Skip to main content
Jon Burr

Jon Burr

Bass Lessons

Bassist Jon Burr is a composer, author, bandleader and educator. His performance career spans over thirty years, working with Tony Bennett, Stan Getz, Horace Silver, Buddy Rich, Chet Baker, Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing Trio, Stephane Grappelli, Eartha Kitt, Rita Moreno, Barbara Cook, and many others. Jon was an instructor at the University of Illinois and the Mark O’Connor String Conference. In 2007 he produced a series of his own songs, forming the Jon Burr Band in the process.

Connect with Jon:


Latest from Jon:

Lesson: Basic Line Construction Types
Bass Lessons

Lesson: Basic Line Construction Types

After doing last week’s column, I’ve been thinking more about approaches to creating lines connecting ii and V chords. I’d like to revisit the subject and delve into some basic line construction types. Each particular technique constitutes parts that become interchangeable and apply to a wide range of bass line situations. Throughout these exercises we’ll be going back and forth...

Bass Lessons

On walking: Connecting ii-V’s

Continuing this video lesson series on walking, Jon explores various ways to connect ii-V progressions; arpeggios, chromatic & diatonic approaches from above and below the targets, and changing tones (notes arrayed on either side of the target). Jon is accepting students via Skype video. Email jon@jonburr.com for more information. Be sure to check out Jon’s book, The Untold Secret to...

Bass Lessons

Walking: On and through chord changes

Here Jon demonstrates walking using chord tones, lead ins, various combinations of these, and “changing tones” – notes above and below the target, zeroing in on it. Be sure to check out Jon’s book, The Untold Secret to Melodic Bass, available as a pdf download or as a Amazon Kindle book. And now in paperback edition!

Bass Lessons

Lesson: Right hand technique, metronome, lead-ins

In this week’s new video lesson, Jon Burr talks about right hand technique for pizzicato upright bass, using a metronome as a meditation (Jon drops the beat), and basic lead-ins from above and below a target. Be sure to check out Jon’s book, The Untold Secret to Melodic Bass, available as a pdf download or as a Amazon Kindle book....

Bass Lessons

Lesson: Fundamental technical approaches to bass

We’re starting a new video lesson series by Jon Burr today. This week’s lesson focuses on fundamental technical approaches: balance, approaching the whole fingerboard, staying clear of the body of the bass, playing by sound and feel rather than visual cues; energy vectors in the hand. Be sure to check out Jon’s book, The Untold Secret to Melodic Bass, available...

Oppositional Structures in Melodic Construction: Imaginary Chords
Bass Lessons

Oppositional Structures in Melodic Construction: Imaginary Chords

Bass players need to become familiar with the principles of melodic construction for the creation of bass lines as well as solo lines. One such principle is “oppositionality,” which we’ve talked about in previous columns. Oppositionality is the usage of non-harmonic tones to create tension and release against the underlying harmonic environment, contrasting against specific harmonic tones (targets). Some devices...

Bass Lessons

Dynamics and accents: Walking

Yes, accents are good. Dynamics are good. Good pitch, dynamics, note choice and use of register are the icing on the musical cake; they separate the artist from the journeyman. Today we’re going to look at accents in walking bass. Accents are the bones of propulsion. How do we use them to best effect? What beats should be accented? We...

Bass Lessons

Lesson: Accents, Dynamics and Balance

We’ve probably heard the word “dynamic” used to describe the work of musicians from time to time. It’s a compliment. Dynamic equals ‘interesting.’Changes in energy and intensity communicate feeling and add contrast to performance, and can add a sense of momentum and “swing.” Music without dynamics is dull; it sounds mechanical; without the injection of human energy, it might as...

Bass Lessons

Melodic Line Construction: “Oppositionality”

When we hear the word “line” in the context of “bass line” or “melody line” we tend to think in terms of scales and/or chord tones as we are learning theory. This is good. There is a further level of thought about lines that has to do with the notes not in the scales or chords; the use of non-chord,...

Bass Lessons

Right-hand technique for upright bass: pizzicato

There is no “one way” to play pizzicato. There are a few principles to bear in mind that are helpful no matter what technique we use. The main idea we need to communicate is that the left hand does most of the work in sound generation. Playing hard with the right hand can be counterproductive, causing injury and choking the...

Bass Lessons

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 hear players running out patterns...

Bass Lessons

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 these extensions mean for the...