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Rhythmic Playing Archives

Subdivision Exercises
Ask Damian Erskine

Subdivision Exercises

For this week’s column, a reader asked about practicing rhythms. Instead of writing out a response, I decided to make this video to show you how I practice subdivision exercises.

How To Play Hemiola Rhythms
Ask Damian Erskine

How To Play Hemiola Rhythms

Q: I’ve been playing around with hemiola rhythms and, no matter how much I try to “feel” them. I can’t. Help? A: I assume that you’re talking about rhythmic figures that repeat in a cycle and cross the barline (no obvious downbeats until the cycle has repeated enough times to bring it back to starting on the one). Literally speaking,...

Advanced Bass: Displacing Walking Bass Lines
Advanced Bass

Advanced Bass: Displacing Walking Bass Lines

Rhythmic Displacement is a concept based on being able to hear and perform rhythmic patterns starting on different subdivisions of the beat. The new superimposed rhythm creates an interesting illusion with the lines you are playing, which in turn creates tension. This lesson is aimed at giving you usable ideas for improvising walking bass lines using the concept of Rhythmic...

Reading Complex Rhythms
Ask Damian Erskine

Reading Complex Rhythms

Q: I’ve only been playing bass about 1.5 years – still a newbie trying to learn the tricks of the trade. I mostly learn a song and play basic, but as of late, I’ve been learning to read. I’m not fluent in reading, but that’s not my problem. My problem is trying to play the rhythm of the notation. I...

Advanced Bass: Modern Rhythmic Concepts
Advanced Bass

Advanced Bass: Modern Rhythmic Concepts

Rhythmic phrasing is an often overlooked subject in bass guitar education, much of it left to chance and feel. However, the bass guitarist should become “rhythmic aware” as being an integral part of the rhythm section of a band. In this lesson I explain how to use rhythm as motific building blocks to develop your ideas – enabling you to...

Getting Comfortable with Odd Time Signatures
Ask Damian Erskine

Getting Comfortable with Odd Time Signatures

Q: Lately I’ve been finding myself in situations where tunes with odd time signatures are called up on gigs. I’m finding it a challenge to switch gears on the fly and be able to come up with a grooving bass line and not lose the one. How do you handle – and prepare – for these types of situations? A:...

Rhythmic Bass Playing: Making it Fit the Musical Setting
Ask Damian Erskine

Rhythmic Bass Playing: Making it Fit the Musical Setting

Q: For a while, I’ve been focusing on developing a percussive finger style bass technique, in a similar style to yours. I have great fun with it when playing on my or own or looping, but whenever I try it in a band situation, it just never sounds as good. All the detail – and most of the groove –...