learn from the masters
Today in Pop Rep lab we opened up the song My Promise from the new Earth Wind and Fire cd. Master bassist Verdine White is layin' down some nasty pavement. The horns, keys, guitar, drums, vocals are all incendiary leaving plenty of room for Verdine to light up his magic. Recommend this tune for study and/or enjoyment. We took down the chord progression and form first to get an idea of what Verdine might be looking at and or hearing to inspire his part. Check it!! Overall it sits in the key of E maj with verses and choruses starting on the VI minor C#...Something like this; VIm IV IIm I ... Have fun!! Midway there's a twist when it goes to the VII minor, then a IV III II III IV which takes you back to the top..a I sus sets up the gospel V #V diminished walk to the top...HOT!!!!!!!!!!! Nuanced to the max!!! thank you Verdine White for teaching us what's up!!!
Thanks Danny! I gotta get that disc! Verdine is a bad dude!... and a good guy! In the Stone!!
I am an African bass player residing in Chicago. i really want to learn how to play western music, such as Jazz, Classical, Rhythm and Blues, Rock music, Gospel etc. i want to learn it all but am not sure where to start and the steps i need to follow so as to become a more rounded and a better musician/Bassist. Thanks much for doing this. this will be the highlight of my day....
Oh yes, You know I was listening outside and it was killin'. I also want to mention that one of my former students and I think Danny's, Justin Panariello, co-wrote and co-produced three of the songs on that album!
where to start? Ear and Groove
learning how to play bass in any style requires an ear and a groove..for the ear, start by hearing "Home", meaning the center point or resting place of where a song sits harmonically. The song My Promise by Earth Wind and Fire starts with the guitar on a C#min chord. A cadence is when you have two or more chords going in a particular direction and finally you get to a sound where you "feel" home, resolved, satisfied with the sound.. sort of like ending a conversation and reaching your concluding point..make sense? E maj and C#min are called relatives. If a guitar plays an E major chord and the bass plays a C# down low, the chord will become a C# minor..chords or harmony are built from the bottom up. The listener hears a vibe from the chord and we as bass players are in charge..If we play E the chord sounds resolved too..The difference between E maj and C# minor is huge in the vibe department. E feels happy, C# feels less happy.. So the progression for the start of this song goes C# min A maj F# min E maj..in numerical analysis that's VI IV II I.. The C# is mellow, when the cadence ends at the E it feels like the end, a conclusion.
Groove...listen to how Verdine plays rhythmically identical to the lead vocal. They both syncopate in the same places. Some notes are hit on downbeats or strong beats, and others are emphasized on weak beats or upbeats. We call this syncopated beats (anything not on a downbeat).. Learn the beginning to this song. Use this brief analysis to get started thinking theoretically. You start with this and then realize so much music has more in common than not.
Whether you are playing Jazz, R&B, Metal, or Mbaquanga..you can train your ear to hear "Home" and you can train your fingers to "Groove"...practice something everyday..repetition is best...small steps to success!!! and don't forget to rest (when you stop playing!)...a rest (known as a tacet) is huge...after a rest when the bass comes back in it's gonna have an enormous impact on the music..check out 2:09 on this song..Verdine lays out..then he re-enters the music at 2:25.....sounds awesome!!!!!!best of luck with your music study!
Yo, D Mo! Dustin Samples here! TB just got richer for your involvement! Can't wait to read your posts!
thanks Dustin! we're all students intrigued with the magic of music making....psyched to be here!
How are you? I still remember that you are so awesome piano player. :)
Hi Kyungsoo! fun playing music on any instrument!! nice to hear from you...hoping all is well!
Anthony Jackson, Scott LaFaro, Justin Timberlake/Pharrell Williams
in Survey of Bass Styles class today we opened up 3 songs which shed light on 3 disparate music styles..
top left check out melodic shape ... actually can see two chords the F7 (bar1) and C-7 to F (bar 2)..this becomes the ostinato (repetitive pattern) Anthony Jackson uses on Donald Fagan's Ruby Ruby.
Below that, Scott LaFaro on Autumn Leaves with Bill Evans..Berklee student Derrick Elliot pointed out how LaFaro uses the relative minor of each chord to start phrase on melody walking line..interesting!
On Senorita Berklee student Nori Shiota pointed out that the bassline uses 4th on bottom of chord to create a dissonance that grooves heavy! again an ostinato repetitive pattern seals the deal as a strong compositional tool. Bottom line USE REPETITION IN YOUR BASSLINES!!
I think a good amount of the time, our egos trick us into wanting to play lots of fills or non-repetetive lines. The greatest lesson I learned from you is to use repetition and your concept of binary - being aware of 2, 4, 8, etc. measures.
If you want ostanato, check out any Fela Kuti. His bass player plays the exact same line for 20 minutes at a time!
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