Styles of Bass Lines

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trombinstharry
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Styles of Bass Lines

Post by trombinstharry » Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:05 pm

Good evening trombonechat, recently I've been interested in walking bass lines. I know the general idea of establishing where you are and where you're going, but how do I apply that to the different styles of jazz?
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Styles of Bass Lines

Post by AndrewMeronek » Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:11 pm

Bass line styles are often unique to a style, so I think it would be a good idea to narrow down the scope of that question a bit. Are there some styles in particular that you are interested in?
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

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trombinstharry
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Re: Styles of Bass Lines

Post by trombinstharry » Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:32 pm

AndrewMeronek wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:11 pm
Bass line styles are often unique to a style, so I think it would be a good idea to narrow down the scope of that question a bit. Are there some styles in particular that you are interested in?
Say, I'm jamming with some friends and we're playing some funk for example. What do I do for a bass line? What if we're jammin in latin? etc.
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ghmerrill
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Re: Styles of Bass Lines

Post by ghmerrill » Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:36 pm

Don't think I'm remotely competent to answer your original question, but you might find this interesting to look at:

Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Styles of Bass Lines

Post by AndrewMeronek » Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:02 pm

trombinstharry wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:32 pm
Say, I'm jamming with some friends and we're playing some funk for example. What do I do for a bass line? What if we're jammin in latin? etc.
That's not quite what I meant. Do you want to look at either funk bass lines or latin bass lines? Any particular bassist that you admire?
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
trombinstharry
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Re: Styles of Bass Lines

Post by trombinstharry » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:18 pm

AndrewMeronek wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:02 pm
trombinstharry wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:32 pm
Say, I'm jamming with some friends and we're playing some funk for example. What do I do for a bass line? What if we're jammin in latin? etc.
That's not quite what I meant. Do you want to look at either funk bass lines or latin bass lines? Any particular bassist that you admire?
I like swing a lot, but I mean like generally what would a good funk line (or some other style, any) sound like? Who are good bassists to listen to?
cmcslide
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Re: Styles of Bass Lines

Post by cmcslide » Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:28 pm

If you are looking to play bass lines on trombone, then you really can't look to bass players as a model. They don't have to breathe, we do! Check out some examples of bands where some kind of a horn is playing a bass line (Dirty Dozen, other New Orleans bands with tuba, Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy) and listening to trombone quartets with the kind of lines that you want to play. You need to find a line that has space to breathe. Also, consider your own endurance - you might end up playing a bass line for a long time!
Professor of Low Brass, Coastal Carolina University
hyperbolica
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Re: Styles of Bass Lines

Post by hyperbolica » Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:15 pm

There is a book for bass bone that has some actual bass lines in different styles. It is by Eliezer Aharoni. it's a great bass bone book for pop styles.

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ghmerrill
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Re: Styles of Bass Lines

Post by ghmerrill » Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:23 am

cmcslide wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:28 pm
If you are looking to play bass lines on trombone, then you really can't look to bass players as a model.
Well, you can, to some significant degree -- you just have to be aware and selective about what you can take from that model.
Check out some examples of bands where some kind of a horn is playing a bass line (Dirty Dozen, other New Orleans bands with tuba, Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy) ...
Good advice. One of my favorite bass line players on tuba is Todd Burdick (Tuba Skinny: http://tubaskinny.com/), firmly in the tradition of the bands you mention. He's amazing in his ability to mimic (when he chooses to) a string bass, including getting the "string decay" effect on notes (I've never tried that on trombone and am skeptical about how feasible it is. It ain't a tuba.)
You need to find a line that has space to breathe. Also, consider your own endurance - you might end up playing a bass line for a long time!
Also, in playing a walking bass (or similar) part on a wind instrument, it's really important to not make it "too busy". You can't (normally) be playing 1/8 th notes like the string bass can with pizzacato. No matter how good you are, it won't sound so good. This goes back to the original comment about using string bass as a model. Expect to play more half notes and quarter notes -- and often more half notes. Less is more.
Gary Merrill
Wessex EEb Bass tuba
Mack Brass Compensating Euph
Amati Oval Euph
1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba
Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)
cmcslide
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Re: Styles of Bass Lines

