A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Posts tagged “12 bar blues

Practice: 11/19/15 – HLBM 37

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.

[edit] Here’s the original post I wrote about this exercise:

Practice: 11/18/15 – HLBM 36


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.


What color is your blues?

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:

Blues Bass Survival Guide – Intro – Andrew Ford


HLBM 35: Notes on the D-String

Busy day today. I didn’t get to practice until late again, and if I don’t go to bed shortly after writing this, I’m going to try to get another session in. I ran through both 12-bar blues exercises in the HLBM and I’m able to play them both fairly fluidly – which is surprising to me because, up until now, I really haven’t worked on songs. I’ve mainly worked on exercises, learning basic theory, fretboard memorization (which I have to really get back to) and recently, reading standard notation.

So, with a basic competence playing the blues under my belt, I moved onto the next lesson in the HLBM: Notes on the D String. Like with the other strings, we’re introduced to the open string and first 3 frets. The notes we looked at were D, E and F (open string, 2nd fret and 3rd fret, respectively).

For some reason, I’m not getting it as well as E and A. I’m playing the two initial exercises (38 & 39) without too much error, but I keep calling out the notes as E, F, G instead of D, E, F. I think its because I never really practiced on the D and G strings much – at least not on the lower frets – so its new to me, and in my head, having an E and F are somehow crossing wires and making me think of the E string. Hopefully, I’ll work that out of my system tonight or in the next day or two.

Also, I was curious about where I was in the method. Its divided into 3 books (they were sold individually until being combined into this Complete Edition). I looked at the table of contents and Book 1 has 51 pages. With these exercises, I’m on page 23, so I’m about halfway through Book 1. It doesn’t always feel like I’ve made much progress until I look at things outside of the book and surprise myself with my ability to understand or figure out sheet music.

I took a little time last night looking through one of Ed Friedland‘s other books, Building Rock Bass Lines, and Alex Webster‘s book, Extreme Metal Bass. They’re on my list for when I finish this method – both of those and Jon Liebman‘s Bass Aerobics. I was able to read the notation for a lot of the exercises that I saw. 😉 I haven’t been introduced to rests yet, but I know they’re coming, and haven’t worked with 16th notes or triplets yet, but I can recognize them and actually read and tap out time accurately (well, as far as I can tell without waking the wife up with a metronome while I read on the tablet at night).

So, progress is being made, but at my snail’s pace. I still have to carve out an evening to get in contact with my guitarist friend, Ray, and work with him this week as well. I do think that I’m beginning to build momentum, so I’m actually going to run off now and start that 2nd practice session.

HLBM 34: A Little Heavy

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.


HLBM 33: The 12-Bar Blues

Finally crashed last night after not sleeping for 2 days. It definitely messed with my ability to work… I was up in the middle of the night yesterday, unable to remember how to install a .p7b IIS certificate on one of our app servers so we could pass data through to one of our pharmacy partners. Got it done, but this sleep thing is no fun.

Anyway. I got up at 4 this AM, bothered the wife, who was surprisingly awake, and ended up editing her review of Castrator‘s “No Victim” EP for Metal Riot. I think she’ll send it in later today, after we make another pass through it. Then, I practiced a bit. I’m able to get through Rolly (ex. 35) in the HLBM with no real hiccups now, so  I’m concentrating on those 12-bar blues.

HLBM21 - 12-Bar Blues

All of the odd-numbered bars are easy, because they’re just root notes 4 times, except for bar 9 which has one note that’s a fret/semitone lower. The even-numbered ones are where I’m a little slower though. For the most part I can play them, but I keep worrying that I’m doing it by muscle memory and not from reading. They’re really just little walks up or down a few notes or a triad, but Ed Friedland craftily mixes it up a little bit. Bar 8, for example, includes that open A in the walk. These tiny variations are really good exercises. They keep the song from being a walk in the park.

HLBM21 - Ex 36 Bar 8

HLBM21 – Ex 36 Bar 8

I’m going to take a few mins and then work with something that I should have been using all along… it begins with an “m” and ends with “etronome”. Wish me luck.

HLBM 32: The 12-Bar Blues

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…

HLBM21 - 12-Bar Blues