Let’s not underestimate note values. Note values are so important that they can actually add values to your bass playing especially if you know how to execute each one of them.

Note values can vary in length , and it’s mostly integrated with rhythm. If you play a note, let’s assume a “C” for a total count of four, that is a whole note (semibreve). These whole note can be sub-divided into a half note (minim, count of two beats), quarter note (crochet, count of one beat) and eight note (quaver, half beat or 1 &) e.t.c.

Every composer or writer puts into consideration note values and their importance when writing or playing music. I have seen and heard several saxophone player starting off an improvisation by playing a very long note, longer than Double Whole Note (Breve), which is a total of 8 quarter note and then rhythmically breaks into other note values as the solo or continues.

Charlie Parker is a great example, an american jazz saxophonist and composer who likes to incorporate a lot of eight and sixteen notes in his improvisation and compositions. Jaco Pastorius is also a good reference here. There are several other composers who also do the same.

As bass players, we play a lot of covers, we write and compose our own music too. It would be great if we can cultivate the idea of actively listening to note values in music, both the bass line, piano, guitar, drums, trumpets, saxophones, whatever instruments is been used. This would not only help us write or compose our own music but will also help us interpret music in the proper manner.

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Don’t get kicked outta pocket.

Mike’s Bass Lessons


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