Episode 013: Broadening Genres

Practical Bass
Practical Bass
Episode 013: Broadening Genres

Polishing to be a super sub, developing songwriting, taking a specific style gig: broadening your genres pays.

Show notes

What genres do you play now and what areas have you spent time learning?


  • Currently playing in two projects – Classic Rock/Beatles and Indie Rock
    • Indie Rock project incorporates funk, salsa, samba, punk, chordal styles, reggae, cumbia, reggaeton, country, jazz, R&B etc. –
  • Which also speaks to the spread of genres I have spent time learning
  • Additionally, bluegrass, 80’s rock, afrofunk, pop, hip-hop, disco, soul, grunge…


  • Currently a few projects: One is Texas roadhouse blues, combination of originals and covers; another is focused on 60s and 70s funk, R&B, and soul. Finally, a new one started up that’s focused on Beatles-influenced pop of the 70s and 80s.
  • I listen to a bunch of other genres as well: modern R&B, modern pop, jazz and swing, hip-hop, progressive, country

What do you feel this genre diversification brings to your gigs?


  • Really play in a style vs. faking a style
  • Fuse styles and create juxtaposition in terms of style and texture – Genre Bending
  • It fuels my learning process and feeds my curiosity
    • Get as close as you can to experience what others have experienced musically    


  • As a songwriter, appreciation for different idioms, like the way chords move. For example the I-vi-IV-V in a lot of modern pop, or ii-V-I all over R&B.
  • As a player, listening to technique and idioms in the bass part, learning how to play a part that swings, or slinks, or stutters, or barges its way through a song the same way you hear it in other types of music

How do you go about learning different genres? Where do you start?


  • When I hear a song somewhere that pulls me in, finding a new/old record, or just drawing a line – enough’s enough, let me explore x.
  • Covers!
  • Learning sub genres, the classics of each genre, and listen with an open mind


  • I have satellite radio in my car; I often tune it to a random channel and listen for a while, trying to pick up what’s going on in the bass. Not ideal since the sound quality, surprisingly, still isn’t great
  • Sometimes run across “20 songs/albums you should hear” lists, and those can be great to get started, or to pull in new stuff I haven’t heard
  • I play mainly by ear, so I try and listen a bunch before picking up the bass; get the sound of the lines in my head first

Dave: There are still so many areas that I haven’t explored in any depth for one reason or another. What about the genre’s you haven’t learned? Why? Ask yourself, what was the last genre I made a conscious effort to dive into? What was the last genre you spent time exploring?


  • Funny you mention this because of our conversation recently about Latin music — something I’ve never taken the time to get into
  • Asked Dave to put together a starter list for me so I can learn, started reading about clave


  • At times, overwhelmed (classical, jazz, post ‘90’s metal)
  • It’s not like you ever reach the point where you know it and you’re done, but some genre’s go deeper than others, some are more relevant to your bass business, some are more closely related to your personal taste that pull you in.
  • Even if you’re a one genre guy or girl, explore the hell out of the sub-genres and the roots of that style of music. If for nothing else, for the love of music
  • Electronic/House/R&B – Daft Punk/Anderson Paak


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