A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Memorizing notes on the E & A-strings using the Cycle of Fourths 4

So, I’m practicing the Cycle of Fourths on the E and A strings, as per my post from earlier tonight. Everything is going well. Its slow at first, as I work to play a note on the E string, find its counterpart on the A string, then remember my place well enough to go to the next note. I still screw up D and Db sometimes, going to B or Gb instead, but overall, its running smoothly.

Sometime while practicing that, it occurs to me that I can switch it up. Instead of starting on the E string and playing the same note on the A, I’ll start on the A string and play the same note on the E. Well, it takes me a few runs to get it right, but its somehow going faster than when I played it using the E first. Am I quietly getting smarter? I’ll have to ask the wife. Objectivity – that’s what they’re good for.

Then it occurs to me… there’s some kind of pattern going on here. It takes me another run or two, but I realize that for most of what I’m doing, when I play a note on the E string, the next note on the A string is on the same fret. I’m practicing the Cycle of Fourths. The bass is tuned in fourths!

Cycle of 4ths on the A & E strings playing the same note on both strings

Cycle of 4ths on the A & E strings playing the same note on both strings

Look at the diagram above. As long as you know the Cycle on the E string, it puts you right where you need to go on the A string. Since we’re moving in fourths, and the bass is tuned in fourths, all we have to do is move up a string to get to the next note.

Now, that may or may not help me with fretboard memorization, but its definitely interesting to know. It also means that I can play 1/3 of the cycle from one position, then switch and play another 1/3 and switch one more time and play the rest. Its 4 notes per fret, each on a different string. I don’t think I’m going to use that information just yet, as it defeats the purpose of trying to memorize the notes, but once I have them down on all 4 strings, I’m sure it will help me to navigate. And, by then, I’ll hopefully have the Cycle drilled into my head enough that I’ll know what note I’m moving into by going up a string but remaining on the same fret.

Its starting to come together. I love it when a plan comes together.

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