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dmccombe7

Bass & drums. Who leads

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Posted (edited)

Not sure this has been asked but will go for it anyway.

Within a band set up do you follow the drummer or do you lead the drummer.

In most cover bands i've been in, i tend to lead more than follow the drummer. I think its because i put a lot into learning my part that i am very confident when playing. I take my timing from the drummer at the start and just go for it.

In originals bands it seems to be the other way around and i love following a good drummer. Again its maybe down to how i develop and learn an original bass part.

Think a lot depends on the how good or confident the drummer is.

Dave

Edited by dmccombe7

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11 minutes ago, dmccombe7 said:

Think a lot depends on the how good or confident the drummer is.

I will listen out for cues a lot because I am not a person who counts bars in my head I just try to "feel" where the changes come, which relies usually on a cue from the drums, so I guess I'm a follower. 

Though if I know the song better than the drummer, which does happen, I'll lead with a bass fill to tell him it's time to transition to a different part and to pull the guitarist out of a solo or whatever. 

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Could be either in my band. I will usually use the bass drum as the basic trigger but we quickly evolve p-arts between us and we know each other well enough to read each other and operate as a team 'on the fly' as it were.

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What i have noticed is that i don't count bars from start to finish but certain parts of the song i will count thru the bars.

Usually the vocal parts are easy its the guitar solos i tend to count bars.

Dave

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5 minutes ago, Dan Dare said:

Neither. 

Can you give us a bit more detail 

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I don’t consider myself as leading or following. We try and stick together as closely as possible. 

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As someone who plays both bass and drums (though not at the same time...yet!) I'd say...it depends. 

For example when I played drums in a big band, I always felt that the bass would lead with the walking/driving bassline, and I would hang back a bit. Same in a jazz trio.

However  playing drums in a blues band, I felt it was my job to keep it driving along. 

So, depends on the music?

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I’ve always followed the drums, though on our recordings the producer hit me to “push” the bars so I was more on the beat. Felt a bit weird but worked a treat.

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I tend to work together with most drummers. Sometimes picking up on what they do and adjusting to go with it, other times they follow me. 

Don't always discuss it with them. Occasionally I play with someone and we lock in immediately, usually that means that we both share a feel for the songs. Other drummers I've grown into a kind of telepathic synchronisation after years of working together. 

There's another guy I've played with on and off who is in his own  bubble, extremely creative and skilled, and I 100% follow him. 

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2 hours ago, hiram.k.hackenbacker said:

I don’t consider myself as leading or following. We try and stick together as closely as possible. 

Think i should have added that to the options. Its probably more realistic for most bands.

Dave

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2 hours ago, Lozz196 said:

I’ve always followed the drums, though on our recordings the producer hit me to “push” the bars so I was more on the beat. Felt a bit weird but worked a treat.

Was he suggesting you were subconsciously dragging a bit behind the drums. I'm talking milliseconds here and not something an audience in general would notice. 

That's just my curiosity asking.

Dave

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I've only ever known a few drummers that were 100% confident enough to add fills properly but they were the drummers i enjoyed most. It seems to bring out a more creative side of me on bass. I can add fills over some of their little fills.

Dave 

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For me it's about ability.

If the drummer is really competent I like to follow. If I feel that I have to lead then I lose confidence in the drummers. 

As @acidbass suggests Drums are king.

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I suppose if anything, I follow him. But really we're a team and play off each other. We are the Engine Room 😎

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2 hours ago, Lozz196 said:

I’ve always followed the drums, though on our recordings the producer hit me to “push” the bars so I was more on the beat. Felt a bit weird but worked a treat.

So you're a funk player at heart...!

A Texan pro bass player mate of mine says he likes to play just behind the beat "cos that's where the funk is" (it works best if you imagine that being said in a Texan drawl)…! 

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In any band I've been in, we all just follow each other.... or follow the song. That's how it feels anyway.

But having said that, it is proably the drummer who has the most influence or leading role.

