In a nutshell. This is a method for learning to play a fretted acoustic or electric 'transverse' bass guitar, and not the orchestral, 'upright' instrument from older times. For that physically is a completely different animal. And while the concepts included here completely crossover, and some of the techniques are similar, for 'upright bass' they'll be some improvisation needed on your part to adapting a few of the licks that follow. Where there's a will there's a way yes ?

While this page of the complete method is formatted for beginners, there's also ideas for more experienced players, both artistically and chops wise all throughout. So read through and skip over what U already know, review the licks the examples prompt. For experienced players know that once these basics are under the fingers, and you're 'theory empowered' to understand their basis, it all comes down to 'time', feel, the pocket and swing.' That your own interests through listening, creative curiosities and necessities reveal the pathways to explore energized 'from the heart.'

Bass clef pitches. Learn pitch names on the bass clef here if need be.

Play the root pitches of the chords. As the bass player in a musical setting, we've initially two main tasks. First is to play the root pitches of the chord in a song's progression. And how we rhythmically do this is often about the style of the song we're playing. Each of our main styles will have their historically derived rhythms. Second, and through the rhythm, to add a pulse of time and rhythm, creating a pitch / rhythm pattern of the style, one that helps to motor along the song we're playing. Termed here to ... 'be the motor', bass and drums team up to fill the dancefloor.

Hear the chord changes in the line. Combining these two, the root pitches and rhythms, we aim to hear the chord changes of a song, and create the 'bass storyline' of a song. Sounding this story, helps to keep everyone on the same page when playing any song. Add in some history to this learning mix, how generations now past played a particular song, which might be a 'standard', and we discover an evolution of these 'bass line stories.' And once there, we're golden. For we now know a way into any song's secret story. And for some, there's just no end to the book of Americana songs to be learned and mastered, by ear, by rote and by reading :)

As a melody instrument. In the modern era of our Americana musics, and thanks to the innovators, the bass has taken on a new role as the melody instrument in the band. Learning to play melodies and bring out a line's story and character on any instrument is the goal. Any melody will do in developing this heart, head and hands connection, the trick is to just do it.

Five and six string electric basses and chords. In today's bass instrument developments, they've expanded the number of strings on the basic instrument. A 'low B' is common, as is high 'B' or 'C' above the traditional four strings. Expanding the range, also expands opportunities. A six string bass can easily lean us in the direction of playing arpeggios of a song's progression. Even triads and beyond in the upper register. So for emerging bassists, know there's a wide vista of opportunity to grow your skills, artistic expression and what U can bring to the mix of the musical arts you create.

Experience. Personally speaking, bass is so much fun to play in bands that it's well worth putting in the work to get to a functioning level of knowing the instrument and performance. For as many musicians know who play in bands, having the bass notes in the overall mix is rather essential. Easy for guitar players to swap over when needed, and usually no need to be too fancy either.

For with a basic co-ordination of the hands and a bass instrument, sounding the bass notes can come together fairly quickly. 'Theory understand' these storyline licks further in this discussion, and we can quickly develop start points to contribute bass notes to whatever style / genre of music is going down.

For with the bass, its notes are the basis :) It's beyond amazing how even just a correct note or two, artistically and properly sounded, can fill out the pitches of the harmonic series and sweetin' the groove ... just like that (snap your fingers). All this happens magic begins by learning the letter names of the pitches on the instrument. Do so and let your fun begin anew.

Two for one. If you already play some guitar or stringed instrument, or even piano for that matter, chances are good that your technique will transfer right over to a bass guitar, so getting some 'boom boom boom' under your fingers is a snap. For with the same pitches and tuning as guitar's low four strings, there's just a ton in common between the two, and learning basic bass can be a lot of the exact same motions. For the bass is generally just a bigger wood instrument with thicker metal strings, so there's more 'mass' to the physics of creating the notes, that tend to orbit slower and thus lower in pitch.

more wood and metal mass = the lower the pitches

wiki ~ sound

While there's no end to what can be accomplished on this instrument with diligent study and steady effort, the following suggestions are for emerging players and designed to cover beginning basics, simply to get some music under the fingers. There's one basic fingering pattern that goes in two directions; major and minor. This one shape / pattern two ways, also becomes a way to rote learn the letter names of the pitches, if necessary.

