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CHAPIER 5
IESIABLISHINGA GROOVE
Many of the exercises in this chapter are, musically speaking, the simplest in the book. THE POINT.
Remember, your job as a bass player is to "Iay it down" and in almost eyery case, KEEP IT SIMPLE. The bass, by nature,
is a supportiye instrument. We bass players often haye to play repetitiye figures oyer and oyer again with lttle (or
sometimes no) yariation. This kind of playing takes sorne discipline, but i1's this repetitiyeness of the bass figure, along
with the drums, that holds the music together and creates what we'ye all come to know as a groove. I1's this ability to
grooye and to lock in with the drummer that distinguishes a good bass player from one who pl ays too much, or
inappropriately.
As always, a metronome is crucial, but as we get more into grooying, a drum machine will make your music feel better
and more fun to play. In many cases, just hearing the sound of the bass drum on "one" and "three," with a heayy back beat
from the snare drum on "two" and "four," is enough to make all the difference in the world (or better yet, haye the bass
drum play "one" the upbeat of "two," and the downbeat of "three," with the snare on "two" and "four"). Of course, if you
haye a "realliye" drurnrner to play with that's eyen better. Use your tape recorder to judge how well you're "locking in."
Which brings us to another important point. Locking in, though nobody said it was simple, is more complicated than it
seems. Do you need to play on top of the beat (pushing the time, but not rushing)? Do you need to playa little behind the
beat (pulling back, but not dragging)? Or do you need to play "right in the pocket?" A bass player and a drummer can be
"great" musicians, but they won't sound good together unless they agree, not only on where to put the beat, but where to
play within the beat. The answer, like anything else, comes from experience. Experience comes from listening and
playing (repeat as necessary) .
Another important consideration is the tempo at which you are playing. Eyerybody wants to play fast. That's fine. It's
just as important, though, to grooye at 60 and 80 beats per minute as it is at 200. Wha1's more, it' s harder to grooye at
slower tempos, so make sure you don't neglect them. * Keep asking yourself, "Am 1 really grooying?"
Once you feel competent with your grooye playing, you'll want to insert sorne fills . The trick is knowing what to play and
when. A mature player knows when to add a fill, what kind, and how long, and then gets right back to the business of
laying down time. We'll get more into this concept in Chapter 6. In the meantime, just play what's written, let the music
breathe and keep it simple!
(i o !, 1).' -1-
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