Remember How You Remembered Pi? (On Bass Mnemonics)

Pi mnemonics

“May I have a large container of coffee?”  This handy mnemonic never made it to my German speaking  classroom back in high school, but it would have come in handy to remember those elusive digits that make up the mysterious Pi!

Mnemonics are one of my favorite ways to learn and teach because they work and make learning more fun.

And they can be super useful for us bass players. The symmetry of the fretboard, letter names and numbers, possibilities for mnemonics abound. a few weeks back I posted a video on one of them: “Making an X, the ultimate shortcut to rhythm changes”. And there are a whole lot more applications, for example:

  • Fretboard shapes
  • Intervals (even more on that here, in my Interval Formula)
  • Chord changes
  • Ear training
  • The pentatonic shapes (listing them all in this article, a fun visual mnemonic!)

There are

  • visual mnemonics – we can visualize shapes and diagrams on the bass fret board and associate them with objects we are familiar with!
  • Auditory mnemonics can help us identify intervals! For example, you could link the sound of an interval to the beginning of a song you are familiar with.
  • And kinesthetic ones (the feeling channel!) – as we learn to make box shapes on the fret board!
  • Or emotional cliches for interval identification: ascending: major third ascending = happy; minor third ascending = sad; major sixth = romantic minor sixth = dramatic etc.

Please read all about this here in Part 1 and Part 2 of my series on mnemonics for bass and music. These articles were originally published on

Enjoy! Oh, and I would love to know – what music related mnemonics do you know? Any “old duck going fishing…” to remember the cycle of fifths? What is “All cows eat grass” in a language you speak? Looking forward to your replies!