Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby Scott Bardolf » Wed Apr 22, 2009 5:41 am

Here's my problem....my bass player is a guitarist by nature, picked up bass to be in this band. He knows zero theory. Has an AMAZING ear, but doesn't know what to play during minor jams, or over diminished chords etc... Example.... Brown Eyed Women, " Tumble down shack in big-foot county."
He plays the root B major there while I (rhythm guitar) play a minor triad. What note should he be playing. That's just one example, any time a minor key is involved he's playing the wrong stuff. Can someone school me on this in laymans term??? Much appreciated. :?
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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby strumminsix » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:26 am

For the tumble Down Shack I'd suggest he try:
Code: Select all
||: D /// | C# / E /  :||
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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby Scott Bardolf » Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:50 am

Ok, so is the theory behind this that D is a third away from B? And if so, does this translate to most situations? For instance, on Candyman, opening line, the Gm..... what would go there, A#?
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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:45 am

He needs to learn theory, and right now. I can't imagine trying to play Phil without theory.

The most important thing he'll need are basic arpeggios. You know that a major triad is 1-3-5, right? C Major for example is C-E-G. To make it minor you flat the 3rd, so C Minor is C-Eb-G. For diminished you flat both the 3rd and the 5th. C diminished is C-Eb-Gb. (you could call that Gb an F# but it makes the diminished triad a lot harder to recognize at a glance)

The next step is to understand Diatonic Harmony. This means - for a given scale, building chords off of each note in the scale and understanding whether those chords would be major, minor, or diminished. Using C, the chords would be C Major, D Minor, E Minor, F Major, G Major, A Minor, B diminished, and C Major. To understand why these are the correct chords, sit down and build each arpeggio. C-E-G is a major chord. D-F-A is a minor chord. E-G-B is a minor chord, etc.

Playing walking Jazz lines is really great training for this - it forces you to weave a fluid line over a given set of chords and takes the rhythm out of it since you're playing all quarter notes.

From there you can start to understand the function of each chord, using the Circle of 5ths. Basically each chord wants to resolve down a 5th. The most common use of this concept is that the 6th, Am, wants to resolve to Dm. The Dm wants to resolve to G. The G very strongly wants to resolve back to C. The C doesn't want to resolve anywhere but you can add the flatted 7th (Bb) and it will want to resolve to the 4th, F. This is often used as a way to transition to a chorus or bridge.

Have him chew on these concepts for a while, it's a lot of info already. Once he gets them and wants more or if he needs clarification, shoot me a PM and I'll give him my e-mail address.
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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby strumminsix » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:19 am

Scott Bardolf wrote:Ok, so is the theory behind this that D is a third away from B? And if so, does this translate to most situations? For instance, on Candyman, opening line, the Gm..... what would go there, A#?

Rusty put it best. He needs to learn theory and how to be a bass players.

My suggestion was something to get his creative juices flowing...

Taking the 3 chords: Bm A E. Noting the the iii, then iii then I.

Not saying this is exactly what Phil does for this song but it's the sort of thing he does do. Dancing around the chords and linking them by non-root notes.
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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby Scott Bardolf » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:53 am

Thanks a million! This will either light a fire under his ass or make him sell his bass. Examples of previous work at www.halfstepgd.com. :cool:
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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:07 am

Hey, if he goes that route, I could sure use a deal on a Q6! I'll expect a deep discount since it's been infected with Yankee vibes, of course. :lol:

Let me know how it goes!
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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby maximinus » Wed Apr 22, 2009 6:17 pm

I am a bass player, and I try to play like Phil (a tough order, but I try my best).

Like your bass player, I don't actually know much theory. When I started playing bass - maybe 12 years ago - I was undoubtedly pretty awful. What I DID learn though, was every damn scale I could. Then I applied my ear to what Phil was playing in a particular song and went with that. An as example, my band learnt Lost Sailor a few years back. Couldn't tell you about the WHY of something, but a little time listening to Phil and I now play an F# Phrygian mode over the first part. Just comes down to knowing the music and learning the scales all over the fretboard.

