Marching bass tips

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Gormstorm Offline
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Marching bass tips

Posted: Wed Feb 08, 2017 6:25 am



Hey Imma be auditioning for the bassline at my school for this coming fall season (preferably bass 2, 3 or 4 but I'll take what I can get. Any advice, technique or otherwise?
West Bloomfield High School
'14 "Rise and Fall" - Vibe 4 and Auxiliary Rack
'15 "Venezia" - Mellophone
'16 "Glass Half Full" - Mellophone
'17 "Spotlight" - Bass 4

Eastern Michigan University
2018 Season - Bass 4


VoteLobster Offline
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Re: Marching bass tips

Posted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:55 pm



I'm not a bass drummer so I can't speak much to technique. But do have rock-solid timing skills. First of all, you'll need stellar foot timing to play to, because when you're splitting notes, you can't be reactionary to what's going on around you within the bass line (or your timing will fall behind).
Alex Douglass
MCDC 16, 17 PR 18
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MrSirEric Offline
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Re: Marching bass tips

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:17 am



If you have any questions about technique, I would go to your director and ask them to teach you, because every school does it differently. Plus, it'll make a good impression to show that you want to learn and be prepared. I think the biggest thing to know going into a bass audition is that not all bass drums are created equal, especially at the high school level. By far the easiest bass drum is drum 3. The parts are extremely easy and the drum isn't much heavier than a snare. After that, what drums are easy or hard depend on how you're skilled, so I'm just gonna go down the line.

Drum 1 is extremely easy to carry, it's without a doubt the lightest drum on the field, and while you'll have a lot of downbeat parts, they'll also be more complex, often similar to the snare parts, since on the higher drums you can play parts like diddles and buzzes fairly often without needing an insane amount of chops

Bass 2 is the drum with the hardest parts. You still get the speed and complexity of bass 1 parts since it's a higher bass, but you'll have a lot of syncopated rhythms and odd 16th timing in runs. More chops than bass 1 required, but mostly technical skill and not pure strength

Bass 3 is the easiest drum. Parts aren't as complex as drums 1 and 2, don't have the upbeat/16th timing of drum 2 and 4 parts, and don't require the strength of drums 4 or 5. As long as you have an average amount of chops and skill and aren't tiny as a person, you can handle bass 3

Bass 4 is probably the second hardest drum, although you could argue that it's harder than bass 2 since you need to be stronger. The parts rarely have diddles or super fast singles, if at all, but be prepared for a lot of upbeats and notes on the 2nd and 4th partial of 16th runs. It takes a fair amount of chops to play, but the parts rarely require any serious strength unless your director has the line doing extended warmups or something that work your stamina.

Bass 5 has some of the easiest parts, but it's a hard drum simply because it's the biggest. You need to be strong to handle bass 5. The parts are almost exclusively downbeats and unisons, but occasionally (rarely) you'll get some syncopation. The biggest thing about bass 5 is chops, especially in warmups. You have to have the chops to keep up with the line because it's very very noticeable if bass 5 drops out or is dragging.

For any bass, you're going to need good coordination between hands and feet, but if you don't quite have that yet it'll come with experience and practice at slower tempos. Like VoteLobster said, you can't be reacting to what's happening around you. I cannot stress that enough. If someone else misses a part or is late, do not let that mess you up, because you will be just as much at fault as they are. It takes both independence and teamwork, because you have to not be thrown off by someone else's mistake, but also be able to work together to get details like tempo changes and dynamics to sound good, to sound smooth and not have breaks or changes in the sound, as well as the sound you're making on the drum. You have to be able to balance to other players.

I know I just threw a lot at you, but you won't be expected to do all of that in the audition. I'm just trying to give you as much knowledge as possible so that you know what you're getting into with whatever drum you make, and what to expect in the months ahead when it comes to learning the bass line setting.

Best of luck to you, sir, on whatever drum you make
Cedar Park High School
'15: Bass 4
'16 - '18: Snare

University of North Texas
'19: Snare

"I can't sit down long enough to absorb any kind of learning." ~Buddy Rich


Gormstorm Offline
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Re: Marching bass tips

Posted: Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:57 pm



Out of curiosity, you say the difficulty goes 24153, but at least for our line the play frequency goes 21354. Why do basses 4 and 5 play so much less and why do 1 and 3 play so much more?
MrSirEric wrote:If you have any questions about technique, I would go to your director and ask them to teach you, because every school does it differently. Plus, it'll make a good impression to show that you want to learn and be prepared. I think the biggest thing to know going into a bass audition is that not all bass drums are created equal, especially at the high school level. By far the easiest bass drum is drum 3. The parts are extremely easy and the drum isn't much heavier than a snare. After that, what drums are easy or hard depend on how you're skilled, so I'm just gonna go down the line.

Drum 1 is extremely easy to carry, it's without a doubt the lightest drum on the field, and while you'll have a lot of downbeat parts, they'll also be more complex, often similar to the snare parts, since on the higher drums you can play parts like diddles and buzzes fairly often without needing an insane amount of chops

Bass 2 is the drum with the hardest parts. You still get the speed and complexity of bass 1 parts since it's a higher bass, but you'll have a lot of syncopated rhythms and odd 16th timing in runs. More chops than bass 1 required, but mostly technical skill and not pure strength

Bass 3 is the easiest drum. Parts aren't as complex as drums 1 and 2, don't have the upbeat/16th timing of drum 2 and 4 parts, and don't require the strength of drums 4 or 5. As long as you have an average amount of chops and skill and aren't tiny as a person, you can handle bass 3

Bass 4 is probably the second hardest drum, although you could argue that it's harder than bass 2 since you need to be stronger. The parts rarely have diddles or super fast singles, if at all, but be prepared for a lot of upbeats and notes on the 2nd and 4th partial of 16th runs. It takes a fair amount of chops to play, but the parts rarely require any serious strength unless your director has the line doing extended warmups or something that work your stamina.

