2. Not so Blue on the bass

Hi! Another post in English for my friends around the world!


In my previous article 1. Not so Blue: the blues scale in 5 steps, I covered a subject that drew the interest of many, considering the number of daily views: the blues scale, and my 5-step approach to play it in an original, creative and very effective way. I suggest you read that article first, and watch the video (below) where I apply the techniques I have explained.

As I promised last time, here are a few tips about what I did in the video and how to apply these techniques on the electric bass and the double bass. Let’s start by viewing the blues scale on the bass fret board. In figure 1 you can see the D minor pentatonic in the so-called “oblique shapes”

Figure 1

As you can see, there are two oblique pentatonic scales, one referring to the III and the I string and the other referring to the IV and the II string. This enables us to cover the whole register of the electric bass and the double bass. In D minor the second pentatonic is in the low register while the first pentatonic is in the middle register, however the second pentatonic can be used in the upper register, too, to divide the zones by specific aims: low register for accompaniment purposes, upper for solos and medium for transitions between the two. In figure 2 I have added the other notes of the blues scale.

Figure 2

Watch the video and, if you want to improve your way of playing, analyse and apply the following points on your instrument.

Tips to develop and improve your skills

1. I play the main line in the first chorus, then I improvise a melodic solo using the slap technique. This is a draft transcription of the line.

Figure 3

2. To enhance the solo melodic effect, I use the hammer-on and pull-off techniques and other tricks that generally are not as effective in mere accompaniment. Find out where I use these techniques and try to use them when you play.

3. The line is built on a blues progression that uses dominant seventh chords (with the major third). Nonetheless we have seen that the blues scale privileges the minor third. This is one of the features of the blues, therefore you should try to keep this minor-major mood in order to create a neat and distinct blues phrasing.

4. In the 95% of this piece I use both shapes of the oblique pentatonic while in the remaining 5% I use other material which is based on intervals reinforcing the harmonies. Try to alternate between using the shapes and introducing other unrelated material, if you like the effect this alternation produces when you play.

5. In some choruses I use the double feel, this means I play at double time. In other words, each measure is played as if they were two measures at  double speed. This system works well if the set metronome is not too fast, the effect is quite good but it takes skills to play like this.  How can you apply this technique when you play with your drummer?

Thanks for staying with me. Till the next meeting!

NOT SO BLUE by T.Zanotti

2 pensieri su “2. Not so Blue on the bass


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