Cover the range of the bass / 1 3 5 6. When I first started playing bass a few years back, I took a lesson with our own Alaska electric bass music maestro monster Dave Arrowsmith. As we got started, Dave ran this next idea. Give it a try or two. Example 1.

It totally caught my attention and I asked him to repeat it. Slowed down from lightning speed, it turned out to be mostly a major triad arpeggio so 1 3 5 + 6, sequenced up through the full range of his instrument, so three perfect octaves to the upper harmonic.

Find the slides? There's a way to play this last idea with two 'slides' up in the pitches. Hint; they're both with the 'B' pitch.

Crazy too. It turns out it's also the lick that I was hearing as my iPhone was connecting up somewhere. In the old days we had 'dial up.' And when a computer dialed up the internet, I think it was the same major triad arpeggio, but like nine octaves worth, at around 300 beats per minute, so rather fast even for dial-up :)

Find its pattern? Finding the shape within. Turns out that within these pitches lives the main pitch / fret / finger 'pattern' of this method. Run this idea a couple of times please. Thinking 'G' major, play the root note then slide on up and the rest is soon to be butter. Example 2.

one shape to rule them all !

Potentially a lot of miles in this one lick. Using a bit of a slide motion into the 'A' notes opens up some space to interpret the rhythms and gets us into the '1 / 3' shape of four pitches. Consider mastering this last idea, basic shape and finger pattern in the key of 'G' major.

1 = index finger

3 = ring or pinky

Same shape for minor. So it turns out that we can pretty much use the same shape and create some core bass pitches for creating bass lines for minor chords and keys. We can use the same basic motion and shape, just with a different start point. Now this 'shape' creates 'G' minor. Run this idea a couple of times please. Example 2a.

Look familiar? Cool, yea good place to start. These last two shapes are 'box' scales. That was what we called them back in the 70's, when I was first getting started. There's just a ton of coolness in them, they're a fully movable shape to cover other key centers.

Extract the box. Here's the three fret / four string box at the core of the last shape. Example 2b.

This last idea is a chop builder for certain. Rote learn and muscle memory combine to create blaze when necessary.

Jazz it up. Just jazzing the box pitches up a bit. Ex. 2c.

The minor / major 3rd 'rub' is top of the list of the blues hue creators, closing on the dominant, sets up the repeat, or onward depending. Folks will differ on this idea; that in this register, a lot of what makes an idea work is its rhythm. The lower pitches, when quickly played, sort of melt together. So if our start point is strong and we finish on a solid note key wise, usually the root pitch of the key, song, jam etc., we should be cool in our musical contributions to the mix :)

Built right in? Bolts right up? Yea, there's a lot of carry over to bass from guitar, which carries a lot over from an open 'G' tuned banjo, which is where a lot of our first Americana musical colors all got started.

Two bars and the truth. This next idea brings the bass line story or rockin' Americana. Master it here if need be, in a couple of keys and string sets. Lifting the cliche riff off the rockin' "Twist and Shout." Thinking 'D' major. Example 2d.

Four bars and the truth. Motion to Four is at the core of it all Americana, rare when a song, from any style really, doesn't find Four somewhere in its story lines and progressions. This next lick just seems built right into the ax, as all the stars line up; pitches, patterns, proximity, even one finger ease for advanced cats, crazy! Hanging right in the middle, so around 5th fret, One to Four in 'A', at 80 thinking it's '2 and 4.' Example 2cz.

Write a blues song. This next idea uses this one shape from three different root notes, which together form up a traditional One / Four / Five blues in 'A.' Example 2e.

Catch the bit of 'muddy' at the end ? Cool. Find ya some new mojo ? Got a title for the song? Need's a hook ? Can U find the top ? Cool with 12 ? Cool with 12 bars ? Ok with 1 4 and 5 ? Major key / minor key ? Major blues ? Minor blues ? Example 3.

Here's mine titled ...

"Aint' No Doubt About It."

Fit these words of this riff into the 12 bar blues form.

lyrics

~

"Aint' No Doubt About It."

I'm still in love with you ...

I said there ... "Aint' No Doubt About It."

I'm still in love with you ...

Cause Ya leave and it breaks my heart,

breaks my heart right in two ...

~

Don't leave me pretty Mama

now I'm a begging you to stay

Don't leave pretty baby

even though I know your blue

breaks my heart to see you cry

makes me oh so blue ...

for ...

"Aint' No Doubt About It."

I'm still in love with you ...

