#1
I've been playing bass for my church for a few months now, but I'm stuck in the root chord rut and really can't do much of anything to liven up the music or really do anything when the drummer goes on a fill rampage. I have occasionally managed to do a little bit, but it's very minimal and I can only apply it to very few songs.

Now, I know scales--all our music is either Major or Minor scale, and I know both. I know my 3rds, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths, and octaves. Yet I can't do anything with them.

One major problem is that, of all the bass lessons I've watched/read, none of them cover the stuff I want to do (which I will explain below), nor do I know the musical term for these......things.

Here's what I'm talking about:

1. Fills before playing a chord. Let's say a pre-chorus ends in a D chord. The chorus begins with an A chord. (This is from the song "Time Has Come" from Hillsong United). The bassist plays an exchange of notes before playing the A.

2(a). Fills between chords/linking chords together. Let's say I'm playing an A chord, and the next chord is a F#m (also from "Time Has Come"). The bassist plays a short exchange of notes while changing from the A to the F#m.

2(b). Linking chords together in slower songs. I'm stuck playing whole notes, which is very boring and sounds awkward to me. I've tried playing parts of a scale to link the notes together but it rarely works.

So, what are these called, where do they come from, and how do I do them?
#2
well, being a guitarist who plays a bit of bass, i can only suggest listening to techniques and trying to copy them. Maybe try adding 'substitute' chords in between, say for that D to A exchange, add notes from a Bm and Em before getting to the A (classic I vi ii V approach). Or look at things from a chromatic perspective and add more of a walking bassline?
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#3
Quick tip, for linking chords together, leading notes are your friend. Just hit the 7th on the beat before the new chord.
In one of my bands songs, the final chord of the guitar intro is E, leading into the verse which begins in Am.
Rather than just coming in on the first beat of the verse with an A, what I do is lead into it with a G a beat before the verse.
The key is in the simplicity.
#4
classic I vi ii V approach


I've tried to understand the whole vi, ii, iii, stuff but it just made things even worse for me :P

I'm also not so sure that a "leading note" is what I'm looking for either, as it is a note (singular). What I'm looking for is notes (plural), as what I hear between the chords is not one note, but many.

A perfect example would be here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DR0mdDHEqVU)

Jump to 2:53 and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Chords are C#m - A - E - B, and there's a whole heck of a lot of notes played between the chords.
#5
To answer your questions...well I don't know what they're called, and would guess they originated in slower classical pieces (my guess would be post-baroque but my music history is very bad so it's only guess), as far as doing them...well....

I say take the free jazz approach and just attempt to play what you hear in your head...if it doesn't come out quite right then fix it next time around.

But really man just be comfortable in the pocket, feel the groove and ornaments and fills just kinda happen naturally, but don't over-complicate things. Little riffs like that are fun and can be quite effective in adjusting the overall feel of the music but it all starts in your head. Just feel it, use the theory you know, and apply it to make of it what you want
#6
Try listening to some old blues bands. Listen to the bass lines and see what they have done.

A couple.....
Boz Scaggs (Runnin Blue)
Stevie Ray Vaughan (lots of stuff)

You don't have to like this type of music to learn from it
#7
For 3, try some arrpeggios underneath the chords. Slow ones if the song is slow, like start on the root, then crawl back from the octave - fifth - third - root again. (or change the root to the new chord)

That one idea, there are loads of things you could do, but use your ears.
Say you have two chords, like a C (C E G) and an Em (E G B), look what notes are the same, in this case the E and the G are common to both and you can come up with fills, runs or trills to link those chords using those notes. Agiain, just another idea, experiment with what sounds good though and if you don't like it, change it the next time.

These aren't rules, or even guidlines, just ideas
#8
I find that it helps to identify passing and transitioning notes and leading notes and those that sound good with the some might sound horrible going into or out of other notes. And to get a feel for that you really just gotta f*ck around with your bass. just make sounds. then put noise together, in rhythm. thats really the foundation, finding the pocket. or maybe try and imagine what attitude or emotion you want to be perceived and play what you feel, not necessarily what you feel like. i think thats why i really like bass, you need a lot of heart to play such a powerful instrument well
#9
Listening to music to get ideas really doesn't help me much. There's a Japanese band with some great bass work--the style I would like to be able to play; I listen to them every day, and it doesn't help me at all. Tabs for their songs are few and far between, but even if I had them, they're useless to me without knowing what scale was used.

