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  • Melodic Construction: Extensions on Dominant Chords, Part 2

    This is the second part of the Melodic Construction: Extensions on Dominant Chords series. Click here for Part 1 A fundamental problem with the “chordal scale” approach to improvising is that it tends to produce mechanical-sounding performance; all scale tones tend to be given equal weight as to whether or not they “work.” Frequently we... »

  • The Zen of Ear Training – Part 2

    The Zen of Ear Training – Part 2

    In the last lesson we covered a few different strategies for starting to train your ears. This included singing with your instrument, singing over a drone, and singing intervals in all the keys. Now we’re going to take it a few steps further and work to really develop our ears ability to pick out notes... »

  • Melodic Construction: Extensions on Dominant Chords, Part 1

    We know that there are many flavors of dominant chord. Various upper extensions of the chord—or alterations of the fifth—suggest different harmonic environments, each with its own chordal scale and triad polychords expressing the arrays of extensions. We’ll explore the most commonly used of these chords and extensions in a future column—but first… What do... »

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  • The Zen of Ear Training – Part 1

    The Zen of Ear Training – Part 1

    An important part of every musician’s evolution is ear training. It’s a strange concept, but becoming an active and educated listener pays off in a huge way. First lets cover a few points about what ear training is and isn’t and then we’ll get to the exercises. Ear training is a broad term used to... »

  • Lesson: Fingering strategies for the upright bass

    The upright bass is a physically challenging instrument. I’m not trying to say we’re tougher than our treble-ended friends, but when was the last time you saw a violinist shift three feet at a time? The size of the upright bass means we have to be very efficient in how we approach playing music, especially... »

  • 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... »