~

Got some punk yet ? Here's the same shape and pitches again now with a riff and rhythm that lands on the punky tritone. Find a hammer on and then a half step. Bluesy and thinking vamp in 'A.' Sustain / distortion is cool on this one too. Heavy in 'A.' Example 2e.

Bass line stories. So for any song in any style, legend has it that its original story is in the bass line. For just like a song's melody and lyrics, sounding out just the root note pitches of a song's bass line will generally convey the 'theme' of the story being told in the song.

And at origin levels, a bass line story is a couple of pitches in a solid and predictable rhythm pattern, which we loop and loop, loop and vary, to create a bass line story for any song and story that comes along.

That we can find similar bass line 'stories' in a few songs, of a chosen musical style, is the premise here. And then there's genres? Yep, the endless vary of genre :) Learn this bass line story in 'G'. Example 3.

Cool ? Just too joyous not to know. Bring the joy ! Turns out that the same pattern works out from the 3rd string too. Puts the whole phrase up an octave ... leave it in ! Crazy built right in but sure a match made in heaven too, search and find the super hit from 1967 Bang Records, NYC, that filled the dance floors of its day, now globally filling dance floors today, and near every time, that totally captures this bass line, a lyrical story that tells the tale of my _____ _____ ____ .

Everyone gets to to sing along ...

Sha la la la lalalala Sha lalatda ...

Sha la la la lalalala Sha lalatda ... :)

For once so empowered, we'll always have a solid basis to begin, to initiate the creative process magic of composing. In this case, a bass line that captures each new and unique song and story as they come along.

In our learning here, we tie into tradition first. Traditional lines are the ones in our collective memories. The ones all folks can share together in harmony. These are the cliche licks we cherish, and try not to overplay overplay overplay :) Then we can model traditional bass stories to evolve something new, or not, for our own stories and their own unique telling. And this is a way its been handed down since we've been handing it down.

Further on up the road, we'll each collect a couple of bass line stories for our own. Our way of telling a 'such and such' themed story with our bass line. Both rote learned and made up on the spot, to play the songs we love the most, in the styles we dig. So knowing a song or two in each style has its rewards. We crosspollinate between styles and get more calls to cover other gigs if that's the goal. For learning tunes is where its at for many artists, discovering the way a song is all put together. In doing so we create many many positives.

Seven styles. Folk, blues, gospel, country, rock, pop and jazz. We'll leave exploring all their genres to U :) In the following breakdown by style, in addition to the theory components, the source of each bass line story included here comes from a song that made it big in that style. Included as a supplementary song, chances are the song is copyrighted, so not legally available to be mechanically published in anyway in this 'e-book. Once curious, use your nunchi to explore.

For each of the main styles of our Americana, there's a couple of common storylines. We mix these up and jazz 'em up to to find all the 'genre story lines' in between the main style headings. Yep. Songs are our stories yes? And while we usually associate telling a song's story with its words and its pitches, surely the bass and drums will tell this story too, just with the low notes and various percussion sounds to motor it all along.

Rhythm line story. Can we hear just the rhythm of a song and get a hint as to what style the music will be? If so, matching our bass rhythms up with the songs pulse and rhythm is a good place to start in creating our bass line stories. No overthinking here, just match up with the drummer. Lock this in and jazz it up as you 'hear' different ideas, staying in the groove of the song's intent.

Find some love in folk and bluegrass. For newly minted cats we can merge these two styles as their harmonies tend to be similar, thus their bass lines when starting out. The big difference between these two is tempos really, as bluegrass wants to scoot right along and blaze a bit, while folk music often tells it stories in a pastoral sort of way. That said, folk bass notes are usually of longer value, whole and half notes, with quarter note passing tones to move us from one chord to the next etc.

Usually there's no drummer in these styles of bands, so the bass takes on this added motor role too. Based on the One, Four and Five chords, playing just the roots of the chords, supporting the vocalist, and creating a solid closure at the end of a song's performance will generally feed the folk bulldog for bass. Jazz it up by connecting the roots of the chords with passing tones is not uncommon or out of the style. Example 4.

wiki ~ folk music

Bluegrass. As the tempos pick up and we subdivide the beat towards eighth notes, bluegrass bass lines will often add in the 5th of each chord. We also can create a bit more forward motion in the music by setting up each new chord with diatonic passing tones to get us there. Example 4a.

