my world

Friday, January 8, 2010

Playing Tips

                                                     The Bass Player's Job

The job of the bass player is generally to provide the anchor between the beat of the drums and the melody of the guitar, vocals and the keyboards. Although the bass can get very melodic and very heavy in the beat, it is usually the glue that binds the whole song together.
Playing With Your Drummer

When you play with a drummer, the first thing you need to do is listen. Listen to how the drummer plays and what the drummer plays when you listen to a CD or the radio. Listen to the bass drum.
The bass drum is the big drum on the bottom of the drum set. This is where you will find the band logo a lot of times. It has a low booming sound or low thud sound. The bass drum will give you the clues to the accents or groove of the song.
Listen for the snare. The snare has a crack or slightly distorted grainy sound to it. The snare is often used to provide the back beat.
Listen for the high hat or the ride cymbals . The high hat and the ride will give you the tempo of the song.
Listen to when he hits the cymbals. The cymbals tell you where the accents and stops are.
The other main drum piece you will here are the toms. The toms are usually used to accent the end of a measure or to introduce a measure. You can frequently follow the toms while playing connecting licks.

A-B Parts

A-B parts are where you play a particular groove for the first half of the movement and then play a second variation of the groove for the second half of the movement and then come back to the A part again and basically just go back and forth between the two different variations within the groove. This helps to, while maintaining the basic groove, create a feel that you are not staying on one lick. This can make the piece feel as if it breaths or is going somewhere rather than staying in one place throughout the groove.

Connecting Licks

Connecting licks are used as a transition piece from one part of the song to another. You may be playing only one note against a chord or chord progression that the guitar player is playing and right before you change to your next note in the progression, you can play a small lick that helps to tie the two parts together. This is very useful in maintaining a simple piece so that you don't clutter the song by being too busy and still creating something that is still interesting and not boring and predictable.

Locking in the Root Note

Locking in on the root is simply playing a straight beat like all quarter notes, half notes or whole notes on the root note of each chord in the song. One of the better examples of this is the band AC/DC. The bass player, Cliff Williams, will add subtleties and not always play a straight beat on the root. Usually he will mute a note or not play a note that makes it sound so cool. Playing a straight beat can sound really cool and keep the song simple.


Pedaling is where you use one note, usually the root but it doesn't have to be, and keep a groove going on that note while you bounce or pedal back and forth between other notes.

Take a Breath

Another feel that works well is to think of how your bass line breaths. Can you hear and feel how it rises and subsides in a rhythmic pattern? Make the song feel alive by making it breath. You can breath hard, soft, quickly, deeply whatever. It even helps for yourself to breath with the bass line.

Playing Within a Chord

Once you know what chord you are playing and therefore know what the "legal" notes are, you can play the notes in that chord. What works well is to play arpeggios of the chord against the guitar player. Use the notes of the chord to transition to the next chord. For instance, if you are playing the root, and the guitarist transitions to the 4th interval, you can walk up by playing the 1st interval then then 2nd then the 3rd intervals and end up on the 4th interval at the same time the guitar player transitions.

Less is More!

You don't have to play as fast as you can or put in as many notes as you possibly can to play something that is interesting. Something interesting can be the way you pedal between two notes. It can be the way you stay on a couple of notes or how you stay on only one note. Ask your self if what you are playing is just too busy or takes away from the rest of the song. A sign of a good bass player is one that can really fill the song without sounding like they are the song.

Sliding Up and Down The Neck

Slides usually have the best sustain when moving up the neck. You can use a slide to make a left hand transition smoother but don't go overboard. Too much of anything, no matter how cool, will become boring quickly. When you slide down the neck, your note will fade. The longer you slide down, the more you will lose the note.