It can work the other way round too I guess..... it's the drummer who has the most possibilty to drag the band down.

I guess the phrase 'only good as the drummer' is there for a reason.

But maybe if I were playing more groove-based music I would follow the drummer more?????

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For me, this is exactly like trying to think about what your feet are doing as you run downstairs ... guaranteed to end in a train wreck.

I never, ever think about whether I am leading or following the drummer, and I suspect that I'd be very hard-pressed to tell you if I actually tried to work it out.

I play "whatever feels right" to me at the time.

Not suggesting that this is in any way clever or better, it's just what works for me.

 

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33 minutes ago, Happy Jack said:

For me, this is exactly like trying to think about what your feet are doing as you run downstairs ... guaranteed to end in a train wreck.

I never, ever think about whether I am leading or following the drummer, and I suspect that I'd be very hard-pressed to tell you if I actually tried to work it out.

I play "whatever feels right" to me at the time.

Not suggesting that this is in any way clever or better, it's just what works for me.

 

Its not something i think about when playing. It just sort of comes naturally but knowing my own personality and style of playing i know that when i'm driving a song it powers thru any minor mistakes. I tend to shut them out and just keep going no matter what. However i am versatile enough to follow a change in structure when a mistake is made. 

Perhaps its a case of "if you look like you know what you're doing others won't notice the mistakes" :laugh1:

Dave

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Novice bass player here, but can someone quantify what "playing behind the beat" means in terms of time. i.e. are we talking a tenth of a second, a hundredth of a second, or something even smaller?

I'm guessing that is done by "feel" (i.e. you can't count it) and not being a sensitive soul, I'm just not feeling it.  

Either that or it is blind performance panic on my behalf because the few very times that I have played with a drummer (and he was good drummer) he kept on telling me to slow down. 

That must put me in the leader category ;^)

 

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There's a whole movie about this. It's called Whiplash.

Personally I thought it was over-rated, but NOBODY left the cinema not knowing whether they were ahead of or behind the beat. :D

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Flat Al said:

Either that or it is blind performance panic on my behalf because the few very times that I have played with a drummer (and he was good drummer) he kept on telling me to slow down. 

There's a difference between playing ahead of the beat, and pushing the beat because you're speeding up. It can be a subtle difference, but the former will result in a particular feel to the music, while the latter will either end up with the band playing at ramming speed (Ben Hur reference) or a very ticked off drummer.

If you're not used to playing live with a real drummer, then that implies (to me anyway) that you're used to playing along with your favourite music. Which, of course, is where we all started.

Thing about that is the original recording never speeds up, so you can push the beat with impunity ... The Beatles or The Foo Fighters aren't listening to you so they're not affected.

When you start playing live, you soon discover that pushing the beat can have all sorts of effects, few of them popular.

 

Edited by Happy Jack
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8 minutes ago, Flat Al said:

Novice bass player here, but can someone quantify what "playing behind the beat" means in terms of time. i.e. are we talking a tenth of a second, a hundredth of a second, or something even smaller?

I'm guessing that is done by "feel" (i.e. you can't count it) and not being a sensitive soul, I'm just not feeling it.  

Either that or it is blind performance panic on my behalf because the few very times that I have played with a drummer (and he was good drummer) he kept on telling me to slow down. 

That must put me in the leader category ;^)

 

For me that's more about feel for a song. No expert and hopefully someone will come along and explain in more detail.

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1 hour ago, Flat Al said:

Novice bass player here, but can someone quantify what "playing behind the beat" means

Been at this game for decades, and I haven't a clue either! So don't over think or worry too much I'd you're just starting out. 

I am not (before I get jumped on) suggesting don't learn, don't ask questions - far from it. Just in the early stages keep it simple, learn the basics. Listen to the bass drum, lock in with that. Once there's a solid foundation you can start exploring the more nuanced stuff. 

And for every old fart like me there will be another one along with the exact opposite idea. Only you can distill the advice down to what works and above all what makes sense to you. 

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