What is groove?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by b3nd3r, Apr 14, 2002.

  1. I've been working on a paper for an anthropology class here at university on bass playing, with a particular focus on groove. And what I've come to realize is that defining groove is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks I've yet to encounter. I know what groove is when I feel it but I can't sit down and explain it. So what I'm asking all you nice folk out there is give me your thoughts on what you think constitutes groove.
  2. supergreg


    Jan 20, 2002
    I dont think groove can be defined. It's something thats inside almost everyone one of us.
  3. Like a big dog

    Like a big dog

    Jun 18, 2001
    Texas, USA
    I had the same problem trying to explain this to my friend yesterday.

    All I could really tell him was that groove is different than just keeping the beat and different than just playing a song. It is more or less a flow of compatible notes with organic timing.

    However, I'm extremely new at playing bass. It is the first instrument I've ever tried to play, and the world of music is still extremely unknown to me. If that explanition is completely wrong, let me know, because I'm trying to teach all of this stuff to myself.
  4. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Well, as the group, Deee-lite, once said: Groove is in the heart

    :D :D :D
  5. whew! i must say that i have encountered this problem myself, how does one explain something that is both subjective and objective? sounds like something out of "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance"

    I think groove is a byproduct of what a person feels about what they are playing, there definately is groove in the material, but the groove is also in the mind, and the groove is also in the heart, and depending on your tone it may also be anchored in some other bodily appendage:D
    ...I dunno...
  6. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    And one way to tell when you are laying down a nice groove is when you are able to pull it out of others. When heads start bobbin' and necks start swayin' to the same rhythm that the bass and drum are playin', you've surpassed keeping time and entered into that zone called groovin'


    James Martin
  7. Jimbo


    Dec 4, 2000
    Philadelphia, PA
    groove is by far one of the most difficult terms to define that i have ever encountered. to offer a hypothisis to what groove is, i would say that groove is a 'state of mind'. it's feeling what you are playing and expressing that feeling to all who are listening to you. groove has is felt in the mind and in the heart.

    at least that's what i think :D

  8. Lowend4s


    Jan 2, 2001
    I always thought groove was....

    the lock between a nice fat bassline and the drums
  9. dabassr

    dabassr Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2002
    Its hard to put in words, but most everyone knows it when you hear it or feel it. IMO its like the track of, or line of a particular sequence of notes, rhythm and cords that provides the foundation that makes a really good tune. And its usually the bass player and the drummer who build it and hold it down. Without a strong groove, you might have a nice melody, but it would lack that pull that makes every one want to get up and dance, and 'move to the groove'. So how do you create that particular sound that makes a groove? Thats the real question.
  10. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...I like your answer.
    To expound further upon your Jaco observation-there's a cool thing he does on "Speak Like A Child"(I think; it's on his debut record, anyway)...it's one of his patented fast funky ostinato grooves in 4/4; eventually, he alters it by playing that figure in 3(omits the last 1/4 note beat)against the on-going phrasing in 4. Is it the lock that everyone usually mentions when discussing 'groove'? Maybe...maybe not. In any event, it's pretty happenin', IMO.

    So, IMO, there's more than one way to groove-
    Yes, there is the lock.
    Yes, there is the playing against.

    Personally, playing in an ODD meter & making it groove is something I'll be working on 'til the end(especially when the drummer is playing in 4 or 6 or ...) ;)

    Also, the groove is EVERYONE in the rhythm section's responsibility...bassist, drummer, guitarist, keys, etc.
  11. well kinda like kcdbass said, a groove is something you can't sit still too, just like yesterday. I was relaxing and listening to some old Bob Dylan cd's :eek: and I was just sitting there being calm and comfy and all that, until I saw my Steely Dan cd's and thought why not put one of those on?. So I picked "2 Against Nature" and put on the song "Janie Runaway" man I couldn't sit still for a second, that song is sooooooo groovy WOW. Now when you experience something like that, you know what a groove is...
  12. lowb


    Jul 27, 2000
    London, UK
    Firstly, Groove is independant of genre.......i think it's the product of two or more musicians, who share feeling, direction, and rhythm, when combining together in an atmosphere receptive to emotional change through the medium of sound :)

    Call me Crazy..........................

  13. No, that's blood.

    Groove is either what you find on vinyl records, or the subtle rythmic characteristics of a piece of music.
  14. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    IMHO, groove is playing a sustained danceable pattern. It is mostly the rhythmic aspect, but note choice is also important. A good groover can play solo and still get people to move and swing to the beat. BTW, "danceable" should be read as in the mind, because a good groove in 13 is still recognizeable, but most people would struggle with dance steps in 13.
  15. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    "Why ask your head, it's your hips that are swinging"
    -Shirley Bassey on History Repeating by the Propellerheads
  16. For me groove is playing solid time with "feel" and being on the same page as the bass player (or drummer when playing bass). The time has to "breath" a little or it's emotionless.
  17. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I'm with BlacksHole("...a good groover can play solo").
    IMO, a single person can groove, even in the privacy of the shed.
    Assuming there's not always the luxury of having an able-bodied drummer around-
    How else can one "get groove" if they don't practice "groove" on their own? ;)
  18. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    The age old question. What is groove? I can tell you this for sure, it's definately not something that everyone has. Period. No, stop that, don't try arguing... :) I have played with a lot of drummers who wouldn't know a big fat groove if it came up and kicked them in the junk. I've listened to countless bass players (one of them was my instructor in college) that had no sense of groove. It's definately about note placement and timing, as someone else mentioned above. A friend of mine described groove as being the "pulse" of a song, which I rather enjoy as an answer.

    Groove is Ray Brown playing a 1/4 note walking bass line with no drummer present and it's swinging like a mofo. Groove is what Rocco Prestia and David Garibaldi do whenever they play together.
  19. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    SlimPickens has a very good point here, if one has The Groove(tm) they can produce it by themselves. I live for The Groove.
  20. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    True story: One of the reasons Lenny Pickett got hired by Tower of Power was that he was the only cat on the dance floor who could dance through the recurring 7/8 bar in "Down to the Nightclub"... that and he was/is a monster player. :D