A six week course on groove and feel for bass players
Time: Tuesday nights 7-8:30pm
Dates: 16, 23 February, and 2, 9, 23, 30 March
Click the Zoom logo above for the meeting. But just in case you need it …
Meeting Number: 872 3159 3388
and whatever way you enter, you’ll need the
Passcode: 537831 (tell ’em Joe sent ya).
The Meeting number and passcode for the last two sessions has now been updated for the final two sessions.
Join the Facebook Group to submit ‘homework’ and to participate in conversations about the bass course.
Know your stuff before you come!
It is assumed that you are already a fairly competent bass player. If you feel like you need to catch up then purchase a copy of Danielle’s UBASSics and GET LEARNIN’!
You’ll be learning:
- What to play – Some important basic basslines that you should know
- Where to play – How to recognise different genres and know which basslines to use on which occasion.
- How to play – Honing your feel, groove and technique so that your playing ‘works’ (and everyone else can lock into you reliably).
- Also a little bass history reviewing some famous bassists to help inspire you.
Week Six 30 March 2021 – Pushers, Laggards, Chromatics and Melodics
Week Six Video
During the last 5 weeks sessions we’ve focussed upon the bass’s role in underpinning the harmonic and rhythmic base and basis of a song.
Like a tree, a song needs a solid base, and a good root. We are that.
Tonight we are going to revise what we’ve done, review the function of our own solidity, and with a view to mastering those basics, look at ways that we can provide ourselves and the song with a bit more excitement and interest, partly so we don’t get bored.
In pursuit of that we look at
- Chromatic movements
- Melodic bass lines
- How we can push a song, nail it down, or put a drag on it.
- Of course we then need to look at why we would do any of these things.
Repertoire for Week Six
Sonny Moon For Two
And an excellent demonstration of playing behind or ahead of the beat. Being in the ‘pocket’
Stir It Up
Stir It Up Chords/lyrics in key of A. See Week Five (down the page) for further instructions.
Seven Nation Army
Fly Me to the Moon
Watch Frank as he messes with the timing whilst the band stays straight. After he stops singing, they can mess with the timing.
Time in a Bottle
Week Five 23 March 2021
Homework for Week Five – Stir it up – in the key of A
We did initially say that the homework was One Love, but we’ve looked at it and thought that it is too complex. Stir It Up is easier, more repetitive, and more readily reveals the relaxed nature of reggae bass. Have a listen, and show us if you can play along.
Stir It Up Chords/lyrics in key of A. But it is just a I-IV-V in A. (A, D, E)
A simplified version of the bass on Stir It Up is as follows (describing the fret numbers):
- A string – steps up from either 0 – 2 – 4 – 0 or 0 2 5 4
- D triad (twice on the root)
- E triad (twice on the root)
Video of Week 5 – 23 March 2021
Homework from end of Week Four
We’ll start today looking at Colors (US spelling), and picking apart what the bass is doing.
We’ll then start to enter the world of reggae through reviewing and adapting Bad Penny Blues.
With these four songs we look at reggae, and explore the difference between straight and swung reggae. The videos are examples only so you are little familiar with the song (if you don’t know it already).
Wondering Where the Lions Are – Bruce Cockburn
One Day – Matisyahu
Black Fella White Fella – Warumpi Band (original is not desert reggae, but we’ll try it that way)
One Love – Bob Marley
A demonstration of straight vs swing reggae
Have good headphones or speaker. Listen to the bass, and of course the drums.
Wondering Where the Lions Are – in key of E (chords are E & A, and in the chorus, F#m and E)
Exercise – Analyse Colours by the Black Pumas
Being a good bass player is about listening to what your fellow musicians are doing, and almost predicting what is needed. What bass notes would complement and help create a good and appropriate feel? The bass on this version of Colours is very instructive. So do some analysis!
- Make a document or spreadsheet
- THIS IS NOT A TRANSCRIPTION EXERCISE . Rather, the aim is to listen, and to hear the bass, and to let us know what it is doing. Note and mark the major sections (e.g. Verse 1, Intro, Solo, Outro, Chorus, a different part) of the song and their timestamps.
- e.g. 0:10-0:30 seconds – instrumental intro.
- 0:30-1:15 – Verse 1 & 2 – bass plays (what?)
