Skip to main content

Improvising Archives - Page 3

The Bass Solo: A Guide to Soloing More Freely
Ask Damian Erskine

The Bass Solo: A Guide to Soloing More Freely

Q: I am at a stage with playing jazz where I feel confident playing bass lines, such as walking through challenging pieces. Given time to learn the chord sequence, I am pretty confident at playing solos over the top of backing tracks and grooves. My problem is that when playing with a jazz band – when everyone cuts out for...

Improvising: Scale Substitutions for Bass
Bass Lessons

Improvising: Scale Substitutions for Bass

In this new lesson, we’ll cover some tips on soloing over changes. In the video below, you’ll see that I’m playing chords through a looper, to create the pattern to play against. We start with a D Major scale, over an E minor chord, which is the Dorian mode. The scale: D E F# G A B C# Then, the...

Enclosure Tone Exercises for Bassists
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Enclosure Tone Exercises for Bassists

One way to give more interest to your improvisations is to add enclosure tones to otherwise simple note choices. Enclosure tones are two tones which “enclose” (i.e. one higher, one lower) another note. Generally, but not always, the note which gets “enclosed” is a chord tone. For example, if we begin with the root of a C7 chord: …and precede...

Diatonic Arpeggios: A Guide to Better Improvisation
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Diatonic Arpeggios: A Guide to Better Improvisation

One way to quickly become fluent in a key is to familiarize yourself with that key’s diatonic arpeggios, i.e. the arpeggios beginning on each note of the scale. Facility in diatonic arpeggios is also necessary for true improvisational freedom and fluency. I don’t suggest attempting this until you are comfortable with the originating scale. In today’s examples, that is C...

Bass Line Construction: Legato Minor Pentatonic Scale Bass Run
Bass Lessons

Bass Line Construction: Legato Minor Pentatonic Scale Bass Run

Last time, we kicked off a bass line construction series of lessons with a study in improvising on some funk in the key of C. This time around, we’re focusing on some new phrasing ideas for the trusty old minor pentatonic scale. In this case, we’re using the A minor pentatonic scale: A, C, D, E, G The exercise covers...

Bass Line Construction: Rhythm and Repeating Patterns
Bass Lessons

Bass Line Construction: Rhythm and Repeating Patterns

Let’s take a look at some of the fundamentals in bass line construction. In this lesson, we’ll improvise on some funk in the key of C. A quick note and correction: when I say “seventh” in the video, I mean flatted seventh. You’ll see the annotation when that comes up in the video. Here’s a break down of the notes/intervals...

Progressions: A Guide to Making Practice Productive and Fun
Ask Damian Erskine

Progressions: A Guide to Making Practice Productive and Fun

Q: I’m just now three weeks in to my bass lessons so I apologize for the “newb” question. Where can I go to find songs in a specific chord progression that I can play along with? For instance, I’ve learned 12 bar blues in G Major. Now I’m doing web searches to find tunes I can apply what I’ve learned....

Improvising and Groove: Substituting Pentatonic Scales on a Minor 7 Progression
Bass Lessons

Improvising and Groove: Substituting Pentatonic Scales on a Minor 7 Progression

My most recent lessons have focused on the use of the pentatonic scales as it relates to improvising and learning the fretboard (see my lessons on improvising over a minor key progression and breaking down the pentatonic scale for more background). Today we’ll continue this topic with the exploration of improvising over a D minor 7 chord using the pentatonic...

Better Soloing: An Introduction to Key Center Improvising
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Better Soloing: An Introduction to Key Center Improvising

There are many methods we can use to come upon satisfying note choices when improvising over a predetermined set of chord changes (i.e. a tune). One common way to approach note choice is using chord/scale theory, equating every chord to a scale. For example: A minor 7 = A dorian. It’s this approach that has people practicing all of their...

Improving Your Playing: What’s Your Story?
Ask Damian Erskine

Improving Your Playing: What’s Your Story?

Q: What are you personally working on to improve your playing? A: Okay, getting more personal than usual here <grin>… I am in a constant state of flux with my practice habits. Different things bug me about my playing depending on the gigs I have one week versus the next, causing me to switch gears and focus. Lately, I’ve been...

Playing Through Chords – Continued
Ask Damian Erskine

Playing Through Chords – Continued

Q: I’ve spent a lot of time developing exercises for myself to practice connecting chords so that I’m not treating each chord as a separate entity. My goal is to voice-lead my way through the chords as if each is a slight variation on the last. I’ve been trying to solo during chord progressions, but I find myself stuck on...

On Improvising: Modal vs. Chordal Approaches
Ask Damian Erskine

On Improvising: Modal vs. Chordal Approaches

Q: I’ve been playing for a little bit now and would consider myself a solid player, but I’m looking to really up my level of expression. There seems to be a dichotomy on modal vs. chordal approaches to theory, I figured I’d ask you where the break is. Both seem necessary, but some seem to think the modal stuff is...