Friday, March 6, 2015

How To Write Songs On Bass Only From A Zakk Wylde Like Technique

I was reading an old article in a copy of Bass Guitar. James Lomenzo was the featured Bottom-Feeder in this article. At the time James was playing with Zakk Wylde. What really intrigued me about this piece was Zakk's desire to write for his (Hangover Music Vol.VI) strictly on Bass.

What does this mean?

For those bass players who may not know, that picture is of James Lomenzo somewhere doing a clinic if I'm correct, and answering questions.

Think about it, when you play Bass you're only playing to keep the foundation of the rhythm section together and keep the lead guitar from venturing too far into the netherlands of their own little solo world. That's pretty much it. But when you play Bass in a live or Jam setting, for the most part you're not using full chording, tone, texture or notes.

But if you're writing and composing music from Bass, you're playing changes using riffs that are more full out and you're applying lead guitar techniques. Ever notice the top Bottom Feeders use lead guitar like texture and riffing patterns? Huh?

Take the old pros like The Who's John Entwistle and Cream's Jack Bruce. They played like a lead guitarist and locked in with the lead guitar. Kind of like what Geezer Butler does with Tony Iommi. These Bass players took the music on a journey to a higher level.

Funny thing though, Zakk wanted LoMenzo to do his regular Bass playing when fleshing out the tunes he wanted him to get down. And, strictly play the parts as is. Basically like a session player. Most lead guitar players write from their own guitar, and the music becomes stale as the years go by. Ever notice that fellow Bottom-Feeders?

Doesn't matter if you're Hendrix,Slash,Wylde or Clapton, you have times where you have difficulties coming up with great riffs and textural tones that are original. Basically, your shit just ain't cuttin' the mustard anymore.

Think about it this way. By Zakk writing from a Bass perspective it forces any player to be more creative period. I understand he wanted James to just replace his parts, but he may have wanted him to play more solo like, like the lead guitar. By writing from Bass it also forces you out of your natural writing and playing tendencies and on coming up with licks and riffs that take the music and the listener to a new place.

Mind you that could be just total theory and Bull-Shit on my part. But I've watched enough Practices,Jams and live shows to know that I think I'm right. Want to learn to write from Bass not just from a rock theme?

Then listen to and play different types of music like Jazz and slow blues. Learn how difficult chording can be not just playing Jazz, but slow blues. A lot of players have issues with slow blues, and if you learn how to play and write from the Bass, you'll see it from a different perspective and come up with new riffs you never thought of.

Start writing and playing from your Bass Players Axe today. He'll think you're nuts but that's why you're a musician.

Email me with your thoughts on writing from Bass only.
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