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.
So, last night, instead of working through the Hal Leonard book, I experimented with chord tones. What I wanted to do was find all of the chord tones over a 2-octave range and see what kinds of sounds they bring forth. I ended up really liking minor chord tones over 2 octaves. There are some really nice, melancholic sounds available when you have a low root and travel up to a higher octave’s 3rd and 5th.
I limited myself to 4 strings and tried not to change position too much, so I didn’t have a way to easily incorporate a higher 7th chord tone, but the first octave’s 7 plus the second octave’s chord tones provided a lot of fun sounds to experiment with. 7ths didn’t get used very much though. I know they’re used more in jazzy lines, and my guess is that at this stage, my ear is drawn to more rock or pop lines & tones. I also found that, in general, when traveling upward, I was able to stick mostly to chord tones, but when traveling back down, I’d add in a passing tone from the scale.
Here are moveable fretboard patterns for major and minor chords over 2 octaves:
I’m trying to practice more regularly. This morning, instead of opening with the Hal Leonard Bass Method, I worked out a rhythm I had in my head earlier today. I was able to do it, although I can’t quite play it to speed. This is what it currently sounds like:
And here’s the tablature for it:
I’ve been trying to analyze what I’m doing, from a functional standpoint, and this is what I think, and partly what went through my head when practicing:
- I’m starting on B and using the minor scale pattern, so its in Bmin.
- Starts on root and works down from chord tone (5th) to another chord tone (3rd). I know chord tones are considered “strong” and other tones are considered “weak” or passing tones.
- Next bar starts on 2nd and ascends the same chord tones (3rd to 5th).
- Starting on the 2 instead of the one makes me think of bars 2, 3 & 4 as having “false” roots, since they start on the 2 instead of the 1. I think I’m just using that idea to center my head because I’m “returning” to the root or false root to begin each bar.
- Bar 3 is essentially the same as bar 1 – its got a “root” and walks down 3 notes. I wonder if that would work if I used the same kind of pattern starting from higher scale degrees?
- Bar 4 is the same as bar 2. It kind of returns things to ground level before bar 1 starts again. So its like up/down/up/down, in terms of direction.
- Bar 4 sounds like it could be a jumping point to another riff/part. I’ll have to experiment with that.
Here’s a video from Steve Onotera, aka samuraiguitarist, from Canada. It talks about 7 concepts to which musicians can refer to make practice sessions more productive. In a nutshell, these are:
- Have a clear vision of why you are practicing
- Create a practice schedule
- Don’t over-practice
- Isolate the problem
- Incorporate practicality
- Attack concepts from different angles
- Practice slowly and gradually speed up
Here’s the 2nd of the minor pentatonic scale videos I spoke about last week. This one comes to us from Denmark, from Lasse of contemporarybasslessons on YouTube.
About a week ago, I watched a few videos on Youtube about the minor pentatonic scale that I wanted to share. The first comes from Yonit Speigelman, whose Time and Feel Exercise for Bass Guitar I shared last week. Here’s her video about using the (minor) pentatonic scale to construct bass lines:
So, the other day, I mentioned seeing a video from Yonit Spiegelman called Time and Feel Exercise for Bass Guitar. That video led me to the online lesson site, Lessonface, where Yonit teaches. I posted about Lessonface already, but meant to talk about the exercise video as well.
The idea of the video is that when practicing with a metronome, we generally count 1-2-3-4 as we play a bar of music. Yonit moves away from this with a task to help us internalize time by not counting the “strong beats” (the 1 & 3) and instead focusing on the “weak beats” (2 & 4) and lining up our playing with those. (more…)