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Ed Lucie Answers Your Questions: Mastering Rhythmic Notation

From Associate Editor Rick Suchow…

I’d like to introduce a new regular feature in Bass Musician Magazine beginning this month. Ed Lucie is the Associate Professor of the Berklee College Of Music Bass Department, and each month he will answer a question from one of our readers. How often do you have the opportunity to have your bass questions answered by a top faculty member of one of those most prestigious music schools in the world? Considering the time and money we have all spent on bass lessons, instructional videos and the like, here is a unique chance for some real top-level bass knowledge, so come on BMM readers… ask away!

It’s also an opportunity for you to show the bass world who you are. When you submit your question for Ed, please attach your photo and tell us a little about yourself: your bass gear, where and with you you play, and a link to your website and/or social media page. I will post it all along with your question in a future issue of Bass Musician.

Now, a little bit about Professor Lucie: in addition to being a Berklee professor (and Berklee graduate), Ed has a Masters from the New England Conservatory Of Music. As a pro bassist, he has performed with Stevie Wonder, Buddy Rich, Warren Haynes & Gov’t Mule, Leo Nocentelli, and has performed both on Broadway and TV. You’ve heard him as a sideman on numerous albums, and perhaps have read his columns when he was a contributing writer for Bass Player.

If you’d like to ask Ed a question, you can submit it directly to me at by clicking here (please include “question for Ed” in your subject line). To get things started for this first installment, I asked Ed a question of my own:

Q: Very often the biggest reading obstacle for bass students is mastering rhythmic notation. Do you have any specific advice in how students can get up to speed quickly in learning to read rhythms?

A: As far as reading rhythms and rhythmic figures, I have found two things quite helpful both in my own playing and in teaching others. Most of us learn to ‘count’ rhythms i.e.: 1 e & a for 16th notes, or some tri-pl-et for triplets. I have found it much easier to recognize, through practice, rhythmic groupings. (I also say ‘cucumber’ when I see a triplet, it is a much rounder feel). For instance when I see a dotted 8th, then a 16th tied to an 8th and then another 8th note; I recognize this grouping as a very common funk rhythm (rather than counting it). The other exercise I found useful was to read along with a transcription of a bass groove/line that YOU ALREADY KNOW. Then you will put what it looks like and what it sounds like together instantaneously.

For more info about Ed Lucie, you can visit his Berklee profile page berklee.edu/faculty/detail/ed-lucie#.UD5muqOCWSp

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