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  • Lesson: Pivots in Chord Inversions

    We’ve talked in previous columns about anchors and pivots occurring primarily on roots and fifths. What do we use for pivots in the case of chord inversions? We often see these inversions and other sorts of alternate bass notes in the form of compound chord symbols: C/Bb Bb/A Db/F Ebmin/Gb Go/C etc In these chords,... »

  • Lesson: Melodic 2-5-1 Mutation

    Lesson: Melodic 2-5-1 Mutation

    In one of my earlier lessons I talked about using melodic minor scales to create different degrees of altered tension over functional dominant seventh chords. I got a request from a No Treble reader named Mark, asking for ii-V-I applications. Mark, this lesson is for you! We’re going to focus on different ways to reharmonize... »

  • To click or not to click? Or, what’s in a metronome?

    All musicians benefit from practice with a metronome, yet many, if not most, musicians tend to avoid it some or all the time. The metronome can feel like a scolding tyrant reminding us of our incompetence, or maybe we want to get through our work quickly without the discipline of methodical practice, or maybe we... »

  • Lesson: Pulse and Escaping from Meter

    As bassists we have unique musical responsibilities in an ensemble whether it’s a symphony, jazz jam or rock group. We’re the foundation – the pulse. There is a pitfall that we must be careful to avoid and it’s ingrained in us through a lot of standard music education: we are bound by meter and notation.... »

  • Lesson: Stance on the Upright Bass

    In this week’s lesson, Jon takes us through some key fundamentals in upright bass playing. Balance Balance is the key. It takes many pounds of pressure to hold a string against the fingerboard with enough firmness to get a good fundamental tone; this force needs to have a counterweight applied against it. The objective is... »

  • Thinking in Minor: Alterations

    In the previous lesson I talked about using melodic minor arpeggios to change the sound of an underlying chord structure. This lesson will take that concept a step further and focus on identifying functioning and static dominant seventh chords and how to apply the melodic minor scale in various ways to control multiple degrees of... »

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  • Lesson: By the Numbers

    There are 2 elements that are helpful to gain fluency in all keys, making transposition much easier. The first is, learn fingerings avoiding open strings as much as possible, so that interval and visual mapping is consistent. The other is to learn to think by the numbers; think of each pitch not as its letter... »

  • Lesson: Thinking in Minor

    Lesson: Thinking in Minor

    The minor keys offer a diverse sonic palette for you to use in improvisation. The darker quality of the tonal sequence gives you a cool sound and the minor keys are very versatile over different chord changes. This lesson will focus on some basic applications of minor keys in different scenarios so you can start... »

  • How to Learn Tunes Quickly

    How to Learn Tunes Quickly

    One of my Facebook friends raised the subject of remembering tunes, which led me to another thought: how do we learn tunes quickly? A seasoned bass player might not even know the tune you’re hearing him play. I used to go watch Bob Cranshaw play obscure tunes all night with Jimmy Rowles – nobody, I... »

  • Radio Airplay: A Beginner’s Guide

    Who doesn’t want to be on the radio? If you’ve gotten a solid response from live shows and have a strong local or niche following, radio airplay may be the next big milestone toward meeting your music business goals. These are a few things to consider when you’re trying to get into a radio rotation,... »