HLBM 34: A Little Heavy
So, I did a bit of yard work yesterday, getting rid of some really pervasive thorn bushes and weeds. Then I did some work in the house before we got cleaned up and took the baby out to get her some stuff. Finally, around 9:45, I got to practice for a bit, until around 10:30 – which is when I started writing this, with a lot of… assistance… from the baby.
I ran exercise 35 (Rolly) and then exercise 36 (12-Bar Blues) from the Hal Leonard Bass Method. I’m happy to say that I’ve learned both, and I’m not as worried about them being saved in muscle memory as I was before, after talking to the folks at Talkbass, and to Bill, a drummer friend on FB who also plays guitar and bass. Basically, what I’ve learned is to not sweat memorizing the exercises. Just move on to the next one and read new stuff.
I’m glad I took that advice, because I liked exercise 37 a lot. Its another 12-bar blues called A Little Heavy. As usual, I ran it a few times for myself before listening to the CD track to see how I was doing. I had it dead on. 😉
This one differs from the previous 12-bar blues because, as Ed notes, it changes chords in the 2nd and 12th measures He says that this is a common variation in blues form. I like the way it flows more than the regular 12-bar blues. The variations add some interest to my ears.
Oddly, I didn’t care for the backing track on this one very much, and its much more rock-n-roll than anything up to this point. It was a bit busy for my taste. Sorry Ed! I would actually have preferred to hear a blues backing track with this exercise. Maybe a vocal track would have smoothed things out for me though, to deemphasize the guitar a bit. I think I know why Ed included it though – coming right after a straight 12-bar blues, it illustrates how the blues form can be dropped right into another style, like rock-and-roll. I know there are jazz-blues as well.
I also feel a bit like an idiot. I had a conversation with Shelby Stronger on her blog, GRRL + Guitar about chord charts earlier. I only just consciously became aware that the chords were printed at the top of each bar for these two 12-bar blues exercises. They weren’t in any of the previous exercises – we’ve had fingering recommendations up until now – and I’ve really had tunnel vision in focusing on the actual notation, so although I saw the letters, they didn’t register until I started this new exercise… then I looked at the other one and felt blue for about 6 bars.
I’ve been using the chords written above the bars as a quick reference when playing. They’re actually quite useful. They let me know where to position my fretting fingers pretty handily (heh) and then the notation lets me know the actual notes to play for that bar. I like how they work, coupled together – the chords are a great reference before the notation gets into specific notes.
I also noticed that this exercise’s chords are F#, B and C. So, if F# is our tonal center, that makes it a I-IV-V song again. The progression doesn’t follow exactly that order though. It looks like this:
I think that’s just called a blues progression, although its a variation.
Also, I’ve had some conversation with Dwight Mabe on my sight reading entry from earlier today. I follow his blog, Bass Guitar Instruction Studio, as well. Yes, its on my blogroll. He has a different perspective about sight-reading vs. reading music from what MalcolmAmos on Talkbass shared. If you’re interested, look at the comments there. He basically views sight-reading and reading as the same thing, not as what I’d essentially refer Malcolm’s idea to as reading vs. speed-reading.
And, finally, thanks, also to Brenda Mueller, a music instructor who runs the blog Get Jazzed About Music. I’ve been reading her stuff for a while and she shared some words of encouragement and advice to me in email on my Ugly Facebook page. After reading about how I was looking at the structure of the 12-bar blues in exercise 36 from the HLBM, she shared that after figuring out a pattern, the next steps in analyzing a song are to learn the key the music is written in, know the chord progression and then apply a pattern that I’ve learned to it. I’m going to try that, as I get more grounded in theory, so thanks, Brenda! Oh, and she also said that listening to the accompanying track before I do an exercise is better for ear training, and listening to it only after I’ve attempted an exercise (which is what I’ve been doing) is better for reading. I hadn’t thought of that, and its cool to know the small distinctions.
[edit 11.19.15] Here’s a link to a post with a recording I made of ex. 37 – A Little Heavy: