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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Natural Minor Scale-All 12 Keys

This video is intended for beginners wanting to learn how every natural minor scale uses the same scale construction of Whole steps and Half steps, namely W H W W H W W.

W=Whole step H=Half-Step - For an explanation of whole and half steps click here.

I slowly play through each natural minor scale in all 12 keys.

Natural Minor Scale (Also known as Aeolian Mode, check later for a video on modes):
1. Construction – W H W W H W W

2. Various Patterns – 2 Octave:
  • A Minor - A B C D E F G A
  • D Minor - D E F G A Bb A C D
  • G Minor - G A Bb C D Eb F G
  • C Minor - C D Eb F G Ab Bb C
  • F Minor - F G Ab Bb C Db Eb F
  • Bb Minor - Bb C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb
  • Eb Minor - Eb F Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb
  • Ab Minor - Ab Bb Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab
  • C# Minor - C# D# E F# G# A B C#
  • F# Minor - F# G# A B C# D E F#
  • B Minor - B C# D E F# G A B
  • E Minor - E F# G A B C D E

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bass Lesson: Major Scale in All 12 Keys

This video is intended for beginners wanting to learn how every major scale uses the same scale construction of W W H W W W H.

W=Whole step H=Half-Step - For an explanation of whole and half steps click here.

I slowly play through each major scale in all 12 keys.

ii. Major Scale:
1. Construction – W W H W W W H

2. Various Patterns – 1 Octave
  • C Major: C D E F G A B
  • F Major: F G A Bb C D E
  • Bb Major: Bb C D Eb F G A
  • Eb Major: Eb F G Ab Bb C D
  • Ab Major: Ab Bb C Db Eb F G
  • Db Major: Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C
  • F# Major: F# G# A# B C# D# E#
  • B Major: B C# D# E F# G# A#
  • E Major: E F# G# A B C# D#
  • A Major: A B C# D E F# G#
  • D Major: D E F# G A B C#
  • G Major: G A B C D E F#

Friday, July 27, 2007

Scale Construction (Las Escalas)

Here's a quick look at Scale Construction, namely Whole and Half Steps and how they relate to scales. In this example, I look at the construction of a major scale.

En Español:

En este video, explico las escalas en general, comenzando con la escala mayor y su relativa menor.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bass Lesson: Slap Grooves

Here is a continuation to the last post concerning "Slap Bass." In this video, there are some slap bass grooves to practice. I play them at regular, then slower tempos. I hope you enjoy and can learn.

Please, post any questions and/or suggestions, and I'll do my best to answer and/or execute them.

Thanks for reading and watching:


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bass Lesson: Key Elements for Slap Bass

Without much surprise, one of the first things young bassist want to learn is how to slap and pop. I guess this is because it seems like one of the most fun thing to do on the bass, and in many ways it can be; however, it can be very annoying if not done right.

Do you ever notice that when you walk into Guitar Center's bass section there is always (and I mean always - 100% of the time) some dude banging the hell out of a bass in the most aggravating way possible?

Let's get this straight right now:


I've heard this from many amazing bass players, such as Abraham Laboriel, that lighter the touch, the more tone you are probably going to get out of the instrument. This usually goes the same for recording drums by the way, but that is a whole other story.

In this video, I talk about some key elements for slapping and popping bass technique. Take it slow, have fun, but don't kill yourself or the bass.

Apple iTunes

Clave y Cumpleaños

It's a special day for me. Today, I turn 30! Wow! No lo puedo creer!

But I don't feel old or sad. I feel like I have lived a wonderful life up until now, and I'm positive that it is only getting better. I've had a great time in my twenties, from getting married, buying my first house, traveling the world (15 countries, 5 continents so far), graduating from college, and recently, playing Letterman. There are so many things to be thankful for.

