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Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 1, General Introduction

Bass Technique

Table of Contents

GENERAL INTRODUCTION ........................................................................ 4

ANATOMY OF THE BASS ........................................................................................................................... 4 TONAL RANGE............................................................................................................................................ 5 THE TUNING PEGS..................................................................................................................................... 5 THE CHAIR .................................................................................................................................................. 6 THE NECK ................................................................................................................................................... 6 THUMB SUPPORT ...................................................................................................................................... 7

TUNING ........................................................................................................ 8

TUNING WITH THE DIGITAL TUNER ........................................................................................................ 8 TRADITIONAL TUNING............................................................................................................................... 8 STANDARD TUNING IN FOURTH INTERVALS*)....................................................................................... 9 ADVANCED TUNING WITH NATURAL HARMONICS*)............................................................................. 9 WHERE ARE THE NOTES ON A FRETLESS BASS? .............................................................................. 10

THE HUMAN INSTRUMENT ...................................................................... 11

POSITION OF THE BODY......................................................................................................................... 11 PSYCHOLOGY........................................................................................................................................... 11

LEFT HAND TECHNIQUE.......................................................................... 13

FINGER NUMBERS ................................................................................................................................... 13 GENERAL ADVICE, LEFT HAND .............................................................................................................. 13 STANDARD HANDS .................................................................................................................................. 14 OCTAVE SHIFT ......................................................................................................................................... 15 OPEN STRINGS ........................................................................................................................................ 16 DOUBLE GRIP ........................................................................................................................................... 17 DOUBLE GRIP POSITIONS ...................................................................................................................... 17

RIGHT HAND TECHNIQUE........................................................................ 19

TIMBRE ...................................................................................................................................................... 19 PLAYING WITH THE RIGHT-HAND FINGERS......................................................................................... 20 PLAYING WITH A PLECTRUM ................................................................................................................. 21 PICK PATTERNS ....................................................................................................................................... 22 FUNK BASS ............................................................................................................................................... 23 HARMONICS.............................................................................................................................................. 24 OTHER TECHNIQUES .............................................................................................................................. 30 ERGONOMIC THINKING........................................................................................................................... 32 SPEED........................................................................................................................................................ 32

ARTICULATION ......................................................................................... 34

GLISSANDO............................................................................................................................................... 34 VIBRATO.................................................................................................................................................... 34 BLUES NOTES .......................................................................................................................................... 35

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 2, General Introduction

TREMOLO.................................................................................................................................................. 35 DURATION................................................................................................................................................. 36 COL ARCO (BOW)..................................................................................................................................... 36 VOCAL AND BASS .................................................................................................................................... 36 SCORDATURA / ALTERNATIVE TUNINGS ............................................................................................. 37 SORDIN (DAMPER)................................................................................................................................... 37 HAMMER ON / PULL-OFF (APPOGGIATURA) ........................................................................................ 38 BENDS ....................................................................................................................................................... 38 ORNAMENTATION .................................................................................................................................... 38 DYNAMICS................................................................................................................................................. 38

VOLUME AND SOUND .............................................................................. 39

VOLUME .................................................................................................................................................... 39 SOUND....................................................................................................................................................... 40

INDEX BASS TECHNIQUE ........................................................................ 42

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 3, General Introduction

All Aspects of ROCK & JAZZ Volume 2 ­ The Electric Bass Bass Technique 2 of 7 Documents ISBN 87-88619-70-2 nd st 2 Edition, 1 Issue Summer 2001 Produced in Denmark

Digital BooksTM is a trademark of NORDISC Music & Text, DK-2700 Broenshoej, Denmark WEB Email http://www.nordisc-music.com/ [email protected]

Text, notes and musical examples: © Copyright H.W. Gade 2001 Illustrations, layout and concept, original text © Copyright H.W. Gade 1984-85/2001 All rights reserved. Copying or reproduction in full/in extension not allowed. No public hire of the material allowed without the written permission of the publishing house.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 4, General Introduction

General Introduction

In this book, I use a standard 4-string fretted bass guitar. Most of the techniques in this chapter, however, can be used on a 5- or 6-string bass.

ANATOMY OF THE BASS

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Head Tuning pegs Neck Frets Position marks Knob for strap (the other knob is placed at the bottom of the bass) Thumb support Pickup Controls for volume etc. Chair with fastening clamps for strings and fine-tuning screws Outlet for cord to amplifier Bridge

Fig. 1 The Anatomy of the Bass

Fig. 2 The Position Marks

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 5, General Introduction

TONAL RANGE Fig. 3 All Notes on the Bass Fretboard

THE TUNING PEGS The tuning pegs are normally placed in pairs, 2+3 or in one row (Fender and copies of Fender).

Fig. 4 Tuning Pegs

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 6, General Introduction

THE CHAIR Bass chairs can be found in many variants. Some chairs have both forwards, backward and sideward adjustment of each individual string, others have fewer or no means of adjustment. The bass guitar needs to be adjusted yearly to assure that the open string and the octave (12th fret) are in tune with each other.

Fig. 5 Adjustment Screws on the Chair

Fender Chair 1 Sideward 2 Forward / backward 3 Damper (sordin) Rickenbacker Chair

THE NECK Fender basses are equipped with an adjustable steel rod in the neck. Adjusting the neck is job for experts only. Do not try to adjust it yourself.

Fig. 6 The Adjustable Steel Rod on a Fender Bass (seen from the back of the instrument)

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 7, General Introduction The width and thickness of the neck vary much although the length is now standardized.

