A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Theory

Janek Gwizdala & Compound 3rds

So, I just watched a video from Janek Gwizdala about playing bass lines and melodies at the same time. He basically plays double-stops (chords using only 2 notes) made up of the root note and a note from the harmony. Its a very nice effect. In the video, he says that he plays the root and the 10th. I didn’t know what the 10th actually was. I’m not very versed in extended chords, so I looked to Wikipedia, and lo-and-behold: enlightenment!

How to play bass lines and melodies at the same time – Vlog #334

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The Only 4 TYPES Of Bass Lines You’ll Ever Need To Create

YouTube presented me with a video from “Become a Bassist” earlier tonight. As a beginner, it was insightful to watch. It breaks down basslines into 4 types, detailed below.

The Only 4 TYPES Of Bass Lines You’ll Ever Need To Create

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Broken 3rds scale exercise from Bass Guitar Scales group

Here are two versions of a fun exercise I just saw on the Bass Guitar Scales FB group. They have us ascend the major scale in 3rds using two of the more common major scale patterns. I just tried it out using the minor scale, and like it a lot. There’s a nice, consonant sound to the exercise.

If you’re new to scales, what they have us do is play a note in the scale and then play a note a third higher, so, play scale degree 1 and then scale degree 3. Then play scale degree 2 followed by 4, then 3 followed by 5, 4 followed by 6, etc. We can do the same thing going down as well.

Here are both versions. If you’re on FB, go like their page!


Lead Sheet Navigation for Bass Players – Scott’s Bass Lessons

Here’s a fantastic intro to reading lead sheets from Scott Devine. He goes over what he looks at immediately upon getting a lead sheet so that he understands the overall structure of the piece he’s playing. His four main points are:

  1. Time signature
  2. Key signature
  3. Common chordal movements
  4. Form of the piece

Lead Sheet Navigation for Bass Players /// Scotts Bass Lessons

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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


Adam Neely did videos with Ben Levin and they’re awesome!

I’ve been a fan of Adam Neely since this blog started in 2011. Some of my first posts are about his early videos – particularly his videos about proper right and left hand technique. I just discovered Ben Levin a few months ago and have been watching his theory vids (as his alter-ego, Fake Dr. Levin) a bit. Well, apparently, they’re friends and went to Berklee together – and I just discovered some collaborative videos from the two of them in which they demonstrate creative songwriting exercises for guitar and bass.

I liked the counterpoint one, in particular, because I’m a fan of counterpoint (listen to the bass on Opeth’s 2nd album!). They also got into an exercise from Mick Goodrich‘s “The Advancing Guitarist“. I read some of that after discovering it through Tom Kenrick‘s blog a while ago. They demonstrated an exercise from the 1st chapter, which was about playing on a single string. All 3 videos have interesting creative applications, so grab a snack and enjoy!

Democratic Chord Writing – Music Games with Adam Neely and Ben Levin

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The music theory of mashups

Here’s a fun video from Adam Neely about mashups, or as 13th century composers called them, quodlibets. He goes into some music theory about them, initially, highlighting that its their tempos that really allow them to work together. He also speaks about the I-V-VI-IV chord progression, which is used in a lot of pop music, as illustrated by that old Axis of Awesome video that mashed up about 500 songs to demonstrate it. 😉

Some compositional attributes that allow a lot of this music to be melded together include their overall use of notes from the major scale, which – if I understand this correctly – allows them to be more readily transposed to the same key; 4-bar phrase lengths, which allows them to fit passages of the same length together; and cyclic chord progressions that repeat without a strong sense of resolution, so they can keep going without end. Enjoy!

The music theory of mashups