Ahora para algo diferente: Este día es mi cumpleaños y quise celebrar con algo bien sabroso. Gracias a éste video tan chévere y tuve que compartirlo; gracias a mi compañero de blog: http://esquinarumbera.blogspot.com/

For more latin music, check out this link:

Héctor Lavoe & Willie Colon

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bass Lesson: Funk Groove in E

Here's a Funk Groove in E, using finger style technique. I play it at various tempos.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bass Lesson: Finger Style Technique

When I think about fingerstyle funk, I think of Francis Rocco Prestia of Tower of Power (I also think about the great Jaco Pastorius and the always funky Paul Jackson, but I got to maintain some focus here, eh?).

Rocco is one of the master of this style and has laid down the foundation for generations to come. Their Back to Oakland record changed my life. I bought my first copy in a second-hand store in McAllen, TX (I think the Rio Grande Children's Home on Old 83). The vinyl was old, dusty, and beat to hell. But, I didn't care. It intrigued me. From start to finish, it turned me upside down, trying to learn its grooves. I'm still moved every time I hear it and you should be, too: Tower Of Power

Another key album is the self-titled album with the classic "What is Hip?"

Here's a look at various fingering styles for bass guitar. When trying to decide what style to use, you should always look to the song. It's key to play in support of the song. IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT THE SONG!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bass Lesson: Roundwound vs Flatwound Strings

I get asked a lot of questions while on the road with Mute Math, mainly regarding bass and bass playing. Instead of answering every person individually, I decided to put up these videos. I've created a lot of them; so stay tuned to see what's coming next. Eventually, they will compile to be a whole course on bass playing and a practice guide for bass players of all levels. Literally, in some of the videos, I'm just going through my practice routine; so, feel free to join in.

Overall, I hope these videos have answered some questions that have been floating out there, and hopefully, they have been somewhat entertaining, even though that is difficult to due when teaching bass.

Thanks for checking it out.

Before I get to the video, I wanted to recommend a great book that helped me and continues to help me. It's Rufus Reid's The Evolving Bassist.
Rufus Reid
I found this book at my first and last convention (at Rice University) for The International Society for Bassists. That was an amazing convention. I saw so many wonderful performances, from Rufus Reid to Ray Brown. It was quite a treat. Anyway, check it out:

In this video, I describe the differences between using Roundwound and Flatwound bass string. This opinion will vary from player to player, but this is my take on how I approach the issue.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bass Lesson: Pick vs Fingers (updated)

Here's an exploration in the difference between using a pick and using your fingers to play electric bass. Some examples include the chorus to "Chaos" and vamp to "Reset."

UPDATE: Here's some questions sent by Kevin Decker:

"What type of pick are you using? Thick? Thin? Bass pick or guitar size pick? Are you using the stock fender pickups in your p-bass(s)? What model year(s) are your p-bass's?"

I use a heavy pick (Ernie Ball). My main P-Bass is a 1978 Fender, and I'm using the original pick-ups. I plan to make a video discussing all my basses and amps since this is not the first time I've been asked.

"One more question: Since you are frequently switching back and forth between fingers and pick during Mute Math shows... Where do you keep your picks for efficient access?"

Having a handy spot to keep picks when one doesn't have a lot of cash or hands on stage to help makes it for a tricky situation sometimes. Usually, if I'm changing from fingers to pick during a song, I keep the pick in my mouth. Yeah, I know, not the cleanest thing to do. Also, I usually have about three picks in my pant pocket or vest pocket in addition to the several picks I have on top of my amp. Maybe it's time I go get one of those pick liners for microphone stands, eh? Thanks.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mute Math on David Letterman: 7.17.07

I arrived in New Jersey on July 16, 2007 around 8:00 am. During the following hour and a half, I rode in a van, a train, a subway, a sidewalk, and a taxi to get to our first order of business: a photo shoot in Brooklyn.

I was able to take some shots from the roof of the building where Mute Math did the photo session. It was a beautiful building, with a lot of inspiration.

