In session and stage bassist Ryan Madora’s debut lesson for BP, we discover the chromatic movement hidden inside our favorite bass-lines.
Hi there, fellow bass players—I’m thrilled to be writing to you for the first time! As a long-time reader of BP and someone who has obsessed over the bass guitar for years, I’m honored to share my insights with you. I like to think of bass players as thoughtful individuals—people who respect the heart that goes into music, who discover the beauty in nuance, and who find glory in the groove—and I hope to write with the attention to detail that you deserve.
With that in mind, I hope to inspire you with some musical tools of refinement. Our greatest tool? The ability to listen. To hone in on the low notes, the complex rhythms, and the stunning riffs that inspire us to pick up our instrument. This ability to actively listen, to comprehend what is happening in the music, and to integrate what we hear, is perhaps the greatest way to learn. This skill, in and of itself, must be refined over time.
I also believe that in order to actively listen, we must first choose to do so. After all, plenty of listening happens passively while we’re doing other activities—exercising, shopping, or driving to work. When we want to refine our listening, we must challenge ourselves and exercise our ability to perceive things that we may otherwise overlook. What better way to do so than with a game?
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