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REVIEW: Ariane Cap’s Music Theory for the Bass Player

Bass Books

REVIEW: Ariane Cap’s Music Theory for the Bass Player

Ariane Cap's Music Theory for the Bass Player

REVIEW: Ariane Cap’s Music Theory for the Bass Player

Music theory is a universal concept that forms the core of music and our understanding of it as musicians. The catch, however, has always been how to apply that theory to a particular instrument. Effectively and efficiently translating those abstractions into something useful for the aspiring bassist is no small feat.

Ariane Cap photo by Alison Hasbach SQUARE Smile

Photo Credit: Alison Hasbach

Fortunately, Ariane Cap has adroitly tackled this pedagogical paradox with her new book Music Theory for the Bass Player.

“Many students come into lessons with incoherent theory knowledge. Maybe they have heard about the Circle of Fifths, or they have a vague idea of chords and intervals,” said Cap. “They are frustrated because they are not able to execute them in all positions of the bass or create grooves with confidence over a chord progression.”

Cap is an in-demand live and session bassist, educator, author and blogger in the San Francisco Bay Area. She teaches online via

“With this book, I wanted to fill the gap between academic and applied theory. I want the reader to apply theoretical concepts and make them applicable on the bass neck. I believe I’ve been able to distill music theory to ‘all-you-need-to-know’ for the bassist so it can be immediately applied on the fretboard to inspire creative use of these sounds and concepts.”

Cap guides the reader step-by-step through the fundamentals of music theory starting with the basics (learning the notes) along with in-depth coverage of intervals, major scales, triads, four-note chords, minor scales, Cycle of Fifths, modes, and pentatonics.

She also designed the book with non-readers in mind. As a longtime educator, she believes attempting to learn to read and learn music theory should not take place at the same time. To that end, she uses very little notation (which is supplemented by TAB) and features fretboard diagrams, which she believes are critical for bassists to know how to create shapes on the fretboard.

What really makes “Music Theory for the Bass Player” an exceptional book are the numerous exercises and skills tests she uses to help the reader put the theory to work as a bassist. In addition, Cap has launched an educational blog  as a companion video resource for the book.

“I wish I had this book when I started,” said Andrew Rosciszewski, a freelance bassist, composer and school string teacher in New Brunswick, NJ. “It’s like a bible for bass players and would be a helpful supplement to the orchestra method my students are currently using.”

The book can be purchased on Amazon or directly from Cap at

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