A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Archive for December, 2016

A different way to visualize rhythm – John Varney

I just took a short break from practicing and watched the most interesting Ted Ed Talk video about rhythm, focusing on beats which play out in a circle, like a clock face, instead of linearly, like on a musical staff. It shows how many genres across the globe base their rhythms on a 2-beat sequence (the strong beat and weak beat) and then layers concentric circles with other beats on top of it to represent other beats and instruments – and shows their commonalities over different styles.

What really caught my eye is the idea that you can see the relationships of layered rhythms like this. Its more visually decipherable than reading notation or tablature – and its interesting to see how spinning a wheel affects rhythm in relation to other wheels or circles.

Take a look, its a thought-provoking, eye-opening 5 mins:

A different way to visualize rhythm – John Varney

Practice: 12/29/16 – HLBM 53

HLBMI just ran ex. 53 in the HLBM for 25 mins. Its the first easy exercise in a while. Its all of the natural notes in the first 4 frets. Starting on the B on the G-string, we work down to open-E and then work back up to B on the G-string. Its the first one I’ve done on a clear(ish) head that made me want to fall asleep. I think I might do that, actually. I managed to have 2 good days this week and then caught a cold again. Nyquil hasn’t been knocking me out.

Interestingly, it ties right into that point I discovered in Mark Smith’s video that said if you play 1-finger-per-fret from 2nd position, you have all of the natural notes under your fingers, except for the low F, which you can reach with a quick shift. Playing the exercise is simple, but naming the notes while I’m getting drowsy isn’t so. I’ll have to drill this again later.

Songhoy Blues

I was watching a 3-part video in which Adam Neely and Ben Levin converse about a range of topics. One thing that came up was a band featured on NPR Music‘s Tiny Desk Concerts. They’re called Songhoy Blues. Wikipedia describes them as a desert punk/blues group from Timbuktu, Mali. They were formed after fleeing strife and Sharia Law in their country. Their name comes from their being Songhoy people, which is an ethnic West African group. Nick Zinner, guitarist from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs produced a track of theirs called Soubour, which means “patience”. Following this, Zinner helped produce their first album, Music in Exile, in 2015.

I like their sound quite a bit. There’s something intriguing to hearing blues with Songhoy lyrics sung on top of them. Because I don’t understand the words, they become something of a 2nd melody to follow, instead. Guitarist Garba Toure is apparently the son of the percussionist for Ali Farka Toure (1939-2006), whose music also blended traditional Malian music and blues. The band covered their music at their inception.

Songhoy Blues: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert


Practice: 12/27/16 – HLBM 52 (All Right) @ 92bpm [vid]

Ok. Its 7 AM. I didn’t actually sleep, but if there’s a silver lining, I was able to play ex. 52 from the HLBM at 92 bpm. It took some doing though. It looks like my sweet spot is in the 80s. I’ll drill this more later in the day, because although I can manage it, its not as fluid at this speed as I’d like, and while I don’t have to look at the fretboard at 84 bpm, I had to look at it quite a bit at 92. Its string-switching that gets me.

HLBM ex. 52 “All Right” @ 92bpm

Practice: 12/27/16 – HLBM 52 (All Right) @ 72bpm [vid]

Its about 4 AM. I haven’t gone to bed before 6:30 since last week, but I might try to correct that shortly. Anyhow, I drilled ex. 52 (All Right) from the HLBM for about 25 mins tonight. I worked with the metronome for 5 mins each at 50, 56, 60, 66 and 72 bpm and then recorded a run at 72 bpm, which is below. Slow increments seem to work well for me. My aim is to get to 92 bpm by this evening, or tonight.

HLBM ex. 52 “All Right” @ 72bpm

Practice: 12/27/16 – HLBM 52 (All Right) @ 50bpm [vid]

I got in about 40 mins of practice focused on ex. 52 (All Right) from the HLBM earlier tonight. Here’s a recording of an attempt at a meager 50 bpm. This one crosses the A, D and G strings. Its 16 bars, so its a relatively long exercise for me.

HLBM ex. 52 “All Right” @ 50bpm

I also updated the YouTube channel for the first time in… 5 years? There’s a little image link somewhere in the sidebar now. So, YouUglyBassTube, or whatever its going to be called, has a playlist where I’m collecting the Hal Leonard Bass Method vids, as well as a playlist with all of the technique videos I’ve blogged about here. I’ll make playlists for other things I’ve blogged about as well – theory, history, instrument & equipment stuff, bassist interviews, and so on.

Practice: 12/26/16 – HLBM 49, 50 & 51 @ 92bpm [vid]

So, I’m practicing the Notes on the G String lesson from the HLBM and I can now play exercises 49, 50 & 51 at 92 bpm! It helps that there are a lot of half-notes in the exercises, so I get a second to try and recall what each note is before I have to go for it. I’ll have to see what happens when I get to exercises that use more quarter notes and cross strings…

Anyway, lets ruin 2016 for some people by sharing the Ugly. Here are videos of each of the 3 exercises. If your stomach isn’t strong, avert your eyes.

HLBM ex. 49 @ 92bpm