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Bass improvisation lesson?

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Bass improvisation lesson?

Post  SuperMaximo93 on Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:47 pm

Hey, Kris, would you be able to do a lesson on bass improvisation/fills/solos/whatever? Dunno about the other guys, but I'd find it really helpful when jamming with my guitarist (2 man band with Fruity Loops demo version FTW Laughing )

Thanks Kris! Smile

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Re: Bass improvisation lesson?

Post  McSnuggles on Fri Apr 10, 2009 5:35 pm

Yeah I agree. I would really like to see a video on this if possible. Smile

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Re: Bass improvisation lesson?

Post  Nuck81 on Fri Apr 10, 2009 6:36 pm

Imrpov may be tough to explain in a video. It's based on a lot of theory, such as knowing the key you're in, what chords and notes function around the tonic, and their relationship with each an progression tendencies.

also with my experience in jazz combos during college and such, improv is a more of a talent than a learned skill. You can learn the tools to be functional, but a truly great solo artist is somebody that has that skill born into them.

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Re: Bass improvisation lesson?

Post  McSnuggles on Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:11 pm

But he could pick a key, time signature, etc. to just give an example of and there are always techniques that come in handy when improvising. For example he could pick something simple like C Major in 4/4 and show some ways to improvise with the key.

You can show a lot of these theory terms without really having to teach the theory behind it. For example you don't need to know what the dominant is and know that term, you just need to know that the V is considered the most pronounced harmonic of the I.

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Re: Bass improvisation lesson?

Post  Malastare on Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:51 pm

This thread poses an interesting musical question. "Is it possible to teach improvisational musicianship?" I would tend to agree with Nuck, in that a lot of improv is down to natural aptitude. But I think it is quite possible, with a certain amount of theoretical knowledge (and heaps of listening, especially to jazz), to somewhat make up for a lack of natural ability as an improviser.

The best piece of advice for learning to construct bass lines spontaneously is to learn your modes. It requires no theory to appreciate them on a guitar, as the simple layout of semitone frets means that we can simply see a pattern and place it anywhere. Memorise the major scale, minor scale and at least three of the modal patterns and you can follow most chord progressions laid down.

I have some free time, so I'll note down a few of these patterns. I'll give string and fret number.

C major scale: A3 A5 D2 D3 D5 G2 G4 G5

C minor scale (natural*): A3 A5 A6 D3 D5 D6 G3 G5
*There are a few different types of minor scale - the one above is the 'natural' minor, or more properly the Aeolian mode.

Mixolydian mode in C: A3 A5 D2 D3 D5 G2 G3 G5
You will notice that the Mixolydian mode has a flat seventh. This makes it ideal for blues-based progressions, as it still sounds major.

Lydian mode in C: A3 A5 D2 D4 D5 G2 G4 G5
The Lydian mode is extremely common in pop music. Guitarists love it. A highly recommended scale to learn!

Dorian in C: A3 A5 A6 D3 D5 G2 G3 G5
The minor sounding Dorian mode is an excellent way to add a little tonal mystery to a minor progression.

This stuff is really easy to learn and is a great help in improvising and spicing up your own compositions! I hope that it helps, and isn't totally boring!


Last edited by Malastare on Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:29 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : correction)

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Re: Bass improvisation lesson?

Post  Nuck81 on Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:57 pm

Great Post!!!!

My favorite Minor Scale is Harmonic. Which for those who aren't up on theory is exaclty the same as natural minor except for one note. You keep the leading tone for the tonic note. Using Malastare's example the next to last note would be a G4 instead of a G3. The cool thing is that one difference in note will give the scale an entirely different sound.

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Re: Bass improvisation lesson?

Post  Malastare on Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:13 pm

Yeah, the harmonic minor's tone and a half jump really adds that mystic dimension. Adding a drone on the root of the scale can really work if you are looking for a bridge or interlude, something like this:

A0 (Let ring) D3 G1 G2 :l A0 (lr) D3 G1hG2pG1 D3 D0 ll

Hah. this is a new way of tabbing stuff out - it isn't exactly easy to read i'm afraid. Still, should work for simple stuff.


EDIT: This just shows how easy it is to construct something using these lines. The above line was an instantaneous riff built off a simple A minor scale. By transposing the line down a string to E, we can create a simple tonic/dominant verse of a song. If we moved it to the fourth we would have the ingredients of a minor blues line. There are any number of permutations which are easy to create by simply shifting your starting position - that's the power of a guitar for writing songs over a piano (trust me on that one!)


Last edited by Malastare on Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:20 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Required further info)

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Re: Bass improvisation lesson?

Post  Smaz on Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:59 pm

Improvisation isn't something that can be taught really - think of it like improvising a speech infront of people. You could be given tips on how to talk & what to talk about, which will help you know what to do, but it won't mean that you can improvise or go & make a presentation infront of people just on that info. You'd need to practice, and you'll get better at it as you give more speechs etc.

I find when I'm just doodling on the bass, it's a mixture of everything I've learnt, or what I've recently been playing/listening to. Improvising helps when you have a drum loop to play over, you get into the groove & forget about everything, just play whatever comes out Smile

Try it - just sit down, put a drum loop on & play, see what comes out. That's all everyone else does... Smile

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Re: Bass improvisation lesson?

Post  stefk0 on Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:13 am

I think I'm gonna have to disagree with most posters, I think you can teach improvisation.

Well, obviously not in a 10 min video, but if you were really to sit down next to a person, and try to explain to him how music theory works, I'm thinking even if he's not very talented he'd be able to improvise at least to some extent, without going out of key.

But if you want to learn improvising, you won't be able to do in just 1 day, or a week prolly. It takes time and practice, just like everything else

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Re: Bass improvisation lesson?

Post  Dmanlamius on Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:46 am

My problem is that I don't have a structure to my improvisation. I don't know how to use scales to improv that well, etc (well, I probably do, but not consciously.)

Improv is actually my strongest skill, but I don't know how to "explain" it as such. I taught myself by literally finding out what sounded good and bad, through years and years of jamming with other musicians. I've got a really good ear for music, and can feel it, but can't say it as such.

I know, but I don't know. It's the fact I don't know that let's me know.

Oh. My. God.


lol!

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Re: Bass improvisation lesson?

Post  Protoplm on Thu May 21, 2009 2:00 pm

Dmanlamius wrote:My problem is that I don't have a structure to my improvisation. I don't know how to use scales to improv that well, etc (well, I probably do, but not consciously.)

Improv is actually my strongest skill, but I don't know how to "explain" it as such. I taught myself by literally finding out what sounded good and bad, through years and years of jamming with other musicians. I've got a really good ear for music, and can feel it, but can't say it as such.

I know, but I don't know. It's the fact I don't know that let's me know.

Oh. My. God.


lol!

I still feel that anything you could try to do would atleast be marginably useful.

Good post on the scales by the way, thanks.

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