Find some love in rock bass. Rock music hits on beat one of most measures. And while there's usually a snare hit on beat two, the backbeat, sounding the bass note of the chord's root on one is the general rule here. Ex. 5.

wiki ~ rock music

Accenting 2 and 4. We can begin to nudge this thing along towards a bluesy feel by simply accenting the 2 and 4 beats of a measure of 4/4 time. Example 5a.

Feel the 'pull' between the pitches, of the rhythms with this accenting? Little note bigger note pattern? Cool, we're beginning to nudge this thing along towards a bluesy rock feel. The 'pull' feel between the notes is the swing in the rhythms. How we control this is, and 'bring it' when we want, is a big part of the voodoo for bass.

The double up. An easy trick, once the chops are in place that is, with rockin' the house is to subdivide the quarter notes into eighth notes. Double the fun? Pretty much. Try this out and see what the dancers do :) Example 5b.

Got this under your fingers? Might be easier with a pick. Alternating index and middle fingers is common too. Mastering this finger motion, and it will probably take some time and a lot of shedding for certain, opens big doors into all kinds of coolness further on up the road :)

wiki ~ list of bass guitarists

Find some love in rock bass minor. Couple of big pitches over and over through time. Find your own secret to four bars and ever evolve :) It's easy and very cool. Play these changes as best U can. Count along beat numbers of the measures and cycle a four bar phrase.

Try to play the same way for the four bars and at the close of each phrase, something will happen in the rhythm. Add this into the rhythm of the next four bar phrase. Jamm on the new phrase searching for a new idea, then add that in. Thinking 'C#' minor. Example 5c.

wiki ~ "All Along The Watchtower"

Open strings. There's a built in solid in the open string 'A' for starting the motion back to 'C#.' Covered a lot by many many stars, make your own version of these 'Watchtower' changes and fill your dance floor. For anytime we can get some open strings in the mix, we increase the 'bring the voodoo' potential. Just part of the bass magics I guess.

Right along these lines, of secret bass voodoo magics, is using octaves, or octave doubling, to bring it full on as they say on the 'Ice', fill in and fill out the band's mix if appropriate. Thinking in 'A' minor here. Example 5d.

Cool. A super common 'exercise' for bass players is the octave bass pattern from the top 10 hit "Miss You." Turns out this lick 'fits' in a ton of spots for those so creatively conscious and looking to explore. Ex. 5e.

"Music should always be an adventure."

wiki ~ Coleman Hawkins

Find some love in country major. Now heading for the country, we find the essential; the root to Five boom boom boom boom super pattern that has historically covered all as well as filled the dance floors too, and still does :) 'By ear' in 'C', four bars and the truth, through the core of it all One / Four / Five in 'C.' Example 6.

wiki ~ country music

Root / Five. In starting out on bass, playing root and 5th of the chords will always win the day. Just adjust your rhythms and such to the style of the way you are interpreting the song. Rhythm determines style yes ?

Find some love in country major. Now heading for the country, we've a super cliche that has worked liked like a charm since the 30's. We take the root and 5th motion from above, flip it over and add in Six. Example 6a.

Find some more love in country major. Picking up the tempo and some dotted note values, creating some 'space', maybe to push off the beat a little bit, put a little hot sauce in the mix :) You already know this one, easy. Example 6b.

Find some '2 feel' love in a folk bluegrassy rockin' country, no twist. Zero 'jazz it up' in this next idea. For pro leaning cats this should be a 12 key'er or at last the top third of keys as found on the cycle of 5th's chart. This'll fit just about anywhere. Super solid pickup from Five, just floating along on tonic chord, One. Thinking 'C' major. Example 6c.

Consider super rote mastering this last idea. Whether U lean country or notso much, these pitches feed zee bulldog in setting up one pitch, one pitch as the tonic note of your chosen key center.

Can we bluesify this last idea ? Sure:) Thinking 'C' blues. Example 6d.

Make this last idea into a 12 bar blues and teach it to the band. Make for a nice break tune, if ya need one that is.

Find some love in blues. Blues bass lines are usually triad based for both major and minor keys. Creating lines from the pitches of the minor pentatonic scale is also fairly common. These types of lines are often a bridge to rock and roll, and all the various genres of rock music. All of the ideas that follow here are parts of the 12 bar blues form. This first blues idea is major triads, with a 'fast Four' in bar 2, then using the 'muddy walkdown' getting us to Four in measure five etc. Example 7.