- etc. throughout the song
- Create smaller sections where you describe what the bass is doing generally
- If you can, describe what the bass player is doing and how it is interacting with the other instruments (in particular with the bass drum)
- Don’t go to too much detail, or as much as you like. We’ll analyse this on Tuesday. But in the meantime, if you want to contribute to an ongoing dialogue, it is in the Facebook Group.
No Workshop was held on Tuesday 16 March 2021.
Week Four 9 March 2021
The Road to Walking is Paved with Scales
We’ll start today by reviewing the Maxwell’s Silver Hammer homework. No matter how frilly you can or want to be, remember, your job is to hold the root, the base of the song. You do this by ensuring that your One and Fives are solid.
As you can see with Maxwell, getting between those Ones and Fives on adjacent chords can be fun, but distracting and potentially ruinous to your rhythm! You had one job (to anchor the song), and you might have just blown it!
This is what scales are for: to get between the chords, and to put in frilly stuff.
Scales, Triads, Pentatonics
These handouts are found in Danielle Scott U -Bassics and we are using them today to outline the different scales you can use. Please print them off.
Emphasising the Root, the One and the Five and Triads
- play with one and five only
- Change the feel to a very very straight minor triad
- What are the rules or contexts for playing minor triads
Introduction to Walking (Blues) Bass
Swung vs. Straight
We will play these with the whole group, then move to breakout groups.
More complicated Jazz walking bass or just playing the ones!
Play along to Bad Penny Blues (in Eb) either half, 3/4 or full speed. Record yourself and upload to the facebook page. You can choose single or double notes. Note that it’s the piano player (left hand) that initially has the walking bass line.
Week Three – 2 March 2021 – The One, Three and Five Triad (and embellishments)
Homework for Week Three
As discussed Tuesday night, we would like you to analyse the bass line from Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.
Please use this chart to do your analysis. It is just the first page of a tab by Lefty Bassman. You can find him on Youtube. If you like what he does, you can subscribe to him on Patreon for $3ish per month.
The tab and his bass hands are in the video.
Your job is to identify the anchor notes. That’s our term for the ROOT (or ONE) and the FIVE.
Circle the notes that are the One and Five (if there is one).
Then the other stuff you can just write ‘something else’. Describe as much or as little as you like in relation to the notes that are not anchor notes.
The most important thing to identify, to play, and to master are those anchor notes. We can’t stress that enough. The rest is just frippery, fluff, frills.
Give us your evidence in some fashion. A photo of your drawn on piece of paper will suffice. Perhaps don’t put it on the Facebook group. Slackers like Chris Wensrich will just plagiarise your good work. He didn’t become an Aspro just on good looks alone you know.
Tonight we use the iconic Beatles bass lines to see the numbers spelled out before us, and find the basics that we HAVE to play. Don’t get tripped up by fanciness before you’ve mastered the roots and other dominant notes. Be like Bootsy – once you’ve got the One sorted, then you can add in the Three and the Five. Only once this is solid, only then can you add embellishments. Get to know Ob La Di Ob La Da, Ballad of John and Yoko, and Lady Madonna. We’ll learn them and muck around with them.
Bootsy’s Funk Formula
Feel – Straight vs. Swung
We’ll do Sunshine of Your Love straight, then swung.
We’ll do an exercise to compare Folsom Prison & Crescent City Blues (same music as Folsom).
Crescent City Blues (same music as Folsom Prison Blues)
listen to Paul calling out the chords ….. (and George swearing).
Week Two – 23 February 2021 – The One and the Five (and variations)
weet Georgia Brown (in G) for the online people to play along to
Here’s the chord chart for Sweet Georgia Brown in G
Week One: 16th Feb
We start with the ONE – possibly the most easy and difficult lesson we will have.
- The ROOT – and when to use it
- Using dynamics subtly…
- The harmonic/rhythmic/dynamic power of the bass
- The 1 & 5 – and when to use it
- The importance of muting
- Some basic leading tones/fills
Repertoire for Week One. Please print or download all of these songs for our session. The title of the song has the link to the lyric/chord file.
The ROOT (or the ONE)
GO here for John’s demo and then his explanation
Hit the Road Jack demo
Hit the Road Jack explanation
Homework – Week One
Download a metronome app or use a real one.
Play a song that pushes your level of ability.
Play it slowly at first with the metronome.
Speed up the metronome to the desired tempo as you improve.
Record your efforts and post in the Facebook group (if you can)
Video from Week One to revisit