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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:

  • Exploring Pedal Tone Rhythms

    Exploring Pedal Tone Rhythms

    Q: What kind of rhythms should I play during pedal tones? A: I get asked this more often than one might think. The quick answer is to use whatever rhythm you think compliments what’s happening around you. Of course, I’ll suggest a heavy dose of listening to hear how different players have approached pedal tones... »

  • Staying Creative While Practicing

    Staying Creative While Practicing

    Q: So I reach a point now and again where I feel like I’m not practicing musically or in a creative way. Instead, I seem to be practicing things that are useful (technique, location of notes on the fretboard, arpeggios, inversions, and scales) but the way I’m going about it feels rote and not much... »

  • Should I Learn Older Music To Understand Newer Music?

    Should I Learn Older Music To Understand Newer Music?

    Q: I struggled with asking if I HAVE to learn trad jazz or if I SHOULD learn it, so take this question as both. And just as a disclaimer, I’m using “trad jazz” to mean the standards and the jazz being played predominantly from the ’20s to the ’60s and the styles that encompassed. I’ve... »

  • How High Should I Set My Bass Strings?

    How High Should I Set My Bass Strings?

    Q: What’s your take on string height? For over a decade, I’ve subscribed to Anthony Jackson’s view that the neck must be as flat/straight as possible and the strings as low as possible. And while I’ve spent as much time refining a light touch, I sometimes wonder if I’m spending too much time worrying about... »

  • Should I Go Active? A Discussion for Bass Players

    Should I Go Active? A Discussion for Bass Players

    Q: I’m once again considering using active electronics on my bass, a pre-amp of some kind. It is still a bit of a debate I notice amongst bass players. Some say it’s “colder,” some say it’s difficult to work with, especially on stage. I even had stories from sound engineers who are not too keen... »

  • Preparing for Multiple Gigs

    Preparing for Multiple Gigs

    Q: What advice do you have for making time for all the different gigs that you have to prepare for? I freelance with more than 20 different groups ranging from standards on the upright, to a wedding band (lots of pop soul tunes to learn accurately), to original music and sometimes orchestral reading concerts. It’s... »

  • Getting Your Students to Practice

    Getting Your Students to Practice

    Q: I’m a semi-professional bassist who has been taking more students lately. I find that it’s a good way to challenge myself, maybe help somebody along in their path, and it’s a nice way to make a little extra bread. I’ve been struggling lately, though. It seems that most of my students are attentive during... »

  • What Scales Do I Use Over a Minor ii-V Progression?

    What Scales Do I Use Over a Minor ii-V Progression?

    Q: I have a question about minor ii-V’s. In a major ii-V7-I progression, each chord is diatonic to the I chord. The ii chord is Dorian, the V chord is Mixolydian and it resolves to a Major tonic. In a minor ii-V, the 1 would be natural minor, which makes the ii chord Locrian (7th... »

  • Should I Quit the Bass? A Discussion on Burn Out (and More)

    Should I Quit the Bass? A Discussion on Burn Out (and More)

    Q: I’m a semi-pro bassist of 15 years and have been playing for about 25 now, I’ve been with my current band for nearly six years and are about to release our second album. For the past two years, I’ve not been very happy playing, and it is a real conflict because of how much... »

  • Learning the Fretboard Without Getting Bored

    Learning the Fretboard Without Getting Bored

    Q: I’m wondering how to develop an expanded knowledge of the fingerboard without falling into a rut. I have been working on “Straight, No Chaser” for a couple of months. I know I should bifurcate my practice time to learn tunes I like and add melodic and technical ideas to my “bag of tricks.” However,... »