What to look for when analyzing a player...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by JDeewond, Jul 22, 2009.

  1. I was actually posting on another thread(Which players inspire you to keep on playing?) and it reminded of how I had left analyzing one of my favorite player for far too long.

    When I was in my teens, I took up web design as a sporadic hobby and found myself learning very quickly by dismantling what others had done. I could easily find, with some practice, the essential elements and then the vast number of variables within them. This concept I thought, could be applied to my bass playing.

    I'm looking to further my composition skills, I have ideas of where to start but given that there are so many elements I find myself a bit overwhelmed.

    I would love to hear from someone who has spent some time picking apart(out of curiosity for some I'm sure ;))!

    EDIT: I realize my post could be interpreted in many ways but to get something out of the way; I am absolutely not trying to emulate someone for my own glory. It's simply to expand my horizons theory-wise without going in the synthetic part of things that I'd rather go from a player(who might as well be called a friend) than books. In other words, I am not trying to kill art. Thank you all who have already posted!
  2. Dmanlamius


    Feb 24, 2008
    Personally, i've never been one for analyzing players. It just never felt right, for me to try and figure out their ethos. That's because i'm not them, and we are all completely unique. Of course, we all have "ways" of doing things, that can be picked apart and mimicked, but it just never felt right.

    Of course, I was obsessed by certain players (like we all are-isn't that why we start playing?) and I concentrated on the bass lines when I listened to their music, but I never tried to pick it apart. I just like to listen.

    Now, I've definatly analyzed the players. But subconciously. It MUST come out in my playing some way or another. We are all just re-cycling each others finger positions. But that's ok with me.

    But we are all different. Some of us are dreamers, and some are mathmaticians. It's all good. We all have our own personal methods to learn.

    Not entirely relevent to the question you asked, but I thought i'd chuck that in to extinguish any potential flames...

  3. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I think one thing that often can't be notated in the actual transcription very well is the element of feel. Learning how to play the minute variations in note length and phrasing that constitute an individual players 'feel' is just as important as picking out the notes. IME. Now, you may never get there, like me attempting Jamerson playalongs, but it definitely affects your playing positively over time.
  4. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I have spent a bit of time analyzing my favorites, and I usually go about it by asking :

    what are the chords for this phrase, and how is the bassline supporting them?
    which notes are chord tones, which are non- chord tones?
    Is a scale or mode I recognize being used?
    Which non- chord tones are diatonic scale tones, and which are chromatic?
    Are the chord tones /non chord tones on strong beats or weak beats?

    I try to seperate rhymic analysis from harmonic as much as possible...

    I a rhythm I recognize being used? Is it a Cuban tumbao? a 12/8 blues shuffle?
    ( I recommend Paul Westwood's Bass Bible for a useful catalogue)
    How does the bass rhythm relate to the snare or hi-hat?
    Is there an anticipated downbeat?
    Can I notate the rhythm? (sometimes:meh:)

    in general I'm always trying to see how the bass line is supporting the harmony and thus the song....

    Also, most of my songbooks are peppered with little " I-vi-ii-V7" chordal analysis so that I can understand the sing harmony in a functional way.
  5. It is very interesting to me though it does not answer the question ;). I simply want to understand something that works and why it is so in a way to be guided through more theory. The player's music inspires me, not the E minor he's playing :).

    +1 I'm sure. A line without a feeling is as exciting as an armless juggler. Maybe less.

    Thanks a bunch mambo, I can forge myself a good starting point and start writing a novel about the song. The excitement of finding enlightenment, that would be why I started on bass. Oh, and the babes. ;):bassist:
  6. To be honest the only time I end up analysing players is when there's something I don't like about them, if there's something irritating about their sound, things that they overdo in their playing, or someone playing a really distasteful high wanky part in a heavy rock section making the whole band sound weak and tacky and obnoxious.... etc, then I get quite systematic about everything and it really winds me up and puts me off music, even thinking about how I analyse players like that is stressful.

    With good players though I just get into their feel and ethos, and try not to be tabbing things out in my head, or thinking about theory and try to ignore to the best possible extent what gear and setup they're using to get their awesome sound.
  7. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    On a similar tangent to Swami Rob's:

    it can also be useful to find parts of a song where some other instrument or voice is doing something flashy /catchy/musically important...and consider how the bass line supports that (or simply gets out of the way)