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7 STEPS TO GROOVE (It’s All About The Groove)

What is Groove?  

To me, it is the be all, end all phenomenon that makes music feel good. 

It’s the feeling that is the direct cause of toe tappin, finger snappin’, head bobbin’ & booty shakin’. 

Not all music grooves because not all musicians have mastered the art of groove, but all music does have the potential to groove.

My more technical definition of groove is:  the placement of accents on or around a beat that creates a pleasant feeling.  In my opinion, the snare drum popping on beats 2 & 4 of a musical phrase defines the foundation of a rudimentary groove.  This is called a back beat.  The bass can then add rhythmic variation as needed.If the bass player can’t groove, the band is sunk from the first bar of a tune.  For me … It’s all about the Groove

Defining the “ One”

“The One”: The first beat of every measure/phrase/groove. Parliament has a song about it, “Everything is one the One”. So many players neglect to learn the value of “The One”. 

Mastering “The One” will help you to master YOUR groove. 

It is the “secret” ingredient in the mix that will set the pace for the rest of the band. Defining “The One” lets the whole band know what the structure of the song is. 

As the bass player, it is your job to “drive the bus”. 

Laying down an unmistakable “One” will lead and direct the band through an entire song with no question about what is going to happen next. With a strong “One”, the other beats in a bar will automatically fall into place. It is the glue/foundation of solid musicianship … especially members of the rhythm section. 

How do you set up a Groove?

1) Gather Information: Key, Chord Structure, Time Signature, Feel, Form

2) Form a Concept (Note Choice/ Line Shape):            

  • Most grooves start on the root and build from there. 
  • What chord tones stand out to you?
  • Will the Line Ascend or Descend?
  • Box Pattern? Pedal? Arpeggio?

3) Rhythmic Placement: 

  • Behind the beat, on the beat or ahead of the beat? 
  • What beats to accent? / Kick drum pattern 
  • Simple or Syncopated?

4) Sing & Play a pattern: You can’t play it if you can’t sing it.

5) Refine & Define the pattern: Sometimes your first choice isn’t always best, or your ideas evolve as you continue groovin’.

6) Repetition: You are the rock!  

  • Once you set the groove, you CANNOT MOVE.
  • The band will come to rely on your steady pulse and any deviation will be devastating to the groove of the song. 
  •  NEVER play a fill if it will disrupt the groove.

7) Develop a Vocabulary:

You should develop a stable of pre-conceived patterns that will work over almost any tune in a particular style.  The more music that you listen to, the more ideas you get. Learn to recreate patterns from your favorite tunes and modify them for your own use.  This is how you will develop your own voice and how people will be able to distinguish your playing from that of others.

This is how you will develop your own voice and how people will be able to distinguish your playing from that of others.

“Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal”

Pablo Picasso