A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Archive for February, 2016

BRBL08: Using the Octave

It feels like Ed Friedland rolled up and gave me a beating. I moved on to the Using the Octave lesson/section in Building Rock Bass Lines and the first exercise just tripped me up and tied my fingers in knots. Its an Em-G-C-A 4-bar progression. However, since we’re using octaves, and there are probably a bunch of different places/fingerings we could use to play it, the one I settled on for the moment has me stumbling across 4 strings and 4 frets.

I’m not used to much string-skipping yet, and I’m doing this on a 6-string bass, so I have to try not to play the low B or the high C strings, which can get a bit confusing at times. The pattern on the E and A are the same, but the G and C each have their own pattern, so I can’t just lock into a particular motion and move it across the neck. Fie! (Finally, a chance to say that! There’s my silver lining…)

Here’s what the notation looks like. Its deceptively simple.

04 Track 9

And here’s how I tried to play it, in tab:

04 Track 9 tab2

Le sigh.

BRBL07: 8-bar progression v4

Here’s another try at that 8-bar progression from Building Rock Bass Lines. I included a single note from outside of it, as an approach note. Its still simple, but somehow having 5 notes to manage over any 4 bars keeps me in check. I’m unable to really branch out more because I’m certain I’ll get lost and hit wrong notes.

I saw that the next section begins introducing octaves. I’m curious about going back to exercises like this and adding in new elements from later on in the book.

BRBL06: 8-bar progression v3

Its after 1:30 AM. I should head up and try to go to sleep, but I don’t want to stop playing. Here’s a 3rd take on that 8-bar progression from Building Rock Bass Lines.

BRBL05: 8-bar progression v2

Here’s another take on that 8-bar progression for the track 8 exercise for Building Rock Bass Lines. Its kind of fun to try and come up with something after you’re given a progression. Its a cool, creative type of exercise that I never really do on my own.


BRBL04: 8-bar progression

I just worked through a few more exercises in Building Rock Bass Lines and finished with the track 8 exercise, which gives us an 8-bar chord progression and asks us to come up with our own bassline for it. The progression is Am-C-G-D and then Am-C-G-E. Bopps is awake and with me, watching videos on the tablet. While I was doing the exercise, she kept telling me that I have to play “[duh-duh] [duh-duh-duh-duh] [duh-duh] [duh-duh] [oh yeah!]” which is her name for N.I.B. Sadly, I don’t think I could have made that fit the exercise at this stage in the game.

03 Track 8

Anyway – here’s what I came up with. Its simple, and in some bars, I use a different note than the specified root to move to the next chord, but they’re all notes from the progression. I didn’t use anything outside. I think they might count as approach notes.

BRBL 03: 1-6-4-5 with different E’s

Here’s something I did a few mins ago that I found interesting. I ran that 1-6-4-5 exercise in Building Rock Bass Lines again. The progression is G-Em-C-D. Instead of playing the same E though, I played 4 different E’s. Its a little choppy, because I really don’t have the speed and coordination to make it sound natural, but I found it an interesting variation, and I think its in line with what Ed says about trying the exercises using notes from different areas on the fretboard.

03 Track 5

I’m practicing with a 6-string bass, so I used the E’s on the B, E, A and D strings to do it. I think the only reason I could attempt it is that the 2nd E is the open E on the E string, which gives me a moment to move my hand quickly to the other E’s.

Anyhow, here’s what the exercise sounded like earlier today:


And here’s how it sounds with different E’s:


I like the variation in register. I tried it with approach notes, but you can definitely tell they’re different notes. Its smoother with 4 octaves of the same note. They blend together more naturally.

BRBL 02: Roots & 1-6-4-5

Damn. I really miss this stuff. Ok. I took a few mins to blabber about Joe Riposo’s book about approach notes and advertise the Bass Blogs group on FB – something I haven’t done since last November, and then I ran a few more exercises in the Building Rock Bass Lines book.

I’m still on the chapter that focuses on root notes, and I can begin to see the versatility of roots. I actually had this conception that people who play nothing but roots are somehow less creative than those who integrate more notes from whatever source they choose – scales, chords, chromatics, whatever. But, listening to just roots, and hearing them change from root-to-root over a progression, it gives me a greater appreciation for them. Its different from reading about them. MalcolmAmos on Talkbass always recommends people start with them when they discuss building bass lines, and I can see the sense in it now that I’m not just reading notation, but beginning to look at how bass lines are constructed.

I ran the exercise for track 4 in the book. It was basically the variation I had already done for track 2 – instead of playing quarter notes, we follow the same progression (E-A-D-A) and play 8th notes. But then I moved onto track 5, and things got different.

03 Track 5

Its a new progression, G-Em-C-D, which Ed explains is a 1-6-4-5 progression. I did the math by counting on my fingers, and he’s right if G is 1 then E is 6, C is 4 and D is 5. That 2nd chord is an E minor, but regardless, since we’re playing roots, its just an E at this point.

So, here’s how the exercise sounds when I played it:


And, here’s a little variation I did. Its the same chord progression. I just varied the rhythm a little. First, I started by just playing it faster, with 8th notes instead of quarter notes. Then, I just kept the same progression and varied the riff/notes a little.


[edit] Well, the baby threw up about an hour ago. She’s been coughing a bit over the last 2 days, and it looks like tonight, it stopped her from breathing when she was sleeping. I can’t remember what I was going to continue this post with, but that’s probably for the better since its now 3 AM. Good night!