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Bass Lines With Jaime Vazquez: Groove Variations Part I (One Chord Vamp)

Meet Jaime Vazquez –

Hello Everyone! We’re finally at the end of the year 2010! Thanks for all your support to BMM! We’re here for you!

We all know that repetition is a great tool and a standard for grooving. But hey! We can make some cool variations to our grooves without losing the idea and the essence of the rhythm section.

For this month, we will focus on something very common on great bass lines called the one chord vamp. You will find this on many classic songs. The one chord vamp gives you a lot of room for bass fills. So, it is the perfect moment to show your stuff. But always take care to not overplay. Remember, play for the song!

Figure 1a. Here we have the verse from a James Brown classic called Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine. The bass groove is courtesy of the amazing William “Bootsy” Collins. He always shows great maturity in his playing!

Figure 1b. This is the verse variation. On both grooves, there are a lot of eight notes, sixteenth notes and rests. See how the grooves have changed at the end of every bar. They’re known as bass fills. Don’t forget the rests, silence is musical too.

Figure 2a. The Top 10 Cissy Strut, by The Meters. This groove utilizes a swung sixteenth note feel with tension notes which provides contrast.

Figure 2b. Here’s the variation of the same groove but with more tension notes. Remember to accentuate the swing feel.

Figure 3a. Low Rider is a great example of an eight notes groove. A very cool song from the American funk band called War.
In this groove, we have slides, muted notes and hammer-ons, etc.

Figure 3b. The variations are at the end of the groove. This is common while grooving. The idea is to keep the essence of the main groove and ad some cool fills at the end. This will catch the attention and give you more colors and flavor to your grooves.

Figure 4a. Now let’s groove with Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers). This is the great groove from their hit By the Way. The interlude is based on Dm, Flea establishes the groove with eight notes at the beginning of every bar then he moves with a sixteenth note feel with hammer-ons and muted notes.

Figure 4b. Take care with the timing because the groove is very syncopated and aggressive. Note that he plays with a sixteenth note feel with hammer-ons and muted notes and he ends the groove with some tension notes.

When grooving over a one chord vamp, try rhythmic variations, emphasize the chord notes and combine them with chromatic passing tones (tension notes). Also, you can use ghost or muted notes, slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, double stops, slap, etc. Play for the music style, if you are playing funk play funk and always locked up with the rhythm section. Happy Holidays!

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