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Articles by Jon Burr - Page 2

  • 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... »

  • 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... »

  • 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,... »

  • 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: 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... »

  • 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... »

  • 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... »

  • Lesson: Practicing Chord Changes

    Lesson: Practicing Chord Changes

    There are many ways to get better at the changes on a particular tune, but this approach works really well. First, play just quarter notes, and play all the arpeggios to get a “mental map” of all the chord tones in the progression (try to do it with a metronome): Then, still in quarter notes,... »

  • Lesson: Practicing and the Mind

    Today’s lesson is a preview from Jon Burr’s forthcoming “Physical and Mental Programming for the Improvising Bassist”… In order to gain an understanding of how to practice effectively and efficiently, it is useful to have some understanding of the structure of the brain, mind and nervous system. It is possible to “practice” and not get... »

  • Lesson: Melodic Construction

    Another Look at Melodic Construction in Improvisation What do we play? Where does it come from? How do we make our own melody? The melody of the song or tune The rhythmic structure An alternative positive melodic statement derived from the harmonic or rhythmic environment, or a melody from another song that fits the “changes”... »