Maybe you’re a seasoned veteran of the electric bass, or perhaps you’ve been at it just long enough to get your feet under you. Or maybe you’re a guitarist who can function on electric bass but you feel bewildered of where to start on upright bass. For me, I played guitar, then learned electric bass, then through exposure to more kinds of music, fell in love with the sound of upright bass. So I rented an instrument with an option to buy and got started. Boy did I have a lot to learn! I remember sitting with a tuner and trying to find each note on the neck because… well, there’s no frets!!! It’s true that the upright bass can be a daunting instrument to tackle. However, my 10+ years of experience have helped me gain some insight that will help those just beginning the rewarding journey of learning upright bass. Here are some starters to get you going.
What is a turnaround? The turnaround functions to literally turn the chord progression around. One place you can almost always find a turnaround is at the last 2 measures of a 12 bar blues progression. Keep in mind, there are other lengths of blues progressions as well, but for now, we will keep it on the 12 bar progression.
The turnaround in blues
In a 12-bar blues progression, the turnaround has one purpose: to set up a repeat of the 12-bar chorus. When the 5(V) chord appears in measure 12 to signal the resolution to the 1(I) chord, the turnaround turns the chord progression around, back to the 1(I) chord. If the measure stays on the 1(I) chord, the turnaround creates a tension and anticipation to build momentum, motion and drive back to the 1(I) chord for a repeat or for the final resolution at the end of a song. Turnarounds can and do show up anywhere and everywhere in a progression: intros, verses, solos, endings and so on. The turnaround also helps to separate the sections of a song.
In a more songwriter/pop situation, the turnaround functions as a section that follows the chorus and either gets you back to the verse or takes you to the Bridge.
In a basic 12 bar blues progression, the harmonic movement occurs from the 1(I) chord to the 5(V) chord in measures 11-12 of the progression. In a slow blues, the turnaround typically moves from the 1(I) chord to the 4(IV) chord in measure 11 and the from the 1(I) chord to the 5(V) chord in measure 12, with each chord receiving two beats in the measure.
It is a really good idea to know several turnaround licks, in the open position, across the guitar neck and in every key. Guitar players love the keys of G, E, D, A…you know, the guitar keys! Horn players and pianists love the flat keys and you DO NOT want to be stepping on landmines in Ab because you haven’t done your homework!
The turnaround is older than you might think
You may take comfort, or feel more pressure, in knowing that the ending of a verse on the 5(V) chord and resolving to the 1(I) chord is found as far back as the mid 1500’s in the Renaissance period(roughly 1400-1600). Harmony and chord progressions/changes weren’t “a thing” yet. Music up to this point was written and experienced as linear, independent lines. This is called polyphony and it consists of several simultaneous melodies.
But if you take a snapshot of some monks or country folks singing these independent lines and look at the end result horizontally(harmonically) instead of in a linear fashion (melodically), the end result is…harmony! Chords!
If you are feeling a bit wild on a Friday night, check out some modal English folk tunes from this period. In these songs you will begin to hear how the direction of the vocal line and musical accompaniment was implying the changes. It’s worth noting that the next musical period, the Baroque, began around 1600 and lasted roughly to 1750. During the Baroque, homophonic music (melody with chordal harmony) along with polyphonic music, was created and performed. Did the 12-bar blues kick off a revolution then too??
Put the turnaround to work
I believe a little music theory goes a long way, usually too long. So, the best way to hear and understand turnarounds is to learn a bunch of them to have in your bag of tricks and licks when needed! To get you started, here are 5 turnaround licks in 5 keys. All of these turnarounds are in the open position and we will explore other turnarounds soon!
I remember my first meeting with Frank. He came in with an acoustic guitar and had been studying for about a year. After a few minutes of talking about his playing, I could tell right away Frank was a hard worker, disciplined and focused. He wanted to really explore and grow as guitarist and musician. I asked him the 3 questions. We talked about the music he loved, what inspired him and what he wanted to do. Frank wanted to write songs and record an album in Nashville.
Focus on what you want to see more of
I suggested a whole new approach to his guitar playing and focus. Frank expressed a strong interest in songwriting, and together we quickly laid out a plan of studying music theory, getting an electric guitar and amp and studying different guitarists from a lead and rhythm perspective that were important in the music Frank liked.
I also suggested Frank begin writing right away…chord progressions, melodies, lyrics, riffs and grooves. And in true Frank manner, he accepted and jumped right in. Frank wanted to write songs, so we set him up to start writing.
From song to record
It takes a lot of courage to do what Frank did, and a lot of commitment, time and energy. We met every week for at least 90 minutes. We worked intensely on Frank’s guitar playing and his songwriting, all at the same time. Soon, Frank began finishing songs and after a period of time, we contacted Casey to head to the studio to record demos.
Once the songs were written, the demos done and the charts written, proofed and finalized (by Frank, that theory pays off!). We put a really good band together and went into the studio to record. The band consisted of: Casey on drums and percussion engineer and producer, Tim Marks on bass, and Jon Lancaster on keyboards. Frank and I played the guitar parts. The background vocals were performed by Maureen Murphy, Kendra Chantelle, Travis Thibodaux. Additional vocal production provided by Katie Talbot and Chanelle Guyton. On horns, we had Max Abrams on sax Ron Agee on trombone.
