Chromatic Major Sounds In Two Octaves…
One of the most important guiding thoughts that can be used to ready yourself for serious low end learning is to avoid shiny objects and drill straight down on the most fundamental materials to build your own great empire of bass.
The purpose of this lesson is to help bass players accumulate a small suite of useful skills for getting closer every day in their practice to mastering necessary materials and learning to play them with compelling musical expression.
In this lesson there is two-octave triadic work, but on the other hand there are also studies in rhythmic values, dynamics, and a solid shot in the arm for using these chromatic major sounds in your improvisations.
In the course of introducing almost any exercise to get students across the fingerboard of a bass guitar with as little trouble as possible, I usually recommend staying away from any exaggerated stretching motions. In this case, though, the point is to accustom your fingerboard grip to a bit of helpful horizontal movement, so learning this five-fret position is just what the doctor ordered.
As I show in the video lesson it isn’t necessary to do the stretch with fingers splayed out left and right. You can simply play the root of the arpeggio and then pick up and go get the third with your pinky. No worries, just pick up and get the note you need. Then your fingerboard hand can relax and the first finger can naturally spring forward to get the fifth and the next root with one easy barring motion and you’re off to the second octave.
LESSON: Chromatic Major Sounds In Two Octaves
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Coming around for the return trip is similarly easy.
The only caveat is that with all of this “relaxing” of your fingerboard hand – in other words, by using the pick-up-and-go technique, it is just as easy to underestimate distances with your pinky. After all, you will be stretching at least a little bit.
Next on the agenda are my signature studies for dynamics and accents.
Why? Think about it. The fingerboard hand is only one of the hands you use. Now submit your other hand and start tightening up your fingerstyle and at the same time getting your hands to work together.
Studies in dynamics and accents are the surest and quickest way to add punch and authority to everything that you already know how to play, not to mention all of the music that you are working to add to your playing.
And as I have said many times before, you should exaggerate studies in dynamics to test for yourself what your upper kinetic range is. How firmly can you hit the string before you bottom out? Is your room dynamic level acceptable? Do you have to smash the bass like a caveman to get a sociable volume?
After you benchmark your dynamics by carefully checking your upper and lower range, that is the point for you to start punching out accents.
Things stand out in relief and your ears will begin opening up to dynamics. I guarantee you will see a great difference when you set things up this way.
These compound triad positions will prepare you for super useful bass mobility. It’s a great feeling of confidence to have that free-wheeling lateral motion across the fingerboard. And these positions also set you up for some smokin’ two-octave pentatonic moves. Oh yeah!!
Remember that deciding what to play as an improviser also include the rhythmic choices that you make, not only how you are handling the harmony. Try an eighth note version of that line you are learning. Try a triplet version. Or start mixing rhythms for some instantly fresh combinations.
And when you are working on rhythm skills don’t forget what great variety the use of long tones provide.
In my intro solo example, I threw in quite a few choice long tones to give you some tasty ideas. And the truth is they are just plain fun.
For those of you who have a more adventurous spirit to your playing I have put in a section on chromatics by contrasting one measure each of the G7 and the Ab7 chords. If you listen carefully to the opening clip you will hear that it is chock full of pure major triads.
I hope you can appreciate the unadorned use of these open triadic sounds as well as a bit of pentatonics, highlighting the flat seven, and also some chromatic approach notes.
Learning to cross over at will into adjacent chromatic territory is definitely a more advanced skill set.
For this, you will need to accustom your ears and your hands to these spicy forays and play with quite a bit of accumulated confidence in your phrasing.
As far as improvisations go, if you study my intro solo clip and examples in the lesson you will find that my approach is to get an easy lock on the tonality of the next chord by using familiar triad tones as target notes. They will give you a smooth landing every time and it’s a great strategy to have as an improviser.
This has been my 20th monthly submission to Bass Musician Magazine and it has been a genuine pleasure bringing you these lessons this year. Please stay in touch!
Thanks for stopping in.