Bass 5 has some of the easiest parts, but it's a hard drum simply because it's the biggest. You need to be strong to handle bass 5. The parts are almost exclusively downbeats and unisons, but occasionally (rarely) you'll get some syncopation. The biggest thing about bass 5 is chops, especially in warmups. You have to have the chops to keep up with the line because it's very very noticeable if bass 5 drops out or is dragging.

For any bass, you're going to need good coordination between hands and feet, but if you don't quite have that yet it'll come with experience and practice at slower tempos. Like VoteLobster said, you can't be reacting to what's happening around you. I cannot stress that enough. If someone else misses a part or is late, do not let that mess you up, because you will be just as much at fault as they are. It takes both independence and teamwork, because you have to not be thrown off by someone else's mistake, but also be able to work together to get details like tempo changes and dynamics to sound good, to sound smooth and not have breaks or changes in the sound, as well as the sound you're making on the drum. You have to be able to balance to other players.

I know I just threw a lot at you, but you won't be expected to do all of that in the audition. I'm just trying to give you as much knowledge as possible so that you know what you're getting into with whatever drum you make, and what to expect in the months ahead when it comes to learning the bass line setting.

Best of luck to you, sir, on whatever drum you make
West Bloomfield High School
'14 "Rise and Fall" - Vibe 4 and Auxiliary Rack
'15 "Venezia" - Mellophone
'16 "Glass Half Full" - Mellophone
'17 "Spotlight" - Bass 4

Eastern Michigan University
2018 Season - Bass 4


MrSirEric Offline
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Re: Marching bass tips

Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:41 am



Some of that will simply be the writing style of your director, because at my school when I played bass 4 I played more than 5 and probably about equal to bass 3, maybe slightly more. In general, however, more often than not lower drums will play less because of the punch they pack. Writers sometimes won't put them in as often except on unisons because in excess they can overpower the rest of the bass line.

On the flip side, bass 1 will play a lot because they're a very high drum and can be given more notes without overworking the player or the nature of the drum, and bass 3 will play a lot because of their position in the line and consequently any runs written into the music. Even if the run only has 3 drums, bass 3 is still guaranteed to play unless it skips players. That's just my educated guess based on what I experienced and what I've seen in drum corps.

The biggest factor is just gonna be the writing style of your director/arranger/composer/whoever, and they could have their own reasons for giving those drums more notes. That would just be my reasoning for writing like that if I wrote music for y'all.
Cedar Park High School
'15: Bass 4
'16 - '18: Snare

University of North Texas
'19: Snare

"I can't sit down long enough to absorb any kind of learning." ~Buddy Rich


itzbeats Offline
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Re:

Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 2:28 pm



Check out Bass Drum Group on youtube... It's got a lot of great information!


Gormstorm Offline
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Re: Marching bass tips

Posted: Wed May 03, 2017 6:17 am



So auditions started yesterday and are Tuesdays and Thursdays through mid-June. Any last minute advice?
West Bloomfield High School
'14 "Rise and Fall" - Vibe 4 and Auxiliary Rack
'15 "Venezia" - Mellophone
'16 "Glass Half Full" - Mellophone
'17 "Spotlight" - Bass 4

Eastern Michigan University
2018 Season - Bass 4


MrSirEric Offline
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Re: Marching bass tips

Posted: Wed May 03, 2017 9:15 am



Gormstorm wrote:
Wed May 03, 2017 6:17 am
So auditions started yesterday and are Tuesdays and Thursdays through mid-June. Any last minute advice?
Good timing skills and rhythmic integrity are very important. Whenever you practice anything, DO NOT practice without a metronome, or without marking time for at least some of your practice. You don't have to mark time to every rep of everything you play, but try to do it a lot. Bass music is some of the hardest to mark time to because of its split nature.
Cedar Park High School
'15: Bass 4
'16 - '18: Snare

University of North Texas
'19: Snare

"I can't sit down long enough to absorb any kind of learning." ~Buddy Rich


Gormstorm Offline
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Re: Marching bass tips

Posted: Thu May 04, 2017 11:41 am



MrSirEric wrote:
Wed May 03, 2017 9:15 am
Gormstorm wrote:
Wed May 03, 2017 6:17 am
So auditions started yesterday and are Tuesdays and Thursdays through mid-June. Any last minute advice?
Good timing skills and rhythmic integrity are very important. Whenever you practice anything, DO NOT practice without a metronome, or without marking time for at least some of your practice. You don't have to mark time to every rep of everything you play, but try to do it a lot. Bass music is some of the hardest to mark time to because of its split nature.
Makes sense. Thanks for all the advice
West Bloomfield High School
'14 "Rise and Fall" - Vibe 4 and Auxiliary Rack
'15 "Venezia" - Mellophone
'16 "Glass Half Full" - Mellophone
'17 "Spotlight" - Bass 4

Eastern Michigan University
2018 Season - Bass 4


Tom216 Offline
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Joined: Sat Nov 09, 2013 5:38 pm

Re: Marching bass tips

Posted: Thu May 04, 2017 2:50 pm



Bass drum is more technical than any of the instruments in the battery in my experience. I marched Bass drum 5. The bottom two bass drums play an important part in the whole ensemble because you play the part of being the impact of the sound. Being able to keep up with your timing is really important. Know how to count, know how to march. Too many people nowadays can just play well and can't march. You want to be able to march and play well. That's what is going to separate you from the rest of the guys.
Cape Fear High School Drumline


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