Post by cmcslide » Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:55 am

ghmerrill wrote:
Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:23 am
cmcslide wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:28 pm
If you are looking to play bass lines on trombone, then you really can't look to bass players as a model.
Well, you can, to some significant degree -- you just have to be aware and selective about what you can take from that model.
Check out some examples of bands where some kind of a horn is playing a bass line (Dirty Dozen, other New Orleans bands with tuba, Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy) ...
Good advice. One of my favorite bass line players on tuba is Todd Burdick (Tuba Skinny: http://tubaskinny.com/), firmly in the tradition of the bands you mention. He's amazing in his ability to mimic (when he chooses to) a string bass, including getting the "string decay" effect on notes (I've never tried that on trombone and am skeptical about how feasible it is. It ain't a tuba.)
You need to find a line that has space to breathe. Also, consider your own endurance - you might end up playing a bass line for a long time!
Also, in playing a walking bass (or similar) part on a wind instrument, it's really important to not make it "too busy". You can't (normally) be playing 1/8 th notes like the string bass can with pizzacato. No matter how good you are, it won't sound so good. This goes back to the original comment about using string bass as a model. Expect to play more half notes and quarter notes -- and often more half notes. Less is more.
Yes! Less is more when working with the limitations of brass instruments. Whatever style bass line you are playing (walking, funk, etc.) you need to leave space to breathe and to not kill your chops, since you will probably be playing your part for a long time...
Professor of Low Brass, Coastal Carolina University
Ndwood
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Re: Styles of Bass Lines

Post by Ndwood » Mon Jan 28, 2019 2:32 pm

My best advice is to listen to as much of it as possible. Check out bands like (in no particular order):
Ohio Players (Marshall Jones on bass)
Brothers Johnson (Louis "Thunder Thumbs" Johnson)
Earth Wind and Fire (Verdine White, who also sings and wrote many of their songs)
Tower of Power (Rocco Prestia)
DeBarge (Randy DeBarge)
Head Hunters by Herbie Hancock, as well as the band formed by its members, The Headhunters (Paul Jackson)
The Commodores (Ronald LaPrede) - Brick House and Too Hot ta Trot (too funky)
Parliament Funkadelic (Bootsy Collins, as well as his solo stuff!)
The Gap Band (Tim Fenderson)

I would also check out classic soul music and Motown records: they had some of the most revered bassists like James Jamerson playing for them and there are too many good ones to name.

Stevie Wonder
Bill Withers
Marvin Gaye
Isaac Hayes
The Jackson 5


And some modern bands that are very, very funky:
Vulfpeck - Joe Dart is a masterclass in taking potentially cheesy lines and making them funky
Fearless Fliers - Joe Dart again!
Lettuce - Erick Coomes, funky jam band music
Louis Cole - a drummer but FUNKY key bass player
Moonchild - more keybass. Technically neo-soul not funk but it shows you don't have to do a lot to groove
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
Shrek is Love - Nick Campbell
Snarky Puppy - Michael League (also the bandleader)
BADBADNOTGOOD - (Chester Hansen)
Pino Palladino's playing on D'Angelo's Voodoo and Black Messiah

The biggest issue is that the sound of a trombone (hopefully bass) is a lot less compelling on these bass lines than an electric bass, but for me a bucket mute (really a softone mute) has helped make it wider, woofier, more enveloping, and less trombone-y.

For Latin music, it's so varied you really just have to break it down by style and figure out the sets of rules most of those bassists are working with. Salsa and bossa nova are very, very different.
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Re: Styles of Bass Lines

Post by AndrewMeronek » Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:55 pm

trombinstharry wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 7:18 pm
I like swing a lot, but I mean like generally what would a good funk line (or some other style, any) sound like? Who are good bassists to listen to?
Well, in general, one thing lots of bass styles have in common is a general trend of matching strong beats with notes that are lower in the harmonic series - especially roots and fifths; and adding other notes on weak beats.

A big distinguishing factor between different styles is rhythm. Check out this famous song:



Note that there is a pretty common pattern of the bass hitting paired eighth notes on strong beats. This tune sounds to me like the chord pattern starts on IV, goes to I (using that simple pattern and adding some scale notes) and a few other chords as the form unfolds. That kind of bass hit of paired eighth notes is extremely common in funk, and in a way that pattern informs pretty much the entire tune's bass feel. Funk can get complicated in a hurry, though, because there's a whole of variations on basic patterns that are all syncopated and, well, funky. For example:



This one still has the low harmonic series notes on strong beats, but what follows those beats has a different syncopation.

So, funk bass line style might be very sloppily generalized as hitting roots and fifths on strong beats, with some scale patterns in-between as appropriate, but always contrasting those strong beats with syncopation in-between strong beats.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Styles of Bass Lines

Post by AndrewMeronek » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:12 pm

As for some other bass players to check out, I am all for going outside the trombone world. Sometimes, you find just stuff that is unplayable, but a lot of stuff works out perfectly fine on trombone, and a lot of stuff has a mix of both. For example, Chick Corea's Elektric Band, whose bass player is the great John Pattitucci:



or on a different note, Nat McIntosh on tuba:

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
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