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Wishing to become fluent in blues and rock

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Soul Power, May 21, 2011.

  1. Background:
    I got my first bass either in 7th or 8th grade on my birthday, and of course I was very clueless as to how to practice, and I would assume that I didn't *really* learn a single song. Fastforward to high school when I joined the jazz band and was forced to learn how to read, albeit poorly. I spent most of my time learning Iron Maiden songs (most of the time incompletely).
    In summation, I wasn't a *real* musician. Up until 11th grade, I never really understood music, at all. Didn't know who Miles Davis was, the only James brown song I had listened to was "I feel good", didn't know that what the drummer is doing is subdividing beats, didn't know how to construct chords, had never even heard the word "pocket" in a musical sense, didn't know what a groove was.
    Basically, I was a musical idiot. And I still am in many respects.
    It wasn't until my senior year in high school that I decided to really study music for myself.

    Now I'm 20 years old, attended Victor Wooten's first three week bass/nature camp, and am a music major. I've played two paid gigs, one a broadway gig that really forced me to strengthen my reading skills because there was mixed meter, a concept I never encountered, and some very difficult bass parts.

    I would like to think that I've gone a LONG way since I first played bass, considering I've just about learned "I Heard It through the Grapevine" by Gladys Knight.

    But of the many gaps in my playing, there are two that I want to fill because of the sheer popularity (including the employability that comes with mastering them) and importance when it comes to progressing to *that place* that I want to go.

    Rock and Blues. Due to my very selective choices when it comes to learning songs, I am trapped in a sense that most, if not all of my bass lines are derived from Jamerson's note choices with my own spin of rhythm on top of them. I don't understand how to make a rock bass line, because everything I play involves a crapload of chromatic passing tones, making them sound "busy".

    Please treat me as if I have been living in a cave for my whole life in respect to knowing about musicians of a particular style. I may have heard them and even listened to them a lot, but I still want you to tell me every artist that I should give a listen to, and spend time transcribing in order to be thrown into a situation where I need to come up with a bass line of these two styles. Most of my basslines are derived from motown styles and james brown.

    I'd like to think I'm solid on theory, so I won't have a problem using it cl
    to come up with a technique of making a bass line of either of these styles, but I'd like to know everything you can possibly tell me.
    My current practice routine consists of: Starting on F major, singing it ascending and descending, then like Do-Re-Do, Do-Mi-Do, then backwards.
    Then, without playing it, I sing a perfect fourth above and then sing that major scale. I continue this till I cycle all the way through.
    Then I do the same, but with Perfect fifths. Then, Major Sixths and so on.
    I then work on one of the etudes in John Patitucci's 60 melodic etudes, in order to use more of the fretboard.
  2. prd004


    Dec 3, 2010
    The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, and Cream. Bands that blended blues and rock. Study these guys in and out and you'll master both rock and blues! Not to mention you are talking about three of the greatest bass players of this or any genra, learn from the best.
  3. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    As much as I love the ABB and Cream (I generally keep my LZ comments out of 'net forums), that's not a really good place to start with for NOT being a busy player. Jack Bruce's conception of bass is a critical hallmark of how I think of music, but that approach is to fulfill the traditional bass function without doing it in the traditional manner. And Berry Oakley's success (and the success of those who followed in his role with the ABB) was to be the third guitarist rather than trying to lock with either or both drummers.

    My suggestion would be to start with lots of traditional blues and early rock players. Willie Dixon et. al. on Chess records with Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf (besides, those songs are going to be at the core of any blues gig anyway), Bill Wyman with the Stones, Duck Dunn's Stax/Volt (Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Booker T. & The MG's, etc.) and The Blues Bros., Tommy Cogbill (early Aretha, Dusty Springfield's "Son Of A Preacher Man", etc.), David Hood (some mid-period Aretha and The Staple Singers), etc. for the bluesier side.

    For more rock oriented stuff Bill Wyman again, Dusty Hill w/Z Z Top, Leo Lyons with Ten Years After, Mel Sacher with Grand Funk, etc.

    Cop not only the notes, but the feel- especially the way they fit in with the drum kit, and the spaces they leave too. See my tag line...

