Bass Bit 8: Seconds on the Bass 1 (BB#8)

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Seconds Part 1

In this segment I show you fingerings and concepts of the minor and major seconds, how to hear the difference and more. Hear and see the hip grooves demonstrated and dive into one of my favorite ways to shed intervals: by repeating the interval over and over. In the case of the seconds this makes for a few great symmetric scales. Check out the first one of them, built on all half steps (ie, minor seconds): the chromatic scale. As always I think practicing is the most fun when you make music with the concept. Enjoy!



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Hello, welcome to Bass Bit #8!

We are going to move to the seconds today. But there is so much to say about the seconds – it’s just gonna be “Seconds: Part One”. Seconds come in two sizes: they come as major seconds and they come as minor seconds. I want to show you – check on page number 24 – the different ways on fingering the seconds. So I can finger like this: I’m gonna play from B to C. I can play a minor second that’s just one fret, right? I can play that on the same string with the following fingering: [playing: 0.48 to 0.52] 1 to 2, 2 to 3, and 3 to 4.

[playing: 0.55 to 0.59] Okay? I recommend you don’t do this unless you have a reason for it. Sometimes we can use these sorts of configurations as a pivot [playing: 1.03 to 1.24] points to get into a different area of the bass without losing our position, without looking at the fret board. So I am not saying to never do that but, rather, have a good reason for it.

Okay. I’m showing you – as I’m talking – how you can move your position. I call this sideways movements “The Crab”. We’ll have lots more on those coming at us. So, typically [playing: 1.29 to 1.31] don’t skip a finger.

Note names would be B to C [playing: 1.33 to 1.34]. If I call it B to B#, it’s an augmented prime; it’s not a second. If I call it B to C, then it’s a minor second.

[playing: 1.43 to 1.44] I can also play B to C with two different strings. However, in that case, I will have to stretch. [playing: 1.50 to 2.04] That means I have to go over one fret like that. Doable! And, I recommend you practice it a little bit to get that distance under your belt because oftentimes when you’re reading music and not looking at the fret board, it is really helpful to know where to go if you need to execute a minor second between two strings!

Now for the major second. Now that’s obviously two frets. By the way, this is [playing: 2.19 to 2.21] a minor second up, and this is [playing: 2.22 to 2.23] a minor second down. Ascending [playing: 2.23 to 2.24], descending [playing: 2.24 to 2.25]. I’m going this way, right? [playing: 2.27 to 2.28] Ascending, [playing: 2.29 to 2.30] descending. I can do it between two different strings. This [playing: 2.32 to 2.34] is ascending and this [playing: 2.35 to 2.37] is descending.

Just to show you – if you’re a beginner – it really helps to think that through because it’s not always so that one direction means you’re going down and one means you’re going up. In this case [playing: 2.49 to 2.50], ascending is this way. And in this case, [playing: 2.53 to 2.54] ascending is the exact other way. So, just thought to mention this here.

Major second – [playing: 2.58 to 3.00] B to C# – that’s a major second. I can finger that like this: [playing: 3.02 to 3.03], I can finger it like this: [playing: 3.03 to 3.04], and I can also finger it like this:  [playing: 3.06 to 3.07]. Again, I should have a reason for this fingering and it is sometimes to switch position.

[playing: 3.11] That’s on the same string – B to C# – and this [playing: 3.14 to 3.22] is B to C# between two strings. So that’s a really good one to know.

[playing: 3.22 to 3.23] Ascending, [playing: 3.23 to 3.24] descending. You can hear it.

Now, what do they sound like? Minor seconds, they sound like the movie “Jaws”. Listen: [playing: 3.29 to 3.39]. Even when you do it down here, it’s even better. There it comes.

A major second sounds like the beginning of “Happy Birthday” – [playing: 3.43 to 3.47]. Right? You can also think of it this way: the major second sounds like the beginning of a major scale [playing: 3.53 to 3.57], whereas the minor second sounds like the end of a major scale [playing: 4.02 to 4.11].

What do the grooves in the book sound like? There is a minor second groove in the book on page 26. I’ll play that for you [playing: 4.20 to 4.47].

Now I want you to see the fret board as I play it [playing: 4.50 to 4.54]. The rhythm there – the dead note rhythm, in the end of that first line there – is a sixteenth note triplet that will be falling into an eighth note. So just the feel of it is: [playing: 5.08 to 5.14] 1, 2 and 3 and 4 and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. The “ah ah ah” happens on the end of four. So 4, 4, “ah ah ah” [playing: 5.19 to 5.20], 4, *taps. And they’re dead notes so you just put the fingers down without pressing any fret. 

Major second groove – [playing: 5.29 to 5.50]. The major second groove, I want you to see me play that one – [playing: 5.54 to  6.05].

Again those little x’s mean dead notes and the rhythm there on the last part may seem a little complicated but just by listening to them, I’m sure that you can figure it out [playing: 6.16 to 6.21].

Okay? A bunch of exercises are in the book on how to practice your seconds. This I wanna demonstrate.

What I always like to do with intervals to really practice them is to keep repeating the interval. Now I can repeat just the minor second over and over and that gives me a certain scale. It’s called the chromatic scale. And I’ll show you in a second how I practice that. Then I can also repeat the major seconds and that gives me another scale. It’s called the whole tone scale. And then I can repeat a minor second and a major second and that gives me two more scales. And all of these scales are super exciting. They’re called symmetric scales. So you will see the examples of what I’m talking about on pages 28 and on. And I will demonstrate all of that in the upcoming bits but today, I’m going to focus on the chromatic scale. Again these scales are called symmetric scales and very accessible and they’re much more accessible when you see them on fret board diagrams rather than if you just see the notes of them because on the fret board, they are – as the name implies, symmetric – so I can move them around and do fun stuff with them pretty much right away.

I’m going to play you the chromatic scale that is in the book on page 27. It starts with the seventh fret and don’t forget – the chromatic scale is always just half step, half step, half step in succession over and over and over. So it doesn’t sound like it has a beginning or an end, like a regular major scale would. The pattern that it makes is really accessible, you play [playing: 7.53 to 7.55] one finger per fret on the E string you started on the seventh fret, and then you just scoot down [playing: 8.01] because I need to go another half step. Right?

[playing: 8.03 to 8.12] So, I’m gonna go to the next string and I come up with this pattern. In the book I show going all the way up until I hit the highest note. And descending – [playing: 8.16 to 8.23].

So there’s more than one way to skin the cat. Important is, that at some point you got to have to switch between strings; and I like to do it in such a fashion that I always have four per string and once I’m done with that long string, there’s no way around doing at least one string in the long way especially if I’m going over that many octaves.

That was part one of the seconds. There will be another Bass Bit that will be talking about more symmetric scales that we can build from the seconds. So stay tuned and I’ll see you next time. Thanks for watching.  


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