The bass scholarship

I hope you’ve been enjoying the endless wonder that is rhythm reading. I really do enjoy those rhythmic modes, although they make things very tricky. We’re going to continue looking at some different divisions, this time introducing semiquavers (16ths). These bad boys make music a lot more interesting, and are featured in the funkiest of funk grooves, but can also be nasty little critters known to give readers serious conditions such as brain melt and crazy eye twitch. If you’ve had any of these symptoms while reading, then hopefully this will help you out a little. All of us have been learning language since we were very small, learning to ‘sound out’ words through phonetics. Because these phonetics are so familiar to us they can be very useful when applied to unfamiliar rhythms. Here are a few examples.


Try them out on the below excerpt from a contemporary pop song and apply to your own reading exercises: a good resource is Reading Contemporary Electric Bass by Rich Appleman. Once you have played through, use your rhythmic modes technique and start the phrases from the second, and then the third beat and so on, to add an extra challenge. Remember, if you’re finding reading hard, take it at a slower speed. Play with a metronome to keep your timing and note length correct. Start to listen to how certain rhythm phrases sound, and try to internalise them by practising them and identifying them in other pieces of music. When you next come across the phrase, you won’t have to sit and count it out, you should be able to just ‘hear’ it as you see it. This is a great goal in sight reading – to hear the music as you read.


Hopefully the phonetics concept will be as useful to you as it was to me. They’re just ideas, of course: invent and use your own if you find them helpful.

‘Til next time – Life’s better at the bottom.

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