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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 GospelChops.com 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:

  • Thinking In Modes or Scales and Constructing Bass Lines

    Thinking In Modes or Scales and Constructing Bass Lines

    Q: I’ve been trying to learn how to play over the changes, but I’m super confused about one particular aspect: I don’t know I should think of scales. For example when I’m playing over a G dominant chord, should I think G mixolydian or should I think fifth mode of the C major scale? In... »

  • Two-Handed Tapping and Developing Hand Independence for Bass Players

    Two-Handed Tapping and Developing Hand Independence for Bass Players

    Q: I have been practicing two-handed taping and can’t get independence between left and right hand. Specifically, I can’t play rhythm patterns with my fretting hand and independently play harmony with the plucking hand. Can you suggest some workout for this kind of problem? A: While I have very limited experience with two-handed tapping, I... »

  • Exploring New Ways to Practice Chord Changes on Bass

    Exploring New Ways to Practice Chord Changes on Bass

    Q: I was wondering if you had any new ways of practicing playing through changes? I have been working on my arpeggios and modes but feel like I’m just hitting a wall. A: I don’t know if this counts as a new way of playing through changes, but there are an endless number of options... »

  • Bass Players: On Staying Motivated and Avoiding Unhealthy Comparisons

    Bass Players: On Staying Motivated and Avoiding Unhealthy Comparisons

    Q: How do I come to terms to the fact that I will never be a Damian Erskine-caliber player? How do I keep myself motivated to learn when I am always comparing my sucky playing to much better players? Why would anyone – especially another bass player – want to listen to me play? A:... »

  • What’s the Best Way To Learn Electric Bass?

    What’s the Best Way To Learn Electric Bass?

    Q: You can go to school and study electric bass in a jazz program, you can listen to records and learn from them, you can check out lessons on Youtube, you can subscribe to bass player’s online teaching regimens… But how do you know what is the best way to become a competent, professional level... »

  • Bass Cabinets: On Speaker Sizes and Pairing Them Up

    Bass Cabinets: On Speaker Sizes and Pairing Them Up

    Q: I read the blog of a musician explaining that combining bass cabinets based on speaker size makes a big difference in sound. He also said that combining two 410 cabinets is better than combining a 410 with a 115. I was under the impression that a 410 cab combined with a 115 cab was... »

  • Fitting It All Together: Reading, Listening and Playing Through the Changes

    Fitting It All Together: Reading, Listening and Playing Through the Changes

    Last week, we wrapped up the series on Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions. After that, I had a great moment with a student where there was a small distinction made that seemed to have a great impact in the student’s playing. An immediate impact. We were running the Wayne Shorter tune “Juju”, primarily because it has... »

  • Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 3 – Practice Material

    Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 3 – Practice Material

    As a follow up to this series on harmonic substitutions, I thought that I would include a few choice pages from my book, The Improvisor’s Path, related directly to what we’ve been discussing. First, here are the pages that relate to my breakdown of some available scaler substitutions. Next is the Wayne Shorter tune, “Nefertiti”... »

  • Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 2

    Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 2

    In part 1 of this series, we were experimenting with using substitutions that allowed us to play familiar major and minor scale shapes over various basic chord types. Now, let’s move on to melodic and harmonic minor mode choices. First, let’s make sure that we’re all familiar with these two scales: Harmonic minor = Aeolian... »

  • Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 1

    Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 1

    Q: What are substitutions and how can I make use of them? A: The first answer is easy: a substitution is using one chord in the place of another. For example: We might assume that a C Major chord symbol (CMaj7 or C∆7) would imply a C major scale: C D E F G A... »