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  • Why Overtones Matter

    It is critical to understand the natural resonances of the bass to get the strongest tone and make a plan for fingering strategies in each key. A working knowledge of natural harmonics and sympathetic resonances will allow you to make more sophisticated choices in your playing approach and ultimately improve your sound (and give you... »

  • Right-hand technique for upright bass: pizzicato

    There is no “one way” to play pizzicato. There are a few principles to bear in mind that are helpful no matter what technique we use. The main idea we need to communicate is that the left hand does most of the work in sound generation. Playing hard with the right hand can be counterproductive,... »

  • Building Dexterity on the Bass

    Building Dexterity on the Bass

    While it is always important to have a strong theoretical backing and intellectual depth to your music there are times where you just need to focus on your chops. You can have the coolest idea ever, but if you don’t have the dexterity and agility to move freely and quickly around the fingerboard you won’t... »

  • Melodic Construction: Extensions on Dominant Chords, Part 2

    This is the second part of the Melodic Construction: Extensions on Dominant Chords series. Click here for Part 1 A fundamental problem with the “chordal scale” approach to improvising is that it tends to produce mechanical-sounding performance; all scale tones tend to be given equal weight as to whether or not they “work.” Frequently we... »

  • The Zen of Ear Training – Part 2

    The Zen of Ear Training – Part 2

    In the last lesson we covered a few different strategies for starting to train your ears. This included singing with your instrument, singing over a drone, and singing intervals in all the keys. Now we’re going to take it a few steps further and work to really develop our ears ability to pick out notes... »

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  • Melodic Construction: Extensions on Dominant Chords, Part 1

    We know that there are many flavors of dominant chord. Various upper extensions of the chord—or alterations of the fifth—suggest different harmonic environments, each with its own chordal scale and triad polychords expressing the arrays of extensions. We’ll explore the most commonly used of these chords and extensions in a future column—but first… What do... »

  • The Zen of Ear Training – Part 1

    The Zen of Ear Training – Part 1

    An important part of every musician’s evolution is ear training. It’s a strange concept, but becoming an active and educated listener pays off in a huge way. First lets cover a few points about what ear training is and isn’t and then we’ll get to the exercises. Ear training is a broad term used to... »

  • Lesson: Fingering strategies for the upright bass

    The upright bass is a physically challenging instrument. I’m not trying to say we’re tougher than our treble-ended friends, but when was the last time you saw a violinist shift three feet at a time? The size of the upright bass means we have to be very efficient in how we approach playing music, especially... »

  • Lesson: Pivots in Chord Inversions

    We’ve talked in previous columns about anchors and pivots occurring primarily on roots and fifths. What do we use for pivots in the case of chord inversions? We often see these inversions and other sorts of alternate bass notes in the form of compound chord symbols: C/Bb Bb/A Db/F Ebmin/Gb Go/C etc In these chords,... »

  • Lesson: Melodic 2-5-1 Mutation

    Lesson: Melodic 2-5-1 Mutation

    In one of my earlier lessons I talked about using melodic minor scales to create different degrees of altered tension over functional dominant seventh chords. I got a request from a No Treble reader named Mark, asking for ii-V-I applications. Mark, this lesson is for you! We’re going to focus on different ways to reharmonize... »