Width Fender Precision Bass Fender Jazz Bass Gibson Rickenbacker Yamaha, 5-string Broad Narrow Medium Medium Broad Thickness Thin Heavy Thin Thin Heavy

Fig. 7 Neck Dimensions of Various Bass Brands / Models

THUMB SUPPORT The bridge or the pickup is where to put your thumb when you play with your fingers. NEVER use the open E 4th string as a thumb support. You will have to lift the thumb every time you want to play on your "support" string, slowing down your tempo and precision. Many ­ far too many ­ bass players have this bad habit.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 8, Tuning

Tuning

Tuning the bass used to be a bit of a problem, especially for beginners, but today even novices are saved by modern technology.

Fig. 8 Bass Strings, 5-string Standard

G D A E B*) 1 string nd 2 string rd 3 string th 4 string th 5 string

st

*) The B string is called H in Germany and the Scandinavian countries

TUNING WITH THE DIGITAL TUNER Turn the switch to the deep E. Keep picking the E-string while turning the tuning peg until the tuning graph / arrow stops moving. Set the switch to the next note A and repeat the process with the A, D and G strings. Add B on 5-string basses.

TRADITIONAL TUNING Digital tuning is simple, but it does not take the conditions of the neck in account. Even if the open strings are in tune, the bass could very easily be out of tune on the higher frets. You must therefore try to learn tuning your bass by "ear". Start with digital tuning the first months and then proceed with the "real" tuning methods. Start by tuning the E 4th string to the low E. You can use a piano or keyboard to "catch" the pitch of the note. Fig. 9 Tuning the Bass Strings after the Piano

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 9, Tuning Tuning Fork You may alternatively use a "tuning fork", but as the tuning fork is tuned in A, you must start with tuning the A 3rd string instead of the E 4th string. In this case, start tuning the D 2nd string etc. and finish by tuning the E 4th string. Historical note: Before the arrival of digital tuners, it was most common to start tuning the A 3rd string.

STANDARD TUNING IN FOURTH INTERVALS*)

E A

First tune the E string. NOTE Tune the B string on 5-string basses as the last string. Pick the deep E 4th string with your left-hand finger on the 5th fret (the A note), and pick the open A 3rd string shortly after. Keep picking both the E 4th string and A 3rd string while adjusting the E 4th string with its tuning peg until you can hear that the two pitches sound exactly the same. Pick the A 3rd string on the 5th fret (the D note) and tune the open D 2nd string with its tuning peg while picking both the A 5th string and the D 4th string until the two pitches are in tune with each other. Pick the D 2nd string on the 5th fret (the G note) and tune the open G 1st string with its tuning peg while picking both the D 4th string and the G 3rd string until the two pitches are in tune with each other.

D G

*) See All Aspects of ROCK & JAZZ 1/ Music Theory, chapters Scales and Harmony

ADVANCED TUNING WITH NATURAL HARMONICS*)

E A

First tune the E string. NOTE Tune the B string on 5-string basses as the last string. Play a natural harmonic by lightly touching the deep E 4th string with a left-hand finger precisely above the 5th fret (without pressing the string!), and do the same on the 7th fret on the A 3rd string. Adjust the tuning peg for the E 4th string until you hear the same pitches without any "waving" effect (the note trembles due to interferences between two notes out of tune When the notes are in tune, the wavering stops and they become one note). Repeat the procedure with a natural harmonic on the A 3rd string's 5th fret and a natural harmonic on the D 2nd string's 7th fret. Adjust the tuning peg for the D 2nd string until the notes become one without any wavering. Repeat the procedure with a natural harmonic on the D 2nd string's 5th fret and a natural harmonic on the G 1st string's 7th fret. Adjust the tuning peg for the G 1st string until the notes become one without any wavering.

D G

*) See All Aspects of ROCK & JAZZ 1/ Music Theory, chapters Scales and Harmony

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 10, Tuning

WHERE ARE THE NOTES ON A FRETLESS BASS? Many bass players moving from the fretted bass to a fretless model are unsure about where to place the left-hand fingers in order to play in tune. Place the fingers PRECISELY ABOVE the mark, not before the mark, where you used to place the fingers on your fretted bass. Rehearse playing by the ears intensely and learn the relative movements of the fretboard (how far do I move my hand to an E, a C sharp, a high F sharp etc.)

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 11, The Human Instrument

The Human Instrument

When playing the bass, always play relaxed. Be as lazy as you can, avoiding major jumps from one fret on a string to another one on the same string, if you can use the next string instead. Being relaxed in your body, and rehearsing the positions of the fretboard are crucial for your playing and your health. Like with the mouse of the computer, tensions in your hands and shoulders will get you into trouble.

POSITION OF THE BODY Standing When you play in standing position, which bass players do most of the time, the muscles of the left-hand arm is somewhat restricted by the bended wrist. Adjust the strap on the bass until you have minimized the bending of the wrist.

