A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Archive for June, 2013

Drum & bass in a rock context

So, last night I couldn’t sleep, and after practicing for a while, I browsed through Talkbass. I usually just read the General Instruction forum, but I went into the Band Management forum and discovered the following (short) thread:

In a nutshell, a bass player named bassbrother666 says that he and his drummer friend want to start a metal band, but they’re having difficulty finding a guitarist. They decide to start a drum-and-bass metal band. He asks for opinions about this idea, and is met not only with a lot of encouragement – but also with videos and recommendations about bands that are already exploring this idea. I looked at some of them, and searched a bit more and discovered two that I really like: (more…)

Landing on chord tones

I’ve not gotten to post in a few weeks. Work got intense again, and I got sick. Its really odd – I’ve not gotten to practice much, but every time that I have practiced in the past 3 weeks has been really satisfying. Ever since I posted about Hal Galper‘s comment regarding faking improvization by landing on chord tones in a rhythmic manner, I’ve been noodling with the concept. I’ve completely fallen in love with it. Playing short riffs that land on the 1, 3 and 5 (and sometimes the 8) might be fake for jazzers, but its bliss for a wet-behind-the-ears bass player like me. I really want to thank Hal for his offhand comment. Inspiration comes from the damnedest places.

So, I wanted to know more about what I had done, and I asked about it on Talkbass about 3 weeks ago. Of course, everyone there knew exactly what I was doing, and provided great insight about the vocabulary and some of the theory behind it. What I’ve been playing are called chromatic approach notes. Apparently, riffing with them and then resolving the short bursts of notes by landing on chord tones in a rhythmic, predictable manner creates fantastic melodic phrases.


Hal Galper & Chord Tone Illusion

I’m going to pay for this in the morning. Its 4 AM. I should have been sleeping hours ago. Instead, I worked, watched some videos and practiced bass. Now, I’m blogging.

So, my cousin came by today with his daughter. She’s around a year older than Ella, has teeth, can say some words and runs around. I got in from work with just enough time to spend about 90 mins with them before they had to go. So, anyhow, he plays piano, and his daughter played with the ukulele I got for Ella a bit. We got to talking and I told him about the Hal Galper videos I’d seen a while ago on Youtube. I ended up sending him the links, and tonight I watched them all again while I ran root-5th-8th exercises.

So, I get through his Technique – Part 2 video again, and towards the end (starting somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30) he starts talking about “let the melody be your guide” and plays something melodic after complaining that we’ve been conditioned to hear a certain way and that chord-scale patterns have become a crutch that we use to fake improvisation. Go listen to it and then come back.

Hal Galper’s Master Class – Technique Part 2


To be, or not to be…

So, wifey and I took Ella out to Home Depot for the first time today. While we were there, I ran into an employee who I’ve spoken to a little in the past about books. He’s a voracious reader and when I had more time, I was as well. Wifey still is, but she’s also a librarian, so its not quite fair.

Anyhow, we got to talking about some series that he was reading and I said something to the effect of, “Between the baby, working 6 days a week and practicing bass, I don’t find as much time as I used to for reading.”

Well, apparently, he plays bass too. He’s an upright player with 30 years of experience. He’s mainly a jazzer but also works with chamber music or with orchestras in NYC. Wifey was laughing on the way home because of our budding new bromance, and because just yesterday, I was telling her that I wish I had someone else who played bass nearby that I could turn to when I have questions. I wasn’t entirely happy with the two instructors that I tried in the past.


The 5th of an 8th – and 4ths!

Right now, it looks like the middle of the night is when I’m going to be getting most of my practice in. Yesterday, I ran up and snuck into bed next to wifey at 3 AM. Currently, its 2 AM, and I just finished going through about 30 mins. of that root-fifth-octave exercise from Building Rock Bass Lines. I switched back to my 4-string, and after the strain of practicing on the 6-string recently, its a lot easier. I do like to switch between basses for that very reason, and because they each make you think a little differently when moving up strings or across strings.

So, anyway, I gleaned two things between yesterday and today. First yesterday’s flash: I was running that root-fifth-octave exercise, and somewhere along the way I thought, one string up and two frets over is the fifth. That should work for any note, so why not add the fifth of the octave to my drill?


Practice: 6/3/13 – Root – Fifth – Octave

Its after 2 AM on a Sunday. I got the client updates out, sent drafts for revisions to parts of our Nutritional assessment and Face Sheet to development and sent specs for a Hospital Transfer/Referral form and Medical Consultation/Referral form to three of our nurse advisors for critique. Ella is in bed, after wifey rocked her to sleep (she wound down listening to the 1st 3 tracks off of Wildhoney from Tiamat, and then Flowers, from Godflesh). I should be sleeping too. Instead, I skimmed Talkbass and then got in a little practice.

I was just working on that root-fifth-octave thing from Ed Friedland‘s Building Rock Bass Lines book. While doing it, I found a fun little riff to play that goes up and then down in a bouncy, melodic way. In scale degrees, its basically this:

So, I noticed two things

1 – 5 – 8, shift up 1 fret, 8 -5 -1, shift back down, 1 – 5 – 8, shift up 1 fret, 8
8 – 5 – 1, shift back down, 1 – 5 – 8, shift up 1 fret, 8 – 5 – 1, shift back down, 1

I like starting on the 5th fret of the E string (its an A note), so it looks like this:
(q = quarter note, h = half note)