I should be sleeping… its 3 AM. I made the mistake of picking up my bass after blogging about JamKazam and wikiloops and ended up running through that blues exercise in the HLBM again. Afterward, I had to go to the next one, because I remember from before that I liked the 2nd blues exercise more – and I still do.
Here’s a quick recording of ex. 37 “A Little Heavy“. Its a 12-bar blues but there are chord changes in the 2nd and 12th bars (to B and C#, respectively). It has less notes than the previous 12-bar blues exercise, but I like the flow of it more. I think the use of space makes the notes we do play stand out more strongly.
 Here’s the original post I wrote about this exercise:
So, I practiced ex. 21, 22 & 23 in the HLBM for about 20 mins this AM. Interestingly, I found that when I slowed down and focused (and it wasn’t 2 or 3 AM) only one of the 3 was difficult to follow – ex.21. I think its possibly because it has 6 bars of notes, as opposed to 5 bars for the other two exercises. All of them have roughly the same number of different note symbols (around 7ish) if you look at naturals, flats and sharps. So, having a relatively clear head and one less bar of music makes a difference.
Each of these exercises is also linear – they move up a few frets and then back down again. There’s no skipping notes and no moving across strings. And, if I think about the last one as if I’m leading with my pinkie finger, it also reduces the difficulty.
Later, tonight, I warmed up with an old exercise that goes up and down the neck and then that tiny snippet from Mother Man and worked on ex. 29 & 34. I found that they’re much smoother now. However, I think I’m also starting to memorize them again. I might look at playing the bars up and down instead of left-to-right, purely as a reading exercise, but in these particular cases, I think the actual sequence of the bars is important to the exercises themselves, so it’ll be… different.
After dinner, I ran through ex. 36, which is the first of two 12-bar blues exercises. I was a little shaky at first when moving strings, especially going from G# to A between bars 4 & 5, but I mostly have it now. Bopps came in and wanted to “practice her guitar” with me, so I grabbed her little Dora the Explorer uke and was actually able to play through the 12-bar blues exercise without referencing the book while she went all pyrotechnic on her uke.
There are a lot of different blues.
I hopped onto Talkbass a little while ago, to take a break from revising some Nursing Risk Tools in our system. I’m not heading into the office tomorrow on account of my niece’s 1st birthday and my sister’s move to the left coast, so I’m getting some stuff ready for Development to feast their eyes on in the AM. The conference call should be interesting.
Anyway, someone replied to a post about blues variations, which led me to a video from Andrew Ford in which he goes over a bunch of blues variations. I found it interesting, because in the Hal Leonard book, I did two blues exercises – a standard 12-bar blues and then a 12-bar blues variation with a different progression.
Here’s the video:
So, I did a bit of yard work yesterday, getting rid of some really pervasive thorn bushes and weeds. Then I did some work in the house before we got cleaned up and took the baby out to get her some stuff. Finally, around 9:45, I got to practice for a bit, until around 10:30 – which is when I started writing this, with a lot of… assistance… from the baby.
I ran exercise 35 (Rolly) and then exercise 36 (12-Bar Blues) from the Hal Leonard Bass Method. I’m happy to say that I’ve learned both, and I’m not as worried about them being saved in muscle memory as I was before, after talking to the folks at Talkbass, and to Bill, a drummer friend on FB who also plays guitar and bass. Basically, what I’ve learned is to not sweat memorizing the exercises. Just move on to the next one and read new stuff.
I’m glad I took that advice, because I liked exercise 37 a lot. Its another 12-bar blues called A Little Heavy. As usual, I ran it a few times for myself before listening to the CD track to see how I was doing. I had it dead on. 😉
This one differs from the previous 12-bar blues because, as Ed notes, it changes chords in the 2nd and 12th measures He says that this is a common variation in blues form. I like the way it flows more than the regular 12-bar blues. The variations add some interest to my ears.
Oddly, I didn’t care for the backing track on this one very much, and its much more rock-n-roll than anything up to this point. It was a bit busy for my taste. Sorry Ed! I would actually have preferred to hear a blues backing track with this exercise. Maybe a vocal track would have smoothed things out for me though, to deemphasize the guitar a bit. I think I know why Ed included it though – coming right after a straight 12-bar blues, it illustrates how the blues form can be dropped right into another style, like rock-and-roll. I know there are jazz-blues as well.
I ran exercise 35 (Rolly) from the HLBM book really slowly, like I did with that 1st one in the SSRFB book, and nailed it multiple times. Its the one that’s been giving me some difficulty when I run all of the material up to the 12-Bar Blues exercise. I always hear that we should practice slowly, and I never make myself do it. I have this 4/4 count going on in my head all the time, and I tend to just follow it, but when I purposely slow it down, it makes a big difference. I really need to be more disciplined about that… and also use a metronome, or that Korg Beat Boy that’s been looking at me from the shelf whenever I stand up with the bass.
Also, I realized that after grabbing the bass and going into either 1st or 2nd position, I don’t look at my fretting hand anymore. 😉 I might do it when shifting, sometimes, but I’m mostly playing without looking at the neck. Yay! 😉 Ed’s plan is working. That guy’s a verifiable bass instruction genius that can even get through to slow-goers like me. If I’m ever in Austin, I’m buying him a beer. Part of me wants it to be a Bass Ale, just because of the name.
So, afterward, I did the same thing to exercise 36 (12- Bar Blues) – running it slowly and trying to avoid the intent gaze from the Beat Boy. Its working! I do make some mistakes, because I’m saying the note names out loud as I play, but overall, its going really well. The things that get me a little are the shifts from 2nd position back to 1st. If I do it without looking, I do shift a little short, but other than that, I’m happy. I might be doing it wrong though. After all, I’m supposed to be feeling the blues…