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Whats the first thing you do?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Ross AriaPro, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    As a bass player whats the first thing you do when the guitarist comes to you with a great riff?

    Do you start by pounding away on the root note of the key and get a feel for the timing....or do you try to create a complimentary counterpoint right away...that is, interdependent harmonically but independent rhythmically?
  2. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    I kinda find the root notes. Once I'm comfortable with the structure I then add some flare to the root that I started with. I do what is called for in the song.
  3. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    In this case there is no song yet...just a riff.

    Do you use 'flare notes' to fill in the gaps?
  4. I've learned that with cool riffs, the crowd usually loves it if the guitar(s) start solo and then the drums and bass join in simultaneously at some point, where the bass is doubling the riff (but then an octave lower) or, in case of chords, the root in the same rythm as the guitar, becoming one.

    Do that and the crowd loves you. I promise. But it has to be a cool riff, though!
  5. Huge

    Huge Hell is full of musical amateurs. Like me.

    Dec 2, 2005
    I start by playing the roots, learning the changes, after that I try to play something that makes sense within the context of what the guitarist wants. Often I'll be asked for a "bluesy", or "jazzy" feel, I try to give them that.
  6. P-oddz

    P-oddz Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    Depends. If it's my idea, I'm usually telling the guitarist what to do :)

    Aside from that, mostly my drummer will hear a rhythm and I work off of that. If he goes complex, I try the same. If he goes simple, I start with a root and embellish my way from there. Always keep in mind your movement however, and where you can move it to.
  7. jessicabass


    Dec 22, 2009
  8. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Most of the time, this. While it's important to eventually understand the key and the chords that the riff may be indicating, the creative process is best left unhindered by rigid constructs such as these. If I get to something that sounds good, I'll try to get much of it solidified, and then go back to discuss what the guitarist is playing in terms of notes and suggested chords to understand why it sounds good. If what I do stinks; same process - find out why it does and fix it.

    Back in my former prog band, I would often turn my back when introducing an idea to force the rest of the band to hear what's going on and create without knowing exactly what's happening. Often times it gelled on the spot. If not, we'd break things down to get it right. But you only get one shot at the first time something is played and if you can add something good with no preconceived notions, it's a powerful feeling and can result in music that breaks away from conventions and silly things like that. ;)
  9. DannyBob


    Aug 28, 2013

    Guitarist has a good riff. I learn said riff. Tweak if needed, if not double track it. Sorted. :)
  10. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    And just for contrasting information, I almost never double a riff nor would I want a guitarist or other instrumentalist double a riff of mine. I generally adhere to the school of thought that music should have multiple directions where each instrument is its own voice and the end result is as contrapuntal as possible.
  11. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    Agreed...its far more difficult and satisfying to create a musical fabric of criss-crossing threads.

    Roger Daltrey describes Entwhistle and Townsend as being like two knitting needles working together.
  12. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Well, difficult doesn't always mean a better finished product. But creating "interwoven" music that is enjoyable to listen to does have its challenges. But it's also challenging and even difficult to play simple music that's powerful and effective. Think '62-'66 Dylan, for example.
  13. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    Dylan put out several kinds of songs during that period.

    Sometimes he just talks the words over a strumming pattern. Sometimes he really sings over very complex fingerpicking.

    Most guitar players cannot play his version of 'In My time of Dying' note for note....without a whole lotta practise.
  14. GastonD


    Nov 18, 2013
    Belgrade, Serbia
    Sometimes I will also thing about the dynamics of the overall sound. If there is the need to double the riff (more or less) I will try to play legato over staccato guitars and vice versa. In the first case the bass may provide depth to the line, while in the second it provides punch.

    Or not... :) Drummers have something to do with it as well, but in the end it depends on the song and how the parts of the piece fit in together.
  15. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    also could be interdependent rhythmically but independent melodically.

    depends on the band, the riff, everything, but slammin' simple root notes can be cool. or a totally different bassline/groove, or a countermelody, or playing it in octaves together
  16. Flabass

    Flabass Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    St. Petersburg
    Yep +1.
  17. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I figure out the chord structure with the roots, try to work up a bassic melody....... It helps if I can get a recording to listen to for a few days and ruminate.
  18. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    all of the approaches above have merit and will produce a different end result. Use several of them out to generate different possibilities and then pick which one works best. there's a time for driving roots beneath the riff, doubling the riff, and playing a counterpoint line. none of these is inherently better than the other.

    i was once in a studio and the guitarist comes at me with a new song on the spot. i tried a couple of approaches, the recording engineer suggests a different idea, we record all of them and all mutually decide that though all work, one works better than the rest for the lyrics of the song. the lyrics spoke of motion (running) and so the busier bass line fit in better conceptually than the more sparse yet pretty bass lines. had we used the first idea that worked musically we never would have hit upon this.
  19. Art Araya

    Art Araya

    May 29, 2006
    Palm Coast, FL
    this has helped lots on certain songs. if I'm put on the spot with little time to noodle around with options and let the song settle into my ears, I'll likely come up with something that works but is rather basic.

    When I can take the new song home and play with options I generally come up with something more inspired.
  20. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    I tend to harmonize it (the great riff) to add some complexity, or use counterpoint and play something rhythmically different.