Fig. 10 Correct Positions with the Bass Sitting Be relaxed but do not lean too much back or forwards. Do not bend your neck when reading the chords/notes, as this can lead to tensions and pain in the neck and shoulders. PSYCHOLOGY According to Sebastian Kalamajski, author of All Aspects of ROCK & JAZZ / 3 The Electric Guitar, the following exciting new methods can be utilized to become a much better player, musically and physically: Some Basic Brain Info The brain uses the following main functions: Conscious thinking, Subconscious storing of information and the Supraconscious mind, which is separated from the other parts of the brain. The latter is the centre of the intuition, independent of the conscious thinking process.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 12, The Human Instrument By learning to control your Consciousness you improve your learning rate drastically both in music and other aspects of life, for example learning new languages and your general reading speed. By controlling the Consciousness, you can also get a more efficient use of the subconscious memory, using readily available information on scales, chords, fingering etc. without having to think consciously about where to place your fingers. Concentration is the keyword in any learning process. Concentration means focusing and collecting your mind on one subject only without letting yourself disturb by anything. "Make a sketch of what you are going to practice ­ and follow it!" Make a list of what you want to rehearse and how long each item will take including a 5min rest every 30min. "Focus on your playing". Focusing on a subject will help you use the brain more effectively. Close the door to the room and tell everybody in the flat/house to leave you alone while you rehearse, maybe even put a "Don't Disturb" poster on your door. "Get motivated and inspired". There are several was of getting / being motivated. It could be the desire to play like your bass hero or because your girlfriend / boyfriend is coming to dinner. But in my experience, motivation can be produced through simple mechanics: 1) the more you play the better it feels. 2) If you keep on working - even if your motivation is low - the pleasure of playing your instrument will return in a short while, simply due to working with the bass. Motivation comes from working harder in itself rather from being rewarded or dreaming of being a famous bass player. This may seem slightly controversial but that is how I have been inspired and motivated over the years: Work is the drug. Second Nature Playing is the point in the learning process where the conscious mind leaves the work to the subconscious part of the brain - you play by heart. When you do not have to think about the position of your fingers, you can concentrate on the interpretation of the music, expressing yourself. To achieve this state of "automation", you will have to concentrate fully on your fingers. You may often experience a certain fatigue at the end of the rehearsing session, and your mind starts wandering. Try to keep the concentration during the learning process and remember: a 5min break every 30min. The phenomenon called "muscle memory" is important in connection with Second Nature Playing. While you learn to play, the muscles start "remembering" the movements of your fingers and hands. When planning your practice, you must be very careful to check all the technical details and playing problems, because if you and your fingers rehearse a technically wrong version of the music, the muscles will remember the wrong version and not the correct one. I once worked with an extremely talented musical singer. She made a mistake the first time she sang a certain line of the text, and she never managed to get rid of the mistake, the line got stuck in her head as second nature. So be careful... INTERESTED IN SEBASTIAN'S METHODS? You can find much more stuff and useful information in Sebastian Kalamajski's book All Aspects of ROCK & JAZZ / 3 The Electric Guitar, or read his articles on Guitar9.com.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 13, Left Hand Technique

Left Hand Technique

FINGER NUMBERS The left and right hands are numbered like this:

Fig. 11 Numbering of the Fingers It is on purpose that I do not use any numbered fingers in the exercises in Chapter 5. I am strongly against forcing the bass players to user one and one only fingering solution to play a phrase or a bass run. For the same reason, I very seldom use bass tablature, although my taste should not prevent you from using tablature, which can be a very effective way of writing down stringed instrument parts (see the WEB site list in Chapter 7, The Music Business). GENERAL ADVICE, LEFT HAND 1 Place your thumb under the neck and the other left-hand fingers above the neck. Do not press too hard with the thumb. Relax all fingers. 2 3 Press down the string of the first bass note just below the fret with one of the left-hand fingers. Use the necessary force to achieve a full tone, but do not press hard. Keep your hand relaxed. The little finger is normally a problem in the start of your learning period. After using the little finger for a while though, the finger muscles will grow stronger and the finger will not hurt anymore. Actually many rock and heavy bassists use the little finger together with finger 3 as one "double finger" or simply do not use the little finger.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 14, Left Hand Technique

STANDARD HANDS Standard Hands or Shapes are simply a tried and proven ergonomic and fast way to move your fingers in a given scale within an octave or moving from one octave to the next. The standard hands can be moved to anywhere on the neck, except for the open string which have their own Hands. The Octave Shifts are shown in a separate diagram. Fig. 12 Standard Hands (Shapes) Major Hand

G D A E B

Natural Minor Hand

G D A E B

Blues Hand*)

G D A E B

Harmonic Minor Hand

G D A E B

Mixolydian Hand

G D A E B

Melodic Minor Hand

G D A E B

square shows the octaves. The Melodic Minor Hand NOTE No open strings used. The has a position shift, shown with the large blue square.

*) Readers of the original paper version of the Bass tutor from 1985, may have seen my controversial 2-position th version of the blues hand, where I did not use the 4 finger. I have changed my mind since then - the standard version is faster, although many rock bassists actually use the 2-position version.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 15, Left Hand Technique

OCTAVE SHIFT You move from one octave to the next by moving the position of the hand after reaching the first octave. It can be done in several different ways, so the examples only show one solution out of many. Choose the one that fits your hand and the width of your bass guitar neck. Fig. 13 Octave Shift Major Octave Shift

G D A E B

Natural Minor Octave Shift

G D A E B

2 1

2 1

Blues Octave Shift

G D A E B

Harmonic Minor Octave Shift

G D A E B

2 1

2 1

Mixolydian Octave Shift

G D A E B

Melodic Minor Octave Shift

G D A E B

2 1

2 1

square shows the octaves. The shows a NOTE No open strings used. The glide with the finger to the next position. The Melodic Minor has no less than 4 positions!