Got this under your fingers? Cool. No? Do consider rote memorizing this last 12 bars. Slow then fast, there's some essential features that we can get a lot of miles out of :) Click the uptempo version, can U hear the chord changes in the line? Click again, and again, and again, and again, and again till ya can :) And once ya got it, U get to keep it forever :)

Cool with chromatics? Note the chromatic passing tones in the last idea? Very common really, as the 12 bar blues form is near unbreakable these days, now that's it been around for a half dozen generations or so of Americana artists now. As long as we keep the form, play the root of the chord on one, we're generally cool.

Add a 7th. Added the 7th onto the triads, again common and sourced from 'boogie woogie' piano from the late 30's or so. Example 7a.

wiki ~ boogie woogie

See the vertical, up and down shaping to the notes? Arpeggios? Yep. Oh, and catch the couple of different fingerings / fret locations ? Cool. Lot's of ways to do this. Just find yours :)

Boom boom boom ... find some love in rock blues. We also pulsed on the tonic pitch and idea or two back, just using the One, root pitch note of a chord to cover that part in our 12 bar story. Rockers do this a lot, just thump on the root and rhythm the heck out of it. Very valid in many styles really. Call it 'rockin' roll root thumping' maybe. Thinking 'C' major here. Example 7b.

wiki ~ boom boom song

Got it going on ? Very cool. Catch the cliche lick at the end ? Goes way back to somewhere :) Learn it here if need be, super handy in tons of spots !

Find some love in pop. Pop tunes love the '1 6 4 5' numerical / chord progression motion. Dubbed here the "Teenage In Love" chord changes, so named for this 50's top ten hit. Learn the basic lick here if need be, find it in a couple of spots on the neck. There's a basic fingering / fret pattern too, bolts right up. Also, find some of the pitches on the open strings for a bigger boom :) Here in 'C' major, with the letter name pitches of the roots of the chords. Example 8.

wiki ~ "Teenager In Love"

Cool? Yea it's quite common. No, not familiar ? Then, another first ! Find a recording of this song "Teenager In Love", the bass line and this chord progression a true true true bass line story for the pop artists. Who, by the way, get to play all the top 40 hits, past and current, that fill the dance floors globally every Saturday night. Looking to stay bizzy? Play every Saturday night is 50 dates per year ... and quite a social life too !

Too vanilla? We can jazz this lick up by swapping Two for Four. So, the '1 6 4 5' becomes '1 6 2 5' motion. Total total game changer as the Two / Five is the jazz portal that opens up into the entire realm of coolness for all things Americana. Dig the bassline evo of Four into Two. Example 8a.

evolving the '1 6 4 5' into he '1 6 4 5' motion. Dubbed here the "Teenage In Love" chord changes, so named for this 50's top ten hit. Learn the basic lick here if need be, find it in a couple of spots on the neck. There's a basic fingering / fret pattern too, bolts right up

Knowing the pitches. At the core of this learning process are two fundamental ideas. Knowing the letter names of the pitches and understanding the concept of movable shapes for scales, arpeggios and chords. Throw in some parallel motion and the ever essential half step lead in and kaboom, we just supersized our artistic palette in a jazz guitar direction.

Find some love in reggae. Bass story lines in reggae follow all of the above theory basics, what's different of course is the rhythm. While there's assorted ways to do this, there's one cool easy idea that is a pure reggae invention. Termed 'one drop', and especially paired with drums whom also 'drops' one, the first beat of a measure. By not playing anything on beat one, we then pick up the thread of it and the phrase, tell our story. Example 8.

wiki ~ one drop

Feel how the line 'waits' to tell its story? This sort of approach adds a nice texture to the music. In a sense, polyphonic or linear in shape of line, as we're no longer stacking up the pitches in the more vertical, harmonic and homophonic traditions.

Find some love in jazz. Bass line stories in jazz can begin with the 'big 4' rhythm. This note value over the course of many measures creates in the rhythms what we commonly term a walking bass line. Founded in the marching bands of the 1900's, a bit later with a accent on 2 and 4, jazz just loves to go faster, so needs a 'sleeker' way to get there. The easy solution is in two parts. To play chord progressions that feature a 'quick mix' of a key centers seven diatonic triads, in a resolving sequence. And we connect up these root pitches with a steady stream of quarter notes, and in doing so, create that 'walking' bass line story of jazz music. Example 9.

