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What do you think of when you play bass??

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by theshadow2001, Nov 8, 2004.


  1. theshadow2001

    theshadow2001

    Jun 17, 2004
    Ireland
    When I play bass i tend to hum the line inside my head. My drummer says that he counts the beats in his head, you know one and two an three and four etc and he plays away. I think that is would be quite beneficial for timing if i were to do this but when i try i seem to slip back into humming away or screwing up the line i tend to go more on the feel of things. not a bad approach probably but also probably not very pragmatic. Just curious what you other musicianers do.
     
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Usually the melody - and what I can do to compliment it.
     
  3. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    UK
    usually I think about what section's next and whether I need to pay attention for a drum fill, or make eye contact with someone in the band, or whether i need to dash to my mic for some BV's, or whether I should be trying to nudge the tempo or dynamics up or down, or even things like 'what is that girl in the audience wearing?'...

    and I spend a good portion of my gigs trying not to think about the fact that i've wrecked my thumb yet again and it's blistered and bleeding and it hurts and i've got blood on my bass :)

    it's hardly ever directly thinking about notes or technique
     
  4. I'm like you I hum the line or phrase that I'm about to play
    Although when I solo I go off the melody
     
  5. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I usually think of baseball; it keeps me from getting to the end of the song too fast. ;)

    In all seriousness, I think about two bars ahead of what I am actually playing. I try to envision where I'm going, rather than thinking of where I am right then.
     
  6. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Hm.. I never really thought about it (TB discussions very often bring up things I never thought of!), but I guess I sort of think along with the part I'm playing - maybe it's kind of hard to 'hear' the humming in my head over the bass itself! - but I guess I exaggerate the accents in my mind, so I'm thinking "bahdup-BAHH-dup-buDUP-ba-da"... uh - or something like that maybe.

    ..and if I have to think about the WORDS of a vocal part AT ALL, I'll screw up the bass part every time. I can sing and play pretty well, but the words have to be well-memorized!

    Joe
     
  7. It depends on which role I'm playing at the time. If I'm playing more of a rhythmic support role, I'm usually counting like the drummer.

    If I'm playing more of a driving force for the song, I'm usually sort of singing the line in my head. This really plays havoc when trying to sing backup at the same time, I tend to get the words in the right place but in the melody of my bassline.
     
  8. geez- I dont think of anything-at all! I just concentrate on what I'm playing. I assume it would be different if I was improvising.
     
  9. Some advice I've gotten from my teacher mike richmond that might be helpful, it was for me :

    (1) Always in the background of my mind I try to have the very smallest subdivision of the beat I can muster running like a clock and sometimes even picture a clock. The second/minute/hour/whatever doesn't move on until that very last moment. This helps achieve that wide blanket of bass that makes the wankers sound so good.

    (2) The infinity sign. Or anything that resembles big smooth continuity for you...use your own experiences and memories. Even when playing staccato, the greats have a really wide continuous pulse. Jaco did this really well.

    (3) Deep colors. Many high level musicians think in textures and colors, and you can see it if you listen with color in mind. Beehtoven, Hendrix, Metheney, BB King...whatever it is. Usually dark lush colors, greens browns and other earth tones. After all, sound is color (in some reasonable sense of the word). And we are a part of the earth, it's interesting to think that our music reflects that in color.

    :)
     
  10. AlembicPlayer

    AlembicPlayer Im not wearing shorts

    Aug 15, 2004
    Pacific Northwet, USA
    If we're talking about gig time...ideally, nothing at all.
    Rehearsal is where I may do some thinking while playing.

    If I don't know the piece by heart...I may be thinking of the coming changes...but ultimately, thinking derails the channeling of the muse for me. If I'm thinking of anything...I am not in the groove.


    Playing music is the one thing in my life where that damn internal dialog gets turned off..and if it doesn't, it reflects in the music in a not so positive way.

    this topic is like asking " what are you thinking about while making love"

    if you have to think...you may be missing out on the moment :bag:
     
  11. Bassart1

    Bassart1 Guest

    Jun 26, 2003
    When the break is and where the bar is.

    Seriously, it would depend on the gig.
    For a jazz date it would mean actively listening and responding
    while for a big band gig it would be thinking ahead in the chart and watching for the solo breaks including my own.

    For a corporate gig just listening, following the book (if there is one) and watching for the leaders cues.

    And...when the break is and where the bar is ;)
     
  12. lbanks

    lbanks

    Jul 17, 2003
    Ennui, IN USA
    Anything but what I'm doing....
     
  13. Minger

    Minger

    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    since i'm sitll relatively new to bass, more or less when my friend decides to go to the chorus and whatnot and what to play.

    lol, playin with ppls in church at least it teaches me to follow and nothing extremely difficult...:p
     
  14. NV43345

    NV43345

    Apr 1, 2003
    I think about girls in mini skirts. :) :cool: :ninja:
     
  15. This is where I am, thinking is a bad thing when it comes to music, this may be because I'm mostly an improviser but I try and leave the thinking to when I'm practicing. If I'm looking at a new song I try my best to get the sound of it in my head as soon as possible, hopefully in two or three times through the chord progression. If I'm real lucky the song will sound like other's I've done and I will almost be able to guess what changes are coming up.
    That's not to say that hearing what your about to play is a bad thing, but I don't try and force it. Sometimes my hands just do stuff, and other times I'll know how I'm going to end the phrase before I start it. The main thing is you can't force it (which is why I loath when a teacher tells me to play a walking bass line with only triads, because I don't hear in triads, I hear in melodic lines).
     
  16. birdsg

    birdsg

    Dec 18, 2003
    Birmingham England
    Guys, I got a question about all this thinking stuff and thought I would ask in here rather than start a new thread...

    We play covers and most so far are fairly straightforward (verse, chorus) etc and just listening to the song is enough to tell you when to change to next part of song. However, I just started to play signed, sealed and delivered by Stevie Wonder and although I can play all the way through most of the time I sometimes have moments of blind panic as in 'where are we now', 'is it the run down next or stay on f'? etc etc.

    I guess that if I just constantly repeat this all will be well? The structure is kinda weird to my way of thinking thats all and jumps around somewhat, should I be thinking of where to go and where I am or will it just happen with practice?

    Thanks for any replies

    Steve
     
  17. I'm not familiar with that song, but if the structure seems unnatural to you sometimes the best way is to count your way through it. Know how many bars there are to certain changes etc. Of course once you know this, you may also find it starts to feel natural.
     
  18. One thing that might help is to listen to the vocals and figure out the last vocal line before the change

    But If you're not comfortable with the song perhaps just listen to it a few times and imagine you playing the part
    Or If there are no vocals in the song a good thing is to group the song in sections
    ie - Intro ( --- bars )
    Verse ( ---bars )
    Chrous(---bars )
    Bridge (---bars )
    Outro (---bars )

    But you're right by repeating ( on the gig and practicing ) the song it will become second nature to you and you won't have to think you would just know where the changes are
     
  19. Squidfinger

    Squidfinger I wish I could sing like Rick Danko.

    Jan 7, 2004
    Shreveport LA
    I see geometric patterns on the finger board. Really.
     
  20. birdsg

    birdsg

    Dec 18, 2003
    Birmingham England
    Thanks Guys, some good suggestions, just need to listen and play over and over and over and over......

    Steve