A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Posts tagged “Developing Your Musicianship

Next Steps

The Coursera class is done. I think I learned a few things from it, but overall, I was underwhelmed. I was browsing through other classes on their website last week and accidentally enrolled in a Songwriting course, which ended on the same day as the Developing Your Musicianship (DYM) class. Because I enrolled in it so late, I couldn’t take the quizzes or complete the assignments for the previous 5 weeks – and honestly, I couldn’t go through all the material in that time anyway. So, I grabbed all of the video lessons, PDF’s and other misc. stuff that they had.

Then, I looked to see what else was available and found that there was an Intro to Music Production class running and an Intro to Guitar class as well. Both of them were scheduled for the same timeframe as the DYM class, so I signed up with a click and grabbed all of that material too. I haven’t gone through any of it yet, but just from a preliminary comparison, they’re much more detailed and involved than the DYM class was. So, its not Coursera overall that I found lacking when I went through that first class; it was the class itself.

I’ll write about those other courses later, as I go through the material. I needed to figure out where to go from here though, with the DYM class complete. All of these other aspects of music are interesting, but I don’t want to lose sight of bass. One of my goals this year is to finish material that I’d started a while ago, so I’ve decided that I’m going to work through the Hal Leonard Bass Method by Ed Friedland next. I’d previously started it, and can’t even remember what had made me stop. I liked it a lot when I had started. It was simple in how it progressed, and had me reading music right off the bat, which I really appreciate.

So, my next steps are still the first two objectives on my list to accomplish this year: (1) learn all of the notes on the fretboard, which I need to resume, and (2) work through a bass method.

If I manage to complete Ed’s Bass Method this year, which I actually think is feasible, then I’m going to restart the IIB stuff from Cliff Engel afterwards, as its a heavier course. Its a year for reboots, apparently. But, at least I’m going in with more knowledge than I had when I first started, and also completing the DYM class does make me remember that, even at this age, and with work and the baby, I can progress if I pace myself and put in the effort. Its funny though, blogging about it takes a chunk of time too. I might scale back a bit on how much I’m writing, but we’ll see.

Coursera – DYM Lesson 6 videos (6)

This is it – the last video for Coursera’s online Developing Your Musicianship class. As with the previous lessons, its the student ensemble performance. This time around, the song is “La Musica No Se Toca,” which is apparently the title track of off Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz‘s 12th studio album from 2012.

6. Berklee Student Performance: La Musica No Se Toca (4:18)

Berklee Latino Band, “La Musica No Se Toca”

As per the Youtube description:

Thirty Berklee students from 14 countries were invited (by Javier Limón, artistic director of Berklee’s Mediterranean Music Institute) to perform alongside Alejandro Sanz during the 2013 Latin Grammy Awards in Las Vegas. This is the arrangement Esther Rojas and Tali Rubinstein did for “La Music No Se Toca.” 

Berklee students previously performed with Sanz on November 6, 2013, when he received an honorary doctor of music degree from Berklee. Sanz also presented a clinic for Berklee students.

I’m not very familiar with Latin pop music. I listened to De Repente from Soraya, back in the 1990’s and I know a bunch of Latino metal bands, like ANIMAL, Transmetal and Puya (Sepultura are Brazilian, not Latino), but for the most part, its unexplored territory for me. That said, although this song is very light for me, it was well-arranged. The only other music I can remember listening to that included a flute or recorder was one of Amorphis’ albums from the early 2000’s. Classical Indian music includes a lot of flute, but although my parents played quite a bit of it, its not something I particularly focused on since I was very young.


Coursera – DYM Lesson 5 Peer Reviews

Peer reviews for the 5th week’s assignment for Coursera’s Developing Your Musicianship class were due today. I went through 15 of them again, instead of the minimum of 5. The assignment was to write out a 12-bar blues. Most of the submissions were in the key of C, but 4/15 were in different keys. Everyone got it right. They all seem to know when to play the I-chord, IV-chord and V-chord. Some of them use the V-chord in the last bar, to move back to the !, but most of them ended on the I-chord.

Here are some images from the ones I looked at:

Coursera – DYM Lesson 6 videos (5)

The 5th video for the 6th, and final, lesson of Coursera’s online Developing Your Musicianship class is the last actual lesson video. The final one for the lesson is going to be the student ensemble performance, as usual.

