A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Archive for April, 2015

HLBM 29: More Notes on the A-String – Rolly

Practice has been a mixed bag these past few days. I didn’t actually pick up my bass on Sunday or Monday. Instead, I opted to work in the middle of the night – like I did a whole lot last year and most of the 13 or so before it. I’m trying to finish the variable & object placement for a revised Nursing Interim assessment for our software and Visual Studio has a glitch that’s causing extreme slowdown and giving me a big headache. Stuff that should take me about an hour drags out to between 3-6. It was like this with the Nursing Admission assessment as well. Those are the two biggest assessments in our system, which is part of the problem. But, anyway, whether my nonexistent dog ate my homework or not, I didn’t practice much.

On Tuesday, I got in about 10 mins. I don’t even know if that counts. I spent a lot of the evening & night with the baby though. Same with today. I’ve been taking her to the playground every day since the weather got a little better. When I try to practice, while we let her wind down with Nick Jr. on TV, she comes by a lot to help me. She’s starting to learn the names of the strings on the bass, although she falls back to calling them A-B-C-D a lot. She also likes playing them the most when I have it strapped on and I’m standing by my music stand with the Hal Leonard book in it, trying to read.

Anyway. 3 days were basically a waste, bass-wise. On the other hand, I got in a little practice tonight and ran through everything on the E and A strings again. I’m playing exercise 34, Roll It, on auto, so the notation isn’t really helping me there, since its all the same fret on different strings, to practice “rolling fingers”. I decided to move on.

The next exercise is #35 – Rolly. Thanks, Ed. I’m kind of expecting one with palm muting and drop-tuning called “Stop, Drop & Roll” somewhere down the line now. This one was a bit easier than Roll It, only because it let me read again without falling victim to having all of the notes on the same fret in different sequences and letting my fingers run on auto while my brain tied itself in loops. That’s not to say its easy though. The comment at the beginning says:

This 2nd position exercise has several string crossings (and uses Ab on the way down from open A). In measures 3 and 4 there are finger rolls between G and C.

Its not so bad, but playing Ab for the 1st time, on a fret that we haven’t used before, is interesting. Having an Ab and a G# in the same song still throws me a little, but I was able to make it through. I think in a day or so, I should have it, if I can sneak in some practice. Wifey & I have a show to go to on Saturday, and I think a baby shower next Saturday, so my weekends are getting crowded again.

[edit 11.15.15] Here’s a recording of the More Notes on the A-String exercises:

HLBM 28: More Notes on the A-String – Roll It

bosch music tortureIts 4:00 AM. I’ve been working on exercise 34 – Roll It – in the HLBM. I’m getting it, but I’m playing it really, really slowly. So slowly, in fact, that its like I started the exercise yesterday, took a break to shower, and then finished playing it a little while ago. If I were using the metronome, it would have been in beats per hour, not minute.

I’m a little worried that I’m only making it through because I’ve memorized the pattern of the exercise. I’ve been saying the notes out loud as I play them, but for the most part, sharps, flats and anything with a natural sign are slowing me down. I know that I need to associate them with the natural note in my head and then just flatten or sharp them on the fly, but for some reason, its not connecting in the noodle for this exercise.

Part of me also just says to move onto the next one, because the more I see those notes in other exercises, the more they’re going to get reinforced anyway, then I can come back, after leveling up and truly defeat this boss.

[edit 11.15.15] Here’s a recording of the More Notes on the A-String exercises:

HLBM 27: More Notes on the A-String – Roll It

I dusted off my old 4-string, tuned it up and used it for practice tonight. The fretted 6-string is hanging on the wall in the living room. Its been months since I took the 4-string down to give it any love, and its a fun change, like always, to play it again. The neck is so small compared to the 6, and it feels so light. I’m able to maneuver on it quicker, and don’t have the additional strings on the top and bottom to take into account when practicing.

That said, I miss having a low B, even if I don’t use it for much other than positional exercises at this point. Also, this is my 27th post working through the Hal Leonard Bass Method, and I’m only on the first 4 frets on the A-string. I guess I’ll find out if slow and steady really wins the race.

I ran through all of the E and A-string exercises, up to 34, on the 4-string. They didn’t give me any problems until 33 and 34.

Exercise 33 is [A-B] [C-C#] [C#-B] [A-B] [A]. In that 3rd bar, I kept forgetting and playing it as [C#-C], because my hand keeps thinking I’m moving down 1 fret at a time and because we play that in 2nd position, and I’m used to my 2nd finger being on the B, from 1st position.