The day continued with making our way back to the city to have a conference call with a video director and to do an interview for Fuse TV. While at Fuse, Mute Math ran into Underoath; they were really nice guys. I had met a few of them while on Warped Tour the summer before.

This day was overwhelming to say the least. First of all, just walking into the studios, I got a sense of tradition and history. From the old school balcony to all the pictures on the walls on the dressing and green rooms of past performers (The Doors, Rolling Stones, James Brown, etc.), I felt honored to be in such a place. The last time I had been in this building was eight years prior as an audience member, watching Chris Rock and Six Pence None the Richer.

Then, I was sitting in the green room closest to the stage, and in walks Will Lee, the bassist for the CBS Orchestra. I've been watching this guy on TV and reading about him in music magazines since I first started playing bass 15 years ago. He was great to talk to since he had a lot of interesting stories, mainly about New York. This is him below:

Next, while in make-up I came across one of cutest English Bulldogs ever: Matzah Ball. I didn't know it at the time, but this is Adam Sandler's dog. She was really chill and funny. I love dogs.

Finally, the whole reason why I'm in NYC comes to a head within minutes. Right before I go on, I see Adam Sandler, and I shake his hand and ask him how he's doing. He's really nice and wishes me good luck. Before I know it, David Letterman is introducing us, and I start up the feedback to kick into the song. It seems like the shortest version of "Typical" Mute Math has ever played, which technically it is (3:30), but it really flies by. On our way out, Will and Adam tell us "great job" and how they are "going to listen to the cd on their way home." Wow! did all of this just happen?

Finally, something happened that put the night over the top. I was walking in Times Square after dinner looking for a place to watch the Late Show, and all of a sudden, our video came on over one of the jumbo-trons. Right there, in the heart of Times Square, "Typical" was being shown. Mute Math watched in awe. It was a time to remember.

Monday, July 16, 2007

David Letterman

I'm on my way to New York to film for the David Letterman show on Tuesday, July 17th. I recently found out that Adam Sandler is the other guest, which pumps me up more because I really think he's proper comedy genius.

As we move down the road, my mind races with scenes from all the different performances I've seen on this show since I was young, but one performance sticks out in my mind: Red Hot Chili Peppers "Higher Ground" 1990. I think their energy and vibe was really exciting to me at the age of 13. I lived my adolescent life to their soundtrack. I'd skate to their music; I'd dance to their music; I'd learn my instrument to their music; etc.

Now, actually having the opportunity to play the show is a dream come true. I hope we perform with the same intensity and energy as the Peppers.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Without music, life would be an error -Nietzsche

My first two black gospel albums were Fred Hammond's Spirit of David and Hezekiah Walker's Live in Atlanta at Morehouse College. In the mid-1990s, I had never heard anything like this before. The church music I grew up with was Catholic hymns, mainly played with only acoustic instruments and out-of-tune singers. "Alabaré, alabaré . . ." Ouch!

Anyway, it's been about two years since I last had the opportunity to play this type of music live. When I recently filmed the video below, I just thought I'd give it a try, and it was too much fun. I had to share with you.

As I played this song, my mind flooded with memories of Sunday morning at New Home Church in New Orleans, and other similar experiences in NOLA.

I hope all my friends there are doing okay. If you ever read this or watch this, please know that my experience at New Home during those years was pivotal in my musical education. I still am learning from those times. Thanks, and I miss you.

Update note: sorry everyone but I needed to remove this video because of copyright issues. As an artist myself, I want to respect Fred's works. By the way, no one asked me to do this. It is by my own accord and consideration for Fred Hammond. However, I will continue to put up videos, but more like the others on this blog. Thanks.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

El Güero Tiene Tumbao

For me, el Tumbao (in conjunction with the clave) is the heart of Cuban music. Specially, it is the groove in many forms of Afro-Cuban music. The word "tumbao" references a particular conga drum used in the early days.

