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Berklee Bass Talk: Throw Away The Metronome?



metronomeEd Lucie is the Associate Professor of the Berklee College Of Music Bass Department, and he will be happy to answer your questions! So feel free to ask away, and we will forward your questions to Ed.

Q:  Is the ability to play with good time something that can be improved with practice, or is it more or less just something you’re born with? Is practicing with a metronome or drum machine a waste of time? Also, how can a bass player improve their time when playing in situations where there’s no drummer or time keeper?

A:  I do believe, and it’s been proven in my own experience, that one can improve their sense of time through awareness and practice. I don’t have scientific evidence, but it seems there are those born with an innate sense of time just as some are born with perfect pitch. But a sense of time does not guarantee a good feel, just as perfect pitch doesn’t guarantee good musicianship. I have also found that there are some who unfortunately don’t seem to have any sense of time at all (just like being tone-deaf), but we don’t have the time to address these exceptions here.

First, I think it is necessary to realize that there is metronomic time, which we use to establish tempo, and then there is feel, groove, pulse, etc., which is playing the style of the music within the metronomic time. Each piece of music has a pulse, like a unique heartbeat. Think of your own heartbeat and how it’s different when breathing, walking, running, etc. When we truly play together with a drummer and other musicians who feel this pulse in sync, the music is magic. Practicing certain things with a metronome or drum machine can strengthen one’s sense of time, just like exercising a muscle. When you feel a tension or discomfort between your playing and the metronome, then you learn it is you who needs to adjust, i.e. slow down, speed up, play more evenly, etc.

I personally feel you should use the metronome on 2 & 4, or even just beat 4, to strengthen time (you can even put the metronome on various 1/16th notes, i.e. the last 1/16th of beat 2 to develop time). Imagine that the note heads of the 1/4 notes are connected by a thread. You want to keep that thread as tight as possible—if it droops, you’re rushing. If it breaks, you’re dragging.

If playing in situations where there is no drummer, you should prepare by playing duets with guitarists and pianists. Listen and watch. Usually we have to come to an unspoken feeling of agreement with the time, and often you can sense this just by watching the others play. The stronger your own sense of time is from your own practice, the more others will fall in with your time. And you can’t forget to relax—time really suffers when we play with tension.

Lastly, playing along with recordings of all styles can really help your time. Where else will you get the chance to play with Buddy Rich, John Bonham, Elvin Jones, etc.? Remember, we are talking about time; the world of rhythm is a whole universe in and of itself.


About Ed Lucie: In addition to being a Berklee professor and 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 back when he was a contributing writer for Bass Player.

For more info on Ed Lucie, visit his Berklee page.


Bass Edu

BASS LINES: Triads & Inversions Part I



Jaime David Vazquez - Lessons For Bass Guitar

Triads & Inversions Part I

Hello bass players and bass fans! In this issue, we are going to study the triads and their inversions.

It is very important for all bassists to understand and master the triads, but it is even more important to understand their different inversions.

In Part I, we are going to learn what the triad is in fundamental position.

The Formula consists of root, third and fifth.

Degrees of the Triad

Major Triad: 1 – 3 – 5
Minor Triad: 1 – b3 – 5
Diminished Triad: 1 – b3 – b5
Augmented Triad: 1 – 3 – #5

Fig.1 – The C, Cm, Cdim & Caug triads
(Fundamental Position)

BASS LINES: Triads & Inversions Part I
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Bass Videos

Have Fret Sprout? Sharp Fret Management… a How-To Video



Have Fret Sprout? Sharp Fret Management... a How-To Video
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Products courtesy of Music Nomad Equipment Care and Zymol

Have Fret Sprout? Check out this sharp fret management how-to video…

Have you found a bass you like but noticed the frets feel sharp? Have you ordered a bass online and discovered that the frets are sharp on your hands when it arrives? Have you picked up one of your favorite basses and noticed that the frets seem unusually sharper than they used to? You might be experiencing fret sprout!

Join me as I fix those pesky frets on one of my basses so you learn how to fix yours too.

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Bass Edu

Premiere! Bass Playthrough With Foetal Juice’s Bassist Lewis Bridges – From the Album, Grotesque



Premiere! Bass Playthrough With Foetal Juice's Bassist Lewis Bridges - From the Album, Grotesque

Premiere! Bass Playthrough With Foetal Juice’s Bassist Lewis Bridges – From the Album, Grotesque

Bassist Lewis Bridges Shares…

“Gruesome’s sparse intro marks a stark contrast from the intensity of the rest of the album.  The original intention was to keep the bass simple but colourful, however as I worked on it, the lines grew more expressive and the more striking flourishes began to emerge.  The intensity builds into a harmonic minor passage that takes us into the drop — a signature death grind cacophony.  This is where Foetal Juice thrives.  You’re getting a full-on right-hand barrage to in the face to take you into a groove-laden mulch-fest.

I owe my throbbing bass tone to the Darkglass Alpha Omega pedal borrowed from our sound engineer, Chris Fielding (ex-Conan), mixed with the clarity of the tried and true Ampeg SVT CL.

As mentioned earlier, colourful basslines are important, especially in a one-guitar band. Chucking some funny intervals and odd flourishes here and there brings life into the brutality. There’s no point sounding brutal if it’s not gonna be fucking evil too!

Recording this playthrough was hard work. This was not the fault of James Goodwin (Necronautical), who was kindly filming and is ace to work with, but because in true Foetal fashion, we had stinking hangovers — and that jam room was hot!”

Follow Online

FB @FoetalJuice
TW @FoetalJuice
IG @foetaljuice
Youtube: @Foetaljuice

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Bass Edu

Bass Lines: The Circle



jaime Vazquez

Bass Lines: The Circle…

Hello bass players and fans of bass! This month we’re going to study “The Circle.”

The Circle of Fourths can also be called “The Circle of Fifths or just The Circle.

Practicing the scales, chords, and ideas in general via the circle has been a common practice routine for jazz musicians and highly recommended.

It is a disciplined way of working through all twelve keys.

Plus, many bass root movements to jazz and pop songs move through sections of the circle.

Fig. 1 – “The Circle”

See you next month for more full bass attack!

#bassmusicianmag, #basslines, #bmmbasslines, #groovemaniac, #thecircle, #thecircleoffourths, #thecircleoffifths,#scales & #chords.

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Bass Edu

Approach Notes – Part 5



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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