Creating bass grooves is fun, but it isn’t always easy. Let’s face it; sometimes we just run out of ideas. So when you’re at the bottom of your barrel, and you find that you can’t think of a single bass groove what can you do?
Well, there are a few things to help you improvise on bass guitar.
First off, start listening to music. This might sound basic, but we aren’t talking about the same music you always listen to –it is part of the reason that you are stuck in your rut.
Listening to the same music day in and day out, no matter how much you love it, is a one way ticket to hitting the musical wall. And once you’ve hit it, it is hard to back up and go around.
Let’s say you listen to metal. Metal is your one pride and joy, so all you play is metal. That means, once you explore the boundaries of metal (and if you are a straight metal fan, whether you want to admit it or not, they don’t stretch very far) you are simply out of space to run.
You may notice that a lot of metal bands pull influences from other genres, such as jazz and the blues, and even country in some cases. The reason for this is simple; with a single, straight, no nonsense genre, there is only so much you can do before there is nowhere left to go.
Atheist was one of the most revolutionary bands of their time, because the fused death metal and jazz. Soon after, Cynic came along and hopped on the bandwagon. Since then, there have been numerous bands that have joined the jazz fusion death metal bandwagon and all because one group of musicians simply chose to add two and two and make for instead of limiting themselves.
If you have ever listened to Atheist, you will see how much groove their bass player possesses. This isn’t a common trait in metal, yet it works simply because they tried.
Creative bass grooves are the same way. You will never know what may work and what may not work if you choose to limit yourself as a musician. Limitation is the destruction of the creativity on which music is built.
It is also the prime source of hitting the wall.
There are no secrets to making creative bass grooves; every bass groove has an influence, and every influence is bred from a different source. The only way to find your own influences is to listen to different types of music.
If you hate country for some reason, listen to country. Pay attention to the instrumentation and ignore the vocals. More often than not, you will actually hear some great musicianship within the context of a country song, as many country musicians are highly skilled. There is no need to copy the licks verbatim, but simply listen, pick up on the groove, and keep an open mind; you never know when you may be interested in trying out a groove of a similar pattern.
So long as you don’t write off any certain forms of music, you will be on your way to creating some unique bass grooves.
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