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  • Making Resolutions: A Guide for Bass Players

    Making Resolutions: A Guide for Bass Players

    Although it seems most people have given up on the practice of making New Year’s resolutions, some musicians still make music-related resolutions. The most popular ones seem to be along the lines of “practice more,” or worse, “become a better bass player.” While the intent is laudable, it is unlikely that such “resolutions” will have... »

  • Isolating Your Right Hand: Exercises for Bassists

    Isolating Your Right Hand: Exercises for Bassists

    When confronted with a difficult passage that just isn’t getting any better, most of us will isolate the left hand to improve our accuracy. We may change from arco to pizzicato to isolate the left hand. We may “shadow bow” the passage. Perhaps we may finger the strings in the left hand alone, completely taking... »

  • More Forked Fingering Techniques: Using the Thumb

    More Forked Fingering Techniques: Using the Thumb

    Last time we talked about playing fourths across strings using two adjacent fingers, a concept sometimes called “forked fingering.” For example: We can, of course, use the same exact concept in the upper registers of the bass, or thumb position. For example: As mentioned before, this can be easier to execute effectively in the upper... »

  • Forked Fingering: A Guide to Comfortable Double Stops for Bassists

    Forked Fingering: A Guide to Comfortable Double Stops for Bassists

    Playing fourths across strings on the upright bass can be fraught with problems, especially when we are playing double stops. Sometimes it is appropriate to “bar” the notes using the same finger like this: However, this can create a clamping of the hand and needless tension, which in turn limits our facility and ability to... »

  • Enclosure Tone Exercises for Bassists

    Enclosure Tone Exercises for Bassists

    One way to give more interest to your improvisations is to add enclosure tones to otherwise simple note choices. Enclosure tones are two tones which “enclose” (i.e. one higher, one lower) another note. Generally, but not always, the note which gets “enclosed” is a chord tone. For example, if we begin with the root of... »

  • 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... »

  • 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... »

  • Arpeggio Work for Bass Players: A Daily Practice Routine

    Arpeggio Work for Bass Players: A Daily Practice Routine

    I have mentioned previously that our daily scale practice should include arpeggio work. There are numerous ways to approach this, and most scale books devote some time to various approaches to arpeggios. I find the patterns below to be good solid foundational patterns for any bassist’s daily routine. The patterns below are presented in C... »

  • Trill Exercises for Bassists

    Trill Exercises for Bassists

    For better or worse, trills grab the listeners attention. If a trill is quick, clear and under the performer’s control it can generate excitement in the listener. If it is slow, clumsy and uncontrolled, however, it can have a most deleterious effect. To ensure trills are at our command, we should train our fingers to... »

  • Progressive Scales: A Bass Player’s Guide to Learning Scales and Improving Reading Ability

    Progressive Scales: A Bass Player’s Guide to Learning Scales and Improving Reading Ability

    I’ve written in the past about the importance of scale work to solidify instrumental technique (see the Lowdown archives for those columns and more). If we are new to learning a particular scale it is probably wise to start by playing from root to root (e.g. C-C in C major) until we are comfortable. This... »