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Jayesskerr

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Reply with quote  #1 
  So, since I spent the first 5 years of this tapping/Stick journey basically doing things my way that it would be refreshing to take another run at the Railboard. Honestly, I have barely touched it since I got my 12 string grand, and I made really good progress on the Grand in a Mirrored 4ths tuning. Cool.

  But... It always bugged me that I had such troubles with playing the Stick the way Emmett intended... I read and studied the books, and watched and studied the DVD's. I took lessons, you name it.  I have some pretty decent chops on other instruments, and honestly I don't have much difficulty learning new ones... Except the Stick. 

  Well, I think the biggest problem was that I was trying to impose values from two different instruments onto one instrument. I play guitar quite well, and bass quite well. At the same time? Not so much... At the same time with the bass tuned backwards and in 5ths? Gee, I wonder why it's a bit tricky to pick up? To make a long story short, I attempted to impose my will on the Stick and try to get as close to being able to play the way I do as a bassist, and as a guitarist simultaneously. I mean, I am not really terribly special as a guitarist or a bassist, but I am definitely not a beginner;I know my stuff![smile] - so emulating that is probably a recipe for some serious frustration. lol I am my own worst enemy...

 Anyways, This thread is going to be me chronicling learning the Chapman Stick Railboard in Emmett Chapman's Raised Matched Reciprocal tuning. F#BEAD High to low, and F#BEAD low to high. I am going to probably spend the year doing this, and we'll see where I end up playing-wise. The good news is that I have forgotten nothing from my previous attempts at 5ths/4ths based playing and my time with mirrored 4ths really helped my hand and mental independence. 

The "rules" I have set for myself are simple...
  • Practice no more than one hour a day. Less would be nice, as I am really quite busy...
  • Follow the Free Hands Method as closely as possible as per the Free Hands Book, The Stick Book, and the Greg Howard Songbook. DVD's from Bob Culbertson and Steve Adelson I will take another look at later...
  • I'll post a video on youtube with playing examples of what I have been working on for the previous week.
  • I have used 4 fingers for the last five years, so we'll commit to Greg's 3 finger approach, as well as his suggested ergonomics.
  • Attainable weekly goals that "add up" at the end of the year...
  • A balanced approach that leverages both geometric and traditional musical methods of notating. So, chord diagrams and standard notation, possibly Stafftab ...
  • I'll be avoiding the 12 string, mirrored 4ths is off the table for a while.
  • Share my progress here on Tappistry as a kind of standing document on how someone might approach learning this instrument (or others like it)

This week's stuff; "Focus On The Bass Side" Mostly Left Hand stuff for the first while...
  • Finding notes on the "Low D" use Cycle of 4ths to generate reference points off of the dots (Which are a 4th apart from each other...).
  • Play a 1645 chord progression using 10ths (Major and minor 3rds basically, just an octave higher) also in cycle of 4ths. LH is based on D and A strings.
  • Play a 1645 chord progression using 10ths in the LH, RH plays a 5th from the root of the progression over and around it. LH is based on D and A strings.
  • 4 note per string C Major Scale from A (So yeah, an A Natural Minor Scale) played on the bass side.


Awright, let's see what happens in a week...



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Jayesskerr

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Reply with quote  #2 
WEEK 1

All in all, a good practice week. The goal is to become really familiar with the note layout of the instrument starting with the bass side. The video is me doing a quick "performance" of what I practiced.
Here's what I did, although you can see it on the video.

  • Familiarity with the tuning. Seems silly, right? But if you know what the heck the lowest notes are on the instrument down cold, then a lot other stuff just got a lot easier...
  • Familiarity with the D string, focused on what's in between the dots, and in the key of C major. Make it so that one scale is extremely familiar, kind of like how anybody can look at a piano and know that the white keys are C major/Aminor.
  • Cycle of 4ths. Why the cycle of 4ths? Well because 4ths/descending 5ths movement happens all the time in music, because that was how we practiced everything when I was in music school, because that's (mostly) how my main instrument is tuned (guitar) and half of the Stick is tuned in 4ths, and the space between the dots is 4ths. But hey, don't you worry about me, I can do this in 5ths as well, or any interval... CFBbEb AbDbGbB EADG  it gives me a pattern to practice that is simultaneously musical that forces me to have to think a bit, especially when I'm on a single string. The end result is that I will really, really know the neck which is super duper handy...
  • Practice two simple chord shapes (10ths, which are basically just 3rds an octave higher...) Major and minor, and practice a chord progression rooted off of the Low 'D' string for at least two chords, and again play them in all 12 keys.
  • Add a right hand component on the melody side, playing a P5 (Powerchord) from the root of the progression so that we can have a very basic reference to the melody side, even though I am not worried about that side of the instrument just yet. It just made practicing the progression feel more like a tune, and it's important to be creative I feel...I mean, it's about tunes right?
  • C Major Scale starting from A, 4 notes per string taking up the 2nd segment position (7th fret to 12th). Play them with one hand or two, whatever. It's about familiarity.

