How do you put your finger on what groove is? Many try to explain it. Here’s our chance to make it clear.
- I recently had a conversation with a musician about his frustration with playing with bassists that have all the theory training but lack feel/groove. Specifically, he was referencing a swing fill on a Stevie wonder song. He said we should talk about that on our podcast.
- This is not a theory versus groove debate. I can’t argue that either isn’t super important. But…
- How do you explain groove to either beginning musicians or non-musicians, without using the word “pocket”?”
- It’s a combination of the instruments, especially the drums and bass, linked together in what they’re doing
- Combination of being together, but also complementing each others’ parts
- NOT the same as just playing in time/tempo
- The rhythmic communication and dance between musicians playing together and the spaces they create?
- It results in a place listeners and musicians can get lost in (in a good way).
Is groove or feel more important to you over nailing the notes?
- Almost always!
- Sometimes there’s a signature line that you have to nail for people to get lost in the song
- But also you can play around with groove to create your own feel to a song
- For me, almost always. A beautiful and complex fill that loses place awakens me from the dream as does the electronic karaoke band.
- But a single note played with breath and life…
Can you give an example of where you’ve seen groove go wrong?
- Salsa bass sub crossing the clave
- Also, Pocket drummer telling me to play less notes.
- My first lesson from a drummer in playing with a “real” band
- The “too many notes” thing is rampant
How does the space between the notes play a part in groove?
- Space really helps make notes meaningful
- Can completely change the feel
How do you feel practicing to a metronome impacts your ability as a bassist to stay in pocket or develop feel?
- I used a metronome when I was just starting to learn
- I use it a lot less now, but what I do like using is drum loops — you can find a lot of them online, or even buy a cool player/plugin like EZDrummer or SSD
Photo by Steve Harvey on Unsplash. Music: Jahzzar, Please Listen Carefully; spinningmerkaba, Urbana-Metronica (wooh-yeah mix).