Ex. 34,

Ex. 34, “Roll It,” with the finger info removed – from More Notes on the A String (pg. 21)

Exercise 34 is that Roll It song. I used the copy of the exercise I made without the fingers specified above the measures. This way, I’d have to read it instead of cheating and just looking at which finger to use. I can generally make it through the first 7 bars before messing up. I played it using the CD track a few times, and found that since the pattern repeats in every bar, all I have to do is read the 1st note of each bar, to situate myself, and then I’m able to make it through – but this is kind of like cheating, to me.

I read every note in the first 4 bars, but once I get to the 5th bar, I start going on autopilot, and just using the 1st note to orient myself. When I move from C to Bb in bars 7 and 8, I stall out about half of the time.

I think I’m going to just read the notation to myself a few times when my head is more clear, to make sure that I’m really reading the notes. Having sharps, flats and the natural sign – all in consecutive bars – throws me, so I think I need to iron it out before moving on and getting to an exercise that adds in another string or something.

[edit 11.15.15] Here’s a recording of the More Notes on the A-String exercises:

Strange Bass Gallery 1

The internet is full of pics of weird-looking, or as some would say, exotic, basses. Back in 2011, I made a page called Strange Bass Gallery in which I planned to display the ones I came across. There’s a lot of creativity in bass design, although some are really from outer space.

I wanted to have a separate section on the blog with its own posts with these funny-looking roosters, but WordPress doesn’t seem to allow more than a single “set” of blog posts. So, I made a single page and tried to consolidate everything on it.

Its a pain in the butt to update that page with pictures in an orderly fashion, and there are still a lot of unusual basses out there. So, I’ve decided that after 4 years, I’ll start adding in pics of these unique creations again, on the main blog, and just provide links to the posts on the original page – like an index.

Here are some that I found this week:

Game of Thrones Bass Transcription

Bass of ThronesHere’s something fun for you Game of Thrones fans from Bass Musician Magazine. The PDF download includes both notation and tablature. As per the website:

The opening theme to the HBO epic series Game of Thrones is really fun to play on bass guitar.  It is almost entirely diatonic to C Minor/Bflat Major except for the one E natural in the 5th bar of the intro which repeats four times.  In most places, I was able to keep the strong melody active without modification, with the exception of Bar 14 in which I play two melody notes on beat three which is one beat earlier than the actual arrangement in order to accommodate the second melody in the next bar.  The bottom line is that playing this can be a lot of fun while improving your chops, musicality, and endurance.  Enjoy!

Simplified Sight Reading for Bass

So, earlier this week, I mentioned that I’d ordered Simplified Sight-Reading for Bass, by Josquin des Pres after reading about it on Talkbass. It arrived yesterday, and I read through it. I was really impressed.

The book differs a lot from the Hal Leonard Bass Method. Its about 70 pages, in total. The 1st half deals with rhythm. It has tons of exercises for notes and rests up to 16ths. The 2nd half adds in actual notes and reading, with information about identifying how certain note groupings (like specific chord types) look for quicker reading. Its suggested that the book be used in conjunction with another bass method, if you’re a beginner. Here’s some text from the introduction:

Simplified Sight Reading concentrates on rhythms and phrasings most commonly heard through decades of bass playing. You’ll begin to learn what you need to know; not everything there is to know. This book also places a strong emphasis on reading rhythms, because good rhythm reading skills are as important for a bass player as they are for a drummer. 

Although Simplified Sight Reading provides some music fundamentals, if you are a beginner you may want to supplement your studies with a basic bass method. To maintain and further your reading skills when you are finished with this book, get your hands and eyes on any piece of bass music you can find.

This particular advice on reading rhythms really blew my mind. I tried it, and its indeed much faster than counting using the old 1-e-&-a, 2-e-&-a, etc.:

A different way of counting notes in a measure

A different way of counting notes in a measure


HLBM 26: More Notes on the A-String – Roll It

I slept last night. Haven’t done that in a while, so I was up early to practice, and wow, do I need it. Exercise 34 in More Notes on the A-String is kicking my butt. I can still play it with no problem, but reading it isn’t going so well. Having numbers for which finger to fret with makes it really easy to play, and makes it really hard to read the notation. So, I took the PDF version, chopped it up and removed the finger information. I’m going to try it later today and see if it forces me to read the actual notes more. Like before though, seeing sharps and flats in the same piece throws my brain for a loop.

This is what it looks like without the finger numbers (with apologies to Ed Friedland & Hal Leonard Corp):

Ex. 34,

Ex. 34, “Roll It,” with the finger info removed – from More Notes on the A String (pg. 21)

Also, I got Simplified Sight-Reading for Bass. I read through it yesterday and was really impressed. I might start using it for warm-ups along with the HLBM. I’ll write a little about it later. It really is a different approach from what I’m currently doing in several ways.

[edit 11.15.15] Here’s a recording of the More Notes on the A-String exercises: