A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Books & Resources

The Five Music Theory Books that Most Influenced Adam Neely

I’m always amazed by Adam Neely. His videos are some of the first things I shared on this blog when I first decided to actually try and document my way through learning to play bass, and he’s only gotten better at his craft – both music and making videos about music.

A few days ago, Adam released a video which I find very interesting. It centers on 5 books that influenced how he thinks about music, especially regarding theory and composition. I was surprised that I actually have two of them, but there are several that I’m not familiar with – or ready for.

The 5 Music Theory/Composition Books That Most Influenced Me


First 15 Lessons: Bass, by Jon Liebman

The First 15 Lessons: Bass Guitar is a 30-page beginner’s method, written by Jon Liebman of ForBassPlayersOnly.com and published by Hal Leonard as part of its First 15 Lessons series. I have Jon’s Bass Aerobics book, and while that volume completely awed me, its also beyond my skill level with regard to reading and playing. This book, however, aims to provide those who are new to bass with a foundation for playing. Here’s Jon’s statement of intent from the first page:

The purpose of this book is to provide the beginning bassist with a hands-on approach to the fundamentals of good bass playing. As in all of my books, as well as my online bass lessons, I have presented you with a sequence of practical exercises to provide not only technical instruction, but examples that are musically satisfying and enjoyable to play. I’ve also included several examples from well-known songs to further enhance your real-world learning experience. Note that the lessons progress sequentially, with each lesson building on the previous material, so be sure to go through them in order.

First 15 Lessons - Bass


Wifey’s extreme metal thesis and drum blog are here!

This isn’t totally bass-related, but it might be intriguing for some of you who are interested in extreme metal and in drumming (even separately).


My wife finished her 2nd masters degree this year. Apart from her MLS, she now has a masters in anthropology. Her thesis topic was centered on women’s participation in New York’s extreme metal scene – from musicians and fans to others in the industry like photographers, writers, women who run magazines and websites, women who host radio shows and more. We attended shows (quite a few were around the baby’s schedule), she met and interviewed women in the scene, conducted an online survey with dozens of respondents, and met and presented with incredible metal music scholars – a discipline that I didn’t even know existed until she started doing her thing. Many of them have written books and papers in academic journals and some have released video documentaries as well. Its a thriving and fascinating international community.

Anyway – for those interested, her thesis is finally available for public consumption via CUNY Academic Works. Here’s a link to the PDF (you can click the “download” button on CUNY’s site or read it online):

Here’s a link to her blog where she announced the release of the thesis as well:



So, yesterday, during dinner, I watched some bass videos on YouTube while the baby figured out more of Let It Go and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on piano. After taking the summer off, her lessons are due to resume next month. I think the only time slot available is 9 AM on Saturday. We’ll essentially wake up an hour later than on regular school days (we get her up around 6:30). No rest for the wicked.

Anyway, YouTube suggested a video called Time and Feel Exercise for Bass Guitar, by Yonit Spiegelman. Apparently, she’s part of a group of instructors from Brooklyn who created or work with an instructional website called Lessonface. It looks interesting. It mainly offers real-time music lessons over the internet.


Music Notes app for Windows 10

Music Notes app

So yesterday I mentioned a music app I grabbed from the Windows 10 store that helps with learning notes on the musical staff. The app is called Music Notes. Its almost like using flash cards. When you start it up, you choose treble or bass clef, slide the game timer (I kept it at 5 mins) and hit start. It then flashes notes on the staff onscreen and you have to choose the note name by letter. If you get the note right, another appears. If you get it wrong, you can try again until you have the right one. At the end, it lets you know how many notes you correctly named and what your percentage of correct notes over the play time was.

The app isn’t complex, and I actually like running through it 1 or 2 times before moving onto other stuff, especially if I’m reading on my tablet in bed. I think it actually is somewhat helping me to remember notes, but I won’t be able to make a more educated assessment until I’ve used it for a while.

I do wish that there were an option to select from a specific set of notes, so I could synch it to run the notes I’m working on in lessons from the Hal Leonard Bass Method. Also, with the version I have, its all natural notes – no sharps or flats. That’s fine for me for now though, since I’m still wet-behind-the-ears with notation.

Help Your Kids With Music

Help Your Kids With MusicSo, yesterday, Bopps, wifey & I went out to eat with one of wifey’s friends after they got back from some librarian thing hosted at Columbia. I suspect there was a lot of shushing and existential questions starting with “Dewey, or don’t we…” After dinner we made a pit stop at Barnes & Noble so Bopps could work off some sugar (she built her own sundae and was heavy on the sprinkles).

After a while of setting her loose in the kids’ section, I left her with the lady-folk and went to the music section. They grabbed her some Peppa Pig books that she didn’t already have and I found something else: Help Your Kids With Music, from DK Publishing. I have some of their other books, and they’re pretty informative.

I flipped through it a little and was impressed with the diagrams and sheer breadth of information in the book. When I opened it, I randomly started on the triads section, and its illustrations and concise descriptions got my attention. Those of you who have followed my ramblings for any length of time know I have a collection of music-related books which I’ll never really work through, but irrationally amass anyway. This one reads like an even-friendlier edition of Edly’s Music Theory for Practical People, which I also really dug.

So, later that night, I was going through the book in bed and Bopps comes into the room, because her sleeping habits are borderline mine – which isn’t a good thing. We looked through maybe the first 50 pages together, and she was really into it. The pictures drew her in. She used the piano diagrams to “play” and sing aloud Doe a Deer, Mary Had a Little Lamb and some other stuff. She was reading notes to me, and asking a hundred questions about other stuff she was seeing. It really had her engaged.


Its been 5 years?!

This morning, Laina Dawes, who presented with my wife  at the Metal and Cultural Impact (MACI) conference in Dayton back in 2014, posted on her FB page that its been 3 years since she started a page for her book, What Are You Doing Here – A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal. It made me realize something – today is my blog’s birthday as well. We’re 5 years old today! (And I still haven’t learned the fretboard!)

So… happy birthday, my Uglies… 😉

Here’s a shot of the baby prancing in front of one of my basses… and an ugly shot she took of me when she stole my phone. Yes… I’ve cleaned the office up a bit since then. My own face, however, is a lost cause.