View Full Version : Improvising on the bass

05-12-2013, 08:17 PM
Could someone post a good video about improvising.
I can get the main notes of a song down but depending on where I play those notes on the neck, it can get difficult to improvise and make it sound good.
Thumbs up to Nick today for being the first instructor I've seen to pick up a bass on JamChat.

05-12-2013, 09:32 PM
learn your chord tones. A video would get you started but it's the kinda thing where you really just have to sit down and play your scales and arpeggios, and memorize the chord tones (e.g. where the 1, 3, 5, and 7 are in each chord/arpeggio). I don't play bass very well, but I'm aware of the thought process that goes into improvising basslines, and I've done similar training on guitar. I call out the numbers of the scale as I play it, and then I play it as sequences and continue calling them out (e.g. 1-3,2-4, 3-5, etc) and then break up the major scale into it's corresponding arpeggios. I'll go through a basic outline in a 2nd post

05-12-2013, 09:50 PM
Ok so in the key of C

First decide on where you're going to play the scale. Then I would suggest going through the whole scale ascending, calling out the numbers, and then descending and keep that up for a while.

Then, play 3 notes of the scale, go back to the 2nd note and play 3 from there, go back to the 3rd note and play 3 from there.

So you get: 1-2-3, 2-3-4, 3-4-5, 4-5-6, 5-6-7, and you get the drift

and basically you can do whatever sequences you can think of. The whole point is to learn the scale so well that you can immediately go to the chord tone you want to go to.

After learning the scale really well, I'd suggest breaking it up into arpeggios. I'm sure you can find diagrams of these arpeggios all over the net.

So in C major you have: Cmajor, Dminor7, Eminor7, Fmajor, G major, A minor, and B dim. In whatever position you are playing the scale in, you will also be able to find the arpeggios that are part of the scale. So don't learn just any old arpeggios. Learn the arpeggios that correspond to the area on the fretboard that you practiced the major scale in (and you can do all of this later on in a different position on the fretboard, with different arpeggio shapes of course).

So yeah, those are the basic arpeggios, and it would be good to learn the 1,3, 5 of those (1, b3, 5 if minor; 1,b3,b5 if diminished)

So after that, now you have to add the extensions in. So in C you have Cmajor7, Dminor7, Eminor7, Fmajor7, G7, Aminor7, Bm7b5. Find these arpeggios shapes (you should be able to just take the basic shapes you've learnt already, and just add the 7ths in).

You can also break up arpeggios into sequences as well. e.g. for a G7 sometimes I'd do 1-5, 3-b7, 5-1, b7-3, 1-5, and continue. Break it up however you want, basically.

It REALLY helped me to learn this way, and you get to the point where things kind of "light up" on the fretboard. When you see a G7, you'll immediately see your chord tones and be able to play a decent line.

I didn't really get into chromatic tones here, as that's kind of hard to explain, but basically as long as you aren't on a strong beat, you can play a "non chord tone" that approaches the next chord tone. We call this "walking".

Another reason I like the approach to learning chord tones that I mentioned, is that by singing the notes as you play them, you're actually training your ears to recognize arpeggios when you hear them. This will make it easy to figure out basslines to songs.

I highly suggest that to go with jamplay lessons, you learn "intervals". There are youtube lessons that give you some examples of intervals and songs to use as mnemonic devices. For instance, a minor 2nd interval is the first two notes from the "jaws" theme. (dun dun...dun dun dun dun....DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN) lol. There are also online ear trainers (search on google) that you can use to improve at interval recognition. Basically, the point of this all is to awaken your ears.

Hope this helped.

05-12-2013, 10:41 PM
Hey man, great advice.. I appreciate it.

05-13-2013, 04:12 AM
this video is good and gives a song example for each interval as well http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-vD7Swr3DQ

05-26-2013, 03:10 PM
the concept of motif (melodic idea) and repeat followed by motif and embellishment will help you organize your ideas...I like the advice given so far, learning your intervals, scales , arpeggios, and learning sequences of 3 notes....123 231 etc.
play along with a drum machine...pick a chord, one chord to start...make up a motif, a riff, a melodic phrase...that's your starting point...play around with it...and remember you can always return anytime to that starting point...it will sound good and be memorable...
here's a video of me embellishing on a riff in E...imagine the chord E dominant 7...so you have the chord tones E G# B D or 1 3 5 b7...
have fun!
D Mo