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How to Beautify a Boring Bass Line

OK, maybe not a boring bass line, but you might tend to get bored after playing a simple bass line and want to find some ways to play it differently, maybe even add a little more beauty.  This video teaches you how to add a 10th to your one-note bass line to create a more beautiful sound. The 10th is an octave to the 3rd and harmonizes perfectly with every chord root, as long as you know the difference between a major and minor! We’ll try this out on the Hillsong classic song, Oceans (where feet may fail).

Let me know how this goes.  I’d love to hear your feedback and experience with incorporating this harmonic technique!

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Ear Training Using Familiar Songs

You might have seen how artists teach students to draw a bird using familiar basic shapes.  The head can be drawn from using a simple circle and a triangle, the body can be an oval, and so on. This method helps the artist focus on the main shapes of the animal, person or scene they are trying to draw without getting overwhelmed with the details.  The same concept applies with learning songs.  Although a melody or bass line can seem difficult to discern when listening, it’s helpful to simplify the line and learn to apply some familiar and basic melodies we already have in our heads.  A Melody is simply a series of notes that move in pitch and rhythm to create a pleasing musical phrase.

However, just as every image is made up of familiar shapes, melodies are made up of familiar note, or pitch intervals.

An interval is the distance between 2 notes.  As I show in this video, we number each note in the major scale and show how intervals between the 1 and 5 (a 5th) is used in Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, but also many other songs.

When we recognize this 5th interval in Twinkle, Twinkle and can sing it or reproduce it on our instrument, then we will begin to hear and identify it when used in other songs.

The idea is to be able to do this with as many intervals as you can identify and reproduce.  In this video I talk about

2:00 – The 5th interval (with a 6th added) in Twinkle Twinkle.

5:00 – How to apply the melody of Twinkle Twinkle to Bethel’s Lion and the Lamb

7:35 – The 4th as in the first 2 notes of Amazing Grace (a-ma) , or Here Comes the Bride,

9:30 – Major 3rd using It’s A Small World, Swing Low Sweet Chariot

14:32 – Minor 3rd using Hey Jude

Finally, this process will ONLY be learned by working with it regularly.  Our ears will never be “trained” to identify and apply these basic intervals if we don’t work at it.  All that the videos on YouTube can do is inform and teach.  However the practice and hard work must be done by each of us.  Be patient and stay with it.  You’ll get it!

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How Chord Symbols Tell You What You Can Play

Chords and What They Tell Us

I just posted a video on which I explain a little about some of the common chords we all face from week-to-week, but want to use this post to provide a little more info.

Below are a few more chords not mentioned in the video but are good to know.

sus Chords (Csus, Ebsus)

When you see a sus chord (ex: Csus, Esus), it will usually be followed by the same, non-sus chord. You can hear an example in Matt Redman’s 10,000 Reasons at the end of the chorus “…His holy name” has a Gsus followed by a G.  As the basic structure of any chord consists of the 1 (root), 3, and 5 notes, the sus chord uses the 4 in place of the 3. You can reproduce this sound on the bass by playing a G (root) along with the next highest C. Then pull off the C and play the B one fret down. The sound of these 2 chords played in this order creates a sense of resolve.

Diminished Chords (Cdim, C°)

Not very common in CCM, but good for every musician to understand.  Diminished Chords also produce a sense of tension, or dissonance that will be followed by a chord that relieves that tension.  They are used in transitions between chords to add color and a feel of tension and relief.  You can hear a diminished chord in the popular song What A Wonderful World at the end of the bridge at the line, “they’re really saying I love you”.  The dim chord happens at the word “saying”.  Listen for the diminished chord in this acoustic cover of the song by David Blair (right around 1:48-1:50 in the video).

The diminished chord is built on minor thirds.  So, if you play a C, D#, and F#, you’ll have the sound of a C diminished chord.  Add an A to that mix and you’ll have a Cdim7 chord.  Please note, with every chord discussed there are a number of variations.  I’m trying to keep my lessons and posts at a basic level to help beginners and those who might be experienced players, but have little music theory background.  Short post this week.  For those who haven’t seen my intro video on chords, here it is. Thanks and see ya next week!

 

 

 

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What Bass Tutorials Would You Like to See?

Happy 2017!

2016 proved to be an active and challenging year for my family and me, so I’m happy to be entering into a new year with a somewhat clean slate:-)  I’ve been blessed with a growing number of subscribers and plan to increase that number as I add more videos for the coming year.

New Course Coming in February!

