So, you want to be a musician? That’s great news, but how are you going do that? Well, one way to get started is learning something about Western music, which is comprised of tonal and atonal music. Ninety-nine percent of all the music you’ll end up playing will probably lean on the side of tonal music, so that’s a good starting point. The building blocks of Western music that you will need to know from the get-go consist of melody, rhythm and harmony.
Superimpositions are used by all great improvisers, but are often taught as ‘substitutions’ which can be confusing when you are trying to understand how to apply this information while improvising over a tune.
Succinctly put, substitutions are replacements for the harmonic content within a song and are often chosen to re-harmonise the composition in question, working to co-exist with the original melody. On the other hand, superimpositions consist of melodic and rhythmic content that are ‘layered’ on top of the existing harmonic progression.
Why would I serve you filet mignon, when everybody’s lapping up the dog-doo? Because I can! It’s a simple answer to a not so straight forward question, but it’s based on years of investing time and money into my musicianship skills, which include studying with some of the best jazz and composition teachers on the planet, along with playing with some of the best musicians and recording artists around. But this still begs the question of why there is so much “junk science” being peddled as “the real thing” by so many unqualified people, all over the internet, who mostly, haven’t played with anybody of repute or paid any significant dues as working musicians.
Well, it’s that time of year again when New Year’s resolutions start to surface and as a practicing musician, you’re probably just starting to think about new ways of how to improve the ‘quality’ your practice regime. If you are 100% happy with your bass playing and musicianship skills, then don’t read any further. But…if you are looking for new ways to improve the value of your practice habits, then read on!
Understanding that ‘chord tones are king’, is often talked about but frequently misunderstood. The whole premise of this principle is that the first step to understanding how to play over a set of chord changes is to first focus on the chord tones and not the scales as your primary source material to create meaningful and musical lines.
Once you understand this basic concept, then you must start to ‘spice up’ or embellish the chord tones to create a sense of tension and release in your lines. This is tantamount to adding a bit of garlic or fresh chilies to a somewhat bland meal. The source material to implement this kind of embellishment goes deep, but a good place to start is with chromatic approach notes.