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  • Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 2

    Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 2

    In part 1 of this series, we were experimenting with using substitutions that allowed us to play familiar major and minor scale shapes over various basic chord types. Now, let’s move on to melodic and harmonic minor mode choices. First, let’s make sure that we’re all familiar with these two scales: Harmonic minor = Aeolian... »

  • Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 1

    Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 1

    Q: What are substitutions and how can I make use of them? A: The first answer is easy: a substitution is using one chord in the place of another. For example: We might assume that a C Major chord symbol (CMaj7 or C∆7) would imply a C major scale: C D E F G A... »

  • On Musical Expression and Playing Freely

    On Musical Expression and Playing Freely

    Q: I’ve been wondering about what people really mean when they speak of “music as a language,” and how this applies to improvising. When I take a solo, I feel like I’m just running the same patterns over and over again and never really doing anything different from song to song. What thoughts do you... »

  • Promoting All of Your Gigs: A Guide for Bass Players

    Promoting All of Your Gigs: A Guide for Bass Players

    Q: Damian, your Artist Data show announcement for tonight just popped up in my news feed. That made me think about self promotion for bassists (aka sidemen where people rarely come to see us play, but the artist we support). How do we promote ourselves when we are not the main attraction and what platforms... »

  • Connecting Written Rhythms to Your Bass Playing

    Connecting Written Rhythms to Your Bass Playing

    Q: I can read the notes on the staff and I can tell you if it’s a 16th note or a whole note, and yet, I can’t seem to play the rhythm. Any advice on fixing this? A: As I’ve said before, learning to read music fluently takes a lot of practice, just like learning... »

  • Dealing with a Bad Band Leader

    Dealing with a Bad Band Leader

    Q: Since you have travelled and played with many you might be able to shed some light on this: My band has enjoyed some success in our home country, we have an album released via a label and have played the better venues of our area. We are now on our first tour – a... »

  • Traveling Abroad with a Bass

    Traveling Abroad with a Bass

    Q: Always a great read and insightful subjects, many thanks to you & the No Treble team. I’ve been playing locally so far, but now I’m prepping for my first international trip for music. Travel insurance and gear insurance is my responsibility. I have have a ’74 Precision and a 2012 RW Jazz Bass, and... »

  • Getting Comfortable with Odd Time Signatures

    Getting Comfortable with Odd Time Signatures

    Q: Lately I’ve been finding myself in situations where tunes with odd time signatures are called up on gigs. I’m finding it a challenge to switch gears on the fly and be able to come up with a grooving bass line and not lose the one. How do you handle – and prepare – for... »

  • 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... »

  • Effects: Straight In or Through the Loop?

    Effects: Straight In or Through the Loop?

    Q: Is it ok to plug my bass directly into my chain of effects pedals and out to my amp, or is it better to run the pedals through the effects loop, and plug my bass straight into my amp? A: I seem to be on a roll with the topics I have limited experience... »