Re: Your opinions, please

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Posted by Stinko Stanko on August 28, 2000 at 09:21:39:

In Reply to: Your opinions, please posted by Asbestos Man on August 25, 2000 at 08:44:54:

: I have very little musical theroy knowledge, and I want to improve my improvisational and songwriting skills. What are the best things to learn, and the best ways to learn them?

Yo... I agree with the former posts. I'd like to add though, that the most important theoretical approach to improvisation, IMHO, is to learn as much as you can about intervals. An interval is the distance between two notes, and there are 12 of them. I think it's the most important part of improvisation, being able to think what you want to play in your head and directly transfer it to your bass (after a while, though, the point is to stop thinking and just play, but that's far from this stage). Here is what is important to learn, concerning intervals, in no particular order: 1: The names of the intervals, 2: How the intervals sound, 3: How the intervals look on your bass.
The most successful way of learning this, IMHO, is to associate each interval with a song. Like, a clean 4 for me was those first two notes of amazing grace. Play it on your bass, remember the fingerings you used, remember the name of the interval, and try to associate these with those two notes from amazing grace (or any other song that fits the interval, it's all your decision...). Taking tihis further, a minor 2d for me is the theme melody from Jaws, a minor 6th the first two notes in Vangelis "Conquest of Paradise", and so on. Hope you get the point. It will take some practice, but you'll get there soon. Later on, another part of this is to learn how simple recognizable melodic patterns sound and should be played on your instrument, due to the same principle I've already mentioned.
When you feel more secure on this, try to listen to songs (not only to basslines, also try melodies and other instruments), and try to figure out in your head how to play them on the bass, the patterns on your neck and fingerings to use. Do this every time you hear a song on the radio or whenever you get a melody in your head, just think it out and then play it on the bass to see if you're right on. And take it easy, have patience, you got to work hard on this to get anywhere. Soon, it will be more and more easier.
Eventually, after some months of hard practice, you will probably quit associating intervals with these songs, and instantly recognize an interval with... well, just the interval. You'll get there, just put some time and effort to it.

Concerning songwriting, I just have a good advice, and that has not much to do with bass or theory... For me, many times I just walk around in town and suddenly get this great melody or rhythm idea in my head, but I ain't got no bass around to play it on, and when I eventually come home, I've already forgot it. You'll know what I mean if you have been through it yourself. So, follow a good advice and buy a minirecorder, like those mini cassette recorders you can wear in the pocket, to sing your idea in and play it when you've come home. I myself use a MiniDisc. If you got an answering machine, you can phone home and sing it into that. And don't forget to do as the other guys says and take some theory lessons. Oh, and check out the Adam Nitti lessons here on, he got some good online stuff on intervals (check out "intervallic sightreading"). I write too damn much...

Keep the beat

Stinko Stanko

PS, if anything's not clear, just scream and I'll explain it further.

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