  4. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    Ed Friedland has the perfect book for you. It's called "Building Rock Bass Lines."
    It will fill the hole that you feel. You will be able to improvise rock and blues bass lines after you work your way through it. The book is deceptive...it's geared toward an absolute beginner, but I've been playing for years, and I learned a few things from it.

    Or you can just learn a bunch of songs that you like. It depends on if you are wanting to be able to play covers, or if you just feel weak in the rock/blues genre and want to be able to make up an appropriate bass line, if asked to (or hired to play the genre).

    If you have enough time, I'd recommend doing both approaches.
  5. Green1


    Sep 23, 2010
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Get some Stevie Ray Vaughn and start picking it apart, that should help get some variation in your playing......I applaud you for working on the Jamerson stuff.....theres a TON of good information in his lines, I wish I would have got into him when I was younger as you are.
  6. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003

    Go back to the beginning.
    Willie Dixon, Ransom Knowling, Larry Taylor on upright bass.
    I stole a ton on stuff from these upright players.
    Then, Paul Butterfield, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy & Jr. Wells, BB King, Fab. T-Birds, SRV, Cream Zepplin, Hendrix.
    Listen to as much different music, (blues) as you can.
    Add elements of R&B, Soul, Rock, shake it all up and have fun.
  7. Thanks a lot you guys! I want to do this for the rest of my life so it really does mean a lot that you're able to share information so readily.
  8. DONZI97


    Dec 24, 2008
    Algonac Michigan
    And maybe throw in some Stone Temple Pilots. Deleo, fuses Jamerson type lines with rock IMO. JJ was defiantly an influence on him.
  9. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Here are some links that I've collected that may help you out:
    5. STYLES
    Becoming a blues bass player
    Blues progressions explained w/ audio samples
    Basic online blues lessons
    Basic lessons/free backing tracks
    Getting into the blues
    Slow blues
    1 "Must know" blues tunes

    1 Blues jam terms/progressions

    Ice Cream Changes
    Backdoor Progression
    more blues

    1 First jam

    Gig coming up

    Blues bass player's club

    Influential musicians (mostly) pre-1959
    History and styles
    20 important blues recordings & more

    "Blues Bass" by TB member Jon Liebman
    Ed Friedland's Essential Styles and Techniques
    Blues books
    "Complete Rhythm Guitar Guide for Blues Bands"
    "101 Blues Bass Patterns by Larry McCabe

    And few more that may interest you:

    ~Funk, Slap, Groove, R&B, Soul
    Links to over 20 funk,groove and R&B bassists

    TB's Funk 101 list of funk tunes
    Funk 102
    TB's Old School Funk tunes suggestions
    R&B set list tunes
    50 songs to learn R&B on

    Muted Grooves by Joaquin des Pres
    Classic Funk and R&B by Joaquin des Pres

    Bass Grooves by TB member Jon Liebman
    Funk Bass
    Funk/Fusion Bass
    4 R&B/Funk book
    "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" James Jamerson book/CD
    Funk Bass Bible

    New funk groups
    Modern Funk bassists
    Funk Masters w/James Brown Rhythm Section Book
    Who played bass with Aretha Franklin?

    The late, great, James Jamerson
    Jamerson w/Marvin on Youtube

    TB slap bass references/links
    Over 60 slap/funk lessons by MarlowDK
    Video lessons w/Dmanlamius

    Playing behind/ahead of the beat
    Getting a "synth" bass tone/sound
    1 Get that dead flatwound string sound
    TB Synth bass thread
    Funk rock

    Neo-Soul (1990's)

    Books/Videos from
    F. R. Prestia/Tower of Power
    Anthony Vitti
    Alex Sklarevski
    Bill Dickens
    Tony Oppenheim
    Larry Graham

    As far as rock goes, here are some song lists that may give you some ideas on what to learn:
    Essential 60's songs
    http://hubpages.com/hub/The-450-Greatest-Songs-of-the-70s-needs-your-help]450 Songs to check out
    Cool 80's songs
    ~90's Funk
    90's Funk
    ~Top 100 songs by year

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