A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Archive for June, 2015

HLBM 43: Notes on the D-String

Its about 6:00 AM as I write. I couldn’t sleep again, so I ended up listening to Morbid Angel‘s Formulas Fatal to the Flesh (1998) while I worked on a tool that helps link Nursing and Medical in our system. It was the first album they did without David Vincent on bass/vocals, and with Steve Tucker instead.

Anyway, at around 4:00, I grabbed my bass and did the Hal Leonard book over again, like yesterday. I was able to get through all of it. I stopped at the D-string exercises again and ended up running the 2 blues exercises (36 & 37) for a long time, as if they were songs. I experimented with different tempos as well, once I had them under my fingers. Afterward, I played 38 & 39 a lot, which introduce the notes on the D-string and then 40 (Private Eye) and 41 (Minor League) for a while, also experimenting with different tempos. I think tonight, I really made a lot of progress ironing the notes on the 1st 3 frets of the D-string into memory.

I tried running through 42 (D-Lite) but its giving me the problem that it did before. Namely, the chords printed above the notation don’t reflect the notes in the notation – they call out chords, and the notation gives us notes from the chord that aren’t the root. So, for example, the chord might say A but the notation says C#, which is the 3rd note in A major. (To see how this works, remember the major scale formula – W-W-H-W-W-W-H – start on A, move two whole steps and you’ll see you end up on C#.) Its messing with my head, so later today, when I don’t sleep again, I’ll get back on this one, but I’ll use the copy I made without the chords listed, so I can just focus on the notation.

I think in the next day or two, I might be able to finish the exercises that focus on the D-string and then move on to whatever comes next. Peeping at the next few pages, it looks like its going to cover exercises that cross the E, A and D string together and introduce the concept of octaves before adding the G-string into the mix.

Oh joy.

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Practice: 6/16/15 – Catching back up

Its been a week since I practiced – but I’m still here. I’ve been focusing a lot on work, even at night. Last night was a little different though. I found myself reading through Talkbass for a bit and I determined to get some practice time in. I was worried that I’d forget everything I worked on for these past few months, but thankfully, I haven’t. I think my head also needed release from the copious amount of more stress-inducing stuff I’ve been poring over at night.

HLBMI started the Hal Leonard book over again. Since I’m worried about not having touched my bass for a week, I went back to the beginning, to the lessons on open strings, and proceeded from there. I’m happy to report that I haven’t forgotten everything. I was able to blast through the exercises and get back to where I was before, but as I started at 4 AM and it was close to 5 AM when I stopped, I didn’t go past the lessons on the D-string.

The only things I remember that gave me pause were exercise 30 (Cattle Crossing) – its the 2nd exercise to incorporate 2 strings (E and A) – and 35 (Rolly), which also has several string crossings. I had to play those slowly to get them again. The others came to me relatively quickly, so I’m not as far behind as I thought I was.

Interestingly, exercise 34 (Roll It), which focuses on finger rolls and has fingerings right above the notation, didn’t mess with my head like before. I was able to ignore the fingerings (which, in this case, completely give away the exercise and strongly obviate the need for notation) and focus on the notation. I wonder why.

Both 12-bar blues exercises are still fun to play, with the one that includes a variation that changes chords on the 2nd and 12th bars still being my preference. There are also a few exercises whose sounds I still enjoy, like 27 (You Go, Slav) and 28 (One More Time). They’re musical to my ears, and I can see them fitting into things that I already listen to as intro parts or as parts of actual basslines.

I also made it through those finger shifting exercises (21-23) without any big hiccups, although I had to play them slowly as well.

I’m trying to get through this work disruption and starting a tech support company. Its stressful. I actually just cut about 550 words from this post that talked about it, because I really don’t want to get myself into the habit of venting here too much. This is for bass.

To summarize that other stuff – the EMR stuff is up in the air. Taking over the company is difficult because I’m not a finance person. I’m going for CompTIA’s A+ certification, to get myself reacquainted with hardware and OS support, but between the two books I’m reading, I have about 3500 pages to review (2000 in one and 1500 in another) and I’m learning about business startups as well, so practice time has been scarce.

There’s a baby in the picture too.


Parallel vs. Relative Modes

So, two weeks ago, Colorado Music Academy published a blog entry about the Modes of the Major Scale. In the post, they discussed what I think are relative modes of the major scale. There’s another kind though, which is what I tend to practice, because it remains in the same key and illustrates the sonic differences of the modes more clearly to me. These are called parallel modes.

