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A Review of The Complete Book of Bass Essentials by Bunny Brunel

This is a very well thought out book on a subject that can be quite diversified at times, written by a player that can most assuredly back up the proposed benefits of his approach. Bunny’s “there is a scale that fits every chord” philosophy is very well explained and covered very pragmatically which opens the door to the fledging player as well as the seasoned pro looking to expand his or her horizons.

The Major Modes are the first to be addressed, covered in a very practical layout on the fretboard with “positions”, that show the extended notes of the mode beyond the immediate scale going across 4 and 5 strings in that same position on the fretboard. I want to emphasize that the visual layout of this in the book is very well done, and makes it easy to “see” these forms as well. This “position” approach is used on each of the modes/scales he presents, which I find to be incredibly useful as far as note availability in one position, as well as reinforcing economy of motion by the left hand.

You’ll find an interesting approach to the Harmonic Minor Modes, as Bunny sees that particular succession of notes as part of the “Major” modes (another way of looking at it) and seeing this mode (harmonic minor) as the Aeolin mode from the major modes with a raised 7th instead, and documents that as well clear across the fretboard.

Akin to that approach is his take on the Melodic Minor modes, by presenting a more pragmatic look at this particular mode, which would traditionally rise in one sequence of notes (C,D,Eb,F,G,A,B,C) and then descend with a different sequence of notes (C,Bb,Ab,G,F,Eb,D,C). Trying to apply that “traditional” sequence of notes to any harmony becomes problematic, and he explains how the (Ionian) melodic minor mode could once again be seen as part of the major modes, that being the major scale with a flat 3rd, a now usable sequence of notes to apply to the appropriate harmony. Once again these modes and positions are laid out across the fretboard in an easy to see fashion.

Add to this sections on the Pentatonic and Diminished scales, chords and harmony, key signatures, matching the chords with the modes (the heart of putting this mode/scale information to use), creating bass lines, and Improvisation, as well as listing 44 different chord structures and their arpeggiated make up (a nice touch), and I’m back to my statement of this being a very well thought out text.

Here’s the icing on the cake. Everything he presents in the text is covered in detail on a DVD. (Once again, a nice touch) I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to expand his or her outlook on the instrument.

Jake Kot, Editor

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