Content Idea: Why Does It Work?

I was looking at the tab for Sir Duke and I realized that what I am really missing is understanding how the theory fits together with creating the emotion we want to find. Tab sheets show you where to put your fingers, but that’s it, really. Musical notation is great, but unless you can read sheet music, you’ll still look at the tab to go, “Oh, yeah, that’s where my fingers go.”

What’s REALLY missing (IMHO) is, “Why does this key/progression/rhythm work?” What makes bass playing interesting is the patterns and intervals. It just seems like there could be a series of videos that talks about this and examines why certain songs have such groovy riffs for the bass. Less emphasis on “how to play” and more emphasis on “Sure, you could have done this… or this… but listen to how this approach gives a more emotional feel…”

Has something like that been done? I really haven’t found much.

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It’s not bass specific, but I feel like quite a few of Rick Beato’s song breakdowns on YouTube do this. For example he’ll play a section and discuss the choices of chord progressions, tension etc


Mark Smith’s courses — Chord Tones Essentials, Scales Essentials, and Simple Steps to Walking Bass — to name just a few, go into minute detail about how and why bass lines work and are constructed.

Mark also has hundreds of free videos on YouTube, many short, some long. He breaks down song riffs like Sir Duke and many others, often using theory terminology from the above course material. While the breakdowns are valuable unto themselves, they are introductions into how to musically speak to and understand what is actually going on in a given bass line.


I love TalkingBass, but… OMG… his hand waving is madly distracting!!!

Ha! I’ve honestly never noticed that. It’s probably more prevalent in his free YouTube videos, where over the top flashiness is the norm.

In his premium courses’ videos, he’s not nearly as animated, and I lock into what he’s saying and how he’s playing. Mark’s style might not be for everyone, but it’s sure worked for me.

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Are we talking about “feel” here? The technical aspects of a bass line like what note, what finger can be covered by TAB but feel is pretty much lacking. Even playing from a fully scored line feel must still be interpreted at time. If every musician had it IMHO full orchestras wouldn’t need conductors.

It seems to be the hardest thing to teach simply because some players intuitively have it while others don’t and must learn it somehow. Some never seem to get it. It’s like some people have natural rhythm and can dance quite well whereas others are all two left feet. It’s something we all work on though.

Yeah, I’m pretty animated. You would HATE me in person.


Welcome, new bassBuzzer - please introduce yourself here: Introduce Yourself! (2024)

:slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

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Mark’s been around a bit :slight_smile:

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Yeah, I know!
I have even enrolled into two TalkingBass courses.

@markjsmith - I find the “waving hand” very funny, so that’s all good!

If I had one wish fullfilled, I would ask to not use a white background! It feels very cold, but more importantly: it is very bright on large screens, tiring the eyes…

I doubt I would hate you lol. You’re actually quite brilliant (and a good teacher). It’s just that my poor brain notes behavioral patterns too easily in videos, and the “emphatic full hand waves” of your right hand distract my brain. If you did it in person, I probably wouldn’t notice because my brain is taking a fuller picture of the environment, so I’d much more likely pay attention to what you’re saying :slight_smile:

Just a few days ago, Mark announced via email that he has a new video studio lighting setup and a darker backdrop. He listens to feedback and he responds. He’s a great teacher and very cool guy. :+1:

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Yay, very cool!
Finally I can watch his videos without sun glasses :slight_smile:

Nah, you’re good. I’ve lived in Italy.

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