IIB: Music Theory for the Bass – Lesson’s 3 & 4

Sorry for the delay on my reviews of the IIB Music Theory for the Bass Course.  It seems my life has gotten very busy as of late, guess it’s just that time of year.  Even with the delay in the course I am finding that it is too much for me to keep up with on a weekly basis.  I have decided not to rush things as that this is something I truly want to learn and get the most out of.  As such, it is going to take me more than one week to work through each lesson.  My plan now is to continue working at my own pace, while posting a quick review of each lesson as it comes.  In this way I can give you readers an idea of what each lesson holds, even though I may not yet be on that lesson.  If time permits I may post quick updates as to my status in the course as well as my insights.

Lesson 3 of Music Theory for the Bass is centered around Seventh Chords and how to use them to construct bass lines and solos over specific chord types.  Next we look at Chord Sequences and how they are used in music composition and improvisation.  There are only a limited number of Seventh Chords and Chord Sequences which we are instructed to break down and work on one a day until we have them all down.  From here we look at how seventh chords can be arranged into a variety of 4-note cells which are referred to as Chord Cells.  We then look at the different Chord Symbols to learn how to recognize the various ways Chords are written in music notation.  This leads us to a discussion on notation that is used specifically for bassists, such as the marking and symbols for slapping, tapping, bowing, etc.  Next we continue our note studies looking at the notes from the open strings to the 5th frets working through several choruses of the 12-bar blues to help us with note recognition.  Lesson 3’s Rhythm Studies have us working with Half, Quarter & Eight Notes, initially without our bass as that we are mainly focusing on the rhythmic recognition as opposed to note recognition.  We wrap things up with some Ear Training applying our 3-step exercise to seventh chords.  Lesson 3 also includes a set of MP3’s of Seventh Chord which we can use to play over and practice the seventh chords across the entire span of the fretboard.

Lesson 4 introduces us to the Modes in the Major Scale with a reminder that scales are the fundamental building blocks of music.  We are then presented with a collection of Scalar Exercises to help us internalize the sounds of scales as well as expand our fretboard familiarity.  Next we look at Scale Cells and how to utilize scale fragments.  On the notation side of things we talk about different Key Signatures and how to identify them.  For note studies we are presented with a collection of basic rock lines to aid us in recognizing notes on the fingerboard and staff.  Eighth Note Triplets are what is on tap for our Rhythmic Study exercises in this lesson, once again starting out without our bass to truly focus on just the rhythm.  As always, we finish up with a bit ear training focusing on the Modes of the Major scale by applying our 3-step process we learned in Lesson 1.  Lesson 4 almost seems a little shorter in content than the previous lessons, but believe me, there is a lot of information to absorb here.

Some of this stuff is still a bit over my head, but as I continue to work through the lesson’s it is beginning to make more and more sense to me.  This 12 week course may take me much longer than the 12 weeks to get through, but I am confident that once I do, my musical knowledge, and my bass playing, will be at a whole new level.

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