A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Archive for October, 2016

Scale comparison sheet

no-theoryI’m recovering from a cold that I caught earlier in the week, after getting back from Ohio. While I was downstairs, waiting for the laundry to finish washing so I can put it in the dryer, I got to thinking about the 2nd pattern for the major scale. I like it for two reasons: (1) its easy to visualize it and “see” the difference between the major and minor scales using this particular pattern, and (2) I like the sound – having 3 notes on a string has this more “open” sound and feel to me, I’m actually really curious about this 4-note-per-string scale exercise that I’ve heard about now.

Anyway, here’s a sheet I just drafted that shows the 2nd pattern for the major scale and then all of the other modes, using it as a foundation. I color-coded notes a little. Red ones are flatted and the sole blue one is sharped. I’m going to look at it more in the AM and see if it helps me when visualizing scales.

I met Henkka Seppala!

So, last week, wifey & I flew out to Ohio for 3 days to attend the Metal in Strange Places conference at University of Dayton. She spoke on a panel about research in metal studies. Her particular presentation was about using social media for ethnographic research – its a fairly new concept called netnography.

Anyway, on the last day, the final keynote speaker was Henkka Seppala, the bassist for Finland’s Children of Bodom. Apparently he’s an academic too, with a master’s in political history from University of Helsinki that he earned while touring the world – he spoke about studying on the road, writing his thesis during downtime between performances, and a lot more.

Here’s the sole picture I took with Henkka. It was at Oddbody’s in Dayton, for the conference aftershow. He played bass with Forces of Nature, one of the local Dayton acts – doubling with their bassist. As per the blog’s name, I’m the ugly one on the right. 😉



Practice & memory

So, last night, after watching that video from samuraiguitarist about efficient practice, YouTube suggested another video from a Danish guitarist named Claus Levin. It was about learning scales faster. I watched it, and a second video from the same author showed up in the related videos, also about learning. I found it fascinating. It proposed a different learning/practice method from what I’ve seen before – basically asking us to practice in short bursts and then try to forget what we’ve practiced.

The idea is that when we practice, we’re taking information into short-term memory. By forgetting it and relearning it, we’re telling our brains that this is information that we have to relearn repeatedly. In order to better support having this now frequently-accessed information at hand, the brain then moves it from short-term to long-term memory, where we have it forever. Claus goes into more detail, starting with a human brain/computer cpu & memory analogy that makes much more sense a few mins in.

The other video is about practicing scales by taking the notes and learning them in a random order or pattern, instead of the usual method of running up and down scales from lowest note to highest, or vice versa. In a way, its similar to improvisation. Its goal is to leave us with usable knowledge of the notes and their locations and functions – essentially enabling fretboard freedom. Claus labels the standard method as learning sequential information. What he suggests, instead, is more akin to learning a scale pattern and then using it to create licks (or for us, basslines). Its more functional and musical.


How Musicians Can Practice More Efficiently

Here’s a video from Steve Onotera, aka samuraiguitarist, from Canada. It talks about 7 concepts to which musicians can refer to make practice sessions more productive. In a nutshell, these are:

  1. Have a clear vision of why you are practicing
  2. Create a practice schedule
  3. Don’t over-practice
  4. Isolate the problem
  5. Incorporate practicality
  6. Attack concepts from different angles
  7. Practice slowly and gradually speed up

How Musicians Can Practice More Efficiently


Its Hug a Bassist Day again!

hug-a-bassist-day-10-12-2Its that time again folks. Forget the holiday season. October 12th is Hug a Bassist Day!

Give yourselves a hug, and if you’re inclined, take a solo!

Building Bass Lines With The Minor Pentatonic Scale

Here’s the 2nd of the minor pentatonic scale videos I spoke about last week. This one comes to us from Denmark, from Lasse of contemporarybasslessons on YouTube.

Building Bass Lines With The Minor Pentatonic Scale


T Bone Burnett’s Keynote Address


This is an amazing speech given by T Bone Burnett at AmericanaFest – the Americana Music Festival & Conference – on Thursday, September 22, 2016. I saw it posted on The Dutch Luthier‘s blog, and he, in turn, found it on The Americana Music Association‘s web page.

I don’t quite believe in the art vs. technology idea that he speaks about, but his call for freedom of expression and pushing boundaries rings true to me. There is possibly truth to the idea that people are becoming more homogenous through technology and social engineering, however. (If any of you are old-school tabletop RPG players, this might also come across as a Technocracy vs. Tradition speech, from the mouth of a Cult of Ecstasy practitioner.)

“Technology is turning over every ten years. Their technologies don’t and won’t last. Our art, if we do it right, will.” – T Bone Burnett

I have come here today first to bring you love. I have come here to express my deep gratitude to you for your love of music and of each other. And, I have come here to talk about the value of the artist, and the value of art.

When Michaelangelo was painting the great fresco The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel, he came under intense criticism from various members of the church, particularly the Pope’s Master of Ceremonies- a man named Cesena- who accused him of obscenity. Michaelangelo’s response was to paint Cesena into the fresco in the lowest circle of hell with donkey ears and a serpent coiled around him devouring, and covering, his nether regions, so to speak.

Cesena was incensed and went to the Pope demanding he censor Michaelangelo for this outrage, and the Pope said, “Well, let’s go have a look at it. ”So, they went down to the chapel, and when the Pope stood in front of the fresco, he said to Cesena, “You know, that doesn’t look like you at all.”