Phil question

Phil question

Postby javalina » Fri May 21, 2010 6:13 pm

Going on three weeks on this tugboat and I am dreaming of getting home to my four trak and recording some bits and pieces of Dead tunes to practice along to. Going to record some rhythm along to a click track, then bass and lead. I have been studying modes a lot, all keys and all positions; but I have never tried to play any Phil lines and frankly always found his style kind of intimidating. Anybody have any suggestions or general principles about how to try and approach his bass lines?
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Re: Phil question

Postby ugly rumor » Fri May 21, 2010 10:12 pm

Listen to the John Cage recording "Four Walls". Make sure you know your scales and chords (doublestops). Listen to Phil...a lot! Most music groups make the drums and bass the "floor" off of which the rest of the music is played. In jazz, you'll find the same thing, but pay attention to the bass solos. There the bass acts like the rest of the band is the floor. That is what Phil does constantly. So, if you know the song, know where it's going, and know your scales, you can make the rest of the music the floor for your bass lines. John Cage will demonstrate that time and place are part of the music, and you can experiment with time and place throughout the song to create a new piece every time. Some passages are almost integral to the song, but even then, Phil would experiment. So you may not hear the same intro to "Help On The Way" everytime, but you still know that is the song coming up, even without a note for note rendition. So, don't try to "be" Phil, or even copy very much, just try to think like him, using your own influences.

A word of caution...some people will like it, some will understand, some will appreciate even when you fail, but most will not. This is the approach I use, and it keeps the music fresh and unboxed for me. Good luck exploring "The Phil Zone"!!
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Re: Phil question

Postby JonnyBoy » Fri May 21, 2010 11:52 pm

I had the same problem when I made some 4 track recordings to play at this small bar a few years ago. I would lay down the band, play the tape and sing/play lead over the tape. I always wondered what was DRASTICALLY missing, since I could cop Bobby OK, it was PHIL! My base lines, like the jam in Cassidy, I was not Philly enough... I finally got a workable track I remember by acting almost like Jerry, jamming while keeping rhythm/bass melody not really following much of a pattern. For the vocal parts though, standard bass lines fit pretty well... You will probably take many takes like I did till it sounds right :lol: . That seemed to be part of it, once you got more familiar with the changes and structure, it got easier to improvise...
Lately I got an amp that you can plug in your Ipod to and jam along. As I download shows and listen to them, I now search for parts where the jams would be great to play along with. That has been a big help with practicing. If I could only find a way to turn down certain instruments so I can play in leu....
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Re: Phil question

Postby Rusty the Scoob » Sat May 22, 2010 5:15 am

Ugly Rumor gets it so I'll just add onto what he says, while agreeing with it. It's a lifelong pursuit, no doubt.

It also might help if you can hear some pre-Bach classical music, where the bass is weaving the primary countermelody. Josquin Du Pres was the most famous composer of the period. (not to be confused with the modern slap bassist and educator of the same name). Phil constantly skirts the line between performing the standard function of a bass and weaving a counter-melody to what Jerry is doing.

Keep it tamer on the Bobby songs, especially the later ones.

Play long ideas... most bassists think in one or two measures at a time. Phil thinks about the whole verse or chorus or even longer.

Always experiment as stated above. Don't be afraid to surprise yourself, sometimes even on the expected lines.
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Re: Phil question

Postby javalina » Sun May 30, 2010 8:29 am

Thanks for the good words of advice! Thinking about what you said helped me stretch out a little on bass. The thing about long ideas is key. I never thought about it like that, but giving myself more than four beats to get back to the root is liberating, but at the same time scary. Listening to it played back on tape, it sounds way cooler. Makes the bass a lot more fun to play.
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Re: Phil question

Postby Pete B. » Sun May 30, 2010 9:28 am

I picked up a Squire Standard 5-string P-Bass.
First things I worked out are the Lazy Lightnin' lick and Slipknot!
A little theory goes a long way!
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Re: Phil question

Postby ugly rumor » Sun May 30, 2010 10:14 am

Another guitar player successfully corrupted! It's downhill from here, brother! :lol:
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Re: Phil question

Postby Pete B. » Sun May 30, 2010 10:21 am

ugly rumor wrote:Another guitar player successfully corrupted! It's downhill from here, brother! :lol:


:cool:
At least now I can say... Listen, ya gotta be able to play it at least as good as I can.
Lesson 1: Play half as many notes, an octave lower.
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