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The Illusion of Speed by Kevin Freeby



For 15+ years I have been fortunate enough to teach bass to students of all age ranges and skill levels.

During this period of time there have been quite a few reoccurring topics. Hands down, THE most popular topic is the subject of speed. I can’t possibly begin to count the number of times that I have heard things like “How does my favorite bass player play so fast?” or “How can I get faster?” or even “How did you get so fast?”.  I won’t lie, over the years my responses to those questions have varied greatly, all in an honest effort to get the best results from my students. However, none have yielded better results than when I replied “fast and slow is for cars, not music” and “speed is just an illusion”. 

Maybe it was the cryptic way in which it was delivered or maybe it was just the sheer shock of the statement itself, but either way it got my students to pay attention. Once they listened to the explanation, I saw improvement pretty much immediately. With that kind of growth, I feel that it’s necessary to share it with everyone that I can. So let’s stop worrying about the “Illusion of speed” and forget about playing “fast or slow” and see what happens. 

It all starts with one simple word, Tempo. Whether you are a complete beginner just learning how to hold your instrument or a seasoned pro with the kind of chops to make the gods beg for mercy, the word Tempo is extremely important.  It should be (or become) a working part of your daily musical vocabulary.  

Tempo is the musical term referring to the actual rate of speed at which any piece of music is being played. Tempo is measured by Beats Per Minute, also known as BPM for short. At the risk of over explaining the topic, BPM refers to the actual amount of beats occurring in one minute of time. For example, a BPM with a Quarter note = 70 states that the amount of quarter notes occurring in the time period of 60 seconds would be 70. Pretty simple right? Ok cool, lets move on. 

The next word that I would recommend adding to your everyday working vocabulary is Subdivision. The explanation of the term Subdivision is a bit more involved, so I’ll supply an audio example below. Subdivision refers to the duration of a note (or notes) being played at any given tempo. The example that I have included in this lesson is at the tempo of 70 Beats Per Minute or 70 BPM (remember our lesson on tempo). For the melodic material used in this example I am playing a scale exercise using diatonic 3rds (notated below) at different Subdivisions. Notice in the example that even though the tempo never changes the melodic pattern gives the illusion that it is “speeding up” and “slowing down”. If you were to state that the I am playing “faster” or “slower” you would be incorrect because the Tempo (the actual rate of speed) never moved from 70BPM. If you were to say that I am starting with a subdivision of quarter notes and then moving to 8th notes, then 8th note triplets, 16th notes, 16th note triplets and finally 32nd notes, you would be totally correct. 

Listen and View

 Click to View Subdivision Lesson

The premise is simple, if we want to be musicians then we need to start thinking like musicians. We need to get familiar with everyday musical terminology that is used in everyday musical situations, by musicians. This is not about learning a bunch of fancy jargon to impress our friends or to send the ladies running for the hills (and trust me it will LOL), but a lesson on practical application that will hopefully increase your overall musicianship and musical experience. 

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 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!”

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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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Bass Edu

BASS LINES – The Blue Notes (Minor Blues Scale)



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.


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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