Bird Blues Analysis

Blues for Alice is a Charlie Parker tune (also known as a Bird Blues) that is based on a traditional twelve bar (I-IV-V) blues progression, but starts off with a major 7th chord instead of the traditionally seen dominant 7th. I’m going to do a harmonic analysis here, but let’s not forget that this is just a basic reharmonization of a blues progression- now stay with me!

Bird Blues Analysis

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An Argument Against Tablature

No Tab

“Hey Joe, what are your thoughts on using tablature versus learning to read music?”

Watch out, there’s a rant coming:

Tablature, which is promoted by many teachers as being an easy to follow alternative to reading music, can cause serious problems for the developing bass player as it is set up to create a ‘motor movement’ only response system to playing music. It is for this reason that I present an argument against tablature in modern day music education.

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How to Develop Finger Speed

One of the main preoccupations of bass players is how to develop finger speed by strengthening their individual fingers first. The dirty little secret is that everybody already possesses more than enough strength in their fingers to play fast. Think about this for a second- the fingers of an infant are strong enough to support their own body weight when gripping for support. People take it for granted that by strengthening their fingers will gradually increase their agility and work towards developing greater finger speed.

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“Peace” Solo Bass Arrangement


In this video I performed the Horace Silver tune Peace as a solo bass arrangement. The harmonic structure of this tune is interesting and contains some cool chord substitutions. This lesson is going to break down the harmonic content for analysis purposes.

Peace by Horace Silver is comprised of a ten bar form phrased in two groups of 4-bars and one group of 2-bars. In order to understand the harmonic structure of any tune, we need to analyse the chord changes and discover how the progression relates to the overall key areas using diatonic and non-diatonic harmony consisting of modal interchange, tri-tone substitution, secondary dominants and extended dominant chords.

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How to Learn a Piece of Music Fast in 3-Steps

musical blueprint

In order to learn a piece of music fast, we need to be aware of the following 3 steps:

First– analyse the piece of music and make sure that you understand all of the elements (melody, rhythm, harmony, counterpoint and form) along with the technical considerations that are instrument specific.

Secondly– play at a tempo that gives you complete control over everything; develop the ability to look ahead- anticipating each note and the resulting hand movements to play them accurately. Remember that control comes from constant listening and evaluation.

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