Recently jumped at the chance to join a band pieced together from our local music school. Up until around early 2019 I'd been learning bass at the school but had lost enthusiasm. This band is the first time I've played with others - aside from a tutor - and required many big steps for me such as comitting songs to memory and ditching my tab comfort blanket. Playing with others has given me back the spark for playing that I had lost.
Our first set was a short 25min one Saturday just gone and the amount information and experience gathered from that is mountain like, and I am now slowly chipping through it in order to get the most from it. Two big question areas. How you folks structure the songs in your heads to learn them? How do you balance self critique?
Learning songs to play in their entirety without tab to refer to was new to me. I took the approach of tabbing it out (with a few tweaks or simplifications) on my computer so I could hear an isolated 'perfect' bass line to help get the muscle memory sorted. Next step was playing over and over against album tracks of the originals - including versions of songs that I hacked to suit changes we had made. On the later rehersals where we all 'knew' the songs it fell apart in the abscence of the singer. We were relying on the vocals to guide us through the song stucture. The gig also highlighted an issue with practicing against original tracks and dealing with not bring able to hear everyone clearly on stage. While playing at the gig it all felt odd, almost deja vu like as I suspect key parts or sounds I had subconciuosly anchored my song structure to were either missing or lost in the mix.
What methods do you use to structure songs in your head? Sure no one size fits all, but can you simply play your bass parts in their entirety with nothing to guide you? I found that most tricky on the simplest bass lines where a 2 or 4 bar pattern is repeated to death before a suden change. Do you learn the lyrics to the songs word perfect and have an internal monologue singing them out or think more interms of intro - verse 1 - verse 2 - chorus - bridge etc? Practice the complete songs in isolation against a metronome/click track?
And now the big one, managing you mindset! There's no subsitute for experience. For a newbee to gigging the stress levels were up in the beams as I juggled with many new to me experiences and challanges. I'm sure gig 2 will be more enjoyable for me. For this gig though while on stage I felt like I was playing chicken with a dump truck at night. I was mentally cooked when I came off stage and rather than enjoying the posative vibes and feedback I had already begun to over analyse my mistakes and spiralled, taking the best part of a day after to sort my head out. How best to manage a healthy balance of self critique for continual improvement and enjoying the moment?
Deep questions really, and things many of you manage with little thought. Not quite asking how do I be a bassist, but not far from!