Friday, March 14, 2014

The Walking Bass Line: Creating a Walking Bass With Only a Scale

8:00:00 AM
We've all heard the walking bass line in jazz and blues music. It's associated with a relaxed atmosphere and often plays as an accompaniment to a soloist or group of soloists. The basic structure uses a scale to create a foundation and movement through a piece. Combined with the percussion section, the walking bass line allows a performer to help accent the fundamental note and give the piece depth. Often the double-bass player comps the bass line based on a chord progression or notated music. Using a relaxed pizzicato technique, the bass guitar or upright bass players pluck out the lowest line to add definition and structure to a composition.

Preparation

Before you start writing a bass line, you must know the intervallic relationship of half-steps and whole-steps in both major and minor scale. In a major scale, the intervals spacing adheres to the following schematic: whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half. In this example, a C-major scale has the following notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, B. Start a half step lower and you get the notes C-flat, D-sharp, E-flat, F-flat, G-flat, A-flat, and B-flat. The first note of the scale is used to identify the name of the scale. If you don't yet know some basic music theory, you should study major and minor scales and key signatures. Then, move on to other scales such as the blues scale and pentatonic scales. A first-semester course in college music theory provides you with the basic information necessary to continue.

Rhythm

Think about the basic rhythm you want to use in your walking bass line. The rhythm in a walking bass line usually repeats every two measures. This standard convention makes it easier for the performers to know when a chord change is going to occur. One very common rhythm uses two eighth-notes followed by seven quarter-notes, for a total of eight beats. Once you have your rhythm you need to write the rhythm on staff paper above the staff lines. After writing the rhythm, draw a barline every four beats. Remember that walking bass lines don't move very quickly and the most common rhythms used are eighth notes and quarter notes. Remember that each quarter note holds for one beat; eighth notes hold half a beat.

Polishing

Take your rhythm and replace each note of the rhythm with the notes of the major scale. Most likely, you'll be writing in the bass clef. This is, after all, a walking "bass" line. Once you've entered in the notes for the rhythm, erase the rhythm "placeholder" you've written above the staff. Go over the rhythm several times and make any changes to make it more fluid. Consider moving some of the pitches around to make the walking bass line a little less predictable. Writing a bass line should involve a bit of creativity. While this basic tutorial can help you create the initial line when you are at a loss for ideas, you should attempt to edit the line when finished.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How to Catch the Spirit While Singing

3:33:00 PM
There comes a time in every singer's life in which the magic of music seems to have disappeared. The singer is on stage and the thrill and inspiration that originally drew the performer to the music in the first place just isn't there anymore. The spirit of singing an emotionally charged piece seems to be something that can come and go at a moment's notice. While finding inspiration in every song you sing may be unrealistic, there are techniques vocalists can use to keep their inspiration and spirit strong.

Step 1

Start with your technique. Make sure that you can comfortably sing the music. Be honest with yourself: is the song too difficult for you to sing at your current level? If this is the case, put the song aside until you have developed more skill. Look for a vocal teacher to help you improve your technique. If you can't sing the song because of the technique, you will never catch the spirit while singing.

Step 2

Memorize the music. In order to attach meaning to a song and truly get into the notes, you must first have the music memorized. If you are concentrating only on singing the right notes, you will become detached from the music and less capable of expressing yourself.

Step 3

Learn about the music and the composer. Discover the meaning behind the words and try to put yourself in the position of the composer or songwriter. Aim to think like the composer and acquire a deep understanding of the piece through research and study. If you don't know anything about the song or the composer who wrote it, you may find it difficult to feel inspired while singing.

Step 4

Sing with your eyes closed now that you have the music memorized and know a little more about the piece. Imagine a vivid scenario that accurately depicts the song. Imagery can help a singer project the music more accurately and connect more deeply with the music.

Step 5

Ask yourself whether you are burnt out and need a break from the song. Sometimes, if the previous steps don't work, you may just need some time off from the song. Don't stop practicing every day, but put aside the music that is causing you issues.

Step 6

Experience life and enjoy yourself. If you are working too hard and never leaving the house or enjoying the company of friends, it may become difficult to express yourself with music. Experience is the key to finding inspiration. Singers with more life experience have more emotions to tap into when singing.