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  • Talking Technique: Harmonic Minor Speed Shedding

    Talking Technique: Harmonic Minor Speed Shedding

    As with many scales, the harmonic minor scale gives us a great tonal playground to work with, but it also gives us a great platform to work on our technical playing. This lesson will work on some J.S. Bach-inspired harmonic minor bass lines to focus on our coordination and speed training. There’s nothing like a... »

  • Introduction to Chromatic Scales

    Introduction to Chromatic Scales

    For many bassists, the chromatic scale is an underused resource in their practice toolkit. Properly approached, practicing chromatic scales can vastly improve our shifting, intonation and mental map of the fingerboard. Below are a few beginner exercises using the chromatic scale that I find to be useful for those just becoming familiar with the chromatic... »

  • Preferred Scale Books for Bass Players

    Preferred Scale Books for Bass Players

    Recently I’ve been getting a lot of people asking for recommendations for “good” scale books for the double bassist. This is an interesting subject, as there so many books out there! Furthermore, whether a scale book is “good” or not often depends not on their content, but rather how they are applied. This is why... »

  • Getting “Unstuck” from the Blues Scale

    Getting “Unstuck” from the Blues Scale

    Q: How do I get myself unstuck from using the blues scale? Whenever I solo in fingerstyle or slap, I can’t help but to be stuck on the blues scale. I want to move on from it. Also, when I’m doing slap, I stick to octaves, but I want to be able to do different... »

  • 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... »

  • Quickly Figuring Out Available Notes For Given Chord Types

    Quickly Figuring Out Available Notes For Given Chord Types

    Q: I’ve been trying to learn how to figure out what notes are available for any given chord type. I’ve read columns here (yours are very helpful), Googled it, bought books… I just seem to get more confused at every turn. Once I think I’ve got it, I’ve lost it. Do you have any quick... »

  • 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... »

  • Intonation or Feel? Practicing Scales Purposefully

    Intonation or Feel? Practicing Scales Purposefully

    Q: I was wondering what I need to pay attention to when practicing. It’s easy to learn a scale, or to play chord tones, but what should I really pay attention to hearing more? Should that be a focus on the tones, or the difference in intonation or the “feel” between them? A: The short... »

  • Learning Modes and Scales: A Study Guide for Bassists

    Learning Modes and Scales: A Study Guide for Bassists

    Q: I hope that you’ll be able to explain this problem. I learned so far that major and minor scales have certain patterns (i.e. minor steps: W,H,W,W,H,W,W). Now, I’ve moved to modes and, for example, the Lydian mode. Does it have the same pattern for minor scale? I found some other patterns on the web,... »

  • Memorizing Chords and Scales

    Memorizing Chords and Scales

    Q: I’m lucky enough to attend a college with a robust and demanding music department, and like a lot music in academia, this means I’m playing a fair amount of jazz. I’ve been a fan of the genre for a long time, but I am new to playing it and seem to have run into... »