A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Memorizing notes on the E & A-strings using the Cycle of Fourths 2

A snowstorm just passed through the NY-metro area last night. We got about a foot, which isn’t so bad, considering that parts of Long Island got around 3 feet. 😉 Hopefully things will be a little quiet and I won’t get too many client calls/emails, so I can practice a bit today until the baby wakes up and wants to help me work (she likes typing the letter “O” into Word documents for me).

So, I read a little more about the Cycle of Fourths earlier this AM, just to see how others apply it to their practice, and so far, it looks like at my level, its simply used to repeat patterns to drill them into memory (practice scales in all positions via the Circle, etc.). Since I’m using it to memorize the fretboard, I’ve been trying to get a little more out of the motion at the same time, so I’ve been running the Cycle and playing the 5th as well. So basically, I play a note in the Cycle, follow with the note one string up and two frets higher, and then move onto the next note.

Right now, I’m chaining the Cycle along two strings. I play It on the E string, and then I immediately continue on the A string. I’m now able to play each note and its 5th without losing my place. Its funny how just adding in a single note to my practice makes me make mistakes at first. But, with that under my belt, I’m going to try to start naming the 5th each time I play it. I think it’ll help me to cement in those note names & positions, and it’ll begin to help me memorize the relationships (root/5th) between those notes by name instead of position on the fretboard (one string up and two frets over).

Here are the notes in the Cycle along with their 5ths:

Cycle of 4ths & their 5ths

You know, now that I’ve written that out and I can look at it, the 5ths follow the same pattern as the Cycle of Fourths, except that they start a 5th higher (duh!). I suppose that should have been obvious, but I’m not that quick on the uptake these days. Blogging about this stuff really is helpful – writing to communicate it makes me analyze what I’m doing more. Hopefully, its understandable to some of you and my sometimes-garbled thoughts aren’t too confusing.


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