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  • Articulations and Expression: A Bass Video Lesson

    Articulations and Expression: A Bass Video Lesson

    Q: I’m at a point where I’m trying to finally get into soloing, and playing bass as a vocal, expressive instrument. But I'm running into a wall. Any chance you’d be down to do a quick video on articulations? As in, the slick slides you use, the fantastic trills, expressions and so on. And blue… »

  • Soloing on Bass: What Do You Think About?

    Soloing on Bass: What Do You Think About?

    Q: What should one be thinking when soloing? Do you simply hum the melody in your head or do you think of the solfege/scale degree at the same time? I try to sing the solfeggi, but when it comes to some scalar sequences or faster phrases, I feel like my head might explode. But if… »

  • Makers of the Melody: Part 3 – Time to Take that Solo

    Makers of the Melody: Part 3 – Time to Take that Solo

    It’s official. You’ve been given the nod from the guitar player and called out by the vocalist… time for a solo. Against your better judgment, you accept and try to switch your thinking from root notes and walking to playing the lead, expressing your thoughts, and showing off your musicality. You’re stepping out of your… »

  • Makers of the Melody: Part 2 – Soloing

    Makers of the Melody: Part 2 – Soloing

    Bass solo! Bass solo! The bandleader points his finger at you, giving you the okay and hushing the rest of the band. Great. Now what? We’re not the guitar player… we haven’t worked on Hendrix licks or memorizing the solo section to "Freebird". We can’t just crank up the distortion or create mesmerizing soundscapes with… »

  • Easy Experimentation for Artistic Growth in Improvisation

    Easy Experimentation for Artistic Growth in Improvisation

    Photo by @ARRGch Students of improvisation are often looking for the quickest way to learn vast amounts of new material, all while sounding great immediately. Oftentimes this translates into playing a large number of tunes for a few minutes each. In the short term, such practice sessions can be helpful. This is especially true if… »

  • The Bass Solo: A Guide to Soloing More Freely

    The Bass Solo: A Guide to Soloing More Freely

    Photo by P.B. Photography Q: I am at a stage with playing jazz where I feel confident playing bass lines, such as walking through challenging pieces. Given time to learn the chord sequence, I am pretty confident at playing solos over the top of backing tracks and grooves. My problem is that when playing with… »

  • Improvising and Groove: Substituting Pentatonic Scales on a Minor 7 Progression

    Improvising and Groove: Substituting Pentatonic Scales on a Minor 7 Progression

    My most recent lessons have focused on the use of the pentatonic scales as it relates to improvising and learning the fretboard (see my lessons on improvising over a minor key progression and breaking down the pentatonic scale for more background). Today we'll continue this topic with the exploration of improvising over a D minor… »

  • From Groove to Changes to Soloing: Damian Erskine’s Practice Routine

    From Groove to Changes to Soloing: Damian Erskine’s Practice Routine

    Q: You answer a lot of questions to help bassists out. But I'd like to know, what are you personally working on to improve your playing? A: I am in a constant state of flux with my practice habits. Different things bug me about my playing depending on the gigs I have one week versus… »

  • Better Soloing: An Introduction to Key Center Improvising

    Better Soloing: An Introduction to Key Center Improvising

    There are many methods we can use to come upon satisfying note choices when improvising over a predetermined set of chord changes (i.e. a tune). One common way to approach note choice is using chord/scale theory, equating every chord to a scale. For example: A minor 7 = A dorian. It’s this approach that has… »

  • On Soloing: Think Pocket, Melody, Theme, Interplay and Form

    On Soloing: Think Pocket, Melody, Theme, Interplay and Form

    Q: During a recent performance with my bad, I was given a spot to solo in a fast, up-tempo (120 bpm) funk tune. I basically have as much time as I need to "do my thing" with only the drummer accompanying me. My question: during my solo spot, should I stay in the pocket (the… »