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Advanced Bass: The Tritone Substitution Matrix
Advanced Bass

Advanced Bass: The Tritone Substitution Matrix

When learning to play your bass, an overkill of theory can often paralyze your results while performing. Many musicians have learned the theory of Tritone Substitution, but when trying to apply this information, they often end up short-changed. In this bass lesson, we’ll cover a simple but direct concept for the immediate application for Tritone Substitution based on the presence...

Bassist Pens Book on Extending Past the Root
Sheet Music & Instruction

Bassist Pens Book on Extending Past the Root

Ben Hands, bassist for the British progressive metal band Endeavour and onetime No Treble Reader Spotlight subject, has released an e-book on bass playing. Beyond The Root: A guide on how to approach chord inversions for bass players is designed to help players extend their harmonic vocabulary and discover more options when creating bass lines. The books uses examples from...

Playing Over Long Lasting Chords
Ask Damian Erskine

Playing Over Long Lasting Chords

Q: I’ve been messing around with playing over the changes, but I always stumble upon an issue: chords lasting 2, 4, 8 or even 16 bars! I know there’s a ton of different ways to approach this, but I have problems with approaching chord tones. Things like enclosures, double chromatics, diatonic and chromatic approach notes. How can I practice these...

Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 3 – Practice Material
Ask Damian Erskine

Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 3 – Practice Material

As a follow up to this series on harmonic substitutions, I thought that I would include a few choice pages from my book, The Improvisor’s Path, related directly to what we’ve been discussing. First, here are the pages that relate to my breakdown of some available scaler substitutions. Next is the Wayne Shorter tune, “Nefertiti” with a few scaler options...

Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 2
Ask Damian Erskine

Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 2

In part 1 of this series, we were experimenting with using substitutions that allowed us to play familiar major and minor scale shapes over various basic chord types. Now, let’s move on to melodic and harmonic minor mode choices. First, let’s make sure that we’re all familiar with these two scales: Harmonic minor = Aeolian (natural minor) with a major...

Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 1
Ask Damian Erskine

Breaking Down Harmonic Substitutions: Part 1

Q: What are substitutions and how can I make use of them? A: The first answer is easy: a substitution is using one chord in the place of another. For example: We might assume that a C Major chord symbol (CMaj7 or C?7) would imply a C major scale: C D E F G A B C But what if...

Intonation or Feel? Practicing Scales Purposefully
Ask Damian Erskine

Intonation or Feel? Practicing Scales Purposefully

Q: I was wondering what I need to pay attention to when practicing. It’s easy to learn a scale, or to play chord tones, but what should I really pay attention to hearing more? Should that be a focus on the tones, or the difference in intonation or the “feel” between them? A: The short answer is this: You have...

Fretboard Exercise: C Major Triad Reggae Groove
Bass Lessons

Fretboard Exercise: C Major Triad Reggae Groove

As bassists, it is important that we know our chords and arpeggios. Coupled with that is the importance of knowing the entire fretboard. In this exercise, we’ll play only three notes – the C Major triad. To make it fun, I’ve set it up as a reggae-style groove. As you’ll see in the video below, I cover the entire fretboard...

Memorizing Chords and Scales
Ask Damian Erskine

Memorizing Chords and Scales

Q: I’m lucky enough to attend a college with a robust and demanding music department, and like a lot music in academia, this means I’m playing a fair amount of jazz. I’ve been a fan of the genre for a long time, but I am new to playing it and seem to have run into a problem with improvising and...

Chord Voicing on Bass
Ask Damian Erskine

Chord Voicing on Bass

Q: I know you have covered bass chords before, but what I was wondering is about the actual chords, not the progression played as arpeggios. I try playing chords my guitar buddies have shown me, and they sound awful on bass but great on guitar. What chords played on bass sound good? A: Bass players are somewhat limited with their...

Chord Construction: A Guide for Bassists
Ask Damian Erskine

Chord Construction: A Guide for Bassists

Q: I’ve been playing bass for about four years, and I’ve had difficulty with understanding chord construction on the bass. I know my scales and their modes inside and out, and I know a lot about the fretboard. My technique is good too, but I figured when I was starting out that I really didn’t need to know chords “because...

Jazz Box: A Look at the Chord and Scale Reference App for iOS
Apps

Jazz Box: A Look at the Chord and Scale Reference App for iOS

Jazz Box, in my humble opinion, has just helped to fulfill a need for a thorough, high quality harmonic study app. While not perfect and not 100% inclusive of every harmonic consideration, it goes way beyond any of the other apps I have seen in explaining scale considerations in the jazz idiom, spelling out various chords and explaining what certain...