Little did I realize, at the time, that listening to various genres as a kid would be essential in the licks and lines I would learn and play later on. Often times, I hear licks or lines played by musicians that spark my interest. Usually, It’s because it is something I wouldn’t have thought of. Many times, I’ll be on a gig and play a line within a groove or a lick that had a familiarity to me. I’d then have to do some in-depth thinking about where the influence for the line/lick came from before I realized , “Hey!, That was influenced by Bootsy’s groove on “Stretchin’ Out” or “That lick was influenced by Jaco from the tune ‘Elegant People'”. That’s why I’ve always felt that listening to music is an even greater percentage of practice than physically practicing on your axe.
Absorbing all the music you can, indubitably, comes out in your playing whether you realize it or not. You should first establish a library of of grooves, lines, and licks so you have a foundation to pull from. Don’t just limit yourself to listening to bass lines, etc. Check out other instrumentalist as well to give you a well rounded voice of musicality. For instance, I’ve always wanted to have the fluidity on bass solos as Cannonball Adderley had when he played sax solos. The, effectively, unique and selective note choicings of Miles Davis when he soloed on trumpet. As well as the rhythmic diversity of all of the keyboardist and guitarist I’ve listened to from Bernie Worrell to Red Garland to Alan Holdsworth to Glen Goins. As long as I’m living I’ll be striving to accomplish these goals and more.
The way I, usually, go about developing my library is to first learn the line/lick that impressed me and find out how it corresponds with the chords and bass notes below it in the song. Once I’ve established that, I’ll try it in various keys. Then the final stage, before including it in my musical library of licks, is to play with the same lick or line and put my own stamp on it . I do this by changing around the rhythmic pattern or arrangement of the notes or even subtracting or adding some notes. This works for licks and lines and helps you also when creating your own licks from scratch. Keep in mind, Bass lines can, also, be melodies all at the same time, too. Just like anything else, Once you get in the habit of it, The process becomes easier. Soon, You’ll notice your creativeness increase in even the simplest grooves.