Tag Archives: Bass notes and Chords

SPEED IS GOOD! HOW ABOUT INTONATION?

HA HA HA! I understand you want to play as fast as Jeff Berlin, Victor Wooten, Jaco Pastorius, Richard Bona and all other Gurus out there. I totally understand that you admire the way they play and I also respect your passion and feel about what you want to do but one thing you need to understand is that this guys have spent so much time to perfect every thing you see or hear them play on the bass.

Sometimes it might take the 1000-time principle for perfection, I meant practicing one particular thing over and over again for a thousand time, I know that sounds ridiculous but sometimes it is the price that is needed to pay in order to be able to perfect that particular passage, pieces, phrases, motifs, scales, chords, or any other thing you want to get better at.

On the other hand, I have seen several bass players who do not really articulate their notes why playing. They speed up but nothing can be picked out from the note been played, it sounds muffled and unclean. This is what happens when you are speed oriented instead of paying attention to intonation and then gradually picking up on speed.

Using a metronome can help to keep tabs on your speed practice. Meaning that it will help you know how many beats per minute (bpm) you can play. For example, you where able to play your chromatic scale as fast as 60 bpm during one of your practice session, you noted it and the next practice session, you increased it to 61 bpm or 62 bpm. That’s exactly what I meant by keeping tab. You might not notice too much difference in speed when you increase by 1bpm or 2bpm but this is the discipline required in other to have a clean and steady intonation and speed. Don’t increase the beat from 60bpm to 80bpm because you think you can crush it, not a good idea, your hand or muscle memory will not be learning anything at this point, and this is exactly what usually leads to inarticulate, muffled or indistinct note when trying to play fast.

Play one note, let it resonate, pay attention to the sound quality, hear how beautiful it sounds, then play the next note and do the same. Try any scale at this point while you reading this article, if you have your instrument with you and observe the instructions mentioned above. Let me know if you notice any change in the comment below 🙂

This is a random example, it might not apply to your level of expertise but i’m sure you understand and can pick out one or two useful points from this article.

Please leave a comment below if you enjoy reading this short article!

Don’t get kicked outta pocket.

Mike’s Bass Lessons

NOTE VALUES ARE INVALUABLE

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.

Please leave a comment below if you enjoy reading this short article!


Don’t get kicked outta pocket.

Mike’s Bass Lessons

THE HARDEST SONG TO PLAY

The hardest song to play is the simplest song that you don’t know. Sometimes we think we can just play or groove to any music even if we do not practice.

You might be lucky enough to have ran into some music that follows a common progression, so it was easy to jam with the band playing. I am sure this won’t be the case all the time.

There are other scenarios where the song you are playing is really simple but has an uncommon progression. In this case, you then begin to use your expertise or imagination to think of the next progression by delaying a bit before playing or by syncopating into every chords after it’s been played. Spamming the bass line is not a good idea. While you are playing, a good listener in the audience and yourself will know that something is a little off or shady to say.

It is best practice to listen and practice the song you are going to play before you actually presenting it or play with a group. Learning a song helps you focus your attention not to only listen to yourself but to others also when you playing and it also gives you the chances of being more creative.

Don’t you think a doctor will cause more harm if he’s not sure of what the problem is and yet he’s still prescribing medication or treating the patient???

As bass players, we have a very unique and obvious role to play to every song. It doesn’t matter whether the song is simple or not, or you’ve got a million years experience playing (Lol), always try to listen and practice before performing. This will make you a better musician not just a bass player.

I hope this little write up helps?

Stay put in the pocket my friend.

Mikes Bass Lessons

THE BASS GUITAR

The bass guitar is a very unique instrument that helps to provide a solid background or backbone to melodic instruments. Basically, it can be considered the intermediary instrument between the Drums and other instrument like the guitar, keyboard, saxophone, trumpet et.c.

There are different types and brands of bass guitar; Four strings, Five strings and Six strings bass. Talking of brand the list is inexhaustible, but there is no doubt that there are those that stand out from others. Fender, Yamaha, Ibanez, LTD, MTD, Fodera are good references.

You can play around with a couple of them before you decide what type; whether four, five , six strings or brand you want to stick to.

Don’t wait until you have $10,000 to buy one, you can actually start with buying one that you can afford and later scale up if you want.

That’s just a piece of advice.

Hey, I hope you found this short post helpful.

Please leave a comment below and let’s stay in the pocket as usual.

Mike’s Bass Lessons