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Improvising Archives - Page 3

Book Review: Damian Erskine’s “The Improvisor’s Path”
Reviews

Book Review: Damian Erskine’s “The Improvisor’s Path”

There comes a time for every bassist where they feel they’re in a rut or have hit a plateau in their playing and creativity. It happens to the best of us. Bassist and No Treble contributor Damian Erskine’s new book The Improvisor’s Path is a surefire way to get yourself back into high gear. While Erskine’s first instructional book, Right...

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...

Developing Your Musical Ear
Ask Damian Erskine

Developing Your Musical Ear

Q: My problem is that I dont have “ears” for music. I’ve always tried and failed, and this is frustrating me. I only play what is written, or what somebody played. I want to play my own bass lines for any song of my choice. I’ve learned scales, modes, appregios… I’m not sure what to try next. A: I know...

How To Groove at Jam Sessions
Ask Damian Erskine

How To Groove at Jam Sessions

Q: During jam sessions, I normally have a “hit and stick” approach to coming up with grooves. Essentially, there’s a lull between grooves where I end up peddling notes or playing the one. My keyboard player pointed this out and it bothers me. Is this something that I should be worried about? How do I lead a groove during these...

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...