Comments on

Riff Vs. Beat

Original entry posted: Wed Dec 3 17:25:38 2008

wheat @ Wed Dec 3 13:43:31 2008 EST

This is the whole downside of playing bass in bands with loud guitars. The most fun I ever had as a bassist was in a funk band where the guitarist, a recent convert from the drums, played very minimalist lines, often laying out during the verses and only coming in strong on the choruses and bridges (and hardly soloing at all). The drummer was amazing, so he and I got to fill up that low-end space.

It's fun to rock out in guitar-heavy bands, but only if you don't mind being, essentially, an octave effect on the rhythm guitar. You can stretch out, I've found, by letting open strings ring to hold the bottom and moving to the middle or upper registers to add some complexity, but if you do too much of that, it can become problematic. Even though I enjoy riff-based music, I felt I grew a lot as a musician once I sat it aside and started learning more about harmony.

This is part of the reason that I really enjoy recording. I can dial in the amount of other instruments that I want and let the bass have plenty of room, melodically, harmonically, and rhythmically. A lot of my stuff is just layered basses--no need for guitars at all. And, when I do add a guitar line, it's in service to the song, not my ego, as I don't have one when it comes to guitar laying (now bass playing is another issue, I'll admit). It's just more fun for me, these days, to have control over those things. The only thing I really miss is interaction with a live drummer. That, is real problem.

The next step would be taking the solo/looping thing live. I haven't put together the ideal gear or the time to work out the performance details just yet. Kudos to you for having already accomplished that. I'm envious, seriously.

Thomas @ Wed Dec 3 17:07:52 2008 EST

Have you ever thought about doing sequenced material instead of looping? I've always wanted to do an open mike like David Byrne's opening number in Stop Making Sense. "Hi. I've got a tape I want to play for you."

wheat @ Sat Dec 6 23:18:36 2008 EST

I've thought about it. But I'd rather have more control over it on the fly, rather than just playing bass lead parts on top of pre-recorded backing tracks.

I think I need a few things, if I'm ever going to take any of this stuff to the stage. I need a foot controller, first and foremost. And I need to learn to use Live as a looper instead of my beloved Boomerang, which is awesome in a lot of ways but very limited in others.

And I need some sort of drum pad. Maybe one of those Korg nanoPads. Doing drum programming with a mouse or a MIDI keyboard just isn't very intuitive. I need my drum parts to be less metronomic and more expressive.

And, of course, I'd need a laptop! I guess I could use my wife's old crappy one. But I'd rather not. :)

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