A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Archive for October, 2014

More R-5-8’s

I’ve managed to get in a little practice 3 days in a row, even though its elementary stuff. I’ve been doing that R-5-8 exercise from Ed Friedland’s Building Rock Bass Lines and after running through it starting on the E and A strings, I decided to mix it up a little this AM, so I coupled them.

It had an interesting effect, physically. I basically held the same position for two repetitions, and since I moved up a string from E to A and then down a string from A to E in the same position, just playing the R-5-8, it made holding that particular shape with my hand (to reach for those notes) really important and drilled it in differently than holding the shape and moving up on a single string.

Here’s what I mean. This is the original pattern. Basically, you play the 1 (root), the 5th note and the 8 (octave). Then you move up a fret and do it in reverse, so octave, 5th, root. Then, move up and root-5th-octave, up again, octave-5th-root, and just repeat up the neck.

Once that’s done, you do it in reverse, so if you stop on the 12th fret, you then play octave-5th-root, go down a fret and do root-5th-octave, then go down a fret and do octave-5th-root, then down and root-5th-octave, and repeat until you’re back to the 1st fret.

Ed Friedland R-5-8Now this time, here’s what I did, which confused my little pea-brain for a bit until I had it worked out: (more…)

digthatbass.com / Jeff Berlin Clinic


I just came across a post on Talkbass about a site with free bass lessons that are focused on showing song snippets and explaining how music theory applies to them. There are also other materials on there, including blog posts, lessons, songs and instrument demos. Check it out here:

One of the blog posts was an interesting read, for me. The site’s author, Rajoe, is Hungarian and attended a clinic held by Jeff Berlin in Budapest. He sums up his thoughts here:

One of this closing thoughts was:

But I still think music is not always good because it is played by “well-trained musicians”. It is also about fun, emotions and less rational things – i also think music is not only about technique, or the instrument itself … there is songwriting, there are feelings, modern creative approaches , etc…

I can somewhat see his point here, but I don’t fully agree with it. If he saying that technicality or proficiency alone doesn’t make music enjoyable, then that’s fine. But, if he’s implying that a deep understanding and ability to apply music theory saps creativity out of music, then I don’t agree at all. While its true that there are super-technical players (I’m looking at you, technical death metal) who seem to get off more on exploring the esoteric applications of arcane theory, there are also people who enjoy and appreciate that. I’d even go so far as to say that sometimes playing without feeling IS feeling. I’ve listened to stuff with an intentional air of austerity that I’ve found enjoyable, and its there for when listeners are in the mood for that particular sound. There’s a lot of drone, and even “atmospheric” music like Mono (Japan) or Jesu (England)that can approach that at times.

I think that what I’m trying to say is that technicality isn’t the enemy of feelings or creativity. The two can and often do intertwine. This happens across all kinds of music. I’m a huge fan of Bitch’s Brew from Miles Davis, as well as music from Animals as Leaders and a lot of stuff from Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity, Nightingale, Pan.Thy.Monium, etc.). I’d characterize all of that music as equally technical and expressive.

But, anyway, check out Rajoe’s website. It looks like a great source of song analysis for bassists. I’m going to delve into it more as I find time as well.

Solfege has hand signs

Apparently, solfege has hand signs. I’m throwing this into rotation for my daughter as well. She’s picking up on movements and gestures, so hopefully, she can internalize these quicker than I can. I know parents who teach their kids sign language basics when they’re toddlers – one of our friends actually did it when her daughter was a year or so old. This is probably similar.

Basic Solfege Method for Female Voice Training

The Sound of Music & Solfege

Someone on the Talkbass forums posted a link to Julie Andrews’ rendition of Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music. I’m sure most of us have seen or heard that at some point in our lives. For some reason, it made me Google solfege, which I have a very simple understanding of. I found an interesting video which goes over its basics and now I see how they expressed accidentals.

I think that those of you who are interested in interval training might get something out of this, especially if you have long commutes to work in a car, where you can be alone to sing out notes.

The Sound of Music – Do Re Mi Fa

Learning Solfege Basics

As an aside, I’m going to add The Sound of Music video to regular rotation for my daughter. She’s 2 now and I’m curious about what effect it will have on her ear. She sings a lot of nursery rhymes, and the other night completely amazed me because she did “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” using numbers, and used the right pitch for each number.

Of course, she balanced that out the next morning when she woke up and sang “London Bitch is Falling Down”. As they say… from the mouths of babes…


Fell off the wagon again. Sorry folks. I keep getting overwhelmed by work and baby stuff, evidenced by my utter lack of both practicing and posting anything since the beginning of May. Its nuts to think about that right now and know that 6 months have passed again.

Anyway, this morning was a little slow with client stuff, because its Columbus Day. So, I grabbed my copy of Ed Friedland’s Building Rock Bass Lines and ran through the warm-up exercise and then the R-5-8 exercise (basically the 1st exercise). I was doing a while back. I’m sloppy all over again.

I also realized that because I was just learning the motions last time, I wasn’t taking the note values into consideration, so this time, its quarter-quarter-half, quarter-quarter-half, all the way up and down the exercise.

Here’s a link to the 1st time I was doing it. The book is really good. I should commit to making it through the whole thing already.