A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

IIB Week 2 – Lesson #2 (Primary Triads)

So, I missed this week’s Monday night chat with Cliff Engel and the other students taking classes at IIB. I was editing wifey’s Afrobeat/Black Metal paper. I did grab all of the course materials for the week though, and started looking over them two nights ago. This week’s focus is on triads. The lesson overview says that we’ll go over the following:

  • Triads
  • Triad Sequences
  • Triad Cells
  • Signs & Terms
  • Note Studies – Open Strings – 3rd Fret
  • Rhythm Studies – Whole, Half, Quarter & Eighth Notes
  • Ear Training – Triads

The text in the 2nd opening paragraph says the following:

In our second lesson, we are going to discuss the primary triads. We will study a collection of the most common articulation markings, signs, symbols, dynamics, and terms found in music notation. We will also begin working through a series of note and rhythm recognition exercises to increase the proficiency of your sight reading skills.

Some of this is material I’m a little familiar with. I’ve been practicing chords and scales with some regularity. There is material that I’ve read about but not practiced yet though, like chord inversions. I’m not familiar with sequences yet, but I suspect that they’re related to the major and minor scale sequences that I saw in Bass Guitar Exercises for Dummies. The lessons are a little different from what I’ve been practicing though. The pattern I’ve been practicing for minor triads is different from the one in the lesson. Just like I had a Major Scale Pattern #2, what’s presented is basically a pattern based on something like a Minor Scale Pattern #2.

Here’s a little more detail on some of the week’s lessons.


Triads, of course, are basic chords composed of the root, 3rd and 5th notes of a scale. I’m familiar with major and minor triads, and I’ve seen diminished and augmented triads, but I can’t remember off the top of my head which of those latter two I’ve been practicing.

Triad Sequences

The intro document for Lesson #2 says “a sequence is the immediate or nearly immediate repetition of a melodic figure or phrase by the same instrument but at a different pitch level. Sequences have been one of the most successful and widely utilized devices in music composition and improvisation for hundreds of years because they allow the composer both similarity and variety simultaneously.” Based on this, I wonder if repeating triads in a I-IV-V progression like I do sometimes when practicing is a sequence… or maybe you can have progressions of sequences. I guess I’ll find that out…

Playing triad sequences is also supposed to be a good ear training exercise.

Triad Cells

I’m unfamiliar with cells right now. The intro document says “a cell will be defined as a single-measure bass line or solo phrase that can be inserted into any bar of a song.” So, maybe its a lick?

Signs & Terms

This part has to do with sight-reading. Part of the description says “In this lesson, I have outlined a collection of the most common articulation markings, signs, symbols, dynamics, and terms found in music notation. Along with these signs and terms, you will find concise definitions describing how each of them should be performed when sight reading notation.” My general feeling is that this is a lot to master in a week. I think that Ed Friedland‘s book from Hal Leonard takes on reading in much more manageable mouthfuls. I like that Ed introduces new signs and notes in small batches. Its not overwhelming. I’ll see how much Cliff expects students to memorize up front in this lesson for comparison.

Note Studies – Open Strings – 3rd Fret

This lesson focuses on learning the notes on the first 3 frets of the bass, and the open strings. It sounds a bit like the approach taken in the Hal Leonard book. In that method, we go over the first few frets of the E string, then the A string, etc. Peeking ahead at the document, I see that there are a series of exercises written in standard notation. I think that this would probably be a good supplement to the HL method. Its like extra exercises covering the same material.

Rhythm Studies – Whole, Half, Quarter & Eighth Notes

This lesson contains a series of exercises made up of whole, half, quarter and eighth notes. The overview says that specific notes on the fretboard don’t matter initially. Tapping out the rhythm is the important thing here. Once that’s mastered, then particular notes can be played to the rhythmic patterns described in the exercises. My guess is that chordal tones based on the triads would be the most appropriate. There’s also some advice given as to how to practice long musical passages.

Ear Training – Triads

Finally, Week 2’s lesson ends with a 3-step relative pitch ear-training exercise applied to triads. Ok. I’m going to get to work on some of this. And, as luck would have it, wifey has a few more papers for me to edit over the weekend for her last day of classes for the semester this week.


2 responses

  1. Pingback: IIB Week 3 – Lesson #3 (Seventh Chords) « Ugly Bass Face

  2. Pingback: International Institute of Bassists | Ugly Bass Face

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