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 16, Left Hand Technique

OPEN STRINGS Scales with open strings are limited to a few keys, E and A plus B, if you have a 5-string bass. Open strings may be used as leading notes in scales but only if you skip the main idea of the "hands", that is the flexibility on the fretboard. Keep in mind that all genuine musicians try to avoid rules, unless the rules suit the music. In other words - every possible fingering is allowed as long as you make good music! Fig. 14 Hands with Open Strings E Major with Open Strings

G D A E B

E Minor with Open Strings

G D A E B

E Blues with Open Strings

G D A E B

square shows the octaves. The E and A blues with open strings is a very NOTE The common and fast way of playing blues in the 60-ies style.

See chapter 4 Scales and Chords for Hands for the more advanced scales in jazz.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 17, Left Hand Technique

DOUBLE GRIP A double grip is rightly feared by classical double bass players and violinists. Electric bass players do not have to fear the technique that much, although some finger stretching exercises will be needed in the beginning. A double grip is a combination of left- and right-hand techniques.

Fig. 15 Right-hand Position for Double and Triple Grips DOUBLE GRIP POSITIONS Octave

G D A E B

Diminished Fifth (b5)

G D A E B

Second

G D A E B

Augmented Fifth (+)

G D A E B

Minor Third

G D A E B

Sixth

G D A E B

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 18, Left Hand Technique Major Third

G D A E B

Minor Seventh

G D A E B

Fourth

G D A E B

Major Seventh

G D A E B

Fifth

G D A E B

Three note chords and higher do not sound good on a bass and they should be avoided. The only exception to this rule is the highpitched Piccolo bass.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 19, Right Hand Technique

Right Hand Technique

TIMBRE Timbre is the "flavour" of the bass sound. It is created by the strings and amplifier, of course, but an equally important factor is the position of the right hand on the body of the bass.

Fig. 16 Timbre: Position of the Right Hand The Thumb Support was used on older Fender basses until about 1974 to allow for the oldfashioned thumb playing style or for left-handed players. Normal positions are 2-4 (I personally prefer position 4, which is faster than position 2-3).

NOTE The unfortunately rather common habit of placing the thumb on the E-string is not recommendable as it slows down the playing. Every time you need the E-string, you must lift the thumb with the consequent errors and extra noise from the string.

The force of the picking finger / plectrum should be as follows: 1 Very soft Almost a mere touch Soft Light picking without force 2 Neutral Light, gentle pick with a slight force 3 Hard Powerful picking, tough and short 4 Very Hard Normally for fast two or three finger playing The higher up the fretboard you play, the harder you will need to pick the string to compensate for the higher tension of the string. The position of the right-hand combined with the force of the picking is the basis of each bass players personal style. Every bassist has her/his way of picking, as individual as a fingerprint.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 20, Right Hand Technique

PLAYING WITH THE RIGHT-HAND FINGERS The electric bass can be played either with the right-hand fingers or with a plectrum. In the early days of the instrument, the plectrum was the most common as most bass players were "converted" guitar players. Nowadays, finger players outnumber the plectrum players. The fingers used two or three at a time are much faster and more elastic and precise as the plectrum. The timbre of finger playing has a broader range of sounds from the "human touch" rather than the dead plastic of the plectrum.

Fig. 17 Correct Finger Positions (the Less tiring anyway) Damping Technique Let go of the string and damp the note in one fast movement. Be careful that you do not hit one of the other strings, which sounds awful on a bass (on a guitar too, by the way).

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 21, Right Hand Technique

PLAYING WITH A PLECTRUM Plectrums are graded into very soft, soft, medium and very hard. The grade depends on the strength of your hand and the bass strings' gauge. Generally, a medium or very hard plectrum is best suited for a bass. The way you hold you plectrum is very important. The famous guitar teacher and musician Ivor Mairants (see the bibliography) has written en excellent book with exercises in plectrum for guitar players. Parts of the exercises are very relevant for the bass player as well, including the basic positions shown in the book.

Fig. 18 Position of the Plectrum

1 Basic Position 90 degrees Finger 1 and 5 hold the plectrum while finger 2, 3 and 4 are loose, halfway clutched The hand must be free of the body ­ do not "touch" with fingers 2-4 2 Correct Picking 100% vertically The arm (elbow to wrist) moves in an arch, causing a vertical picking movements

Never use fingers 2-3 as a support for the hand!

This very common mistake slows down the playing and may cause Carpal Syndrome

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 22, Right Hand Technique

PICK PATTERNS The order of the picking sequences is very important. Finger players use finger 1 and 2 to achieve an even flow of picks. Plectrum players use the up and down stroke of the plectrum. In both cases, we can use some drum theory to decide the best way to obtain a steady pick pattern. Fig. 19 Main Principles for Pick Patterns 1 Two-part picking is preferable in most cases 2Playing with one finger, or plectrum down strokes only are used for slow, distinct passages. 3Moving from one to double picking depends on the tempo. At about 100 BPM, 1/8s need to be played with two-part picking. 4Three or four fingers can be used in certain cases to achieve extremely fast playing or special effects. Fig. 20 Basic Pick Patterns

Even Meters

Down Up 1 Finger

Uneven Meters = Paradiddle Paradiddle (Alternate Picking) Compound Meters In fast tempi, the so-called paradiddle or alternative picking technique is used. The basic idea is to keep the order of the fingers or down/up strokes but change the accentuation according to the meter and rhythm Example: 3/4 1 2 1 | 2 1 2 | 1 2 1 5/4 Slow tempo Fast Tempo

7/8 Slow tempo

Fast Tempo

Moderate Tempo Fast Tempo

or all the time

Upbeats Always Example:

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 23, Right Hand Technique FUNK BASS In the early days of jazz, the bass players used a technique called "slap bass", pulling the string up with finger 5 and 1 and letting it "slap" the fretboard. This creates an effective percussion like bass sound. The original Slap bass can be heard on early country records too. In the 1970ies, the technique was reintroduced and refined by the soul and funk bass players. It is still very common in funk music.

