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What can I usefully do bass related without my bass?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by SuperBassSam, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. SuperBassSam


    Feb 9, 2009
    Dorset, UK

    I'm away from my bass for a couple of weeks, and it got me thinking what can I usefully do bass/music related without having an actual guitar with me? Loads of people must sometimes get in the same position, and rather than just waste the time I want to get somehow better at bass :p

  2. JtheJazzMan


    Apr 10, 2006
    i teach my students to work on rhythm all the time whether they have their bass or not.

    getting comfortable with polyrhythms, maybe take a metronome with you. helps a lot
  3. lowend219


    Sep 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    if you don't know how to read bass clef that is certainly a worthwhile endeavor to undertake without a bass in hand. musictheory.net has some nifty little flash games to help you memorize pitches on the staff. it also has some ear training flash games of equal nifty-ness.

    otherwise you can spend time studying up on your bass history. Read interviews or biographies of your favorite players. there's a lot that can be learned from trying to get inside the heads of the greats. Plus, its just incredibly interesting (but hey, some of us are nerds like that)
  4. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    Ear training.
  5. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    You can work on reading bass clef by bringing along some sheet music and sitting with it and saying the name of each note out loud. You can also work on learning the notes of the chords and scales by both writing them out and saying them out loud.
  6. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Work on harmony and scale theory. Can you name the notes of an Ab major scale without the bass in your hands? Can you "finger" an Amin7 arpeggio across two octaves without the bass? What's the 5th of Eb? The b3 of F#?

    What are the changes to "Satin Doll", or "My Foolish Heart"? Can you sing the bassline to "Billy Jean" and have a good idea where those notes are?

    Stuff like that will help you a lot.
  7. EADG mx

    EADG mx

    Jul 4, 2005
    Just about everything besides building muscle memory, dexterity, and a feel for the instrument, really. Use your imagination.
  8. paul_wolfe


    Mar 8, 2009
    There was an issue of Bass Player which had an article on this topic, with contributions from all sorts of bass dudes, I particularly remember Gary Willis being one of them.

    I'll try and dig it out and let you know which issue it was.
  9. Years ago I heard session guitarist Tommy Tedesco talking about working in a factory as a young man. He was convinced he didn't want to pick up boxes for a living his whole life, so he figured out a way to become a better guitarist while working there. Every time he set a box down, he would hold "play" a chord on his right forearm as though it were a guitar neck. Pick up a box, C7, another box, F min7, another box, Bb dim7, all day long. It worked for him!

    Try memorizing chord and scale spelling as suggested above, or try to figure out the intervals and then notes to simple melodies like 'twinkle twinkle little star' just by hearing it in your head or humming it. Starting on C, what are the notes?

  10. fender_funk_man


    Feb 19, 2009
    Spend some time each day listening to music. I'm not talking about having music on in the house while your doing something. I'm talking about sitting down and just listening to music. Very good for the ear and the imagination.
  11. dulouz


    Dec 7, 2006
    I learn a lot in my car while I commute to work every day. I listen to the music and then try and sing the bass line (an octave up). This really cuts down on the time needed to practice because by the time I get to it on my bass I have already learned it in my mind.

    Sing scales and arpeggios too. And of course, sing rhythms too.
  12. derekd


    Feb 16, 2009
    Recite every note in every scale around the key circle. Recite every note in every major triad around the key circle. Recite every note in every minor triad around the key circle.

    By doing this will give you the ability to transpose on the fly, create chords, triads, scales, etc on the fly without having to rely only on patterns.
  13. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Buy one of those little travel guitars and keep on playing.
  14. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006

    I like to work on Rhythm reading when away from a bass. any old sheet music will do, but rhythm exercises are best I suppose. I just ignore the pitches and focus solely on rhythmic info.
  15. I ride the bus and listen to my metronome (w/earplug) or iPod and work on rhythm, odd meters, bass lines, ear training, and inner clock while thumping with my right-hand fingers. BTW, my timing improved considerably when I started doing this.

  16. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Complain about guitarists and drummers. :D
  17. emor


    May 16, 2004
    Learn solfège.
  18. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Listen to a lot of music that you ordinarily would not get to know.


    Bela Bartok String Quartets #3 & #4
    Miles Davis "Kind of Blue"
    Buddy Holly's Greatest Hits
    Mozart's "Die Zauber Flöte"
    2 CD Wilson Pickett compilation
    Ornette Coleman's "Shape of Jazz to Come"
    Dylan's John Wesley Harding & Blonde on Blonde
    Mozart Symphonies 36, 38, 40, & 41
    Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" and Sextet
    Allman Bros. Band "Decade of Hits"
    Louis Armstrong from the Smithsonian collection
    Schubert Quintet in C D.956
    Howlin' Wolf "Real Folk Blues"
    Dion DiMucci "Heros"
    J.S. Bach Goldberg Variations (Trevor Pinnock or Glenn Gould)
    Beethoven Piano Sonatas (try No. 8 "Pathétique" Op. 13 and No. 23 "Appassionata" Op. 57)
    Joni Mitchell "Court and Spark"
    Antonin Dvorak "American" String Quartet
    John Coltrane Giant Steps (Atlantic CD re-release)
    there is no end to these riches...:help: :p

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