I’m looking forward to creating my first multi-segment course to be out in mid-February.  However, I haven’t nailed down the topics for the course content.  That’s where I want your input.  What kind of help are you looking for in an online bass course?  Modes?  Theory?  Particular techniques?  How to learn a song?  Important scales and how to apply them? Creating bass fills?  How to read chord charts?

These are some of the topics I’ve been considering, but really want to know what would be most helpful for you.  My primary purpose for creating the Worship Bass Workshop has always been to provide help for bass players who are not able to find a teacher or course that connects with them.  If you’re looking for a worship focused bass course, then I hope you’ll be able to find it here.  I should also mention that although my Youtube videos will always be free of charge, the online courses will be sold for a one-time price or through a subscription (still working that out:-).

Please leave a suggestion in the comment section on this post or email me directly mikebrandenstein@gmail.com

Thank you for your awesome support!  Mike

 

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What In the World Is a 1, 6, 4, 5 Chord Progression?

I used to hate being around more experienced musicians and not being able to understand what they were talking about.  For instance, I was playing at a church for worship and the guitar player mentioned adding a “blue note” to a song.  I had heard about blue notes before, but really didn’t know exactly what it was (BTW, a blue note is simply a note played to add some dissonance or tension to the chord or melody.  Think of a b3rd being played in a major chord.  It’s used all the time in blues).  Thankfully, I didn’t have to reveal my ignorance at that time!

Another area that was cryptic for me was using numbers when describing chord progressions.  I would hear “Let’s play a 1,4,5 blues, or “just use a 3,6,2,5 turn-around on that tune”.  Huh?  Perhaps this is how you feel when you hear these kind of things being said in your circle.  If so, I’d like to help clarify the number thing for you.  It’s pretty much all about the numbered order of notes in the major scale.

For example, the C major scale is C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.  If we number those notes we have C-1, D-2, E-3, F-4, G-5, A-6, B-7, and octave C-8.  If we are playing in the key of C major, then we will be using the same letter notes and corresponding letter chords.  Look at a song that is played in the key of C.  Unless it’s a jazz song with a bunch of chord substitutions and key changes you will find that the chords being used are C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, and sometimes B half dim.  Let’s see how this applies in a familiar worship song.

Here are the chords to Chris Tomlin’s Good Good Father in the key of G.  Before we look at the chords in the song, let’s be reminded of the notes in the key of G: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G.  The corresponding chords will be G, Am, Bm, C, D, E, F#m7b5, G (the F# is simply a minor 7 with a flatted 5th also called half-diminished).

So, here are the chords:

*Good Good Father
Written by Pat Barrett and Tony Brown

G                                                       G

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
G                                                 G

But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
C                   G/B

And you tell me that you’re pleased
Am7         D

And that I’m never alone
Chorus:

                                 C
You’re a Good, Good Father
G                         Am7                 D

It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
C

And I’m loved by you
G                 Am7                 D

It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Bridge:
C                             Em7
’cause you are perfect in all of your ways
Am7                         G

You are perfect in all of your ways
C                             Em7     D

You are perfect in all of your ways to us

*Please note that I intentionally included one verse, chorus and bridge and left out variations on the chords for the sake of simplicity.  The purpose of this article is to explain the relationship between chords and numbers.

Chords and Their Related Numbers

As we did with the key of C above, let’s now look at the numbers of the chords in the key of G: 1-G, 2-A, 3-B, 4-C, 5-D, 6-E, 7-F#. Here’s the basic rule for playing in a major key.  The 1, 4 and 5 chords will always be major and the 2, 3 and 6 chords will always be minor, the 7th chord is half-diminished (not commonly used).  Go back to the chord chart, does this song follow these rules?

The beauty of this system is that if your worship leader needs to change the key during rehearsal (I doubt that ever happens with your worship leader), you can simply apply the numbers rule and navigate the change with more understanding.  Yes, this might take you some time to master, but once you do, you’ll see how easy it is.  This is the idea behind the famed Nashville Number System.  Here’s how this same song would be charted using the numbers:

Good Good Father

1                                                     1

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
1                                                 1

But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night
4                   1/3

And you tell me that you’re pleased
2          5

And that I’m never alone
Chorus:

4
You’re a Good, Good Father
1                         2                 5

It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
4

And I’m loved by you
1                  2                  5

It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am
Bridge:
4                               6
’cause you are perfect in all of your ways
2                            1

You are perfect in all of your ways
4                            6      5

You are perfect in all of your ways to us

 

What’s a 1,4,5 Blues in G?  It’s a blues pattern with G, C and D.   If it was in C the chords would be C, F and G.

I hope this has been helpful for those of you who were confused by the number system.  Shoot me an email or comment with any questions.