Normally I never like to 'learn' a bass line (after all, it's all about the improv, right?) but there are a few times when you just need to knuckle down and steal a Phil riff - Slipknot! being a prime example.

Other than that, playing Phil is enormous fun! Just make sure you get the intro to The Other One down perfect.....

Now you can all mod me down for not knowing all my music theory :shock:
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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby RiverRat » Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:51 am

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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby wisedyes » Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:35 am

Yeah, he needs to learn some theory, take it to heart, and use it. The two people in a band that always need to be the best at theory are, imho, the bassist and keys player. A bassists main function is to spell out the changes and create lines that move from one chord to the next - without knowing the theory behind how that is done, it's a tall order. They also need to be very good at keeping time.

My advice would be to learn all Major and minor arpeggios as fast as possible, and practice playing them at various tempos WITH A METRONOME ( or a drum machine if one is available ). Learn how the thirds and sevenths of chords lead into the thirds and sevenths of the next targeted chord in the progression ( this is also referred to as "voice leading" ) - and start using those notes to delineate your changes in your lines. I can't stress this enough.

Good luck with it!
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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:42 am

RiverRat wrote:
Rusty the Scoob wrote:He needs to learn theory, and right now. I can't imagine trying to play Phil without theory.

<shameless leg-humpin>
I can imagine most of us could spend 20 years learning theory and still not be able to play as well as you do!

I watched a couple of the Youtube vids Mike posted... After hearing your playing on the Other One, I had the urge to smash my bass... or sell it!

The people I know that were at the last Lucky Dawg show raved about same thing.... The bass player!
</shameless leg-humpin>


Thanks, RiverRat! I'm overwhemed, and don't even know what to say! :oops:

You've got me fired up though... tonight I'll try to live up to your high praise! :cheers:
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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby Emoto » Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:13 am

RiverRat wrote:
Rusty the Scoob wrote:He needs to learn theory, and right now. I can't imagine trying to play Phil without theory.

<shameless leg-humpin>
I can imagine most of us could spend 20 years learning theory and still not be able to play as well as you do!

I watched a couple of the Youtube vids Mike posted... After hearing your playing on the Other One, I had the urge to smash my bass... or sell it!

The people I know that were at the last Lucky Dawg show raved about same thing.... The bass player!
</shameless leg-humpin>


No doubt that Rusty does a great job, but don't sell yourself short, RiverRat. You're no slouch, either.
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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby RiverRat » Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:44 am

.
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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby Emoto » Tue Apr 28, 2009 11:30 am

Hey man, these batteries are VINTAGE! Originals like Jerry used. Waaaaaaaaaaaaay better than the new ones. No way am I changing!

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Re: Question for "Lesh" style bass players.

Postby philsaam » Sun May 10, 2009 9:20 am

my good friend ---bass is time and harmonic motion --bass carries the "feel" AND lays down by design harmonic motion -----Dont be crule to your bro -you got a problem with what you hear him attempting - he is in a state of trial and error and understand this -----at least you have a bass player that has got the guts to work through this period that is testing your patience as well as his ---YOU GUYS ARE A TEAM - work together- dont just expect him to be like a studio player - you think PHIL LESH thinks he understands "LESH STYLE" phil is a strong player and has always made changes to his playing because hes always evolving ---experimenting -phil thinks in a polyphonic -classical approach - yet he chooses to mix harmonic motion with the feel ---am I making any sense to you ---? I play bass - its time ,its the chordal progression ---now think of leading tones to the next chordal change --ok -like A - B ----A Bflat B ----keep it simple to start -just get the notes right ---in time your bassist will develope his "PHIL LESH " qualities --it takes time and ya cant rush -Read Phil Lesh -Searching for the Sound --especially his wanting to play bass with Jerry -----I am glad phil wrote the book; its a guided tour through a remarkable era with incredible people ----in closing----dont conflict with little things -cause they can grow -dont go there --patience ---think WHAT WOULD JERRY DO ? TEACH -the evolving bassist by RUFUS REID -that gives good --a wrong note leads to the right note -and given that if you play enough passing tones ya might just have another tune---breathe grasshopper uuuummm -
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