Studying is such an ugly word. No one likes to sit down and analyze something, especially if it is their hobby. But, with bass guitar, the most important thing for you to do is to study your domain.
This means that eventually, you will have to study rhythm. That doesn’t mean it has to be boring and strict. In fact, studying rhythm can be fun.
First off, you need to understand what rhythm is. Rhythm is the underlying structure of a song. Basically put, rhythm is the main melody on which the entire song is built off of. The lead, the drums; everything follows the rhythm.
Now, usually the rhythm guitarist or drummer provides the rhythm, but this isn’t always the case; sometimes the bass player provides the rhythm. This is especially true in experimental forms of music, as the guitarists are usually knitting an intricate pattern over everything else.
Simply by listening to music.
Easy right? But keep in mind that you are actually listening for the melody. Don’t be caught in a flurry of notes; keep your ear open. Try to identify the main structure on which all the other instrumentation is built from. Sometimes this can be the guitar. Usually in that case, the lead guitarist is providing harmonies or other work on top of the melody, while the drums are providing the backing of the melody.
In other cases, the bass player is playing the primary structure, and the other musicians are simply building off of it. This includes styles such as jazz; every music form is built off of a rhythm.
If you were to take the song At the Gate by King Diamond, finding the rhythm may be a bit tricky. This is because there are two lead guitarists. In these cases, the guitarists generally distribute rhythmic duties between one another, as Blakk and LaRocque do in this track.
While there are multiple guitar leads (over have a dozen) there is always a basic rhythmic pattern beneath. In this case Patino (the bass player) follows the rhythm guitar, underlying the melody. This highlights it and gives more substance to the piece.
In the song Pyretta Blaze by Type O Negative, the melody is easy to find; it is provided by the sole guitarist, Kenny Hickney. In this case, vocalist and bassist Peter Steele also follows the guitar rhythm.
In some cases such as jazz, the rhythm is a bit more difficult to pick out. This is because most jazz quartets consist of improvisation. In these cases, the rhythm is the steady melody at the point in time. Or, more simply put; whichever instrument isn’t soloing at the moment.
This is because the soloist needs a rhythm to follow, which means that at least one instrument keeps the rhythm at any given moment. This means that there is never a rhythm-less moment, as rhythm-less playing is unsightly to even the most trained musical ear.
In the end, the only way you can understand rhythm is to study music that you enjoy. This will ensure that it doesn’t actually feel like studying. Remember; all pieces have a rhythm!
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