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Berkleemusic Online Course: R&B Bass

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News Berklee Press R&B Bass Online Course

Multimedia/Video Pedagogical Aid from Berklee Press

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Berkleemusic, the online school of Boston's Berklee College of Music, announced it is debuting the new online course "R&B Bass" for their upcoming fall term, beginning September 28th.


“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, according to the school. Online students study the 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, according to the syllabus—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, the school says students should 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

For more information, visit their web site at www.berklee.edu.
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