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Bass Edu

Rhythm Drill Down!!

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Kevin guin

Ask bass musicians on the street what they need to work on to get their playing in shape and you will hear grave and frustrated comments about lacking harmonic knowledge – they need to get more complex harmony into their bass lines and into their solos.

Go ahead. Hit the streets and start asking bass players what they need to add to their playing skills and you’ll start hearing it.

On second thought don’t bother. You already know what you’re going to hear. It’s what you call a slam dunk. Why do I say that? Because chances are you’re that person!!

Admit it. Words such as “Lydian” or “DmMaj7” or “CMaj13#11” or “Harmonic Major” terrorize you, but if someone were to wag their finger at you and say that your rhythmic skills are weak, somehow it wouldn’t bother you so much. Some might even respond by throwing down some slap bass riffs and chuckle over all this talk about rhythm.

Come to think of it, the words “Harmonic Major” give me a little scare, but I don’t care. Why, you ask?  

Because I know that most of the problems with our playing – most of the problems we experience on a regular basis that rob us of the satisfaction a well-played gig provides stem from undeveloped rhythmic skills.

There, I said it. And if you can hang with the rest of us for a while I think you’ll understand. I’m dropping the hammer on your harmony bug bear – the one that haunts your bass lesson nightmares pelting you with chord symbols. 

Picture yourself playing your bass with smoke rising from your finger tips and read on. I want to introduce you to a method that you can use to teach yourself smokin’ rhythm skills.

What I want to show you is how to use Rhythmic Contrast to awaken you to rhythmic precision – to understand it and to appreciate it as your first and foremost task in becoming a competent musician and maybe even a great bass player. 

Down the road a bit we can use studies for adding rhythmic variety to your playing, and eventually you will start thinking about the actual quality of your rhythm. 

But for now I would like you to be happy to play convincing rhythmic phrases with a simple but beautiful precision. 

It is the practice of constantly alternating rhythms when working on these types of exercises that “teaches” you the other rhythm. Both rhythms stand out in relief due to the repeated comparisons being made. 

The Rhythmic Contrast method is a natural way to learn rhythm. You play a fixed number of measures of one rhythm and alternate that with the same fixed number of measures using another rhythm. 

The example that I use in the video lesson for this article is structured with four bars of quarter notes followed by four bars of eighth notes, rinse and repeat for a 16-bar solo. 

Click Here to Download Play-Alongs (10 mp3 tracks)

In the short clip that opens the video lesson I played two bars of half notes followed by two bars of sixteenth notes with a repeat. That is a swinging 16thsgroove (smooth jazz, hip hop, etc) so the measures are counted much slower than other eighth note grooves.

Don’t be too concerned about what materials you will be using to play these rhythmic contrast exercises. To start you will simply be using 1, 2, and 3-note solos on chord vamps. Sometime during the process of developing complete mastery of your basic rhythms you will naturally add all notes of the mode in question.

As your skills get closer to professional levels then you can start in with blues progressions and standards as a basis for the exercises as well. 

During your first few practice sessions if you can get to the point of maintaining awareness of exactlywhat you had just played then you will be on the way to developing extremely helpful skills that you can use to bring yourself forward as a musician. 

Also, if you can record these exercises, listen carefully and then go back into the practice space and fix your shortcomings, it becomes a brilliant learning model. 

From my long experience as an instructor, but also as a student, I say that it’s always better to trade off with a partner when you practice these exercises – any instrument will do. You can greatly benefit by having an extra set of objective ears around.

Listening carefully while others play and being able to recognize exactly what you are hearing is an important skill to have, but listening carefully as YOU yourself are playing is a much more difficult skill to develop. Please be patient and give yourself time to get your listening skills together.

Word to the wise: If you are not used to demanding precision from your playing and from your listening it can get frustrating when and if you hear some playback of your attempts at these exercises. So you will have to learn how to deal with this learning process. But if you can work to develop your concentration for these types of exercises there is a huge payoff in store for you. 

If you want to tear up the bandstand with your playing it will start with your rhythmic skills. Anything that you add to great rhythm – whether it’s your best blues riffs or even the most spacey Harmonic Major explorations, it’s going to sound pretty darn good right from the start.

Thanks for stopping in. I truly hope you enjoy the video lesson. Make sure to use the link for the download play-along tracks if you’d like a little help with some comping materials for the exercises. 

Visit me online at basslessonswithkevin.com

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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