A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

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

And, for those of you who are interested, here’s the thread from Talkbass:

Something that I was really impressed with was INTP’s post about how to vary walking basslines. This is directed at the 12-bar blues, but its applicable to just about any style. Here’s what he said:

When I play blues, I listen a lot to the energy level of the song and adjust to that. Hopefully, the drummer will be in on it, too. Some things you can do to vary the line include:

* Vary the volume and/or intensity of the notes
* Change the order of chord tones which you play
* Change the number of notes per bar (e.g. quarter notes vs. eight notes vs. half notes)
* Vary the rhythm of the line
* Add rhythmic embellishments
* Modify the passing tones, walkdown, turnaround, etc.
* Play in a different register (different place on the neck)
* Switch between ascending and descending lines
* Vary note length (staccato vs. legato)

For starters, listen to two different bass players in similar songs and make a note of what they’re doing. See if you can describe HOW it’s different, using the list above. At first, you’ll be choosing from a growing list of patterns that you can copy, but if you keep thinking about what is different about the lines, you’ll later be able to do these as needed for the song. Baby steps.

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