Fig. 21 Slap Bass or Funk Bass It is possible to use all fingers on the right hand in one fast movement. One of the masters in the world of bass players, Danish Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, uses the thumb on BOTH HANDS, behind and on top of the neck. This is one of the secrets behind his brilliant playing and extreme speed. He is really one of the masters. Buy a couple of his CDs NOW.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 24, Right Hand Technique Fig. 22 Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen 2-Hand Picking

Alternative Symbols 1 2

Note

Picking with the Nail (the so-called Bartok Pizzicato) Pull with Finger 5 on the Left Hand

HARMONICS Strange Harmonics were standard along with the usual bunch of exotic effects in the early 1960-ies' modernist classical music. In the 1970-ies, the fusion jazz bassists took these technically difficult "heavenly" notes to their hearts. They are tricky to play and hard to hear, so they must be on top of the list of "techniques one must learn". The harmonics are a fundamental property of the string. See the chapter Harmony in All Aspects of ROCK & JAZZ 1/Music Theory. Normally all the inherent notes of the tone can be heard at the same, but when you employ the special Harmonics technique, you isolate one of the specific high tones of the string. The positions of the Harmonics on the string seem unnatural compared to the temperated notes on the piano. But these positions are actually the natural notes! The temperated system was invented in the 1700th century to make tuning easier when playing in more than one octave. This artificial tuning is now considered natural, whereas Mother Nature's tuning is considered false! The stringed instruments are not pianos (which you will notice if you try to lift a piano). So you must think about your strings as a natural ("false") scale tamed with the temperated frets ("in tune"). When you enter the world of the Harmonics, you move back 400 years ago, when instruments were supposed to play "out of tune".

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 25, Right Hand Technique The Harmonics are problematic to produce and they vary considerably in strength and deviation from the temperated tones. There are two ways to produce Harmonics: The Natural Harmonics and the Artificial Harmonics: The Natural Harmonics are the basis of the timbre; the closer you play to the chair, the higher overtones, you will get, and if you play nearer to the neck, you will have deeper overtones. The "standard" Harmonics (overtones) in the next table are very easy to produce and have a strong "beautiful" sound. I would be a liar, if I told you that the "non-standard" examples are easy or "in tune". But as you will learn, when you progress in music, the ugly notes also have a place in beautiful melodies. Fig. 23 Natural Harmonics ­ Left Hand Technique

Touch the string lightly without pressing down

Please note that the finger should be placed exactly above the fret, see also the section on playing the fretless bass.

Fig. 24 Natural Harmonics on the A-String (excerpt)

Major Fourth third Fifth Octave Major Fourth third Fifth

1

G D A E B

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9 10 11

12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

Ninth Octave Fifth Sixth Dim. Seventh

Octave

Major Ninth Third

Standard Non-standard

NB! There are even more harmonics than shown in this drawing!

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 26, Right Hand Technique Fig. 25 Natural Harmonics (Excerpt) on the Bass String

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 27, Right Hand Technique

= Natural Harmonics Symbol

Obviously, many guitar based tunes are in E, A, D and G Major, and the Natural Harmonics fit these keys perfectly. As the Natural Harmonics has a solid and ethereal tone, it may give the music an extra lift (and provide the bass player with a couple of extra octaves). The "false" Harmonics can be fun to learn and use, too. This is how the old Greek poets and songwriters sounded like. Go to the nearest Musical Instrument museum and listen to the music of non-western countries. They sound so much different ­ but it is still music to the God of Harmony and Love. Enough philosophy - let's get weird and enter the Artificial Harmonics. The Artificial Harmonics are a strange and wonderful invention. If you want to play a C as an overtone, you will find that the Natural Harmonics only offer one, almost inaudible secondary overtone. But parallel to the barre on the guitar, where a special fingering technique enables the guitarist to play chords in all keys, the Artificial Harmonics technique allows you to play any overtone you want. The trick is using 2 fingers on your left hand. Press finger 1 down on a fret to create an "open" string. Finger 3 or 4 uses the normal Harmonics picking method positioned according to the new "open" string to create the desired overtone.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 28, Right Hand Technique Fig. 26 Artificial Harmonics, Techniques

Standard New "Open" string When you need 10 Fingers on the Left Hand The Thumb used as an extra finger: New "open" string Using Both the Left and Right Hand Left hand marks the new "open" string. The Right Hand picks the overtone

Artificial Octave Harmonics

TRICK By vibrating the Left Hand marking finger, you can make the Artificial Harmonics vibrate!

The Left Hand Marks the New "Open" String. The right hand presses and picks the overtone

Fig. 27 Artificial Harmonics, Standard Intervals

Artificial harmonics Fret number from the new "open" string note Fret 7 (use Thumb!) Sounds Notation examples

Artificial Fifth

Fifth an octave above the Base Note

Create a fifth overtone above the Base Note

Artificial Fourth

Fret 4

2 Octaves above the Base notes

Create an overtone two octaves above the Base Note

Artificial Major Third

Fret 3

Third two octaves above Create a third the Base Note overtone above the Base Note

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 29, Right Hand Technique The artificial Harmonics are difficult to master, but when you do, it will be a great deal easier to play any overtone you like in any key. Fig. 28 Artificial Harmonics on the Bass Strings

Artificial Fifth Harmonics

Artificial Fourth Harmonics

Artificial Third Harmonics

NOTE The bass is already notated 1 octave above the actual pitch.

