Fiona Lee Maynard started learning bass when she was fourteen, wrote and recorded her first song at fifteen, had her first paid bass job at sixteen. As band leader, bass player and lead singer in bands ranging from Mushroom signed power pop band; Have A Nice Day to unsigned independent bands; In Vivo, and Fiona and Her Holy Men. Her bass experience covers three decades of music making, here’s a summary of her workshop.
Bass is the sexy link in a song’s arrangement between rhythm and melody.
Drums make audiences tap their feet, a groovy bass line makes people move their hips.
Band members appreciate bass players who keep to the beat and allow plenty of space for other instruments to feature.
The groove of a bass line comes as much from what you don’t play as what you do play.
Many of the most memorable bass lines in popular music are repetitive and connect solidly with the kick pattern.
Eg: Another One Bites The Dust & Under Pressure by John Deacon bassist for Queen
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When composing or collaborating with other band members, begin by playing the root notes of chord progression with kick drum pattern until the song structure is set, then add more complexity, if the song needs it.
Alternatively, if composing from the bass line first, arrange instruments and vocals around the bass line as the central theme of the song. (example below)
SINGING BASS PLAYERS
The secret to being a singing bass player is; MORE PRACTICE
Learn bass line – practice, until you do not need to watch where your fingers are going
Learn lyrics and vocal melody – practice until you do not need to read the lyrics
Keep a constant “one beat” by tapping your foot, nodding your head or stepping side to side, in order to synchronise the vocal and bass parts.
Simplify the bass parts you play whilst also singing
Remember the audience would prefer to see your eyes whilst you perform rather than watch you watching your fingers
Example of simplified bass part whilst bass player is singing
Example of song with bass line as feature with bass player singing
OH&S FOR BASS PLAYERS
Warm up your shoulders & neck muscles before performing as well as fingers & wrist
If your wrist starts to hurt whilst practicing, stop & rest & do corrective wrist exercises;
Slowly moving hand side to side (as if wiping a table)
Slowly move wrist side to side (as if waving)
Always ask for help when lifting heavy bass amps, bend your knees & test weight before lifting
Thread your lead through your guitar strap to stop it from coming out of your instrument mid-performance
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