Bring the swing. Once this basis is under the fingers, just a steady boom boom boom walk for a spell, there's two evolutions. First is to put a little bit more on beats 2 and 4, and throw in the 'chickity boom triplet' lick when the moment strike you. Both create the 'pull of time' of swing. Here's both with the same pitches as above. Thinking in 'G' major, 2 5 1 4 7 3 6. Example 9a.

With a metronome. And even though this is a 'bass method' page, learning the swing from these eight bars will work for all instruments. For quarter note on the beat do swing the hardest right ? And the triplet rhythm trips off the swing into motion yes ?

So find some clicks and count yourself in, where the metronome's click represent the 2 and 4 of the 4/4 quarter note rhythms. Accent and chickity boom and bring the swing. Once you've got this eight bars off the ground, you'll have swing wherever needed.

'2 5 1 4 7 3 6.' These numbers represent the root motion of pitches to cycle through the seven pitches of a diatonic key center. They're also the changes to the first eight bars of the jazz standard "Autumn Leaves." Getting an understanding of this full and complete cycle, most chord progressions we play is taken as pieces from this puzzle. For the '2 5 1 4' get's us through the relative major side while the '7 3 6' closes on the relative minor. So a full tour through the relative major / minor qualities of chords as created by a key center. How cool is that !

wiki ~ "Autumn Leaves"

'Nick and Chick.' This is tricky ... and not easy to do, but when mastered, lines sing, swing and groove.

There's a way to start off any bass line into motion with a trick from way back when. It was termed the 'chickity boom.' Crazy name for sure but works better than any other real snake oil out there. This is the real deal to bring the swing. For in just the one speaking of the 'chick - ity - boom ' ... and you're catching the triplet / 3 part rhythm to this lick yes ?

Cool, just placing a triplet into the downbeat quarter note of a walking bass line. And the nick'? A hyphenated chick. So, a 'nick' is just one of the three bits of the 'chick.' 'Fast Four' motion in 'C'. Example 9b.

Feel the 'jump' into the walking ? Cool. And the 'chick' into Four? Keep trying for it is a tricky physical move to master too. Here's a graphic from the recording. Kinda small but the 'nick' is before 2, the 'chick' before 3.

Pedal tones. What is a pedal tone? Pedal tones are one note that is held through all of the music that surrounds it. They usually last four or eight bars, and are usually the lowest note so it'll stand out in the mix of the music.

Bass line stories that include pedal tones ... are always cool. For in every song there's a story. And in most stories there's that 'point of no return' where whatever is going to happen ... well ... is going to happen, and here it comes ! :) For when the pedal tones start to sound in the bass line story, it'll focus our attentions. Surely a true magic of all things music, in learning about the pedal tones we can first just go through the diatonic positions of the relative major minor group of pitches. One through eight, each of the pitches will have its own special spots in the literature, a lot of this when and where is determined by style and genre.

Most common of theses pedal tone positions? The tonic pedal, so One, is probably the most common. The dominant pedal, the fifth note of the natural scale is probably next. From here, using the other lower diatonic pedal tones usually creates various sort of suspensions in the harmony. Hear the dominant pedal Five over a stepwise, diatonic chord progression. Example 10.

Chords. Building up bass line stories with chords is an incredibly effective way to tell our stories. Even just peppered in once and a while to single note lines, as say at rhythmic cadential points in the progressions, chords on bass have a dramatic impact to ground the music in its tonal key center.

Thinking four strings here, and a nod to the overtone series, bass chords will build themselves, at least in theory. For once past the first octave in the overtone series, we then find the 5th, then octave again. From here and up our chord numbers would be '1 5 b7', so a V7 chord. Shown as the '4 5 6 7' 'overtones' in the following illustration. Example 10.

, and then the 3rd, we can determine a chords 'quality', so major 1 3 5 or minor 1 b3 5 triad. . Example 10.

Chord quality. So in building chords on a four string bass, we find the root on the low 'E' string and will usually move the 3rd up an octave to create a major 10th interval between these two pitches. That's enough in itself to create the illusion of a major or minor triad. Thinking in 'G' major, running up the diatonic '10th's of each scale degree and chord; 'G, A-, B- C etc.' Ex. 10a.

Common riff. A common way to riff this last idea is to sound each pitch individually, so making more 'mini-arpeggios than a chord. Example 10b.