You can use mixed Natural and Artificial Harmonics in scales. Chords of Natural Harmonics and mix of "ordinary" playing on the deep string with Artificial or Natural Harmonics on the high strings are possible. The1970-ies bassist idols, Stanley Clark and Jaco Pastorius and several other "names" have employed these mixed techniques. Especially the Artificial Harmonics takes quite a while to learn. But if you play all 12 keys in all positions (Fifth, Fourth and Third) for one hour every day for a month ­ you might get close.

NOTE Roundwound strings are the best choice for producing full sounding Harmonics.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 30, Right Hand Technique

OTHER TECHNIQUES Although you are not a guitar or double bass player, you can use some of the methods from these instruments for various effects. Fig. 29 Various Effects on the Bass

Standard Slide HOW-TO Pick the string with the right hand. Let the string sound and let the left hand finger slide up or down the fretboard

The left hand plays "on its own" Bottleneck Slide HOW-TO Place the bottleneck tube exactly over the fret as with a fretless bass. Slide up or down the fretboard while pitching with the right hand.

A special steel tube covers finger 1 on the left hand, resting on a fret Percussion Beat on the body or on the back of the bass

Beat with the palm on all strings over the microphone or the fretboard

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 31, Right Hand Technique

Harp

HOW-TO Plug the strings behind the grooves in the neck on the head leading to the tuning pegs.

Motorcycle

HOW-TO Use a nail along the string (roundwound of course)

Pete Townsend Circle

HOW-TO Heavy attack on all string with right hand raised at maximum position. Great show and great risk of hurting your hand.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 32, Right Hand Technique

ERGONOMIC THINKING Playing the bass is physically demanding, although not as sweaty as playing the drums. Your finger muscles, the arms and your back are exposed to severe working conditions while you play. You must learn to follow a number of important rules, in order to avoid Carpal Syndrome and slipped disc in the back, which are some of the occupational risk of being a bass player. Fig. 30 Important Health Care Rules 1. The bass must be 100% balanced to fit your body and the strings must be adjusted to be near to the fretboard. The mechanics and the electronics must also be in 100% working order ­ the bass can give you an electroshock. And the bass must ­ of course ­ be in tune. 2. Always use the most relaxed playing technique and take the necessary time to learn to play. Correct techniques take time to learn but when they become second nature to you, the rest is like a breeze. 3. Play concentrated and relaxed. It is important to play the bass, and you should not think above the forgotten rent, your friends or your dinner, while you play. You are a professional. 4. Play a maximum of half an hour or 45min without pausing. If your wrist starts hurting, stop the playing immediately or play very slowly to relax the muscles. 5. Rehearse an even pressure on each finger, patiently, day after day. If you have blisters, do not prick the blister. You risk inflammation or blood poisoning. Rehearse a little less the next few days, and your blisters will harden. And after a few years you will have the skin of an old elephant on your fingers! NOTE Use the correct body and arm position if you play with the plectrum ­ see the section on plectrum playing earlier in this chapter.

SPEED There are many young bassists and guitarist dreaming of being the world's fastest players. What a misconception. Although eminent bass players like Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen play wonderful solos, they actually spend most of their time comping the solo players. That is the most important role for all bass players; being a part of the band ­ the team. Fig. 31 Speed Training 1. Rehearse scales in random keys in 2 and 3 octaves, as many as possible, 1 hour a day. 2. Start in a very slow tempo and be sure the finger position is correct and the hands are relaxed. Raise the tempo slowly the first weeks. When you feel sure about the slow and moderate tempi, you may increase the tempo even more.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 33, Right Hand Technique 3. Rehearse the pick patterns carefully with fingers / plectrum on all 4/5 strings, rirst slowly but precise, then in an increasing tempo. 4. Do not despair if a finger or position troubles you, Play the figure again and again, slowly. At last, you will come to the point where you understand the figure. You can hear what it should sound like, and after that tempo and technique is only a formality. It is your comprehension of music's spirit and nature that determines your ability to play it the right way.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 34, Articulation

Articulation

Articulation is the quality of a sound like timbre, which happens to belong to the family of sound colours. You have seen a few of these tricks of the trade before, timbre, harmonics and slide for example, but in the following section, I will go into details with the most common means of articulation.

GLISSANDO Glissando (Gliss.) is the most common effect for the rock bassist. You glide from one tone to another. Naturally, this effect works the best on a fretless bass. On fretted basses, glissando seldom glides beyond a Major third. Fig. 32 Glissando

VIBRATO Vibrato (vib) I maybe should have mentioned vibrato right from the start, as all bass players vibrate with their left hand fingers all the time. But then again, it is a very personal question how much and how fast. It is up to you. Fig. 33 Vibrato

Standard Vibrato

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 35, Articulation (Vibrato)

Heavy Vibrato

Vibrate the tone in a fraction of a tone up and back. Vibrate either slowly or fast.

