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From Electric Bass to Upright Bass by Maureen Pandos

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From Electric Bass to Upright Bass by Maureen Pandos… So, you’ve been playing electric bass now for some time and you’re thinking about maybe trying your hand at the upright bass.  Maybe you’ll even get a bow and mess around with that a little bit.  I mean, how different can it really be?  EADG.  Let’s do this.

But first, let me introduce myself.

Hello. My name is Maureen Pandos and I am a luthier.  Just in case you’re unfamiliar with that term, I am a person who makes and/or repairs stringed instruments.  You may more commonly know me as a “bass tech” or “guitar tech” but what makes me a little different is that I specialize in bowed instruments, and, more specifically, the upright bass.  I own a little violin shop in Portland, Oregon where I spend my days building, restoring and repairing bass violins.

I fell in love with the art of violin making when I was a student at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. I would schlep my bass downtown to David Gage String Instruments for tune ups and was time-after-time mesmerized by what was going on in that shop!  I managed to procure an apprenticeship with Jack Havivi of Havivi Violins, which continued until I moved west in 2001.  I then managed to get my first real job with Schuback Violin Shop in Portland, Oregon. Here I quickly learned the ins and outs of a high volume, fast paced shop.  I also found out that Portland had a heck of a lot of bass players and needed someone to help tend to their needs!  In 2004 my business, MDP Bass Works, was born and I’ve been surrounded by basses ever since.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to some FAQ’s about the upright bass….

Where are the frets?  How am I supposed to know where the notes are?

Nope.  No frets.  And the fingerboard (notice how I did not call it a “fretboard”) is curved and concave (there is no truss rod either so the fingerboard must be shaped with a slight relief in the middle). The string length is also quite a bit longer than what you’re used to on your electric bass (average string length from nut to bridge is 42”).  But don’t fret!  (Haha, sorry), with a proper hand position and some diligent practice you will learn to rely on your finely tuned ear and muscle memory to nail those notes every time.  You can do it. I believe in you.

What is the difference between the Double Bass, Contrabass, Upright Bass, Stand-Up Bass, Doghouse Bass, Bass Fiddle, String Bass, Acoustic Bass, Orchestral Bass, and Jazz Bass?

Nothing.  They’re all the same instrument just known by different names depending on what style of music they’re being used to play.  Double Bass, or just simply Bass, is commonly used in the Classical community.  It gets the name “Double Bass” because the pitch literally doubles the bass line.  Technically, the cello is the bass since it ‘sounds’ where the bass line is written on the staff.  Since the double bass sounds an octave lower than what is written on the staff it has adopted the name “double bass”.  Contrabass is what they call it in Europe getting its origin from the Italian Contrabasso.  Since Italy is the country where this instrument was conceived and birthed, we use this as the first and authentic name of the instrument.  Upright Bass refers to the fact that the thing stands upright.  Nuf’ said.  Same goes for the Stand-Up Bass and the Doghouse Bass.  Stand-Up because well, duh, you stand up when you play it and Doghouse because I guess it’s big enough to put your dog in it.  String Bass is most commonly used to separate the low brass bass section in an ensemble from the string bass section and Acoustic Bass is used to differentiate it from the Electric Bass. Bass Fiddle?  Another self explanatory one.  It’s a big old version of your old-timey fiddle.  (I often have people ask me what’s the difference between the violin and the fiddle and the answer is once again, nothing.  It all depends on who’s playing it and how the instrument is set up to be played.)  Orchestral Bass and Jazz Bass are often used just to differentiate between the player’s style of playing but can also be referring to, again, the particular set up of the instrument.

Next installment?  Let’s talk about set-ups!

 

Bass Edu

Approach Notes – Part 5

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James Rosocha

Continuing our lesson of Approach Notes, Part 5…

In continuing with the concept of approach notes being applied to chord tones, this lesson approaches the root, third, fifth, and seventh degree of each arpeggio inversion by incorporating a double chromatic approach from above, and a single chromatic approach from below. 

The first examples approach the root of a G major 7th arpeggio as a double chromatic from above and a single chromatic approach from below -before continuing to the third, fifth, seventh, double chromatic from above/ single from below to the root, continue to the third, fifth, and come back down.

The next example approaches the first inversion of G major 7th arpeggio.

A double chromatic from above/ single from below approaches the third, continue to the fifth, seventh, root, double chromatic from above/ single below to the third, continue up to the fifth and seventh, and back down.

The third example approaches a second inversion of a G major arpeggio.

A double chromatic from above/ single from below approaches the fifth, continue to the 7th, root, 3rd, double chromatic from above/ single from below to the 5th, continue to the 7th, root, and back down. 

This final example approaches a third inversion of a G major 7th arpeggio.

A double chromatic from above and below approaches the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, 5th, double chromatic from above and below to the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, and back down.

Be sure to pace yourself with these lessons to avoid burning out.

