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  • Learning Theory: Recommendations for Resources and Steps to Making it Happen

    Learning Theory: Recommendations for Resources and Steps to Making it Happen

    Q: What would you recommend as great resources for learning theory? I’m not someone who lacks in imagination or creative drive or even feel. I’m more of a groove player, and I’ve never stopped to get any formal grounding with modes, harmonizations, relationships of scales and arpeggios and putting that together for a given tonality.... »

  • Play Other Instruments! Such as… Any and All of Them

    Play Other Instruments! Such as… Any and All of Them

    Welcome to the final part of the “Play Other Instruments” series. In the last few columns, we took a look at playing piano, guitar, and drums, and I got to describe some of the benefits of noodling around on each of those. Then, I took a step back and decided it was a bit unfair... »

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  • Putting the Chart Before the Horse

    Putting the Chart Before the Horse

    Or, The Grateful Dead and the Top 40. I wonder if Jerry ever got jealous of acts that were able to put songs on the radio. (The Dead had exactly one hit record…) I hope not. Jerry was in a different business. Sure, he played music. Elton John also plays music. But they were in... »

  • On Modes and Getting Away from the Root

    On Modes and Getting Away from the Root

    Q: I have question about how to practice and apply modes that is killin’ me. We are constantly being being bombarded with the concept of getting away from root in our playing and practice. For instance, scale finger pattern 4 starting on the 3rd fret of the E string is like G A B C... »

  • Diatonic Arpeggios: A Guide to Better Improvisation

    Diatonic Arpeggios: A Guide to Better Improvisation

    One way to quickly become fluent in a key is to familiarize yourself with that key’s diatonic arpeggios, i.e. the arpeggios beginning on each note of the scale. Facility in diatonic arpeggios is also necessary for true improvisational freedom and fluency. I don’t suggest attempting this until you are comfortable with the originating scale. In... »

  • New Beginnings: Exploring New Bass Tunings (and String Counts)

    New Beginnings: Exploring New Bass Tunings (and String Counts)

    Q: I have been playing bass professionally for over 15 years, but I’ve recently decided to expand my horizons by tuning one of my 5 string basses E-C. I decided to do this after playing a six string bass in a music store one day and realizing how easy it was to play lines across... »

  • Play Other Instruments! Such as… Drums

    Play Other Instruments! Such as… Drums

    This installment of “other instruments” takes a look at playing the drums. Yes, they are fun. Yes, you can play loud and beat on things with sticks. No, you won’t have to fall victim to the jokes. On a more serious note, the attention paid to rhythm and feel is one and the same while... »

  • What Makes A Great Bassist? Part 2: Expressing Yourself

    What Makes A Great Bassist? Part 2: Expressing Yourself

    With all the things to work on to improve ourselves, it’s easy to lose sight of why we play bass. That’s why we’ve been polling famous bassists and the community at large on what they think makes a great bassist. (Be sure to check out What Makes a Great Bassist? Part 1: Playing for the... »

  • Connecting with the Drummer: A Discussion for Bassists

    Connecting with the Drummer: A Discussion for Bassists

    Q: I’ve found myself in a situation where I can’t set up a musical connection with my drummer. It’s been three months of rehearsals, but I just don’t feel comfortable playing, the rhythm-sections suffers and we don’t sound good. In my other bands, the great, non-verbal communication came right after one or two rehearsals. I... »

  • Scale Pattern Work for Bassists

    Scale Pattern Work for Bassists

    I have mentioned previously that daily scale practice should include scale patterns, and indeed most scale books devote some space to such patterns. There are, of course, innumerable patterns that we can apply, but certain scalar patterns occur more frequently than others in the music we play. Although the number of possible patterns are seemingly... »