I tried Track 3 from Building Rock Bass Lines using the same idea as my previous post. I played it through using only open strings, as per the book, and then I tried it combining octaves for each note. So its, root-root-octave-octave, root-root-octave-octave, etc.
It was tricky at first, because it crosses strings, but once I had the pattern down, it came together pretty quickly.
Here’s the tab for the exercise, as written in the book:
And here it is with the octaves thrown in:
In both of those examples, the “^” sign denotes where dotted quarter notes appear in the notation. Those notes are 1 1/2 times as long as a regular quarter note. So, play them long and play the ones that don’t have it short.
So, I noodled around a bit this AM, to warm up and surprisingly remembered something I was doing yesterday in the early AM in Bm. I’ll post it up after this, so that people can laugh at me on the internet and someday cause me to become an evil super villain that uses horribly mangled basslines to drive his enemies to their knees. But they won’t be applauding even then, I imagine.
Anyhow, afterward, I decided that its time to crack open one of the books again, so I opted for Building Rock Bass Lines. Its been a while since I worked out of a book, so I started with the early exercises again. Namely, the Track 2 exercise:
So, after I did it using open strings, I followed the instructions in the next paragraph which show a fretboard diagram up to the 9th fret and suggests that we try it from different positions. So, I went for the next easiest, which is the E, A & D on the 7th fret of the A, D & G strings, respectively. That looks like this:
I’m using example 9 from Building Rock Bass Lines as a warm-up exercise, because it has all of these string crossings due to its focus on octaves. Tonight, I moved past it to example 10, which continues with octaves. Its the same chord progression, but the actual notes are different. Sonically, it sounds like the opposite of example 9 – the highs and lows (roots & octaves) have somewhat switched, but since the progression is the same (Em-G-C-A), it fits right in. Once I have it under my fingers, I’m going to work the two of them together as an 8-bar exercise. I’m certain that they could be heard together as a single song due to the shared progression.
Its interesting how switching the octaves and roots around a bit really makes the exercise difficult. I think that some of my ability to work through example 9 was muscle and ear memory. 10 came along, threw everything in a blender and really pulled the rug out from under me, with regard to coasting by on memory. I like it. Its hard, but I think that its also helping to build finger independence and wire my brain so that these sounds get individual neural pathways in there, instead of being paired and sequenced and dependent on each other for sense.
Here’s what the exercise looks like:
Its about 4:00 AM. I should be sleeping. We have to take Bopps to her first piano lesson in the morning, and I’ve been up since early this AM because wifey & I took her to a friend’s dress-fitting thing. She’s going to be the flower girl, this fall. I was in bed, reading on the tablet for a while, and finally decided that since I just wasn’t nodding off, I’d practice.
So, I decided to try and make some headway in Building Rock Bass Lines. I went to example 9, the one that I stopped at 2 weeks ago – I didn’t realize that so much time had passed! I’ve been sidetracked with making up stuff to play over example 8, and a few other things.
Anyway. I read the exercise – its where octaves are introduced – and spent some time just getting my fingers used to playing the root and octave for each of the 4 notes in the progression (Em-G-C-A). This time around, I went with the open E, the G on the E string, the C on the A string and the open A for roots. The octaves were all 2 strings up and 2 frets up from each of those. So, it looked like this:
Maybe 2 weeks away from it is what I needed, because I was able to play it. I don’t know if its up to speed, but I’ll check the actual track to confirm. The important thing is that I can do it. Its a little tricky still though, because its 4 strings, includes string skipping, and I’m doing it on my 6-string bass, so I have to not make a mistake and play on the low B string (which doesn’t happen much) or the high C string (which is more of a risk when aiming for the G string).
I know this isn’t impressive, but, its progress, so here it is:
So, assuming its really him, Joe Riposo left a thank-you comment on my About page for reading his book, Target and Approach Tones – Shaping Bebop Lines. If it is, I’m surprised that he’d find my blog, and both humbled and flattered that he’d actually drop a line. I realized that I didn’t know much of anything about him, outside of the little that I’ve read from his book, so I Googled him. He’s really quite amazing – according to Wikipedia, he’s a saxophonist, composer and arranger and he taught (and headed the jazz studies department) at Syracuse University.
I think that right now, he’s around 86 years old. What really amazes me though was that he suffered a hematoma around 6 years ago, had brain surgery to drain the blood from his head and was able to recover and play music again. And its not a stringed instrument, like what I’m trying to learn. He regained his proficiency on saxophone – which likely means a lot more aerobic activity than what I’m putting into what I’m doing. I’m glad that he was able to overcome and hope that he has years still to continue composing, arranging and playing music.
I thought I’d get some practice in before bed tonight, since I haven’t had any for the past 2, but ended up getting sidetracked from moving on to new exercises by that 8-bar progression exercise again. Here’s an attempt from 4 nights ago, and the one from tonight:
Also, here’s something different. I cobbled it together when listening to the E on the A string and its 5th. I ended up with some kind of progression which I want to look at later to see where the note below the root fits in.
It should be E-B-C#-G#-F#-A-B and then a walk back to E.
So, this weekend brought some interesting bass-related activities that I haven’t gotten to write about until now. Chief amongst these is that I played with someone else – namely, my wife, on piano, and I tried to apply some of what I was practicing from the Building Rock Bass Lines book to a guitar & voice-driven song from Shelby over at Sound Waves & Spray Paint (formerly Grrl + Guitar).
I didn’t do anything fancy. With wifey, we’ve always talked about learning instruments and trying to write something together – we’re hoping for doom metal or post-metal once I know which is the pointy end of my bass. She took piano lessons when she was a little girl, but stopped when she was still small. So, its been more than 20 years since she’s really played anything.
I showed her what a chord progression is. We actually just used the one I’ve been doing exercises with from BRBL. Its [Am-C-G-D] [Am-C-G-E]. I tried to come up with something simple, on the fly, which ended up being primarily root notes, and at some point, an approach tone, as I’m trying to use them to kind of walk to the next chord, since reading more about them in that book by Joe Riposo. If I remember right, I started with the notes from an Am triad, and the rest is mostly roots.
What I found interesting, since chord progressions are new to her (I think she was learning more about reading music when she was small, than theoretical stuff like progressions) is that she seemed to also play single notes and root notes on the piano. I think that once we make time, and she gets to brush up more, it’ll be fun to see what she can do with piano chords with me supporting on bass. I’m also curious about moving away from roots and playing more 3rds and 5ths later on… but that’s for another time, and also, only if I can make it fit and sound decent.