How Learning Different Genres Will Improve Your Bass Playing
Bass guitar is one of the most versatile instruments around. No matter what type of music is being played, someone has to hold the rhythm and the melody together. If you are a bass player, you can take advantage of this fact by making yourself versatile enough to challenge the rest of the instruments. If you play primarily in one genre, you may want to expand your musical palette. Learning other forms of music can be very rewarding, and will make you a more in-demand player.
Mix It Up
If you are a rock bassist, consider expanding your musical vocabulary by delving into rock’s roots. Rock & roll sprang from rhythm & blues, country, and even gospel. How well do you know those styles? Perhaps it’s time to learn and perfect one or more of those genres. Likewise, if you play country, why not rock out a bit? The rise of “alternative country” acts proves this is a viable (if occasionally volatile) mix. Anyone who has played gospel knows it can be blended successfully with almost any other genre. (Punk gospel? Yeah, it can be done, and has been done.)
Another possibility is jazz fusion, which is jazz flavored with R&B and occasional rock elements. Listen to bands like Weather Report to get some ideas. Maybe you’ll consider jazz-rock (bands like Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears have run successfully for decades by blending these elements).
Although electric bass is seldom used in classical pieces, it is very helpful to understand the structure of symphonies and other classical works, and how bass lines contribute to the composition. You can always adapt classical bass lines to bass guitar to add to your bag of tricks.
Many genres of modern pop music, such as dubstep and hip-hop, are very bass-heavy forms of music. If you play classic blues-rock or metal, you may want to consider trying these types of music on for size.
How Improving Your Playing Through Other Genres Can Improve Your Life
By expanding the genres in which you play, you are helping yourself out in more ways than you might realize. If you become known as a multi-genre player, it can lead to more live gigs and studio work. This could very well mushroom to the point where you have to choose which gig you need to turn down. What a great “predicament” to be in!
Here’s something you may not have previously considered: if you compose songs, or even simply bass lines, the ability to use different styles in your songwriting could lead to extra income from music publishing.
In either of these cases, your income could go up substantially. Even if it doesn’t, or if you aren’t at that level, there’s a good chance you’ll feel a greater amount of personal satisfaction from your expanded repertoire. That alone makes it worth it!
The next time you feel stuck in a musical rut, try some genre-busting. A whole new level of playing could become your reality.