Being overly ambitious with your practice schedule can lead to unrealistic expectations. Try learning one approach note concept and one chord type a week. Change your practice routine as necessary and tailor it to your needs as a musician. Good luck!

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Bass Edu

BASS LINES – The Blue Notes (Minor Blues Scale)

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jaime Vazquez

Hello bass players and bass fans! Happy New Year 2024!

In this issue, we are going to study the blue notes.

In blues, jazz, and rock, a blue note is a note that (for expressive purposes) is sung or played at a slightly different pitch from standard. Typically the alteration is between a quartertone and a semitone, but this varies depending on the musical context.

The blue notes are usually said to be the lowered third(b3), lowered fifth(b5) and lowered seventh(b7) scale degrees. The lowered fifth(b5) is also known as the raised fourth(#4). Though the blues scale has “an inherent minor tonality, it is commonly ‘forced’ over major-key chord changes, resulting in a distinctively dissonant conflict of tonalities”.

Blue notes are used in many blues songs, in jazz, rock and in conventional popular songs with a “blue” feeling.

Formula:

The A Minor Blues Scale

1 – b3 – 4 – (#4/b5) – 5 – b7

A – C – D – (D#/Eb) – E – Bb

The grades(blue notes):

b3, (#4/b5), b7

C, (D#/Eb), Bb

See you next month for more full bass attack!

#bassmusicianmag, #basslines, #bmmbasslines, #groovemaniac, #thebluenotes, #minorbluesscale & #bluesscale

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Bass Edu

BASS LINES: Staccato for Bass

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jaime David

Staccato for Bass…

Hello bass players and bass fans! In this issue, we are going to study the technique known as staccato.

When we talk about the staccato technique, we are referring to a form of musical articulation.

In modern notation, it signifies a note of shortened duration, separated from the note that may follow by silence.

* In 20th-century music, a dot placed above or below a note indicates that it should be played staccato.

* The opposite musical articulation of staccato is legato, signifying long and continuous notes.

Fig. 1 – An example of a normal notation.

Fig. 2 – Is the same example but now with the staccato articulation

Fig. 3 – A basic groove played and written in a normal notation.

Fig. 4 – The same basic groove using the staccato technique.

So, at the end of the day, you as a bassist will decide what type of technique you will use depending on the effect you want in your performance.

See you next year for more full bass attack!!! Happy Holidays & New Year 2024!!! Groove On!!!

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Bass Edu

BASS LINES: Legato Slide vs Shift Slide

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jaime Vazquez

Legato Slide vs Shift Slide…

Hello bass players and bass fans! In this issue we are going to study how to read the swing eighths.

When we talk about slide techniques, we are referring to what is known in classical music as the glissando.

• Glissando = a continuous slide upward or downward between two notes.

There are two types of slides, legato and shift.

Legato Slide = strike the first note and then slide the same fret-hand finger up or down to the second note. The second note is not struck.

Fig. 1 – Legato Slide – Upward

Fig. 2 – Legato Slide – Downward

Shift Slide = Same as Legato Slide, except the second note is struck.

Fig. 3 – Shift Slide – Upward

Fig. 4 – Shift Slide – Downward

So, at the end of the day, you as a bassist will decide what type of Slide you will use depending on the effect you want in your performance.

See you next month for more full bass attack!!! Groove On!!!

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Bass Edu

Approach Notes – Part 4

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James Rosocha

Bass Lesson: Part 4 of Approach Notes…

My previous lessons on the topic of approach notes covered approach notes from above, approach notes from below, and approach notes from below and above. This lesson flips the concept around to approach notes from above and below. Don’t make the mistake of only learning this material in the major keys. As a starting point, these exercises should be applied to major 7, minor 7, dominant 7, minor 7 b5, and diminished 7 in all 12 keys for all inversions. If you are just starting this lesson, I recommend you go back to my first lesson on approach notes and follow them in sequence. My lesson on arpeggio inversions lays the groundwork for the approach note concept to be applied. 

The first examples approach the root of a G major 7th arpeggio as a double chromatic from above and below- before continuing to the third, fifth, seventh, double chromatic from above and below to the root, continue to the third, fifth, and come back down.

The next example approaches the first inversion of G major 7th arpeggio. A double chromatic from above and below approaches the third, continue to the fifth, seventh, root, double chromatic from above and below to the third, continue up to the fifth and seventh, and back down.

The third example approaches a second inversion of a G major arpeggio. A double chromatic from above and below approaches the fifth, continue to the 7th, root, 3rd, double chromatic from above and below to the 5th, continue to the 7th, root, and back down. 

This final example approaches a third inversion of a G major 7th arpeggio. A double chromatic from above and below approaches the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, 5th, double chromatic from above and below to the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, and back down.

These lessons take a very long time to complete so pace yourself and don’t give up. Good luck!

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