Even knowing the scale, and listening to the music is useless to me. I'm not an auditory learner. I know my scales and my scale degrees by their placement on the fretboard, not by their sound--and I won't be able to learn them by sound within the next few years. Without the tabs to see how the notes relate, I can't learn anything--and apparently no one tabs improv. So I'm stuck.

As for playing what's in my head.....there isn't anything playing in my head....

Maybe I'm not feeling the "pocket"? Feeling the pocket in terms of hammering out root chords is natural for me, but when I try to add flair, I tend to machine-gun the notes faster than an MG42.
Last edited by chamisul at Apr 1, 2011,
#10
If there's no tabs for them then work them out yourself by ear. It may sound daunting but if you don't push yourself you'll never improve. I used to think learning by ear was near impossible until i realised that there's only so many notes on the fretboard, spend enough time on it and you'll be bound to nail it eventually.
#11
Quote by Flogger_92
If there's no tabs for them then work them out yourself by ear. It may sound daunting but if you don't push yourself you'll never improve. I used to think learning by ear was near impossible until i realised that there's only so many notes on the fretboard, spend enough time on it and you'll be bound to nail it eventually.=

+1
Music is about listening, not paper. Granted reading tabs can make life easier, and it takes time to learn how to hear notes and the relationships, but the sooner you start, the sooner you'll get to a good level at it!
#12
Yeah...."by ear", as I've said, doesn't work for me at this stage. I can't tell the difference between a G and an A. Hell, I can't tell the difference between an octave and a 6th by ear.
#14
if you want a fill from D to A play D - C# - B - A. down a D major scale. or any combination of those. or add chromatic notes.

but if you can't hear it you can't play it.

try this.

play the arpeggios of a I-iv-IV-V (Gmaj7 Em7 Cmaj7 D7). but when switching chords stick to the closest note in proximity to make it linear rather then necessarily starting at the root. also switch off between chord tones and diatonic notes. ex:

G B D F# | E D C B | G C E G | F# A D F# |
Gmaj7 chord. descending Em scale. c triad starting on G. D triad starting on F# and ending there in order to have a half step resolution to G.

although in most scenarios it is best to be on the root note on the first beat of the chord. bass is about rhythm and harmony.
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#15
also can you sing what you want it to sound like? not in your head, but out loud. if you can sing it you can play it. then afterwards analyze the notes in the context of the chord and or scale. THEN you'll know. transcribe, transcribe, transcribe. it's not about the result it's about the process. start tanning songs for UG. when o started transcribing I sucked. you can see a correlation of the tabs I've done on UG. the early ones are rated like 2 or 3. the most recent ones are like 5. and my jazz transcriptions are the same way. do it. yeah it sucks at first. but there's no other way.
#DTWD
#16
also can you sing what you want it to sound like? not in your head, but out loud.


Heh....when I "sing" into a tuner it says "WTF"

After watching the video posted, I'm wondering about my technique. The guy's hands are so tight and closely grouped, with minimal finger movement. When I play 3rds and 5ths my fingers are all over the place--It takes the full width from my index finger to my pinky just to cover 3 frets.
#17
Try playing off of the melody. It's a technique that also works well with church music.
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#18
I've tried playing to the melody and I can't match the tones of the bass to the tones of the melody.

I keep getting answers that don't help me......everywhere I go.....I'm constantly getting the "fiddle around" or "figure it out for yourself" circle-talk every time I ask musicians about music -_-
#19
These responses are far from "just fiddle around".
If you don't appreciate the answers, don't ask the questions, and have some respect for people who take the time to try and help.
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#20
You have asked questions, and we have given you answers, so I don't think you have any right to complain. You seem to be under some misconceptions. There are no easy solutions or quick fixes in music, if you want to be able to play well it involves hard work and practice.
Also, get yourself a teacher, it will be of huge benefit.
Last edited by Flogger_92 at Apr 4, 2011,
#21
Quote by thunderbritches


I say take the free jazz approach and just attempt to play what you hear in your head...if it doesn't come out quite right then fix it next time around.




You know what kindof fill you want to play, you can hear it in your head, you've gotten ideas from other pieces of music you've listened to. When you are practicing, away from the band, try out different notes until you are matching what you hear in your head. Once you feel comfortable doing these alone you will be able to bring them into the band to liven up your playing.

I have no idea on the theory behind it but after playing bass for the last 11 years I have a good idea of where I can go on the fretboard to get the kindof sound I am after good luck!
#22
chamisul go here and read the 5 part "Lessons in Bass Line Construction" - - when I started playing bass these are the ONLY bass lessons I found that made me go "aha!" and I had Hal Leonard books, videos, friends who played, etc. I've since recommended these lessons to countless others.
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