BLUES NOTES Blues Notes (no official symbol, often just a natural sign or a b) are the revolutionary notes of Jazz and Rock that reinvented the microtones which had been away from Western Music for 2,000 years. In the blues scale, you pull the string about 70% of a half note on the blues notes, the blues third, the blues seventh and sometimes on the blues fifth (see Scales in All Aspects of ROCK & JAZZ 1/Music Theory). You need to rehearse these pulls for a long time, especially on the heavy bass strings (the thin guitar strings are easier to pull). You must learn to hear the correct pitch of the blues, which varies among the musicians as with the Arab microtones among Arab musicians. You have to learn by listening to records, the radio or other musicians. TREMOLO Tremolo (/) is not the same as vibrato although they are closely related. Like vibrato, tremolo is the signature of the individual player. It consists of row of fast strokes with the right hand, almost like a mandolin but more discreet (Vibrato is carried out with the left hand). Fig. 34 Tremolo

With Plectrum or with 2 fingers on one string (finger 1 and 2)

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 36, Articulation

DURATION Legato (-) The actual duration of a note, i.e. 1/4, is normally about 75% of the rhythmic value, the remaining 25% of the value being a micro pause. This makes the distinction between two notes more clear to the listeners, especially when repeating notes of the same pitch, where the notes tend to sound blurred without the micro pause. In some cases though, you might want to play the note in its full, notated length, i.e. 100%. This is called legato. It makes the music sound slower and dreamier, an interwoven pattern of sounds. Staccato (`) is the opposite of legato, namely shortening the actual duration of the note to about 50% of the notated length. This makes the stream of notes stand out, more accentuated, . faster. An even shorter duration is called staccatissimo ( ), here the music sounds almost breathless with micro duration about 25% and a long pause. Fig. 35 Duration

COL ARCO (BOW) On the bass guitar, you always play "pizzicato", i.e. with you fingers or a plectrum. On the double bass and other members of the violin family, this is an exception to the normal use of a bow and always marked with the symbol "Pizz.". When the double bass player starts using the bow again, it is marked with "col arco" (with the bow). For experimental playing you can use a double bass bow on the bass, as for example John Cale did in the 1960-ies. VOCAL AND BASS In jazz, there is a long tradition of singing pianists, guitarist and bassists. They have so much energy in their music that they are forced by their inner power to accompany their instrumental playing with sporadic singing. You can for example add a parallel bass line sounding an octave above the instrument. This would add a special 8-string bass like effect, particularly special if the bass player sings out of tune, which quite a few of the famous singing instrumentalists do! You can also try to whistle like the Dutch guitarist Toots Thielemann (he actually sings in tune, a rare example).

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 37, Articulation

SCORDATURA / ALTERNATIVE TUNINGS Guitarists sometimes change the tuning of the guitar, for example lowering the deep E-string to a D. Over the years, bassists and composers have experimented with alternative tunings of the bass. The technique is called scordatura or Alternative Tuning Fig. 36 Scordatura

Changed tuning of the strings is shown with red notes.

1 Standard tuning (5-string bass) 2 Variation of the sound (softer or harder) 3 Expansion of the tonal range (higher and deeper) 4 D tuning for fast runs (tight tuning) 5 G tuning for fast runs (tight tuning) 6 Makes playing in Eb, Ab and Db scales smoother (4-string bass) 7 D tuning (can also be applied on 4-string basses) SORDIN (DAMPER) Besides damping the strings with your palm, a mechanical damper ­ a sordin ­ can be mounted on the chair. Some basses like the Rickenbacker are even born with a built-in rubber sordin in the chair. The effect is a smooth, soft tone. Fig. 37 Sordin (Damper)

Sordin in Hardened Foam Rubber

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 38, Articulation

HAMMER ON / PULL-OFF (APPOGGIATURA) Hammer-on (move up) is a guitar technique, sometimes used on the bass. Place one finger on the left hand on the base note and the neighbouring finger ready above the destination note. Pick the string with your right hand and immediately shift from the base note (finger A) to the following scale step (finger B). This and the following technique are also known as appoggiatura. Pull-off (move down) lowers the note by moving down from a base note to the previous scale step, similar to the Hammer-on technique.

BENDS Bends are not practical on a heavy bass string, and are normally only applied when playing blues notes (microtones), provided you are not playing on "cables". You can combine a bend with vibrato, which is only possible (to hear) on the thinnest strings.

ORNAMENTATION Trill Fast alternation between two notes, the first note normally shown as a grace note (half size note). Mordent or Reverse Mordent is a base note jumping up one scale step (mordent) or down one scale step (reversed mordent). Turn is a base note encircled by a higher note and a lower note (a combination of the mordent and reversed mordent).

DYNAMICS Playing loud or soft is another obvious articulation method. In classical music, there is a system of dynamic markers for examples piano ( ) soft and forte ( ) strong.

TIP See chapter 1, Note Writing in All Aspects of ROCK & JAZZ /1 Music Theory for more information about note writing, effects, dynamics, tempi and general musical expressions.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 39, Volume and Sound

Volume and Sound

Before we proceed with the joys of playing in a band, you must read a couple of "traffic rules" concerning sound and volume. We are talking about electrically amplified instruments, and if you do not play by the rules, you will end up having a tough time with the band until you learn to be a part of the band, not a troublemaker.

