Bassics of Groove

By: Brad Jones - Posted: 2009-01-02

This will be the first of many articles on the primary function of the bass player, i.e. GROOVE. Seems a rather mystical word doesn't it. There's not really a clear way to define it other than "I know it when I hear it." It's more than just keeping good time. Keeping good time will get a person's foot or hand tapping to the beat, but GROOVE does something more. Groove moves the heart, groove moves the feet, groove makes people get up and move their ass, groove makes otherwise sensible adults do the chicken head...

So, what are the elements of groove? What makes people do those things?

First off, the drummer MUST have solid, consistent time. It doesn't matter if they play on the back of the beat, the front of the beat or right smack-dab in the middle of the beat, provided they do it consistently and in time. A drummer who rushes or drags or worse yet whose tempo fluctuates, is not conducive to groove. I wouldn't say it's impossible, but it is darn near impossible.

Secondly, all of the musicians in the band need to have good time, and they must play together. If the drummer is playing one tempo and the control freak guitar player is playing another tempo there will be no groove. Tempo is the lair of the drummer and everyone must lock into his time, not their own.

Finally, groove requires space. If everyone in the band plays every note in their arsenal all the time, there will be no groove. Musicians who know how to groove know how to leave space in the music.

I know that's probably leaving you with more questions than answers, but we'll get to specific tools and skills a bass player needs, but for now...

Keep it low and make it GROOVE!

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