At the end of their Modes post, CMA asked for requests for other entries. I suggested an explanation of parallel vs. relative modes, and they were kind enough to deliver, so Thanks, CMA! I found the explanation both illuminating and heavy on theory for beginners. I’ve come to realize that I’m not a complete beginner anymore, so the explanation made sense to me, and I know repeated readings will add to this, but I also know that other beginners will be confused by it, so I wanted to share some more basic information about these two types of modes.

First, here are CMA’s posts:

Now, here is my understanding of the two types of modes, starting with the major scale:

I. The Major Scale 

I’ve blogged about the major scale in the past. Here are some of those entries if you’re new to the concept:

So, if we take the C major scale as our basis for discussion, we can look at its notes like this: C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C

Note: C D E F G A B C
Scale degree: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1
Step: root whole whole half whole whole whole half

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The Difference Between Parallel and Relative Modes

Here’s a post from Colorado Music Academy about parallel modes vs. relative modes, as suggested by yours truly. 😉

If you’re new to the concept of scales and modes, read up about the major scale before tackling this, and then look for their post about modes of the major scale. Some of what’s said here is a bit technical for beginners to grasp, but after learning a little about the major scale, its understandable.

Thanks, CMA!

Colorado Music Academy - Blog

Hey Guys,

Thanks to VISHALICIOUS for requesting a blog topic for this week. In this post I’m going to dicuss the difference between parallel modes and relative modes.

Two modes are parallel if they share the same tonic. That is, D Major, D Minor, D Dorian, D Mixolydian, etc… are all parallel modes. Using a parallel mode will cause a chromatic alteration to your usual key signature. For example, Phrygian uses b2 (when compared to a minor key or Aeolian mode), while Mixolydian uses b7 and Lydian uses #4 (compared to a major key, or Ionian mode).

In composition (or improvisation) parallel modes allow the use of borrowed chords, via modal mixture, to add color to piece. See my post on modal mixture.

The most common form of parallel modes is between parallel major and minor keys (Ionian and Aeolian). Some pieces in a minor key will borrow the parallel major…

View original post 268 more words


HLBM 42: Notes on the D-String – D-Lite

I keep on not making time to practice, because of how things are with work and because of my contingency project. I was thinking about that exercise in the HLBM that’s been giving me problems though. Its exercise 42: D-Lite. My initial problem was that the chords didn’t match the notes in the notation. Well, it turns out that it wasn’t an error. I asked the folks on Talkbass about it, and they confirmed that the notation reflects notes from the chord, but not necessarily the root.

Here’s the thread from Talkbass, which present their insight better than I probably can:

drumsnbass commented that the note names screwed with his head as well, and he just skipped the exercise at that time. Its exactly the problem I have. Its like that cognitive exercise where the name of a color is spelled out in another color, like using red ink and spelling “blue” and then asking the person to either read the color or read the text. I can’t remember which way it works, but seeing a color and reading a different color’s name crosses wires for a lot of people. That’s what this exercise is doing to me.

So, anyway. I know how to fix it for now… since I’m primarily using the HLBM to learn to read, I edited an image of the exercise and removed the chord names. So, its just notation now. I should have thought of that before, since I did it to another exercise when the fingering suggestions were giving me trouble.

Here it is, for anyone else going through the book who’s going cross-eyed trying to complete it. Also, remember that this is the 1st exercise to introduce 1st and 2nd endings:

HLBM Exercise 42: D-LITE, with no chord notation

HLBM Exercise 42: D-LITE, with no chord notation


What color is your blues?

There are a lot of different blues.

I hopped onto Talkbass a little while ago, to take a break from revising some Nursing Risk Tools in our system. I’m not heading into the office tomorrow on account of my niece’s 1st birthday and my sister’s move to the left coast, so I’m getting some stuff ready for Development to feast their eyes on in the AM. The conference call should be interesting.

Anyway, someone replied to a post about blues variations, which led me to a video from Andrew Ford in which he goes over a bunch of blues variations. I found it interesting, because in the Hal Leonard book, I did two blues exercises – a standard 12-bar blues and then a 12-bar blues variation with a different progression.

Here’s the video:

Blues Bass Survival Guide – Intro – Andrew Ford

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Science has our back, down below

steve_harris_fingerHere’s something interesting about bass, rhythmic perception and how important low frequencies are to our impression of music, in general:

It actually ties-in with research from earlier this year about feelings of power and the low end: