Listening and Balance

I was asked the question, "do you think about dynamics when you play the bass?"  My answer is quite simply, no.

I don’t think about it.  Don't get me wrong, I understand dynamics and I follow the composer's vision for the song.  Other than that, I don't spend a lot of time and energy "thinking" about dynamics.  Dynamics happen naturally by listening and reacting. It is more about feel and instincts than "thinking". The goal is to play with feeling and balance with the band. 

I suggest to think about dynamics like reading the room.  Listening and reacting is naturally learned for speech and social interaction. For example, if everyone is speaking softly, then naturally you would match their tone and volume. Most people would instinctively try to blend with their surroundings and adapt to the group. Not following these social norms means you are not taking cues (listening) from the vibe of the group. If everyone is lively and loud, then to participate you need to match the groups vibe and volume. Listen, play with feeling, and balance with the group. Dynamics will happen naturally.

Obviously, these statements are for live situations where you are not reading music.  If you are reading, then you play what is notated and you should follow the indicated dynamics.  However, it is more likely you are not reading music notation.  In every other situation, it is more important to think about how the group sounds overall.  It is your responsibility to listen and blend in.  Balance in a live situation is just like mixing a song, you don't want anything to be too loud or too quiet.  Listen and match the vibe of the other musicians.

If you can do this and play notes that sound good, then you will be a better bassist.  If you need help with what notes to play
, then check out my eBook entitled Fretboard Visualization.  Learn a step by step process to memorizing the whole fretboard, modes, and music theory.  Take the next step to becoming a better bass player and musician. 

Fretboard Visualization
A Thought Process & Mode Theory for Bass Guitar