5. Practicing What You Know and Moving Forward (4:00)

In his final video, Professor Russell opens by thanking us for joining him on this six-week journey and sends hope that all of the information that we learned will be applicable to our musical situations. One way to do this, he says, is by continuing to practice for 15 minutes every day. So, what should we practice? His suggestion is that we take everything that we did in the key of C and transpose it to another key. He reminds us that there are 12 keys, and they we started in the key of C because there are no sharps or flats. He then shows us the G major scale and tells us that there’s one sharp in the scale: F#.

Specific items he suggests practicing include:

  • The I, IV and V major & minor triads in the key of G (G, C, D)
  • 7th chords for the I and IV (G Maj7, C Maj7)
  • Dominant chords for the I, IV and V (G7, C7, D7)
  • The 735 voicing for the dominant chords
  • The minor pentatonic scale in G


Coursera – DYM Lesson 6 videos (4)

We’re in the home stretch. This is one of the last 3 videos for Coursera’s online Developing Your Musicianship class. Its video #4 for Lesson 6. Some of the other videos upped their game, when it came to subtitling the lessons, with relatively few errors. Here, however, we’re treated to a marathon of utterly ridiculous misspellings for an instructional class. I almost think that its an inside joke that I’m not in on.

4. Composing a Blues Riff Tune Using the Minor Pentatonic Scale (5:52)

Our now fancily-attired Professor Russell begins this one by reminding us that another scale we learned about in the course was the minor pentatonic scale. He demonstrates its construction by playing and singing the “one, flat-three, four… five, flat-seven, one” song that he had the Berklee students sing in Lesson 3.

After playing a brief piece to illustrate the sound, he says that we’re going to take the minor pentatonic scale and create a riff blues. He plays a 12-bar blues in C to show us a blues progression and then says that one way to create a riff blues is to create a melody that’s 2 bars long, skip the melody for the next 2 bars, play it again for the following 2 bars, skip the next two, vary it for 2 bars, and then close with no melody.

It looks like this:


Coursera – DYM Lesson 6 videos (3)

Video #3 for the 6th, and final, lesson of Coursera’s online Developing Your Musicianship class reviews all of the chords that were introduced in prior lessons: the triads and 7ths.

3. Review: The Major and Minor Triad, Major 7th and Dominant 7th Chords (7:51)

Continuing from the last video, in which he spoke about the major scale, Professor Russell opens this video with, “Now, another thing we learned was a major triad and a minor triad. These were the first chords we learned and we’re going to get those chords right from the major scale.” He plays a C major scale on the piano and then explains that a major triad would consist of the root (the 1st degree of the scale), the third (3rd degree of the scale) and the fifth (5th degree of the scale). He calls what he just played the 1-chord, “because its built upon the first degree of the scale.”

He further explains that if we played the 4-chord, or 4 major triad, that it would be built on the 4th degree of the scale, which is an F (F-A-C) and the 5-chord would be built on the 5th degree of the scale – a G (G-B-D). Those three chords are called C major, F major and G major (the 1-chord, 4-chord and 5-chord in the key of C) and they’re used in a huge amount of songs.


Coursera – DYM Lesson 6 videos (2)

The 2nd video for the 6th, and final, lesson of Coursera’s online Developing Your Musicianship class speaks about utilizing the major scale pattern starting on roots other than C. This, of course, introduces the class to sharps and flats in a scale – something which they’ve only seen so far in chords.

2. The Major Scale Beyond C (4:13)

The video begins with Professor Russell on the piano. He plays a jazzy piece for the first minute and a half. I noticed that he was playing 7th chords a lot in the bassline with his left hand. That also leaves about 2:45 for the actual lesson. He welcomes us back, dressed in a suit to celebrate the fact that we’ve just completed the course, which is a bit premature considering that there are still a few videos, a homework assignment and quiz left before we actually wrap-up. He announces that this is the last segment and then asks what have we learned in the course. He answers this by saying that we’ve learned the terms ear training, harmony, tonal center, we know what an interval is, we know what a form is, and says that all of these are things that are going to contribute to our musical foundation.