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Donovan Stokes Archives - Page 2

The Lowdown with Dr. D

The Treatment: Gaining Familiarity With a New Tune (Part 1 of 2)

When improvising, we are freest when we have deeply internalized a song on multiple levels. Before we can improvise the “solo to end all solos,” however, we must have fully assimilated the tune. The fewer rudimentary thoughts we must hold in our mind (such as: what scale goes with this chord?, what fingering can I easily execute? what does F#...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

Common Upright Bass Tunings (Part 2 of 2)

This is part 2 of the Common Upright Bass Tunings series. This time, we’ll cover 5 String Tunings, C extensions and some practice suggestions. Check out Part 1. Five String Tunings As long as there have been basses, there have been basses with 5 strings. Traditionally, the extra string has been used to extend the range of the instrument lower....

The Lowdown with Dr. D

Common Upright Bass Tunings (Part 1 of 2)

One of the beautiful things about upright bassists is their unwillingness to conform. When it comes to tuning, we often refuse to conform not only to the practices of other instruments in our family, but also to each other! Although 3 string basses are largely a thing of the past, there are still uprights with 4 strings, with and without...

Rhythm Series: Improving Your Time
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Rhythm Series: Improving Your Time

Having good “time,” or sense of pulse, is an essential skill for all musicians and bassists in particular. So much of what we do is reliant upon having a solid, steady and accurate pulse. In fact, I find a highly developed sense of time to be as important as a highly developed sense of pitch, perhaps more so. Ideally, of...

The Lowdown with Dr. D.: Buying Your First Bow
The Lowdown with Dr. D

The Lowdown with Dr. D.: Buying Your First Bow

Using the bow on an Upright Bass can open up a world of creative possibilities. Most people who get into it never get out! Before you can wow and amaze your friends, however, you will need to own a bow. When you start investigating bass bows you will find that there are two main styles of bass bows. Their physical...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

Dr. D. Mailbag: Electric to Upright, Upright Reinforcement & EUB’s

This week, I am going to answer some recent questions I received via Facebook and email. Can you give advice about learning the fretless bass or upright bass while you can only play a fretted one, as there’s a load of challenging intonation problems in the absence of frets? Speaking strictly about the upright bass, I believe your question arises...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

Technique Series: Minimum Finger Pressure

Although there are times when strong muscular exertion in the left hand may be beneficial, in general we want to use a minimal amount of effort. The fingers should press the string with only enough force to produce the note cleanly, and no more. Keeping minimum finger pressure in the left hand will help with speed, stamina, shifting, general ease...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

The Lowdown with Dr. D.: Reader Questions

I constantly receive questions in my email box from aspiring bassists. Unfortunately sometimes these pile up and I can’t always get to everyone’s question in a timely manner, or even send a personal response. So for a few installments, I thought I would take some time here on The Lowdown and answer a few of the more common questions that...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

The Lowdown with Dr. D.: Electric, Upright or Both?

I constantly receive questions in my email box from aspiring bassists. Unfortunately sometimes these pile up and I can’t always get to everyone’s question in a timely manner, or even send a personal response. So for the next couple of installments, I thought I would take some time here on The Lowdown and answer a few of the more common...

Bass Videos

Adams, Justus, and Stokes: Anacronymmunization

I came across this video while browsing Youtube, but I didn’t pay attention to the title and couldn’t make out who the bassist was at first. About a minute into it (and already digging it), I realized it was Donovan Stokes tearing it up on upright… as in “Dr. D.”, who writes the Lowdown column here on No Treble. This...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

Practice Technique: Note Isolation for Improved Intonation

There are countless ways to improve our intonation, both at our instrument and away from it. Here’s one strategy, to be done at our instrument, which can help open our ears and stabilize a key center. It involves isolating and spotlighting a single pitch every time it appears. The technique works well with music of any tempo. You can isolate...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

Practice Techniques: Utilizing Metronome to Improve Facility

Practicing very, very slowly One of the main advantages to playing a passage vastly under performance tempo is that you give yourself ample time to think. It is easier to plan, calculate and control your playing at slower tempi. Exactly how slowly you should practice depends on the difficulty of the passage. In general, the more difficult the passage, the...