"I don't know if Charlie Parker was the first to use chromatic ideas in his blues lines ... but he sure was the King of doing it!"

wiki ~ Herb Ellis

Chromatic enhancement. In the jazzy ways of creating American art, in theory what we're often doing is to simply add in a couple of extra pitches to an idea. The fancy theory term is to 'chromatically enhance' a musical event. And since chromatic motion implies moving by half step, one fret, as bass players we are just a half step away from 'enhancement.'

The tricky part for us bassists is in the registration of the pitches. meaning? Well, in the lower registers of the bass notes, the clarity of half step motion is blurred up, so we have to be judicious in our 'enhancing.' In the following idea we 'enhance' the pitches of a major triad. Thinking here in 'C' major. Example 10.

Sound jazzy to U ? Hear the 'B' major triad in the line? Two major triads a half step apart. Almost polytonal ?

Flip it all over? Sure. Here we create a new sequence / permutation of the last idea. We're still chromatically enhancing a major triad, but now approach each pitch from a half step above. Example 10a.

Sound really jazzy to U ? Hear the 'Db' major triad in the line? Again, two major triads a half step apart. Almost polytonal or is this the legendary tritone sub ?

Cool ? So we can chromatically enhance anything that comes along ? Pretty much, but be careful where and when style wise, too much of a good thing on the wrong gig could cue up the mayhem, and lose the gig :(

Review. Have a few things now to get started with bass guitar? All of the above examples are practice exercises too. If you wear them all out, start to run them through additional key centers. Remember, that there's only 12 total :) In our original learning process, that we've had all along now, we just emulate what we see of the artists we admire. Learn and master those skills as best we can, then add in our own unique magics. In our bass line stories, we can ground our Americana musics

Review / bass line stories. So, simply the idea that the bass line of a song, that supports the melodies and moves along by the written roots of the chords, also tells us the story of the song. These 'stories' can then fall into just a couple of 'categories.' The blues is surely one such category. Songs in a minor key qualify. There's the 32 bar ballad form and rhythm changes, both 32 bar song forms might have a similar storylines.

That composers enjoy and study the work of the works of other writers is also a part of this bass line story. Songs such as "Summertime" by the Gershwin Brothers is an Americana classic that has been loved by so many and has probably spawned many a new song from admiring artists. Included in this work is my own inspiration that probably has some roots in "Summertime." Titled "Voices From The River", there's just a commonality of essence from one to the other.

Knowing of this might help us group similar songs to facilitate their learning and encourage the cross pollination between similar storylines. That most guitarists play some bass and vice versa is a possible way to cross pollinate this process.

So thanks in part to the uniqueness of each of us and peeps and artists, there's endless variations to the basic forms and ideas of a bass line story. The gist of this I think is to simply recognize that they do indeed exist and that in that recognition, we get a way in to music we might be unfamiliar with at first hearing, in a jam session etc. Thus we just might get a better shot of making sense of new music if we can hear its bass story line.

'Music is the only thing keeping the planet together."

wiki ~ Jaco Pastorius

De capo / a first lesson. Well, we all get to be beginners. And at whenever we begin, we all get to enjoy the raw magic of learning something cool for the first time. And when its a way for us to communicate our ideas, we add in the power of sharing. And if we can share, then we can receive ya ? And since music, with its rhythms and pitches is a planetary language, that all who so choose can groove right onto, we're super empowered to bring its joys wherever we may wander and with whom we meet along the way.

Master this next bass bit in your own way. Sing it first, the pitches and rhythms, then work it your way. Click the music and play along with piano and lock right on in. Rest a moment, then click it again. Learn the four bar phrase all the way deep down. It's a root motion from One to Four that forms a vamp, or loop, pitches that we ride along on in time. Do find a 2 and 4 and shed these vamps to bring the swing. Two pitches to start, then just adding in more of our 12 total pitches along the way. Adding pitches one by one is fun. Staying within the octave? Yes, a one octave span of coolness. Thinking here in 'C', motion One to Four and back. Example 12.

Review. That's all folks :) So what's next ?

References. References for this page's information comes from school of on the bandstand, listening to records and made way easier by the folks along the way.

wiki ~ bass guitar

References. References for this page's information comes from school, books and the bandstand and made way easier by the folks along the way.

References academia Alaska. And when you need university level answers to your questions and musings, and especially if you are considering a career in music and looking to continue your formal studies, begin to e-reach out to the Alaska University Music Campus communities and begin a dialogue with some of Alaska's own and finest resident maestros !