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Electric Bass Lessons: How to Approach a New Song -NEW!

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I recently received a request from one of
my students,
asking me how I approach, a new song and
what, what my thought process is.
And so I'm gonna take this opportunity to
answer that and I'm also gonna encourage.
Any of these types of questions that
aren't necessarily just dealing with
actually playing, that you have, just feel
free to send those in,
because those really help us to help you.
As far as approaching a new song, actually
when I started many, many years ago.
I tried to learn as many songs as I could
just so that I would have a,
a big repertoire.
And I encourage you to play with as many
bands or
try to find as many people to play with as
you can because that always helps you
just get your vocabulary and all your
songs together.
So for me, it became a very valuable
Because then especially on the jazz band,
when they call in songs,
whether it be Autumn Leaves, or Four or
whatever it is, The A Train, I, I had a
lot of those songs committed to memory.
So I encourage you to go out and play and
get as many songs committed to memory as
you can, and when I go into the studio and
I see a piece of music for the first time,
there are two different scenarios.
One is sometimes they're just chord
symbols and slashes so that's actually
pretty good because they leave it up to me
to come up with the bass line.
And if there's a demo of the song I always
encourage them to play that and
even two or three times if there's a good
bass part or bass line that I like.
I will actually jot that part down just so
that when it comes around to that I can
kind of use that in the song and
as I'm listening down the first time, I'm
kind of listening for, places that I can,
you know, put little ideas in and come up
with lines.
So then I usually ask them to play a,
again, where I can get a little more
specific about what I'm gonna actually
come up with for the for the part.
And as we know, there's so
many different choices that you have when
you're coming up with bass lines.
So, again,
I just use, I use the changes to kinda
dictate what I'm gonna come up with.
If it's gonna be a simple part, or if it's
gonna be a little more melodic or
just have a little more action in it.
And so, a demo's good if you have the
opportunity to hear it.
One of the other situations, though, is
when they put a chart in front of you and
it's all notes, so there not too many
chords, and
that's when you have to rely on your
reading chops.
And what I usually do, especially if
there's a lot of people on the session,
is I just look through the chart and
try to find the most difficult passage or
just where, something that's gonna be.
You know, a little bit challenging and I
just worked that part out until I kinda
feel comfortable with that and then just
kinda have a glance over the chart,
just to see if you can get familiar with
some of the moves in there.
Just make sure there's not too many, you
know, notes there that you can't play.
And sometimes, if there's no real chart or
demo to be heard,
the composer is actually in the room and,
and I like to get them to play the song
either on guitar or on piano and get an
idea of what they want then.
That helps me out, especially if it's a
guitar, written song.
That just helps me, to listen to for what
I'm going to do on the bass.
The, that's happened to me a lot recently,
where I've been in the studio and
they're just showing the showing the demo,
you know,
in real time just playing it on the
So that's usually a big help.
Again, find out as much as you can about
the song.
If somebody's demoing the song to you.
Play it,
have them play it as many times as you
need to really get comfortable with it.
One funny story was when I was working on
a Bob Dylan record.
He was showing us the song and I usually
try to jot out a little bit of the chord
progression while they're playing so he
was showing me the song for the record and
the first time he played it.
He played it one way and I asked him to
play it again so
I could check the notes that I took and he
played it in a completely different way.
And then when we recorded it, he played it
another different way.
I mean it was like, notes were clashing
all over the place.
So I thought to myself, you know?
And after we did the take he said that,
that's fine.
And so, you run into all kinds of
But the bottom line is just really
concentrating on,
on trying to remember what the key part,
key parts of the song are.
And again, we always want to make it feel
really good and, and just, you know,
just try to do your best to, to really
capture what the song is talking about and
again the best way to do that is to
familiarize yourself with the song.
Either have the, compose, composer or
artist play it, or have your chord charts,
or you make a chord chart from a demo.
So, there's many different ways.
So, now it's your turn.