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Theory - where to start?

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by TRU, Jul 17, 2002.

  1. TRU


    Apr 12, 2002
    Northern Europe
    I'd want to get more understanding in music theory. I played sax and drums when I was a kid and have had lessons of notation, cycle of fifths etc. the "normal" stuff, but I'm not really able to use that in my bass playing. I'd really need to learn what notes to play over different chords. I can make up lines that sound intresting (at least to me) if I'm given enough time to explore, but I really suck in improvising anything on the fly.

    So basically I have to learn scales and modes, am I right? Where should I start? Would "The Chordal Approach" be a good book to start with?
  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Inactive

    Dec 11, 1999
    learning all those modes, scales and stuff without knowing how to apply them is useless. It is one of the major issues that I have with most books and lessons. You need to start to develop a knowledge of FUNCTIONAL HARMONY. Functional Harmony is the study of how chords or a chord progression function within a certain tune and what scales or modes relate to that function.

    There are some good books out there - if you're into jazz - try The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine. Although written more for piano than bass, it is essential. MY book, The Chordal Approach gets into functional harmony but only from a theoretical standpoint, but from a practical standpoint it is more about actually playing chords. There are a couple of good but basic books from the Musician's Institute and also from The National Guitar Workshop (alfred publishing). These books are pretty basic and don't get as in depth as say the Jazz Theory Book. Check out the Ron Carter Book as well as the Rufus Reid and Gary Willis books. These are more about playing over the changes than investigating the harmony, but still some great ideas. Also check out www.bassbooks.com for other ideas.

    If you have specific questions, I can also be a resource to you


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