Bass of the Hills Turtorial

The Mixolydian scale is one of the most-used scales in modern music. Basically, it’s a major scale with a dominant (or flat) seventh. This tutorial looks at how I use the Mixolydian scale in my solo piece, Bass of the

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Modes in Action: Why Not

Now that you’ve had a couple of months to get familiar with the modes, let’s try our hand at something a little more challenging with them. I’ve written a short tune consisting of only two chords, Dm7 and Ebm7. Each

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Modes and Diatonic Chords Part 2

Now that you’ve had a month to get the C major modal patterns under your fingers, let’s transpose them and work with another key. It’s pretty simple, really. All of the other keys will use the same guidelines as far

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Modes and Diatonic Chords

One of the first things I do with an incoming student at Belmont University is to make sure they understand the diatonic modes and chords, and can play them on their instrument. Simply put, the modes are from Classical Music and were used in Gregorian Chant (hence their other name: Church Modes). Continue reading

The Most Important Songs for Bassists to Learn

You see them all the time: The Top Ten Thousand Love Songs of All Time. The Top 100 Hits of the Last Three Hours. Boxcar Willie’s Top 500 Hits Box(car) Set. The Top One Hundred Top Songs for Bassists to Learn.

In fact, this column is supposed to be about that last list. That’s why you’re reading it – because you want the names of one hundred songs to learn to help make you the world’s coolest bass player – or at least one who can get in a band. Continue reading

The Melodic Minor Modes

The Melodic Minor scale is one of my favorite scales. It’s also one of the most important scales on which to learn to improvise, because some of the most important chords in Jazz come directly from the modes of the Melodic Minor scale. In this lesson we’ll break down the Melodic Minor modes and their corresponding 7th chords. Continue reading

How to Learn Any Scale

I see a lot of Bass players of all levels who struggle with their instrument. Even those with otherwise impressive skills can get lost in the upper registers, struggling to find the desired notes. This is often because they don’t know the fretboard as well as they should – or could, with some dedicated practice. Thoroughly learning the fretboard is what this lesson is about. Continue reading

Riffing in Dm Pentatonic

Other bassists often ask me, “the Blues are so limiting. What can you really do with five notes?”

The question tells me a lot about the person, and how they view music. My personal take is this: you can make more beautiful music with five notes than you can with a million. It’s all about your approach.

Yesterday, while I was taping for some new lessons, I took a few minutes to just riff for the fun of it. The video below shows that riff session. Notice that I seldom go outside the pure pentatonic scale – a few times using the flat 5. Continue reading

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