Improvising is great. Learning how to do it can help you to better play along with your fellow musicians. It is also the most common way in which guitarists, drummers, songwriters, and bassists write their music.
Improvising is about moving in a spontaneous matter while still conforming to a basic structure, such as staying in a certain key or within a certain span of notes. However, just like with writing music and learning, sometimes you hit a wall and just simply run out of ideas, or seem to get stuck and become unable to move forward.
In this article, we will give you some ideas that will help you to break through the wall and get ideas for your bass improvisations.
The first thing you need to do when trying to get new ideas is to ask yourself; how much music do I listen to. This may seem like a basic question, but let’s break it down in a different way. We aren’t talking how many hours of music you listen to, or how many albums a week; we’re talking about how much diversity you are streaming in through my ears.
If your answer is, “Well, I listen to death metal, black metal, doom metal, progressive metal and heavy metal,” or, “Well, I listen to jazz and some blues,” then your answer is not much. You aren’t listening to much more than one or two types of music.
Sure, there may be eight billion subgenres of metal, but let’s face it; they are all metal. You aren’t getting much difference between band A and band B besides the difference in their riffs. Metal is metal, no matter what the “metal heads” will say. If you aren’t listening to different genres, you are limiting your ability to improve your playing.
This goes hand in hand with improvisation ideas. If you only listen to jazz, then all of your improvisations are going to have a jazz feel to them. Likewise, if all you listen to is country, every improvisation you play will feel like a country improvisation.
The best way for you to get ideas for improvisations is by expanding your listening horizons. Listening to types of music that you don’t usually listen to will allow you to pick up on new techniques or different variations and takes on old techniques that are used within different genres of music. Try listening to a genre of music that you have, in the past, stated that you didn’t like. If you hate country, listen to some country.
If you dislike the blues, go turn some blues on and immerse yourself. The point isn’t to make you like these types of music—although most people claim to hate a genre before they’ve listened to more than three bands within said genre—but to get you to focus on the instrumentation and ignore everything else. You may find that there are some surprises within different genres, such as the finesse and skill in bluegrass and the groove in funk.
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