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Theory Archives - Page 5

Funk Bass Line Lesson – James Brown’s “The Payback”
Bass Videos

Funk Bass Line Lesson – James Brown’s “The Payback”

Today’s featured video is as instructional as it is cool. Bassist/instructor Anthony Pell breaks down how to construct a funk line, using James Brown’s “The Payback” – a tune from Godfather of Soul’s 1973 album of the same name. Fred Thomas was the bassist on that album, by the way. Pell breaks down three approaches to note selection for the...

Chord Substitutions, Tritones and Bass
Ask Damian Erskine

Chord Substitutions, Tritones and Bass

Q: When is it ok to use chord substitutions on standards? Also, can you explain tritone substitutions? A: The use of chord substitutions is fun to practice but must be used with caution on the gig. Our role as a bass player is to support the harmonic foundation for the rest of the band, as well as lock the rhythms...

Breaking Down the Pentatonic Scale: The Five Positions on Bass
Bass Lessons

Breaking Down the Pentatonic Scale: The Five Positions on Bass

Today, we’re going to break down the minor pentatonic scale, its positions on the fretboard, and its uses. As the name suggests, the pentatonic scale is a five note scale. If we look at this scale in A minor, our scale is: A = root (1) C = minor third (b3) D = fourth (4) E = fifth (5) G...

Playing Chords: A Guide for Bassists
Ask Damian Erskine

Playing Chords: A Guide for Bassists

Q: I recently bought a 6-string bass and started working on playing chords. How should I voice more complex chords (e.g. Gm13) using few (3 to 4) notes, while maintaining the quality of the chord? A: It is important to note a few things when doing this. Much of this is learned by doing it wrong and having someone correct...

Ear Training and the iTunes Game
I Wish I Knew That

Ear Training and the iTunes Game

As a musician, our greatest tool is our ears. Our job within a musical context is to listen, and quite frankly, to play notes that sound good. As a bass player, we need to be on our toes and quickly decipher the bass line and at the very least, the root notes of the chords that are being played. There...

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...

Bass Lesson: Expand Your Fretboard with Major Triads
Bass Lessons

Bass Lesson: Expand Your Fretboard with Major Triads

In this new lesson, we’ll break down the concepts of utilizing triads in expanding your fretboard knowledge and control. We’ll explore triad inversions, different fingerings and using triads as target notes to achieve this goal. The video starts with a demonstration of a solo over a G Major chord. I’m playing a G Major triad. A triad is of course...

Harmonizing the Major Scale: Using a Number System on Bass
Bass Lessons

Harmonizing the Major Scale: Using a Number System on Bass

This week, I’m kicking off a new lesson focusing on the foundation of music – the major scale. Read over this lesson and then be sure to check out the video for a demonstration. Western music harmony is mostly based on the 7 steps of the major scale, and the chords built on the major scale are very common to...

Circle Theory: A Look at the Circle of Fifths Reference App for iOS
Apps

Circle Theory: A Look at the Circle of Fifths Reference App for iOS

Spending time exploring the circle of fifths is a useful exercise for seeing the relationships between notes and key signatures. Circle Theory, by Artsiness, is a great iOS app for referencing and visualizing the circle of fifths. The app’s interface has the primary circle displaying the current Tonic note/key signature. The additional information options are shown in the inner circle,...

A Practical Guide to Modes and Scales
Ask Damian Erskine

A Practical Guide to Modes and Scales

Q: What are modes and how do they work? A: I get this question a lot, but have only touched on it in past columns, as it relates to other questions. Here’s a straightforward guide to modes and scales to follow. Modes are a very simple concept but can take some time to really understand and get under your fingers...