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Berkleemusic, the online school of Boston's renowned Berklee College of Music, is debuting the new online course "R&B Bass" for their upcoming fall term, beginning September 28th. Students will learn to play R&B bass in the style of the master players, and expand their bass playing in the context of a professional, live music performance, or recording session. "I've been in love with R&B music for most of my life," says course author Danny Morris, an instructor at Berklee College of Music since 1988. "It's been a pleasure putting this course together for Berkleemusic. I had a blast detailing the tools and techniques that will help students not only become better bass players, but better musicians. I think the students will get a heck of a lot out of it when they're done." "R&B Bass" begins by examining the rhythmic and harmonic characteristics of early R&B through the use of practice exercises involving steady syncopation, arpeggio patterns, and modulation. Online students study the key ingredients of an effective R&B timbre, from the proper equipment to the right techniques, such as muting the strings to deliver a punchier sound. The course delves into individual artists and their "trademark" concepts—from Duck Dunn's use of repetition and root and fifth lines, to Willie Weeks' melodic lines and rhythmic variation, to Chuck Rainey's motif development, to James Jamerson's infectious syncopation and use of harmonic devices like chromatic approach notes to create forward motion. The goal of the course is to provide students with the tools made famous through R&B music to expand their bass playing in the context of a professional, live music performance or recording session. By the end of the course, students will have learned to:
  • Understand the evolution and key elements of R&B music
  • Play quarter, eighth, and sixteenth notes with rhythmic syncopation
  • Use modulation, adapting songs to different keys on your instrument
  • Play root and fifth bass lines, in addition to arpeggio and chromatic patterns
  • Achieve an R&B timbre on your bass
  • Embellish a motif or theme with rhythmic and tonality variation
  • Apply concepts of repetition and contrast to our own playing, in order to create improvisational bass lines more effectively
Fall Term begins September 28th, 2009.
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