If you practice, but don’t really know where you are heading, that may be a problem. Just like everything in life, when you play your bass guitar you should have a set destination in mind for each days practice.
Playing all over the neck and doodling around is fun –for a while. After that, you are simply running in circles, chasing your tale. You are neither furthering your skills nor are you utilizing those you’ve learned.
In this article, we’ll teach you how to put direction in each of your run around jazz bass jamborees. We are going to discuss melodic jazz bass phrasing.
The first, and most important, thing is to actually understand what melody is.
Many musicians have it in their head that a melody is a rhythm, and tend to confuse the two terms.
Melody is a linear succession of notes. This means that it is a pattern of notes that follow a certain set direction. Usually this is either ascending or descending. It can be both, but tends to be ascending then descending, or vice versa, not simply all over the fret board.
This is the thing that most musicians confuse, even ‘professionals.’ Just because a pattern is pleasant sounding and mellow, doesn’t make it a melody. When you hear musicians in bands talk about melodies, they refer to melody in the sense that it follows a pleasing musical direction. Melodic death metal, in most cases, contains absolutely no melodies. A light break for acoustic guitars and synth isn’t a melody. It’s practically false advertisement.
If you want to learn how to phrase melodically, you will need to follow a linear pattern.
Remember, to play melodically, you need to be playing a melody. Playing any scale from low to high, high to low, or low to high and back is a melody. This is because the notes are following a linear pattern, going on direction at a time steadily.
Jumping back and forth between ascent and descent isn’t very linear at all. Keep this in mind, because just as we stated earlier, many musicians tend to think playing a light piece without distortion is automatically melodic. It isn’t.
While melodies do follow a set direction, they don’t have to be boring. That means you don’t have to play a slow, casual and relaxed paced piece to play melodically. This is another misconception; you can play a 300bmp melody. As long as it is linear, it is a melody.
A good thing to do when looking for ideas for melodic jazz bass phrasing is to look at scales. When you are improvising on bass, try keeping to the notes of a scale and change their values. You can add rests, different note lengths –anything so long as the pattern is linear. Keeping the linear quality to your pattern keeps it melodic. A pattern can have a rest every other note, can even be staccato and still be a melody. The key is proper usage.
In the end, the only way you will be able to create melodies is to practice. Keep in mind what a melody is, and work within the linear context.
For more ideas on bass lines improvising, check out this video…
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