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what are the core competencies to be considered a jazz bass player?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Duce-hands, Mar 22, 2014.

  1. Duce-hands


    Nov 4, 2010
    I've been giving my bass studies some thought lately, and the question arose in my head, what are the core competencies to be considered a jazz bass player? I've never gone to music school and my access to a local instructor has been limited but I am unwilling to let that be a deterence to my playing goals. Hopefully the responses will help me hone my studies into more applicable areas whilst limiting some of the unncessary hurdles. Thanks
  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Reading (chord charts and standard notation), improv bass lines over chord progressions, soloing, knowledge of the standard repertoire. Those are things that I think a bandleader would pretty much take for granted if I called myself a jazz player and accepted a gig.

    Of course, good enough technique to sustain your musicianship through the duration of a full gig.

    They are all matters of degree, i.e., you can get better at all of them as you progress.

    I'd recommend learning basic theory, though I'm not a strong theoretician myself.
  3. PJSim


    Jan 16, 2011
  4. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Pitch- spend hours every day with the bow and some form of pitch reference.

    Rhythm- spend hours every day with a metronome.

    Harmonic mastery- spend hours a week with the piano/ guitar learning harmony inside and out.

    Vocabulary- transcribe dozens of walking lines and solos.

    You honestly don't need to go to music school for any of this; you just have to sacrifice a big chunk of your life out of love for the music and the instrument.
  5. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    Know a ton of tunes and be able to play them in any key...and not just jazz tunes.

    Have good time and feel.

    Show up early enough to be ready to go by the downbeat.

    Conquer those and you'll always work.
  6. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    CDub, I have enormous respect for you and your contributions here. That said and meant, although I like your categories I don't think any of your activities are required to achieve competency as a jazz bassist based on the fact that I have been accused of competency and I've never spent hours a day or week on even one of them.

    People say all those things on your list help and I believe it, but my message is, "There are other ways to get there." For example, I've never transcribed a walking line or solo.

    Spot on. Completely agree.

    Rat own. To that fine list I add:

    0) Reflect your love of music at all times. Mere competence means nothing compared to this.
    1) Develop GIANT ears and use them.
    2) Be reliable in all aspects. Those include gear, transport, clarity of mind and honoring your commitments.
    3) Work to become someone you would like to hang with and play with.

    It's a life study.

    Next . . .
  7. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz
    Sam, with the bar having been raised so high, and the work having been cut in half, I stand by my requirements for "competency," albeit in the context of one of the large markets, and in regards to working in said markets. We tend to filter the world through our own lens, and this is no exception, por moi. Some people define "competency" as the ability to play a gig out of a real book with some amateur players for free. My own definition of "competency" is different than many players' definition. As always, YMMV.
  8. Develop a really good FEEL with your playing. Be confident, lead with a strong clear pulse, and watch the band come alive.

    Hal Galper has awesome youtube clips that will really open your mind.

    If you can't find a bass teacher, find a more experienced musician to mentor you (even if they're not a bass player).