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  • Video Workshop contrabas: Thomas Winther Andersen

    Learn improvising jazz on the upright bass! This workshop with video contains a two-chorus improvisation without accompaniment on the Jazz standard My Melancholy Baby by Ernie Burnett. The lead sheet of this song is added as a Sibelius file. Main topic is twelve exercises treating the major and minor triad.

    Thomas Winther Andersen, 1969 (Norway)

    Originally from Norway bassist and composer Thomas Winther Andersen has been based in Amsterdam for several years. On his page www.twandersen.com you can find regular update on his performances, recordings, bands, musicians, reviews, MP 3 files music scores, compositions and other.

    In January 2002 NORCD released the CD "Too Much Bass?" On his site you can order this exaggerated bass feature! You can contact with questions or remarks, it is even possible to make an appointment for a online bass concultancy.

    Workshop Introduction

    This workshop video contains a two-chorus improvisation without accompaniment on the Jazz standard My Melancholy Baby by Ernie Burnett. The lead sheet of this song is added as a Sibelius file. Also listen to other versions of this song. At the bottom is a list of some recordings that I have checked out. I briefly say something about the technical aspect of the bass and how my bass is set up.

    Main topic is twelve exercises treating the major and minor triad. You can also see the musical notation of these exercises as a Sibelius file. In order not to discourage you too much with dry exercises, I play a chorus improvisation on "My Melancholy Baby " at the end, applying the material from the exercises arbitrarily.

    Explanation of terms: download sibelius tab met midi

    Exercises 1-16: download sibelius tab met midi

    My Melancholy Baby: download sibelius tab met midi

    I hope you can apply the ideas from the exercises to your own material and practice. This short workshop is not treating specifically the accompanying task as bass player, although the exercises are very useful for improving walkin`bass lines as well as soloing. It creates a framework that makes it easier to learn songs and chords and transpose them to different keys.

    The examples are very basic practice that I have found useful and effective. This material has been treated a lot of times for every instrument in many different ways so I am not claiming to be telling something new. I hope to inspire you to go through these exercises. The exercises make you aware of musical rudiments and instrumental skills as you do them. Most instrumentalists would after reading and understanding the contents think they know them, but really play them on your instrument before arriving at this conclusion.

    These ideas and exercises were oral presented to me by the very fine saxophone player Warne Marsh. He was a very sophisticated improviser and inspired me to make a start with these systematic exercises although they at the first glimpse seemed remote from any musical result and what he actually was playing in his solos.

    Technically these exercises will be easy for some and very difficult for a less experienced player. (Some are even hard to play for the most refined technical player, especially the open voicings) It depends on your experience how much time you need before you play them with flow and continuity. I still regularly use theme for warming up. The systematic manners in which these exercises are developed have helped me to explore other musical material and ideas too.

    The triad is such an essential building block of our western music. Spending some time on learning their structure and sound has been vital for what I have achieved as an improviser and bass player, although it is definitively not all!

    Practice of triads for an improviser
    Bassist version presented by Thomas Winther Andersen
    These exercises show a way of learning the triads on any instrument.

    The purpose of the exercises is:

    • To learn the triad in their different inversions and voicings in all keys.
    • Familiarize these units and the sound and names on your instrument
    • Execute them correctly in all keys with intonation sound and timing
    • Learn some basics about chords, harmony and voicing
    • Learn something basic about musical variation techniques
    • Apply elements of improvisation in very systematic developed exercises.
    • Learn a structure on your instrument that helps to develop other material.
    • At some stage you need to know what to avoid when making musical effects such as harmonic alterations and upper extension (don't worry about the terms if you don't know them, they will become clear if you keep being interested and practice)
    • Divide these exercises in portions and stop once you are not able to concentrate and keep a high awareness while playing the exercises.
    • It is important to move on to something else that you feel is more playful, once your concentration decreases.
    • The quality of the exercises is depending on that you play them so slow that you can think and play at the same time
    • It is important to learn these triad's variations by heart. This practice is not meant to improve your reading, although it does not harm it.

    The video is too short to show all the exercises in their complete form. Due to the length of the video the tempo I am showing them is faster than what I prefer. It is not meant that the exercises are finished where I stop the example. It is very important to play each variation all the way through the cycles with continuity. It is also nice to play the exercises after each other with continuity, moving from exercise 1 through 12 without stop. (It takes between 8 and 12 minutes without mistakes). Use very slow tempos, there is no limit down, but it is very difficult to stay focused and steady. I am often using a metronome to practice, but not all the time. The possibilities to extend the exercises by adding rhythm, other combinations of the triads and patterns are almost infinite so move on. Try to start with different patterns, key (root such as C, Bb etc) or a different exercise every day, and get through in a week or two. If you are a beginner you might need a couple of weeks to learn exercise one, but still try to play number two and three even if you are not quite at a perfect performance yet.

    List of recordings of My Melancholy Baby
    1) Bill Evans: A Simple Matter Of Conviction - Verve records
    2) Chet Baker: Singin`in the Midnight - Polydor
    3) Lennie Tristano: The New Tristano - Atlantic records
    The title "Themes and Variation" is based on the song.
    4) Lennie Tristano with Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz: Continuity - Jazz Records
    The title "My Baby" is based on the song.
    5) Thomas Winther Andersen: Line Up - NORCD
    The title "Nr 2" is based on the song.

     Relevante links:

    website Thomas Winther Andersen

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