So something really cool about learning one side of the Stick in The Matched Reciprocal tuning.... Everything you learn on that one side will carry over to the other side, so learning one side pretty much gives you the leverage you need to really learn the other side. 



Bass Side 10ths.jpeg 


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Jayesskerr

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Reply with quote  #3 
The "Next Set Of Objectives for Week 2" are up... Only a few things, not too hard - should be very doable I think...
  • Practice finding notes on the "Low A" - and again, use the Cycle of 4ths to generate reference points off of the dots (Which are a 4th apart from each other...). Review the notes on the Low "D" String. Can't be getting fuzzy on those...
  • Play a 1645 chord progression using 10ths (Major and minor 3rds basically, just an octave higher) also in cycle of 4ths. LH is based on A and E strings. Review D&A String versions!
  • Play a 1645 chord progression using 10ths in the LH, But this time, the RH plays a 5th from the root of each chord in the progression over and around it. LH is based on D and A strings.Review D&A String versions!
  • 4 note per string C Major Scale from E (So yeah, an E Phrygian Mode) played on the bass side. Review C Major From "A"
  • For fun, I will play "root note" bass lines along with 5 different tunes at least 3 times this week. Gotta jam, it's really fun and it can kind of prepare you for when you end up with an opportunity to play with some people - at the very least, "simple bass" will be under control. Plus, it's fun!

Okay, off to another week of tap practice!

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Big George Waters

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Reply with quote  #4 

I give you a lot of credit, as I could never work out such a routine !!

I also think it is very good of you to post this - as I am sure there are many who may find this info quite useful.

What I used to do when first getting very serious about electric bass [late 1980s...] was I would sit and watch cable TV, preferably a movie I liked - and I would have my bass unplugged, and I would just play whatever came into my head - whatever the movie suggested so to speak.

 

By doing so, I figured out where all the octaves were from one string to another - and then pretty much anywhere on the neck.

With that, I learned how patterns work, and then expanded into harmonics.

 

Regarding the Stick, I still believe in this method but one big thing has changed: I now plug in, and I am sitting in my front yard, and my inspiration comes from what I am seeing as far as the sky goes, and what I am hearing as far as the birds, and other natural sounds go - insects, etc....

 

One thing I used to do - but haven't in many years - was play along to drum machines - especially ones that can do all kinds of weird time signatures, and have the drum machine patched into my tr-amp full range PA system, and have it cranked up loud.

With my eyes closed it would be as if a drummer was with me.

I think regardless of method of practise - the most important thing is to have fun.


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Big George W

           East Derby CT

Mobius Megatar - tuned in Classic Stick Tuning [5ths/4ths]

M.Megatar Toneweaver - tuned in Major 3rds

Warr Phalanx 12 - tuned in 5ths [melody], 4ths [bass]

NS Stick Transparent Green w/Moses graphite neck, tuned in 8-string Guitar Intervals

digitech, T.C. Electronics, ART, Lexicon, GK, Markbass, EA, Bag End, Guild/Hartke, SWR, EV, Radial, Ampeg, Trace Elliot, Furman

 

 

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Big George Waters

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Reply with quote  #5 

Oh, one thing I forgot - when I was briefly working in a music shop, actually helping out would be a better phrase..... I remember telling the customers interested in purchasing metronomes - I would always tell them to spend the most amount of money that they can afford in order to get one that sounds really good, because a cheap sounding one will become more of a burden than a blessing.

I still believe this to be true, and that my old wooden metronome has been a faithful companion of mine with practise for many many years.


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Big George W

           East Derby CT

Mobius Megatar - tuned in Classic Stick Tuning [5ths/4ths]

M.Megatar Toneweaver - tuned in Major 3rds

Warr Phalanx 12 - tuned in 5ths [melody], 4ths [bass]

NS Stick Transparent Green w/Moses graphite neck, tuned in 8-string Guitar Intervals

digitech, T.C. Electronics, ART, Lexicon, GK, Markbass, EA, Bag End, Guild/Hartke, SWR, EV, Radial, Ampeg, Trace Elliot, Furman

 

 

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TDJMB

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Reply with quote  #6 
Agree about the metronome.  Also, I practice only in divisions of 4 (so, 60, 64, 68, etc.).  Thanks for posting your practice regime.  And that's a cool stand.
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Jayesskerr

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Reply with quote  #7 
Week 2

Thanks for checking this out guys! Although I am capable of a lot more I thought it would be a great exercise to get very familiar with simple things. When I took lessons with Steve Adelson, he was all about 145 progressions, and you know... I paid for those lessons, so I am going to study the heck out of 'em...

