Bass day (1h)

  • Scale studies / piano catch-up / vocabulary
    • Minor blues scale starting with low b7 in all keys
    • Major blues scale (same)
    • Lydian pentatonic (same)
  • Walking bass
    • Applying pentatonics (major & minor blues for 7 & m7 chords respectively, Lyd pentatonic for maj7) to a jazz standard
    • When not able to find passing chord scale quick enough, playing a 2nd inversion (from root down, easy, right?)
    • “Scale permutations” — i. e. starting on minor blues on b7 or playing from 5th down when connecting chords
  • Reading melodies
    • A Night In Tunisia (several times, no click)

Bass day (1h 30m)

  • Extensions
    • Recap m6 / m9 / m7 / 5 / 4 pattern (all keys, over m7 chords)
    • Recap M6 / M9 / 5 / 4 pattern (all keys)
    • Minor and major 6ths in all positions (8vb and 8va), sting above + below + slide down on the same string, returning to root over 5, in all keys
  • Applying extensions / transposition fluency
    • 6ths-based lick over American Boy by Kanye West in E, C & F

Bass day (1h 40m)

  • Technical / Experimental
    • Playing Hanon piano exercises on bass! This is awesome!!! (Just #6 from the 1st book)
  • Walking bass
    • Worth the Wait in C, Eb and F (all inversions, 7-1-3-5 permutation)
  • Pick / Rhythm
    • Famous Bass Lines, Line #8: 70 to 90bpm

Observations

WOW!!! I just tried it out of pure curiosity and it turned out to be a completely mind-blowing exercises. The cool things about Hanon exercises are that they all start deep in bass clef (which means you won’t need to bother adapting them for your instrument) and they’re pretty much all in C — which means you can TRANSPOSE THE SH*T OUT OF THEM. And yes, they are absolutely mathematical, and you don’t have to read through the whole sheet once you’ve got the logic. Of course, the coolest thing is that they feel very uncommon (because they’re meant to be played on piano!), and even the simplest could be pretty tricky on bass — both in terms of fingering and harmonically. On the other hand, transposing them on piano is a huge P. I. T. A., whereas on the bass you can do it pretty much on the fly once the pattern is clear! Yuppie! Okay, so I’m going to do it every time now, just like I do on piano — and we’ll see how it goes!

Bass day (1h)

  • Chords
    • Recap all 7th chords shapes in open & closed voicings (harmonising C, G & D scales)
    • Cycle of 4ths transitions: minor to dominant, major to dominant
    • Playing along to Autumn Leaves
    • Triads

Observations

It’s really cool that I came to the chords course already being (semi-) familiar with mixed / shell voicings that I’ve been practicing on piano! So, for example, when Scott says, it’s a 3-octave-below-1-7 or a 7-3-5, I’m not confused at all, because I already got them under my fingers on keyboard! Also, I found it really helpful to practice transitions between different types of chords on bass in 4ths — just like I do on piano — e. g. Cmaj7 to F7 to Bbmaj7 to Eb7 to Abmaj7, etc. Then minor to dominant, then minor to major, and so on. Cycle of fourths rocks! (Or shall I say JAZZ?)

Bass day (1h 30m)

  • Chord tones
    • II — V — Is in all keys round the cycle
    • Harmonising scales with 7th chords C through Ab

Observations

I’ve just discovered a huge blocker that was holding me for a long time! So, my thing was that, when I used to play an exercise that had a lot to do with mind games — like harmonising a scale or II — V — Is in all keys, etc. — I used to always run into this paralysing moment of “Errrr… Where am I supposed to go next? I’m in F, so next one will be… Er… Bb, and the V in Bb is… F… Er… But I’m still in F, and the 5th of F is… Er—” So, like, I would always think about what I’m playing at the moment, and not about what’s coming up next. And therefore by the time I got to the next key, I would be lost and have to pause. There’s a scientific term for it actually, it’s called “analysis paralysis” — when you are presented with too many choices, you just get stuck and don’t do anything. So, in my case, I think the problem was that I kept holding too much to that key or whatever the thing was from which I was transitioning, and didn’t really think about the next thing to play in advance. But why think about II — V — I in F if you have already figured it out? Just let your fingers play it automatically and in the meantime think about II — V — I in Bb which comes next and figure it out before you started playing it!

It could be tricky, because your brain does not want to switch attention to something that it’s not doing at the moment, and instead it wants to control everything, even if it’s already in the fingers, but you have to force it and persuade it that you can do some stuff on autopilot, and then use this time to think about the next changes or about the larger-scale things. Not sure if this ramble was helpful for anyone or at all understandable, but that’s my today’s enlightenment, I’m feeling pretty happy about it! 😄

Bass day (1h 30m)

  • Chord tones (Phil Mann)
    • Harmonising the major scale with 7th chords — all inversions, tried different positions on the fretboard C major (45m)
  • Walking bass lines — 45m
    • Jazz standards in Latin rhythms (Cha cha cha + The Preacher by Horace Silver)
    • 2-octave dominant walking bass line (b7 ascending, b7 & b6 descending) round the cycle of 4ths
    • Soloing practice over blues progession (mostly trying to use b7ths a and b6ths and avoid pentatonic patterns)

Observations

Chord formulas are wonderful! It’s so much easier to quickly see and play any inversion anywhere on the neck with any fingering when you know that it’s, for example, m3 + M3 + m2 (maj7 chord in 2nd inversion) and not root… third… fifth… 7th… Thanks Mr. Mann!

Bass day (1h 20m)

  • Chord tones (Phil Mann)
    • All triads (major / minor / diminished / augmented) in all inversions around the cycle of 4ths at 74bpm — 20m
    • Major and minor 7th chords in all inversions around the cycle (70bpm) — 20m
    • Dominant 7th chords in all inversions around the cycle (40bpm) — 20m
  • Walking bass lines (Scott Devine)
    • Soloing exercise (chord scales up and down chromatically moving to the closest degree of the next chord) over jazz standard (Shine by Dabney-Mack-Brown) — 20m

Observations

Although thinking in intervals and chord tones is cool and super helpful when composing a walking bass line on the fly, it’s still very important to sometimes just think in melodies when soloing, because melody that you compose in your head before playing it with your fingers is not always made up with chord or scale tones, so sometimes it’s better to just forget about functional harmony and think of the mood. It works for me, may not be the same for everyone. There’s a great exercise by Jamey Aebersold: when soloing, try singing your solo for 4 bars and them play for 4 bars, and then sing again, and then play, without interrupting the flow of the melody. I don’t do it too often because it’s pretty hard, which means I actually should! 😄)

Also, I’m so glad I chose these two courses for my challenge (I mean Scott’s walking bass course and Phil Mann’s chord tones) because, it turns out, they complement each other perfectly (especially in the soloing part). I’m getting much better at recognising chord degrees detached from the root by learning inversions, and that’s exactly the skill I need to get better at soloing! Well done son.