I ran both ex. 45 and ex. 46 (Crossin’ Three) for about 25 mins tonight, playing each for 5 mins at the following speeds: 60bpm, 66bpm, 76bpm, 84bpm and 92bpm. I made mistakes in some playthroughs, but overall, I’m able to play both. I’ll drill these for the foreseeable future, but tonight, just to push ahead to a full 60 mins of practice, I moved on to ex. 47. It introduces us to octaves.
Most of us know what an octave is. In a regular scale, like the major or minor scale, its a repeat of whatever note was played, but 8 notes higher or lower. It has the same pitch as the one that was played, but either higher or lower, depending on if you’ve moved up or down the neck (or strings).
So, in a C major scale, if C is our first note and we count up 8 notes, the next C is our octave. They’re 8 notes apart (we actually count the first note as 1).
C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C
So, 47 explains that the fingering for a higher octave is a constant shape that can be moved around, like any other moveable shape or moveable pattern on bass. In this case, when you play a note on the E or A string, its octave is two strings higher and two frets higher. So, if we play a F on the first fret of the E string, its octave is on the 3rd fret of the D string. For open notes, like an open E, the same pattern applies, but the octave is on the 2nd fret of the D string. It looks like this:
The exercise isn’t hard to play, it basically moves from E – F – F# – F – E, so its like a pyramid. We move up and then back down again. However, we do this playing both higher and lower octaves. So, low-E, high-E, high-E, low-E, low-F, high-F, high-F, low-F, etc.
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:
It feels like Ed Friedland rolled up and gave me a beating. I moved on to the Using the Octave lesson/section in Building Rock Bass Lines and the first exercise just tripped me up and tied my fingers in knots. Its an Em-G-C-A 4-bar progression. However, since we’re using octaves, and there are probably a bunch of different places/fingerings we could use to play it, the one I settled on for the moment has me stumbling across 4 strings and 4 frets.
I’m not used to much string-skipping yet, and I’m doing this on a 6-string bass, so I have to try not to play the low B or the high C strings, which can get a bit confusing at times. The pattern on the E and A are the same, but the G and C each have their own pattern, so I can’t just lock into a particular motion and move it across the neck. Fie! (Finally, a chance to say that! There’s my silver lining…)
Here’s what the notation looks like. Its deceptively simple.
And here’s how I tried to play it, in tab: