Bassist Donovan Stokes currently enjoys a varied career of teaching, writing, performing and composing. As a soloist, he is known for his virtuosity and his extensive use of EFX and loopers. His acoustic solo album “Gadaha” (2006) has garnered high critical praise. He is a member of the Rockabilly group Four Star Combo and freelances in ensembles throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region in a disparate a range of styles.
As a composer he has composed a number of works and has enjoyed commissions from Barry Green, Blanka Bednarz, The International Society of Bassists Young Bass Division and Jerry Fuller, among others.
“Dr. D” also offers a range of online instruction in upright bass, alternative strings and composition. He is founder of the non-profit Bass Coalition and is the Artistic Director for an Annual Bass Workshop in Winchester, Virginia and for the Shenandoah University Performing Arts Camp.
Dr. Stokes earned degrees from Vanderbilt University (B.M.) and Indiana University in Bloomington (M.M. and D.M.). He is currently an Assistant Professor at Shenandoah University-Conservatory. Visit him on the web at donovanstokes.com
Articles by Donovan Stokes:
Many people simply pick up their instrument and start playing without any warm-up. While there is value to this approach, I generally advise a gradual warm-up for students. Although slow scales can often serve as a warmup, even a slow scale can be quite complex technically. After all, it involves tone production, shifting, light left...continue reading »
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to hear expressed all manner of explanation as to why someone is not progressing as they wish. Although every situation and individual is unique, some common “explanations” are the result of fallacious thinking. For those who wish to be serious in their study, the two ideas below...continue reading »
Most bassists are looking to improve some aspect of their technique. Certainly if there is something in our technique that is creating a problem, physical or musical, then we need to make a change. Sometimes this is a major change, other times this is simply a refinement. Oftentimes, it is the acquisition of technique that...continue reading »
In the last several columns we have talked about harmonics using open strings. These are often referred to as “natural” harmonics. If we play harmonics on a string while fully stopping the string somewhere else, (for example, if we press down an A on our G string and then play a harmonic above that) these...continue reading »
We’ve found where the most common harmonics are at the end of the fingerboard, and also toward the nut. Today, let’s find the most common harmonics in the middle part of the string. In the examples below, the lower staff tells us where to put place our fingers and find the harmonic. The upper staff...continue reading »
Last time we found some of the most common harmonics as they are played at the end of the fingerboard. Since the placement of harmonics on the string “mirror” themselves from the mid point (i.e. you find the same notes toward the nut as you do toward the bridge) we can find the harmonics from...continue reading »
Last time we talked about how to find out where harmonics occur on a string by dividing the string into equal parts. Below you will find a more straightforward representation of the specific harmonics that can be found at the end of the fingerboard on each string. We will be placing the thumb on the...continue reading »
Whatever the genre, we bassists seem to love harmonics. From Jaco to Dittersdorf, bass music is full of them. When we are introduced to playing harmonics however, the prospect can be a bit tricky. At first, we may be unsure where the harmonics are on the string, or what note will sound when we attempt...continue reading »
When playing the bass, flexibility is far more important than strength. In fact, if body mechanics and gravity are used intelligently it takes surprisingly little strength to play our instrument. Flexibility, however, is paramount to many of the things we must do well. In the left hand (or fingering hand for the lefties!) it is...continue reading »
Although it seems most people have given up on the practice of making New Year’s resolutions, some musicians still make music-related resolutions. The most popular ones seem to be along the lines of “practice more,” or worse, “become a better bass player.” While the intent is laudable, it is unlikely that such “resolutions” will have...continue reading »