G Minor 6 Blues
There is a definite lack of good study pieces for jazz double bassists – especially for beginners. While classical bassists have a wealth of written material to draw upon, because jazz is largely an improvised art, there’s not as much suitable written music.
Working on a set study piece is a key part of any jazz bassist’s practice routine (Part 3 of your practice routine), and I suggest the Marcello and Vivaldi sonatas for those wishing to look at some easier classical music. Bassists who prefer to focus on jazz may find the piece I offer here a useful one to work on.
For some, the Simandl method book is so far removed from the music they want to play that it seems like a chore. What they really need are interesting jazz study pieces to play that provide new challenges to develop their technique. To this end, I have composed a number of pieces to meet that need. Most also have backing tracks.
I have all of my private students working on set pieces in addition to working on their improvising. Here are a few reasons set pieces should become part of your practice routine.
- They present technical challenges that you would not otherwise experience. For example, perhaps you always shift in the same way between a set pattern of notes. Playing written music introduces challenges that you may otherwise miss. When you come across these or similar items in other material, you will be prepared and you can also use them in your improvisation.
- Learning written music is excellent for improving your sight-reading skills. As jazz bassists, we often spend considerable time improvising, so we need to carve out space to work on this essential skill.
- You learn new “language” that you can apply in your improvised bass lines and solos. Each piece you learn can provide you with new material you can use in your own playing. For example, perhaps in the piece I’ve composed, you learn more about the sound of minor 6 chords and explore them further. In addition to this and the other music in this Study Guide, I also recommend the “Jazz Bass Book” by John Goldsby, which contains a number of superb written solos. For jazz bassists, it’s my number one recommendation.
Think about transcribing a piece of music that you hear which you can then learn. It’s an incredibly useful skill, so if you’ve never done this or if you find it hard to do, start simple. I suggest all bassists spend part of their practice time transcribing music and also playing classical and jazz study pieces to develop the wide range of skills necessary for today’s diverse music.