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Damian Erskine

Damian ErskineDamian Erskine is known for his ability to fit into any musical situation, extraordinary reading and improvising skills as well as being an educator and columnist. He has played in the studio or on the stage with the likes of Peter Erskine, The Jaco Pastorius Big Band, Les McCann & Javon Jackson, Gino Vannelli, Jeff Lorber, George Colligan, Sveti w/ Marko Djordjevic, Vardan Ovsepian, Charmaine Neville, Tony Furtado and many others as well as being featured on the Shed Sessionz Vol. 1 DVD.

Damian is an adjunct professor at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon and has also appeared as an instructor at Gerald Veasley's Bass Bootcamp, the National Guitar Workshop as well as the Berklee College of Music's Guitar Week.

In addition to his weekly Q&A column on No Treble, Damian has written for Bass Player Magazine, Bass Musician Magazine as well as authoring his own books, Right Hand Drive and The Improvisor’s Path.

Articles by Damian Erskine:

  • Talent vs. Hard Work

    Talent vs. Hard Work

    Q: I have a question on talent. Here is some background first: three years ago, I took up learning electric guitar (aged 45) without any prior learning of music, instruments, etc. – truly from scratch. I took classes in a music school and practiced daily a half and hour to 2 hours every day. I... »

  • Learning Notes Versus Patterns

    Learning Notes Versus Patterns

    Q: Recently I’ve been struggling with scale degrees and chords. Right now I practice my scales using in 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, etc. However my problem is being able to name the notes of the scale because for the most part I have memorized scales based on patterns (like how playing E major is the same... »

  • Should I Use an Amp, a Monitor or In-Ears?

    Should I Use an Amp, a Monitor or In-Ears?

    Q: I want to choose a new rig. I’m quite happy with my basses and my effects I own at the moment, and I am searching now for a way to amplify my signal. I have a very good, portable upper-middle-class halfstack, but I can rarely use it because I often do small gigs and... »

  • Learning Songs Note for Note vs. Doing Your Own Thing

    Learning Songs Note for Note vs. Doing Your Own Thing

    Q: I have been playing bass for a while now and when I play covers, I usually create my own lines for the song (unless it is an integral part of the song, like “Another One Bites The Dust”). I tend not to worry about learning the original bass line. Lately, I have been thinking... »

  • Bass in Death Metal?

    Bass in Death Metal?

    Q: What is your opinion of the role of bass in both Death Metal and Black Metal? I’m a big fan of both styles and have tried to work out by ear, exactly what the bass is doing, but within these styles, the bass is very seldom heard. In a situation like this, what’s the... »

  • Learning Music by Writing Down Your Transcriptions

    Learning Music by Writing Down Your Transcriptions

    Q: I have been practicing bass on my own for two years while attending college. My goal is to become a working musician and I would like to at least get a gig at a church this year. I’m at a point now where I can hear a piece of music and get pretty close... »

  • Multiple Basses or Just One? A Discussion for Working Bass Players

    Multiple Basses or Just One? A Discussion for Working Bass Players

    Q: I’m a fairly busy bass player working with five or six different bands ranging from funk to soul to hip-hop/neo-soul to jazz to disco to metal and a few function bands which encompass just about everything else! For the last four years, I’ve mainly used one sound (neck pickup, flatwound strings) on one bass... »

  • Playing without a Chordal Instrument

    Playing without a Chordal Instrument

    Q: I was curious about your approach to playing jazz without a piano player or guitarist. I lead a secret, soon to be a quintet because our piano player is moving away. I respect the kind of stuff presented by Charlie Haden in his work with Ornette Coleman, but aside from the free really “out... »

  • Adding Some New School Playing to an Old School Bassist

    Adding Some New School Playing to an Old School Bassist

    Q: I’ve been playing a certain way or style (as in thump, pop or blues) for as long as I can remember. Today’s bass players tend to play a lot – it seems way busier. What do you recommend for an old school bassist who wants to update to today’s styles so it sticks? A:... »

  • Turning Exercises into Real Music

    Turning Exercises into Real Music

    Q: I’ve been studying for a while now, and I’ve been practicing my scales and modes as much as possible over changes. I’ve also been working through arpeggios, including the methods you talk about in your Improvisor’s Path book. For example, I’ll work arpeggios through tunes in different inversions and so on. However, when I... »