VOLUME Adjust to the band and your role in the musical style The style of the music decides your position in the total picture. In soul, you keep the pulse and serve as a kind of soloist, too. In country, you have to stay in the background keeping the time. Never play louder than the other band members do. Be conscious about the style and its demands. Adjust to the room Some rooms have much natural echo. In such rooms, you must turn down the volume and play the notes in staccato (see the description earlier in this chapter). Otherwise, you will have a blurred, distorted sound. In very dry rooms, you will have to turn the volume up, holding the notes for longer (legato). By the way, too much echo and dry rooms are a nuisance. Do not damage the hearing of yours or the band If you play so loud that the other band members or the audience complain ­ turn down the bass! It is a health risk and the local police will not allow it (who cares about the police when you are into Rock'n'roll, uh?) Do not blow your bass speakers A new pair of speakers will cost you 1-2 monthly pays, just because you wanted to make noise, get the other band members into a state of fury, make the audience walk out and have the venue stop the concert. Psychological volume Volume is not just physical power, WAT etc. Other factors contribute to the way the listener (and you) perceives the volume of the music. To the listeners, bass notes sound higher than they actually are, especially from afar. You cannot hear how loud you are on the stage, so ask the sound technicians. Many notes appear to sound louder than few notes. Complicated bass figures stand out more than simple figures. See the sections on rhythm and melodic structure in the All Aspects series 1 / Music Theory.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 40, Volume and Sound

SOUND There are written many books about the sounds of the amplifier and your sound is always a question of personal style. So here are just a few general recommendations. Live On the bass: Turn bass, treble and volume up 100%. On the amplifier: Turn bass and treble up to 50% and volume to 30-40%, depending on the room. During the concert, you can re-adjust the controls on the bass ­ see the section on the pickups below In the recording studio Turn all the controls on the bass up to 100%. The technician will take care of the sound, provided you deliver a clean, neutral bass sound to the mixer console. Sound decided by the style Some types of rock and blues demands a deep/soft sound, while other types need a light/hard sound. Normally, you adjust to the style, but watch out for the band focusing on your bass as "too loud" or "turn down the treble control". Although you should not play like a madman, you have the right to be heard, too. Adjust the sound on the amplifier A Fender Jazz bass do not have many middle tones but a huge range of bass notes. The opposite is the case with a Rickenbacker bass. A Fender Precision is excellent in the deep range, but not that good in the high tones. The Gibson basses are good in the treble tones but not so strong in the deep area. You must learn to adjust the controls on the amplifier so that it compensates for the shortages of your bass guitar. Find the correct mix between bass, middle and treble, and use that mix as your future sound settings. Remember to write down the setting! Presence is important to penetrate the "wall of sound". Use 100% presence to lift the Precision bass, improving the weak high notes, Use 25% Presence for a Jazz bass, which is already suffering from too many light "click" sounds. The pickups on the bass guitar When the general sound on the amplifier has been found, you must adjust the controls on the bass according to the song. Each song should have its own bass sound. You must learn how to mix bass and treble according to the character of the song. You can choose a very soft sound or a hard and aggressive sound. It all depends on artistic decisions and taste. Some bassists always play with a neutral sound, while others prefer a more personal "special" sound. As long as the sound is clean and not distorted, anything goes. Talking about distortion If you want to use a distortion pedal, always remember to turn down the volume and stay away from the loudspeakers unless you want to loose you hearing and the loud speakers.

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 41, Volume and Sound

Now you have bought a bass, learned to use your fingers and other technical stuff. Now it is time to play with the other boys and girls!

Home

Chapter 2, BASS TECHNIQUE, Page 42, Index Bass Technique

Index Bass Technique

2

2nd, 8

E

Ergonomic, 32

P

Paradiddle, 22 Piano, 8 Picking, 21, 22, 24 Pickup, 4 Pizzicato, 24 Plectrum, 21, 22, 35 Position, 4 Pull, 38 Pull-off, 38

3

3rd, 8

F

Fender, 5, 6, 7, 19, 40 Fifth, 17, 18, 28, 29 Fingerplate, 4 Focusing, 12 Fourth, 18, 28, 29 Fretboard, 5 Fretless, 10 Frets, 4 Funk, 23

4

4-string, 4, 37 4th, 8

5

5-string, 7, 8, 9, 16, 37 5th, 8, 9

R

Rehearse, 10, 32, 33 Relax, 13 Rickenbacker, 6, 7, 37, 40 right-hand, 17, 19, 20 Rock, 35, 39 Roundwound, 29

G

Gibson, 7, 40 Glissando, 34

7

7th, 9

A

Anatomy, 4 Articulation, 34

H

Hammer-on, 38 Hand, 19 Hands, 14, 16 Harmonics, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 Head, 4

S

Scales, 9, 16, 35 Scordatura, 37 Second, 12 Seventh, 18 Slide, 30 Sordin, 37 Speed, 32 Staccato, 36

B

Bends, 38 Blues, 14, 15, 16, 35 Body, 11 Bottleneck, 30 Brain, 11 Bridge, 4

L

Legato, 34, 36 loudspeakers, 40

T

Tempo, 22 Third, 17, 18, 28, 29 Thumb, 4, 7, 19, 28 Timbre, 19 Tremolo, 35 Trill, 38 Tuning, 4, 6, 8, 9 Tuning peg, 4

C

Chair, 4, 6 Chords, 16, 29 Concentration, 12 Conscious, 11 Consciousness, 12 Controls, 4

M

Major, 14, 15, 16, 18, 27, 28, 34 Minor, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 Mixolydian, 14, 15 Mordent, 38 Motivation, 12

D

Damping, 20 Duration, 36

N

Neck, 4, 6, 7 Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, 23, 24, 32

V

Vibrato, 34, 35 volume, 4, 39, 40

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