"Fearless" - Original composition by Joseph Patrick Moore. From the "Nevada Sun" album (Blue Canoe Records 2019).
The relationship between Bass and Drums is a special and unique relationship. While a typical rhythm section would consist of bass, drums, guitar, piano/keys, percussion, it is the bass and drums that gives music its “heartbeat” and “foundation”. The marriage between the bass and drums should be a happy one, if either of them are out of sync with one another, it can make for a difficult and tense musical situation. When the bassist and drummer connect as “one heartbeat”, they possess a tremendous amount of groove, power and backbone for the rest of the musical ensemble.
As bassists, it is essential that we learn to trust and openly communicate with your partner in crime. The dialog between bassists and drummers should be a healthy, honest and trusting relationship. Below, I have outlined several key points that you should consider when working and locking in with your drummer.
* THE SONG
* BEAT PLACEMENT
* WITH THE KICK, NOT WITH THE KICK
* ONE WITH YOURSELF
* JUST BECAUSE THEIR GREAT, DOESN’T MAKE IT SO
* LISTEN TO THE MASTERS
THE SONG: Most music will usually dictate what is needed within the rhythm section. The melody will usually tell you what type of feel or what to play or what not to play. It is important to listen to the music and let the music dictate what approach you and your drummer should take. Never be afraid to try ideas or take chances, but always be honest with the music and learn to compromise with each other. Remember to always "Serve The Music".
BEAT PLACEMENT: Most professional bass and drum masters understand the subtleties of “Beat Placement”. Essentially there are three ways of playing “time” in any musical situation:
1) on TOP of the beat (slightly ahead of the metronome click)
2) in the MIDDLE of the beat (dead center with the metronome click)
3) BEHIND the beat (slightly behind the metronome click)
There will be a future video post on this concept so I won’t go into great detail now. Just understand and be aware that this subtle difference of where you place your note, makes the truly great rhythm section players stand apart from the rest. As a guideline, I tend to play straight-ahead jazz slightly ahead of the beat. With rock and country music I tend to play right in the middle of the beat. With funk, blues, hip hop and gospel I will play slightly behind the beat. Again, the tune will usually dictate where I’ll place the beat. Ultimately you and your drummer need to understand this concept and openly communicate about this. Try experimenting with these three different beat placements to see how it effects the groove of your music.
WITH THE KICK, NOT WITH THE KICK: Most pop tunes require that the bass and the kick drum are playing in sync and in unison together to create a full, cohesive and powerful sound. However there are two schools of approaches that bassists and drummers subscribe to:
1) Playing with the kick drum.
2) Playing off the kick and around it
(not necessarily playing in unison with every kick).
You should be aware of this concept and try experimenting where to place those unison notes together. Listen to the masters for how they approach this subtle yet powerful ingredient. Yet again, the composition will usually dictate what is needed and where to place those strategic notes and accents.
DYNAMICS: Soft, loud and all points in between. The bass and drums should aspire and utilize dynamics as a rhythm section, thus propelling and lifting the musical ensemble to higher levels of tension and release. When there are moments of opportunities to rise and fall with the music, de- fine these sections and work them out dynamically. Often times, this will expose how well you and the drummer are locking in and how much you are really listening to each other. This seems like a given, yet dynamics are often overlooked by many performers. Try just getting together with your drummer and have a bass/drum rehearsal. Find these moments in the song that you can add dynamics.
ONE WITH YOURSELF: While the goal in any musical situation is to create a powerful unified sound, don’t forget to be aware of your own internal clock and don’t solely rely on the drummer (or any other musician) to keep “time” for you. If you do and the drummer were to stop playing, your sense of “time” or lack of it, could show its ugly head. Make sure you're always concentrating and striving to be the best “time keeper” yourself, at the same time learning to work together with others to create that ultimate groove.
JUST BECAUSE THEIR GREAT DOESN’T MAKE IT SO: Just because you may be playing with a masterful drummer doesn’t always guarantee that your groove and pocket will result in a locked and cohesive sound. When you are playing with great musicians or musicians better than yourself, it will often propel you to greater heights. However, there is one important often overlooked word - “chemistry”. I have seen and I have first hand experienced of playing with incredible drummers, but sometimes its a struggle to connect and make that unified sound. If the chemistry, communication and trust factor aren’t present between you and the drummer, this will destroy any hopes of making beautiful music together. When you find a unique camaraderie and chemistry with other musicians, you should cherish and treasure this secret ingredient.
LISTEN TO THE MASTERS: If you want to learn how to lock in with a drummer, there’s no substitute then to listen to the master bass and drum combinations. There are hundreds if not thousands of great bass and drum teams that you should check out. Listen to the way they work together, off of each other and how they communicate as a rhythm section as well as how they communicate with the rest of the ensemble.
In order to “lock in” and a have a stronger cohesive sound with your drummer, you need to create a healthy, honest and trusting relationship. Practice implementing some of these KEY POINTS. The drummer is and should be “the quarterback” and the bassist should be “the receiver”. Working together they can create a winning combination.
FREE Download - JPM's favorite bass & drum combination
Please see the .pdf of my own personal favorites below. Click "Download File" to access. If you are unfamiliar with these artist's, you should check them out.
Note: Some lesson's will be in multiple categories due to their related content. If you have an idea for a lesson (video/text/audio), contact us and let us know.