Rock Bass

Author: Anthony Vitti   •   Course Code: OBASS-231

It's essential for any bass player interested in popular music to have a solid foundation in rock music. From its roots in traditional blues, rock bass is a launching point into many varied music styles: progressive rock, fusion, country, jam band styles, and more. Rock Bass provides the foundation and vocabulary necessary to construct and improvise bass lines in a variety of rock and blues music styles. You'll start by learning the 12-bar blues form and the major and minor pentatonic scales. You'll learn how to affect and contribute to a song rhythmically, harmonically, and melodically through practice lessons covering phrasing, feel and improvisation.

Throughout the course you'll study Berklee's bass method to Rock, Blues Rock, Delta, Chicago, and Texas blues, as well as more advanced techniques such as playing with odd time signatures, modal bass lines, and the open "jam style." Weekly lessons cover scale exercises, listening, performing transcriptions, and studying the work of legendary players like Geddy Lee, Jack Bruce, Paul McCartney, and Chris Squire. Each week culminates in the creation and recording of your own performance. At the completion of this course, you'll possess the skills to create and improvise your own rock and blues-based bass lines, and have the knowledge and ability to perform with a consistently solid sound, technique and timing.

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • Recognize different blues forms
  • Incorporate many different scales into your bass lines
  • Understand modal bass lines
  • Have command over different meters/time signatures
  • Understand syncopation
  • Incorporate rhythmic depth in your bass lines

Lesson 1: Blues Rock 12-Bar Form

  • Why Start with the Blues?
  • Developing a Practice Routine
  • The Major Pentatonic Scale
  • Different Blues Forms
  • Phrasing and Feel: The Beatles
  • Assignment: Blues Bass Line

Lesson 2: Blues Rock with Different Forms

  • Practicing Tools
  • The Minor Pentatonic Scale
  • Alternate Blues Forms
  • Minor Blues
  • Phrasing and Feel: The Police
  • Assignment: 16 Bar Blues Bass Lines

Lesson 3: Delta, Chicago, and Texas Blues

  • Developing Good feel
  • The Mixolydian Scale
  • Different Types of Blues
  • Phrasing and Feel: Koko Taylor
  • Assignment: Texas Style Blues Bass Lines

Lesson 4: The Shuffle

  • Developing Good Time
  • The Blues Scale
  • Types of Blues Shuffles
  • Phrasing and Feel: Robben Ford
  • Assignment: Blues Shuffle Bass Lines

Lesson 5: Traditional Eighth-Note Rock

  • Being a Consistent Player
  • Scale Exercises
  • Straight Eighth Rock Feel
  • Phrasing and Feel: The Tubes
  • Assignment: Eighth Note Rock Bass Lines

Lesson 6: Playing in a Power Trio

  • Developing a Good Sound
  • Variations on Scales
  • Scale Exercises
  • Approaching Playing in a Trio
  • Phrasing and Feel: Cream
  • Assignment: Eighth Note Rock Bass Lines

Lesson 7: Syncopated Bass Lines

  • Choosing the Correct Instrument
  • Variations on Scale Exercises
  • Approaching Syncopated Bass Lines
  • Phrasing and Feel: Dixie Dregs
  • Assignment: Syncopated Bass Lines

Lesson 8: Doubling Bass Lines

  • Choosing The Right Equipment
  • Variations on Scale Exercises
  • Doubling Lines Explained
  • Phrasing and Feel: Boston
  • Assignment: Record Doubled Bass Lines

Lesson 9: The Open "Jam Style"

  • Playing Live
  • Variations on Scale Exercises
  • The "Jam Style"
  • Phrasing and Feel: Robin Trower
  • Assignment: "Jam Style" Bass Lines

Lesson 10: Odd Times

  • Playing Different Styles
  • Variations on Scale Exercises
  • Playing in Odd Meters
  • Phrasing and Feel: Rush
  • Assignment: Odd Meter Bass Line

Lesson 11: Exploring Modal Bass Lines

  • Building Speed and "Chops"
  • The Dorian Scale
  • The Aeolian Scale
  • Variations on Scale Exercises
  • Understanding Modal Bass Lines
  • Phrasing and Feel: Yes
  • Assignment: Modal Bass Line

Lesson 12: Making Your Lines Stand Out

  • Enjoying Playing Bass
  • Blues Scale Variation
  • Scale Exercises
  • Bass Line Improvisation
  • Assignment: Final Exam Songs

Anthony Vitti

Author & Instructor

Anthony Vitti balances a successful performing career with a professorship in the Bass Department at Berklee College of Music, where he has taught since 1988. He got his start in the rock club scene in New York City in the early 80s, sharing the stage with classic rock bands like Twisted Sister, TT Quick, and the Good Rats. He went on to study at Berklee College of Music, graduating in 1986.

That set the stage for a busy performing career that has included performances on numerous Broadway shows and many television and radio commercials, as well as performances with a wide variety of artists, including Steve Smith, Gregg Bissonette, Carmine Appice, Zoro, Blues Saracino, Toy Caldwell, Barry Goudreau, Abe Laborial Jr. (Paul McCartney), Jamie Haddad, Giovani Hildalgo, Marcus Miller, Chuck Rainey, Sammy Davis, Jr., Liberace, Nell Carter, Bobby Vinton, Diane Carroll, and many other artists.

Today, he performs with Herb Reed and the Original Platters, the Drifters, the Coasters (as seen on the PBS Doo-Wop specials), and Tomo Fujita and Blue Funk. Vitti is the author of numerous bass instructional books and DVDs.

Prerequisites

Completion of Bass Performance 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required. Students should have at least one year of playing experience, ability to play classic rock bass lines on the electric bass, and an understanding of tablature.


No Required Textbooks


Software Requirements

  • A basic audio recording tool that will allow you to record yourself playing along with a background track and save the recording in MP3 format. You will have a tool to use for this purpose inside the learning environment. Alternatively, you can use software like Audacity or GarageBand.

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • Electric bass
  • A basic amp chord with a 1/4- to 1/8-inch adapter for recording directly into the computer
  • Audio interface such as the IK Multimedia Stealthplug, Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, Mbox, etc. See the Student Deals page for discounts (recommended)
  • A printer is recommended, so that you can print out music examples used in the course
  • A built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built in ports or an external audio interface)
  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( http://www.speedtest.net to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)

Comments

Got a question? Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu. We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.




  • Level
    Level 2
  • Duration
    12 weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
    $1,479
  • or
  • Non-Credit Tuition
    $1,229

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