So I decided to keep the video short and sweet, 145 banjo tapping type thing LH doing 10ths, RH doing 5ths. I did this in all 12 keys in cycle of 4ths based on the A String. I also reviewed the D string, and did the same thing. C major 4 NPS scale on the bass side, from E this time. Yes, I reviewed the 4 NPS Major Scale from A. Notice how I am kind of sticking to the dots? Hmmm pun in there somewhere... I also read through about 50 tunes in the Real book, just played the chord progressions as 10ths in the LH. Really, this is "framework" type stuff that sets a foundation for making quick work of the Stick Book and The Free Hands Book.



More to come...


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Jayesskerr

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Reply with quote  #8 
The week 3 objectives are up... The material is a little bit tougher, but hey that’s what it takes, and really it’s just a natural step from what has been worked on.

- 1645 progressions tap “banjo roll”. RH 5ths on the melody side, and also on the bass side. Cycle of 4ths.
- 1645 progressions with appropriate triads on Melody side. Let the triads ring...
- Scalar sequence - ascending and descending 4’s.
- 10ths diatonic to the key of C major on D,A,E strings.
- E string - get to know it, review other two strings.
- Play along to some tunes, super impose 10ths/power chord tap “banjo roll” on them.

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Jayesskerr

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Reply with quote  #9 
Week 3 - A day late and a dollar short! hahaha All good, nobody really watches or reads this anyways, right? My shared journal/blog...

Sorry folks, I ended up being really busy for the last two weeks and that rudely interrupted my postings here... [biggrin] Still, I practiced as usual, and as I thought the tough part of playing the Stick presented itself with what it was I was working on. The 1645 "Banjo Roll" 5ths on the bass side only was no problem. Playing it in all 12 keys was also no issue. (The video just shows a quick snippet of some of the stuff I did! hahaha Nobody really wants to watch a practice video) Playing it rooted off of the D and A strings respectively was also no biggie. Getting familiar with the 'E' string, also no problem. Jamming to some tunes with my "banjo-roll" riff was no sweat either. Some things are pretty natural on this instrument. The Scalar sequence of ascending and descending 4's wasn't too bad, (I only played it in the video ascending from 'E' at the first dot) it did take me a few days to get used to sequencing with 4 notes per string as opposed to 3, so there was a bit of a learning curve there. Diatonic 10ths in position was no problem, in the video I just did it at the first dot (From E since my tuning is RMR)

Now the real ugly bit was playing the 1645 10ths in the LH and respective diatonic triads in the RH simultaneously. I kept a pretty good journal my first time around trying to learn the Stick, and although I am much better at it this time around, I did encounter similar difficulties. Now, I am really not that concerned because honestly - My intention is to get the bass side nailed down to a point where it's useable for me, and then dig into the melody side later. 

It's interesting, because this is a really, really REALLY important skill to have for this instrument. I mean, it's simple - gotta be able to play the chords to a tune if you ever want to play with anybody, right? But it is very challenging to play on the Stick. I chose the 1645 progression because it IS challenging, and it IS a very common progression, and getting it nailed is an excellent stepping stone to having an extensive repertoire. Plus, Steve Adelson teaches it, so most of his students will be at least familiar with what it is. 

Here's the thing. The geometry of the chords, right and left respectively are not difficult. The simultaneous nature of it, also not so bad - I tried this out on keyboard and was able to play it half-ass decently in about 25 minutes. So why is it all awkward to play on the Stick? Well... there are probably a number of reasons. I won't get into it here, but let's just say that if it doesn't feel natural after about 10 hours of practice, something is very, very wrong. It could be approach, ergonomics, posture, tuning, expectations, etc.

The point is, that what I did not do at the time is relentlessly push until this concept was absolutely bulletproof. So if you can't play simple 10ths with the LH, and a diatonic triad with the RH then there is a critical skill missing that not even learning a Bach 2 part invention will fix. And you know, this concept is actually worth cash if you can do it so it's totally worth the time.

So week 4, maybe 5, and maybe 6 or 7 will see constant review of this concept until it's bulletproof. Natural, and indestructible. So whatever else it is that I am working on with this tapping thing - I won't rest until my chording is solid. Even though I am mostly focused on the "bass side"...



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TDJMB

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Reply with quote  #10 
Thanks for the latest post.  It gave me some ideas about what to practice and also how to evaluate progress.
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