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  • Where to Use Whole Tone and Other Scales

    Where to Use Whole Tone and Other Scales

    Q: So, do you play whole tone scales over the ♯5, and altered scales over the dominant chords. Major chords – do use use whole tone? Minor scales – do use use dorian? or a jazz minor? A: Much of what goes into deciding what scale to use over any given chord is all about... »

  • Bass Lesson: The Tritone Substitution Matrix

    Bass Lesson: The Tritone Substitution Matrix

    When learning to play your bass, an overkill of theory can often paralyze your results while performing. Many musicians have learned the theory of Tritone Substitution, but when trying to apply this information, they often end up short-changed. In this bass lesson, we’ll cover a simple but direct concept for the immediate application for Tritone... »

  • Ariane Cap Releases Music Theory Book for Bassists

    Ariane Cap Releases Music Theory Book for Bassists

    Bassist, pianist, composer and educator Ariane Cap has decided to make understanding music theory easier to understand for bassists in her book, Music Theory for the Bass Player: A Comprehensive and Hands-on Guide to Playing with More Confidence and Freedom. The theory in the book is designed to be approachable, and can even be used... »

  • Freeing Up Your Walking Bass Lines

    Freeing Up Your Walking Bass Lines

    Q: I’ve been getting my walking together and have started to become comfortable and natural sounding playing perfectly functional harmonic lines through changes that highlight the harmony well. It’s all just basically chord tones and scalar patterns with occasional chromatic approaches. In sum, I think I’ve passed walking 101 and am ready to move on.... »

  • Developing a Solo Over Chord Changes

    Developing a Solo Over Chord Changes

    Q: I have a question about improvising. If one browses the internet for learning how to improvise on the bass guitar, one can easily find lots of great tips: learn familiar melodies and expand them, learn solos from other instruments and be inspired by others. I would like to know about how to approach improvising... »

  • Playing Over Long Lasting Chords

    Playing Over Long Lasting Chords

    Q: I’ve been messing around with playing over the changes, but I always stumble upon an issue: chords lasting 2, 4, 8 or even 16 bars! I know there’s a ton of different ways to approach this, but I have problems with approaching chord tones. Things like enclosures, double chromatics, diatonic and chromatic approach notes.... »

  • Turning Exercises into Real Music

    Turning Exercises into Real Music

    Q: I’ve been studying for a while now, and I’ve been practicing my scales and modes as much as possible over changes. I’ve also been working through arpeggios, including the methods you talk about in your Improvisor’s Path book. For example, I’ll work arpeggios through tunes in different inversions and so on. However, when I... »

  • Making Theory Work

    Making Theory Work

    Q: I’ve tried to learn music theory many times. I’ve studied it in a classroom setting, private lessons and on my own, but it just doesn’t click with me for some reason. I’m classically trained, so I can read bass music just fine, but when I play anything that relies heavily on memory or improvisation,... »

  • 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... »

  • 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”... »