A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Archive for March, 2016

BRBL12: More Octaves

I’m using example 9 from Building Rock Bass Lines as a warm-up exercise, because it has all of these string crossings due to its focus on octaves. Tonight, I moved past it to example 10, which continues with octaves. Its the same chord progression, but the actual notes are different. Sonically, it sounds like the opposite of example 9 – the highs and lows (roots & octaves) have somewhat switched, but since the progression is the same (Em-G-C-A), it fits right in. Once I have it under my fingers, I’m going to work the two of them together as an 8-bar exercise. I’m certain that they could be heard together as a single song due to the shared progression.

Its interesting how switching the octaves and roots around a bit really makes the exercise difficult. I think that some of my ability to work through example 9 was muscle and ear memory. 10 came along, threw everything in a blender and really pulled the rug out from under me, with regard to coasting by on memory. I like it. Its hard, but I think that its also helping to build finger independence and wire my brain so that these sounds get individual neural pathways in there, instead of being paired and sequenced and dependent on each other for sense.

Here’s what the exercise looks like:

05 Track 10


BRBL11: Using the Octave 3

Its about 4:00 AM. I should be sleeping. We have to take Bopps to her first piano lesson in the morning, and I’ve been up since early this AM because wifey & I took her to a friend’s dress-fitting thing. She’s going to be the flower girl, this fall. I was in bed, reading on the tablet for a while, and finally decided that since I just wasn’t nodding off, I’d practice.

So, I decided to try and make some headway in Building Rock Bass Lines. I went to example 9, the one that I stopped at 2 weeks ago – I didn’t realize that so much time had passed! I’ve been sidetracked with making up stuff to play over example 8, and a few other things.

Anyway. I read the exercise – its where octaves are introduced – and spent some time just getting my fingers used to playing the root and octave for each of the 4 notes in the progression (Em-G-C-A). This time around, I went with the open E, the G on the E string, the C on the A string and the open A for roots. The octaves were all 2 strings up and 2 frets up from each of those. So, it looked like this:

04 Track 9 tab2

Maybe 2 weeks away from it is what I needed, because I was able to play it. I don’t know if its up to speed, but I’ll check the actual track to confirm. The important thing is that I can do it. Its a little tricky still though, because its 4 strings, includes string skipping, and I’m doing it on my 6-string bass, so I have to not make a mistake and play on the low B string (which doesn’t happen much) or the high C string (which is more of a risk when aiming for the G string).

I know this isn’t impressive, but, its progress, so here it is:

Father to Son v2

Ok. This is probably wrong too, but I had to give Bathory‘s Father to Son a 2nd try. Its not the whole song, of course, because I simply don’t have the endurance or skill for that yet, but I hope I got some of it right. I tried it in D minor, way up on the 10th fret of the E string. The original sounds meatier, so I’m still doing it wrong, but I don’t know how they did it. I don’t know if anyone in Quorthon’s circle had a 5-string bass or if they used an alternate tuning (I’ve not tried one, myself, yet) or even if it was some kind of electronics thing that moves you down an octave or something.

In any case, its an exercise. Right now, it actually qualifies as a workout, for me. And this is where I used the 2 chromatic notes that I mentioned in my last post. Its in part of the main (faster) riff. If we’re looking at it in scale degrees, its kind of like this:

1-1-2-3, 1-1-2-3, 1-1-2-3, 4#-3
1-1-2-3, 1-1-2-3, 1-1-2-3, 1#-1#

That 4# and 1# are the chromatic (non-scalar) notes. They’re a little dissonant and stand out from the minor scale, which is what’s used in everything else.

Here’s my attempt:

Am backing track, Bathory & Joe Riposo

So, assuming its really him, Joe Riposo left a thank-you comment on my About page for reading his book, Target and Approach Tones – Shaping Bebop Lines. If it is, I’m surprised that he’d find my blog, and both humbled and flattered that he’d actually drop a line. I realized that I didn’t know much of anything about him, outside of the little that I’ve read from his book, so I Googled him. He’s really quite amazing – according to Wikipedia, he’s a saxophonist, composer and arranger and he taught (and headed the jazz studies department) at Syracuse University.

I think that right now, he’s around 86 years old. What really amazes me though was that he suffered a hematoma around 6 years ago, had brain surgery to drain the blood from his head and was able to recover and play music again. And its not a stringed instrument, like what I’m trying to learn. He regained his proficiency on saxophone – which likely means a lot more aerobic activity than what I’m putting into what I’m doing. I’m glad that he was able to overcome and hope that he has years still to continue composing, arranging and playing music.

Smooth Jazz BASS Backing Track (Am)


BRBL10: 8-bar progression v5 & 6

I thought I’d get some practice in before bed tonight, since I haven’t had any for the past 2, but ended up getting sidetracked from moving on to new exercises by that 8-bar progression exercise again. Here’s an attempt from 4 nights ago, and the one from tonight:



Also, here’s something different. I cobbled it together when listening to the E on the A string and its 5th. I ended up with some kind of progression which I want to look at later to see where the note below the root fits in.

It should be E-B-C#-G#-F#-A-B and then a walk back to E.


Wayne Shorter & Herbie Hancock have a message for new artists


A friend of mine shared this article on FB tonight and I wanted to share it a little more. Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter are two legendary jazzers. They’ve played with Miles Davis and are musical icons in their own right. Hancock is a pianist and Shorter is a saxophonist. They revolutionized multiple styles of jazz from the 1950s and on. But that’s not the focus of their open letter to new artists. Its about breaking boundaries, empowerment and humanity. Its about ideas and expression creating a better world. Read it.

Musicians’ brains: each instrument broken down into pie charts

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Some of this was pretty funny. We’re #13 in the first list (well, the double-bassists are, but its family).