Duo playing: Acoustic/Singer and Bass

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greghr
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Duo playing: Acoustic/Singer and Bass

Post by greghr » Thu Jan 23, 2014 8:02 am

Hi,
I've had a good look around for info on this topic and not found anything really specific to it, so:

Could anyone draw out their experience, tips, techniques, advice, for the following statements please:

1. General tips for playing bass where you are backing up an acoustic guitarist/female singer/songwriter who does her own songs and plays them slightly differently each time. (I apologise if that sounds a bit of a mouthful)
2. Playing in a duo as described: The fundamental role of the bassist in a duo set up?
3. Sticking with root notes versus how much should chord/triads/sevenths in the above situation be fully outlined or just suggested?
4. How much playing versus how little playing in the above scenario. Volume, tonal suggestions?

Any feedback gratefully accepted.
Thanks
Greg

martyforrer
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Re: Duo playing: Acoustic/Singer and Bass

Post by martyforrer » Thu Jan 23, 2014 8:24 am

It comes down to the singer/guitarist really. If she is just playing chords then you can use a fair bit of embellishment to fancy it up, maybe even stray away from the traditional role if she is comfortable with that. If she is a fancy guitarist incorporating riffs and single string solos etc, then you need to outline the chords for her. If it's jazz oriented, each bar should be along the lines of root, third, fifth, passing note, or a variation on that. If it's more pop or rock oriented, then you need to do more root notes and fifths. Virtually every outfit I ever play with plays a song different each time, you'll get used to it. Tone and volume? That's your judgement. And your ears. Go to youtube and listen to Tattletale Saints, Sheila Jordan with Harvey Schwartz, Joni Mitchell with Jaco Pastorius playing Coyote, a heap of differing styles there. Although there is no bass, listen to the Civil Wars and imagine bass lines in your head, then transfer them to bass and play along.
It all comes down to the style of music, how good she is, how plain or fancy her songs are. Listen, listen, listen. Start with very simple lines, even just root notes, then start adding. Good luck.

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greghr
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Re: Duo playing: Acoustic/Singer and Bass

Post by greghr » Thu Jan 23, 2014 10:35 am

Thanks Marty,
Good stuff to apply.
I guess when it comes down to it, being a newish bass player and liking the idea that this forthcoming winery gig could lead to others, I'd rather play conservatively and get it right timing wise and root note wise than try to overstep my skill level (rudimentary) and make her sound bad.

If you playing a phrase i.e. on a song like St James Infirmary where the first phrase in my case uses five chords:
Bm, F#m, Bm, G, F#m (I'm going down to St James Infirmary/See my baby there)

If you were to outline one or other of those chords with more than just the root which chord is better or is it purely a matter of where you have the most time to fill the chord in terms of timing?

martyforrer
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Bands / Groups: Borderline.... country rock
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Location: Napier.

Re: Duo playing: Acoustic/Singer and Bass

Post by martyforrer » Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:40 pm

That's not an original. :D
I'd play B / F# / for both bars first time round. If she's ramping it up you can stay in 1/2 notes or start a walking blues bass line, using for example B C# D F# E D C# Cnat(passing tone) for those two bars. If you stay in two feel (1/2 notes) you can embellish them with ghost notes, pickup notes and little fills as the song progresses. Keep it simple to start and ramp it up as the song progresses. That song doesn't need those chords for those two bars unless you're doing it in a jazz style. Bm and F#m for 1st bar, Bm for 2nd bar.

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greghr
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Re: Duo playing: Acoustic/Singer and Bass

Post by greghr » Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:56 pm

Thanks again for the suggestions.
She keeps the song pretty 'drone like' really. Quite funereal.

martyforrer
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Bands / Groups: Borderline.... country rock
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Location: Napier.

Re: Duo playing: Acoustic/Singer and Bass

Post by martyforrer » Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:26 pm

greghr wrote:Thanks again for the suggestions.
She keeps the song pretty 'drone like' really. Quite funereal.
OK. This then gives you the opportunity to play a straight root five for the first verse, add in a couple of embellishments the next, and if your feeling confident you can start a walking blues bass line for the rest of the song. This will stop it becoming boring. There are some vids on youtube of walking blues lessons which might be of help. Two things to remember, keep your chord structure simple, even if she's not ( unless you hear conflict), and keep your lines outlining the chords and a minor blues is a great place to use a flat five as a passing note to another chord.

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Re: Duo playing: Acoustic/Singer and Bass

Post by greghr » Thu Jan 23, 2014 3:46 pm

Thanks again Marty for the tips

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Re: Duo playing: Acoustic/Singer and Bass

Post by greghr » Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:04 pm

First gig ever went off ok, St James worked ok. Punters seemed to enjoy it. I even got to sing a few cover songs strumming along on my guitar. Feedback received was that my bass playing was in time, but I have to admit I know there were quite a few off notes. You can practice till the cows come home but on the gig somehow the songs seem so much much more pressured compared to that easy cosy home practice situation.
Hopefully we'll do some more sometime. Anyway appreciated all the help.

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