If you’ve not read the first three articles in this series, then check them out first.
Click the link to check out the first of those articles, entitled WHY I PULLED MY FIRST EVER BOOK.
And the second of those articles is called BEYOND BASS HANON. Click that link to check that one out.
The third of those articles is PRACTICE HOW YOU’RE GOING TO PLAY.
In the previous articles I talked about how I dropped the Bass Hanon exercises because:
- The exercises are based on piano exercises, and the point of the exercises was to work on strengthening and independence for the fingers when playing piano. As such, the exercises aren’t particularly musical.
- As well as not being musical, the exercises were written over 150 years ago BEFORE the bass guitar was invented and before the language of the bass guitar began to be developed in jazz and blues. So they have little relevance to the kind of vocabulary bass players use when playing in blues, rock and soul.
Around 2010/11 I did my first deep dive into the playing of James Jamerson. That’s when I started to uncover the vocabulary of bass lines – that I’ve been codifying ever since as ’80-20 Devices’ or just devices for short hand.
When I came to start practicing devices for myself though…something else that I’d studied during that deep device surfaced. If you’ve got STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN you’ll see on Page 91 a piece of notation called IGOR’S CHROMATIC EXERCISE. This is an etude on the cycle of fifths that Jamerson created for his own practice – here’s a video from 2009 by a YouTube called JamersonHook – ignore the relatively poor video quality and focus on the sound of the exercise:
When I wanted to thoroughly practice the first devices that I’d codified, I subconciously gravitated to the cycle of fifths (going either way depending on the device being used) and used that as a chordal framework for the exercises I developed, along with either a chordal metronome (piano block chords plus four quarter note side sticks) or a band style. (Both of the latter via Band In A Box.) And for some reason I gave these exercises the name “Origin Exercises.” The reason why is lost to time but the name has stuck!
Over time I realized that Origin Exercises could be adapted in similar ways to the ideas in the Bass Hanon Variations PDF….but not only could consistent 8th note rhythms be adapted with 16th note rhythms (as per the previous article) but the exercises could also be adapted for simpler rhythms for students not yet ready to play consistent 8th notes at 120 BPM, or 16th note rhythms at 100 BPM.
Plus there’s other ways of practicing the exercises so that you can take an exercise that you know and use it to practice something you are not so sure of. That could be a different rhythm. A different genre with appropriate rhythm. To work on your time using harmonic metronomes. To work on assimilating modifying devices. And lots more.
I’ve documented some of these exercises in some of my courses and books, but never put them all together into one place.
These exercises are all foundational, can be used to work at the level of player that you currently are, can also be used to push your playing forwards, and can be adapted in myriad ways. If you examine the practice habits of elite performers in sports they spend a much bigger percentage of their practice working on foundational elements than you’d ever think. These exercises are not only foundational in terms of the devices they practice, but also in terms of the rhythms you can use.
More on this on Friday!