It has been a long time coming, but here at last is my humble review for Lesson 13 of Teach Me Bass Guitar. Coming in at just under an hour, Ashley kicks us off by telling us we will learn all about Diatonic Modes, how to use them, plus how to transpose into any key. From here Roy shows us a new warm up exercise which consists of tapping notes and pulling off, starting on the 5th fret. This warm up is similar to the 4×4 exercise we learned early on, but with a bit of a twist.
Next up Roy invites his student, Kodi, whom we have seen in earlier lessons, onto the set to aid in instructing us on how to build Modes off of the Major Scales. Right about now I am feeling thankful that I took the time to pause my TMBG lessons to get a better understanding of music theory, otherwise I think I would be feeling pretty overwhelmed. Roy starts off by dissecting the C Major Scale, having us play it solely on the A string, then goes on to explain how Modes are built off of this. Essentially Modes are Scales that start at a different Scale note, such as a C Major Scale starting on D, instead of C. In this way you can build 7 Scales from one, by only changing the starting point. This is a very poor and simplified explanation on my part, fear not though, Roy does a great job of explaining it. He then goes on to demonstrate how Modes work when played against chords having Kodi play the Mode Scale while Roy plays the Chord. After the C Major Scale, he then runs through the entire process again using the G Major Scale to illustrate how this can be done with any scale.
At this point Kodi leaves us and Roy has us run through all 7 Modes in the C Major Scale with the metronome set at 60bpm. This can be a little tricky at first but once you get the hang of it a couple of patterns begin to emerge. Next we run through the Modes in G Major, but this time we don’t stop after each one, we move from one right on to the next all at 60bpm. This seems like a great way to practice modes as it forces you to think ahead. Finally, before moving on to our first song, Roy gives us a few shortcuts to assist us in remembering the necessary patterns.
The first song we learn in Lesson 13 is a Miles Davis inspired tune entitled “Why Not?” Built around 2 Modes, D Dorian and Eb Dorian, “Why Not?” has us walking up and down each scale for 8 bars then taking an 8 bar solo. Here Roy gives us several solo ideas, such as playing the Scales in 3rds, using Syncopation’s and playing swinging 8th notes in 4 Note Sequences. All of these ideas, plus more, can be combined when soloing. Roy presents us with a template for soloing here, but what he really wants us to do is to start to improvise and create our own lines. This approach works well for me as it gives me an idea of what I should be doing, then lets me be creative and come up with my own line.
Once we have learned the basics of the song we head into the club to play with the band. Here we have the standard slow and fast versions with and without bass. Again, Roy encourages us to only use his line as a template, what we need to be doing now is creating our own lines. A great tip Roy leaves us with is when improvising, if you feel you have hit a note that sounds bad, just slide up or down one note and it should sound better.
Back To School
Roy finds inspiration from the great Stanley Clarke for the second song, “Back to School”. Here again we are doing some Modal Improv playing over chords in the key of D. In this number we will be employing some Power Chords as well as some slapping as learned in prior lessons. As you may recall, my slap technique never really got off the ground and I foresee this song taking me a bit longer than usual to get down.
This song more than any we have learned thus far, has us combining several elements from prior lessons, as a result there is not much new instruction here. Roy simply shows us how to put the elements together, then has us play through the song, starting at 60bpm and moving up to 100bpm, which is just a tad slower than the slow tempo with the band. Once with the band we really start moving, and the fast tempo seems blazing to me! Man this one is going to definitely be a challenge.
To wrap things up Roy has us stretch our arms overhead with our fingers interlaced, stretching as far towards the ceiling as we can. This helps to loosen things up physically, yet Lesson 13 is mentally challenging as well. I feel that I am finally starting to understand the theoretical terminology, but I wouldn’t say I am quite there yet. I know enough to follow along, but have a hard time keeping up if I don’t concentrate on what Roy is saying. It feels like it is right there, but just out of my grasp. Perhaps with a little more study all will become clear.
For this lesson there was one thing that stuck out to me in the beginning and I am not sure that it was fulfilled. Ashley’s claim that we would “learn to transpose into any key”, which she reiterated during her outro, just doesn’t seem to be the case. Roy doesn’t seem to mention this in Lesson 13. Yes, I feel that I can now figure out the Modes in any key, but to me this is different from learning how to transpose in any key. When I hear “Transpose into any key”, it means that if I know how to play a song in G that I could easily transpose it into the key of B or E. Maybe I am just not seeing it, but I do not feel I learned how to do that in this lesson, or if I did it was not explained in that way. Perhaps I misunderstood the claim, either way it is unclear.
“Why Not?” and “Back to School” should keep me busy for a quite a while. Finding the needed time to practice continues to be a challenge for me, but I am slowly learning how to remove distractions from my life and focus on my goals. I’d love to finish up the Teach Me Bass Guitar Course before I go to Roy’s Fantasy Bass Boot Camp at the end of July, but if not, I’ll get there. As much as I want to finish this course, I don’t want to rush through it. In the end I want to have absorbed as much information from this course as possible, so rushing things just wont’ do.