not caring anymore, he picks up his instrument and just plays. Just so happens, his old teacher is in that town and hears his playing and he says to him:

    frEQ, Conkal, Charlzm and 9 others like this.
  3. saltydude


    Aug 15, 2011
    boston CANADA
    With those comments she must be very perceptive to you. I'd listen to her. Put some soul in it son!!:bassist:
    Badwater, andruca, Spidey2112 and 6 others like this.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Are you practicing all by yourself, or do you practice along with recordings? I think that jamming along with your favorite songs, the music that you love, will help you develop "feeling" in your playing,. :)
    swooch, Badwater, Bioflava and 4 others like this.
  5. Record yourself playing and see if you sound the way you want to. My experience is that it doesn't happen that often...
  6. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    Could be she is asking for you to be the bass, own the lines you play, once more with feeling.

    She may be right. We copy too often. She may hear you playing the notes but it sounds like you are repeating someone’s lines. Could be?

    She could be wrong. She maybe hearing an isolated bass line and it doesn’t sound active enough so she is suggesting you spice it up.

    No one here can answer this. Think about it yourself though
    TheIndieKid likes this.
  7. mmon77

    mmon77 Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Southern MN
    There's a big difference between just playing the notes, and playing the notes with feeling and emotion. Without feeling and emotion, there is no groove, and the parts just sound sterile and lifeless. This is probably what she is referring to.

    As was suggested, record what you're playing and listen to it. If it doesn't make you want to get up and move, then something is missing. Many times you just need to practice playing enough that you feel comfortable with the parts and don't have to think about them. Then the groove just sort of comes with it.
    TheIndieKid and Honch like this.
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Just the fact that she's taking interest in what you're doing is very cool. The suggestion to record yourself and examine it is a great one.
    bass nitro, design, frEQ and 8 others like this.
  9. Mr.Ace

    Mr.Ace Bass players rule!

    Sep 8, 2015
    Pompano Beach FL
    Endorsed by Fusion ( maker of killer gig bags)
    I think what helped me was jamming with as many people as I could. Lots of jam sessions and just playing with friends around the house
  10. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    like @Spin Doctor said
    We spend so much time concentrating on what we're playing, trying to make it perfect, that facets of what we do sometimes slip by unnoticed. Being able to hear yourself played back is, at first, a tough thing to tolerate. But don't let it discourage you. Listen and notice what you don't think is up to par in your playing, then go back and concentrate on that aspect, record it, and see if it's more palatable. Repeat until you like it. Some of it is "feeling" what you're playing more so than just the mechanics of it. If you feel it, there is a tangible return in your playing.

    Good Luck!
  11. PullThePlug


    Jan 8, 2014
    Your grandmother sounds awesome. It's pretty cool that she gives you honest feedback.

    Anyways, it sounds like you're probably playing a little stiff (such as your shoulders locking up, maybe too tight with your grip on the neck or strings, etc.)

    Practice and listening to yourself play will help this. Playing along with tunes, recording yourself and playing it back is HUGE. You'll be able to pick up on where you feel stiff (lacking emotion) in certain parts. Lastly, relaxing helps quite a bit. Focus playing on beat, rather than anticipating whats coming next or what you just played. Feel the moment and let the mood carry you.
    frEQ, Badwater, JeffC23 and 4 others like this.
  12. jmone


    Mar 1, 2010
    Maybe a lack of comfortability with the instrument. I remember when I first picked up the bass my teacher would tell me I'm not playing with enough emotion and while I was technically playing what was written the feel just wasn't there and I never understood. This wasn't something I could just learn but something developed over time and I think back now to some of those songs and laugh about how awful I was. Because I wasn't comfortable I was too busy making sure I was hitting the right notes, my left and right hand technique was correct, making sure my timing was correct ... as I got better I no longer had to think about those things as much as it becomes sub conscious.

    But also when I was living back home my mom asked why I didn't learn guitar and equated my bass playing to the sound of a vacuum cleaner so....
    TheIndieKid and mmon77 like this.
  13. rendevouz


    Jan 8, 2013
    You need to be the bass, talk the bass, walk the bass, eat the bass, and you will need a bass face:cool:
    TheIndieKid, Sixgunn and Oddly like this.
  14. Oddly

    Oddly Unofficial TalkBass Cartographer! Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Your grandma's not Carol Kaye is she?

    It's very cool she takes an interest.
    I reckon she just means you need to loosen up...maybe you and her should open a bottle of whiskey and have a few glasses as you practice. That'll get you there.
  15. BurnOut

    BurnOut It's The Billy Baloney Show Supporting Member

    Feb 1, 2015
    The Natti
    Listen to how the lyrics are flowing, that's usually a big help to getting the feel and emotion of a song.
    TheIndieKid likes this.
  16. Shishka Bob

    Shishka Bob

    May 28, 2017
    Your Gram is cool. You should buy her a set of drums, and then, when she makes the helpful jabs, you can blame HER for not having enough je ne seis quoi.
    TheIndieKid likes this.
  17. FMBassist


    Nov 27, 2017
    Milford PA
    I think that what she is trying to say is, play more melodic and less rhythmic. If you do that, you will stand out more. It will also allow you to play with feeling and touch; and not just use a sledge hammer.
    TheIndieKid likes this.
  18. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    Relax your attack on the strings.
    TheIndieKid and Honch like this.
  19. Don DJ

    Don DJ

    Jun 30, 2016
    Durham, NC
    How long have you been playing? The more experience you get, the more comfortable you'll feel, and you'll be better able to feel the music, not just play the right notes at the right time.
    TheIndieKid likes this.
  20. Sounds like gram has a good ear for music, she can tell you are not becoming one with the bass, no one said it was easy, oh wait everyone says it's easy ha ha ha. But she is right record yourself playing, and see if you pickup on the things she feels are missing in your playing, Have her point them out during the play back. I remember a young guy who played in the school band my son was in and he was a good sight reader and could play flawlessly, but he was robotic and stale sounding this could also be your situation as well possibly. Playing with feeling is a phrase used and it really is a real thing. Great example, listen to a classically trained violin player then listen to some high school kid playing the same piece you will get a better perspective of what your gram is bringing to your attention. Good Luck RTS
    Badwater, Lvjoebass and TheIndieKid like this.

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