The best book for learning Cuban Bass is Carlos Del Puerto's and Silvio Vergara's THE
TRUE CUBAN BASS/EL VERDADERO BAJO CUBANO. They meticulously go through the history of Cuban bass, starting with Danzón and moving all the way to the modern Songo and Mozambique. I highly recommend this book to any bass player of any tradition.

Also, a great accompaniment is Frank Malabe's Afro-Cuban Rhythms for Drumset. Again, this book carefully goes through the history and development of this rich music, beginning with its African folkloric traditions, such as Bembe and Abacuá. I think it's very important for bassist to understand and play as much as possible the percussive elements of all music, especially Afro-Cuban/Afro-Caribbean music.

Here is a variety of tumbaos in 2 3 Rumba Clave, mainly centered around Db (dorian
& natural) minor:

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bb 12-Bar Blues

Bb 12-Bar Blues (240 bpm)

Bass Lesson: Bb 12-Bar Blues.

Changes are:
Bb7 (1 bar), Eb7 (1 bar), Bb7 (2 bars),
Eb7 (2 bars), Bb7 (1 bar),
DØ (1/2 bar), G7 (1/2 bar),
C-7 (1 bar), F7 (1 bar),
Bb7 (1/2 bar), G7 (1/2 bar),
C-7 (1/2 bar), F7 (1/2 bar)

Approaches to walking a bassline:

a. Scalar approach-moving within the scale tones, in this case Bb Mixolydian
b. Arpeggio approach-moving within the chord tones
c. Chromatic approach-moving within the scale tones with occasional chromatic tones. d. Combining approaches-using all the above. This is the approach I take in the video.

Bb 12-Bar Blues (120 bpm)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bass Lessons: Do People Really Want to Know the Truth?

I've been playing bass for 15 years now, and honestly, I never get bored of it. However, while taking a look at this video, I can see how beginners can become tired of this instrument quickly. The reason for this "beginner-boredom" is simply that practicing what really matters for bassists can be monotonous, tedious, and down-right exhausting. (Maybe it's not a coincidence I went to law school!)

Anyway, fear not because these type of exercises will help you become a better bass player so long as you take the time to build up a solid foundation.

1=first finger, 2=middle finger, 3=ring finger, 4=pinky

Use one finger per fret, and play these combination, starting on the 5th fret:

1234 1243 1324 1342 1423 1432
2134 2143 2314 2341 2413 2431
3124 3142 3214 3241 3412 3421
4123 4132 4213 4231 4312 4321

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Photos from the MTV studios

As I have said before, I always enjoy being in NYC; well, most of the time(e.g., sitting on the JFK runway in a Jet Blue aircraft for 9 hours was not so great an experience).

Like I said, every time I'm there, I'm fortunate enough to see the city from a new angle.

Here are some pictures from the MTV studios.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Salut! Canada

4:5:07-Quebec City-Grand spectacle. Audience magnifique. Je ne peux pas attendre pour retourner.

4:7:07-Ottawa-I really wish we were a part of the Live Earth event. I can remember being introduced to Earth Day back in elementary school, Milam Elementary in McAllen, TX. We planted trees, and we're taught about CO2 gases. I've always tried to make "green" decisions, but I have a long way to go. Watching the Live Earth performances on TV made me wish that Mute Math could have participated. Regardless, I hope we do our part as a collective and as individuals to give back to Mother Earth.

Vive Mère-Terre!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

EUROPE: 6/2007

This was one of the best times I had in Europe, mainly because it was Wendy's first time over there; so, we had a lot of fun discovering sites together.

As far as the shows went, we had some hype times, especially in Cologne and Zurich. We also were able to see and hang out with some amazing bands at the Festivals: Arcade Fire, Bloc Party, Beastie Boys, Interpol, Mogwai, Modest Mouse, Incubus, LCD Soundsystem, CCS, The Bravery.

Check out this guy I filmed in London:

When we finally got home, it was great to see my little girls:

Vintage cab used on MM debut (two 15" Jensen speakers).