That recording is this project, Barista. Frank has said this about his music,
“The music is meant to feel good, like the way Erykah Badu or Jill Scott ease me in with steady but relaxed beats and soft vocal melodies. However, the lyrics are crafted for more, resembling the way I reflect when listening to Luther Vandross or Whitney Houston sing a line. I have also tried my best to emulate the moments of delicate and melodic guitar playing of John Mayer and Robert Cray and use this tool to drive the songwriting process. The process of my creation is one all my own and ever-growing.”
If you’re interested in learning more about how to record in Nashville, let’s talk! As Frank found, it’s hard work, but the rewards are great.
“Finding your greatest passion isn’t easy, nor is it guaranteed. Many don’t ever find it. I’m one of the lucky ones who have, and it has transformed my life.
“When I was finishing graduate school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I had built a fair sense of accomplishment and confidence having early scholastic achievement, yet I felt a great sense of boredom with my current prospects. I have always had the haunting memories of waking up in the middle of the night and asking my mom for music lessons or listening to songs/artists until my ears could no longer withstand the pressure of my headphones. The urge to pursue artistry was always there subconsciously, but I had no bearings as to what that entailed nor did I know how to get there. Musically, I knew nothing. However I did know two key things:
I wanted to bring about awareness and positivity to the world
I wanted to be damn good at it, ensuring that I was able to communicate this message as effectively and competently as possible
“Fast-forward through years of woodshedding and multiple teachers/methods; here I am, doing what I set out to do. My music is a story describing the pursuit of those key things. It is a journey, beginning with Barista (my first project) that will continue until I no longer have the strength to put a pen to paper or a string to fret. My work has not been perfect nor will it continue to be, but with the help of those I trust and a commitment to push myself I will remain in ambitious pursuit.
“The thing I am most grateful for, that which remains as my best decision along this journey, is the choice to surround myself with knowledgeable and trustworthy individuals. I sacrifice a substantial amount of resources (time & money) each week in order to do so, however, I have found a fulfilling and accomplished path. The great ones find a way to impart wisdom humbly and ably yet pass the torch readily to those who have greater or comparable knowledge in other areas, and I am becoming better at weeding these out.
“Having spoken with other artists and musicians, many who are more polished and experienced than I am today, I am overwhelmed by how similar we are in our uncertainty of the future. The truth is: there is no blueprint as an artist or musician. Anyone who sells you a guarantee or “knows” how to do it for you is an utter charlatan. Every situation is different.
“Conversely, I know my situation, and there is one thing that is undeniable. I have made music. I have jumped into the arena. I have created art for the sake of creation. My mark is made and has set the foundation for things to come.
“I thank Shane and Green Hills Guitar Studio for opening doors along my journey. I thank them for making me swim when I was uncertain about my readiness. And I look forward to our prospects in the future.”
Share your gift
It takes a lot of courage to find your own voice as an artist. There is a lot that goes into the process. It is not linear, nor is it predictable. It has been very inspiring to be a part of the process with Frank. He has worked at his craft consistently and in a very dedicated fashion. He has been performing weekly in Nashville and has also been hosting a writer’s night for other songwriters. Frank already has enough material for a new record. His guitar playing, singing and writing have expanded and focused.
You can learn more about Frank, see when and where he’s playing live and follow him on social media at his website.
If you would like us to help you with your recording project, from writing all the way the the final production, please give us a call today!
I am really proud and excited to announce that Maureen Murphy is joining Green Hills Guitar Studio as our new vocal instructor! Like everyone else in Nashville, I knew of and heard of Maureen before working with her. Maureen is known for being very versatile, professional and passionate about the music she is involved in. Whether it’s live or in the recording studio, Maureen is always a first call for Nashville’s producers and artists.
I have been fortunate to work with Maureen over the last few years in the recording studio on several projects. Recently, we have been performing live with the Amanda Broadway Band. When we spoke a few months ago at a rehearsal about her teaching voice lessons at Green Hills Guitar Studio, it was a no brainer for me. Along with a commitment of providing top quality and professional music lessons to our students, having the heart of a teacher and a deep care for people and their growth is very important to me.
Maureen is a very versatile and experienced vocalist and vocal coach. While on tour with the Zac Brown Band as a background vocalist along with Jason Eskridge, Maureen was responsible with contracting, arranging and performing with a local choir in every city they performed. Maureen’s passion for sharing music with others and helping them find and nurture their own voice is not only apparent on stage or in the studio, but also in her work with her students in vocal lessons.
One of Maureen’s most influential experiences was being part of the gospel choir at Berklee College of Music directed by Dennis Montgomery III. She worked with vocalists and musicians from all over the world. The music and absorption of the rich and diverse music became a life changing force. The depth of this study became part of her approach to life, performance and voice coaching.
Maureen has sung, performed and recorded just about every style of music. She believes her students should study and perform numerous styles to not only help them grow as vocalists but also to prepare them for work as a professionals. The necessity to handle any situation in the studio or live performance is a skill Maureen has developed over years of being a professional vocalist.
In 2015, Maureen finally got to see her biggest vocal influence, Lisa Fisher, perform live. Lisa’s ability as one of the most in demand background vocalists in the world (25 has with the Rolling Stones!) coupled with her ability to be a front woman with her own authentic voice and approach to cover songs. Her presence, versatility and ease on stage, whether in a supportive role as a backup singer or out front as the lead, has been a powerful influence on Maureen.
Along with all of the experience and professionalism, I am happy to have Maureen teaching voice with us because she cares for people. Music has long been an important part of her life and she loves the opportunity to share in that experience with others. Maureen is always excited and passionate about helping singers find their own voice, grow as singers and musicians and work toward their own goals and aspirations.
Maureen has a handful of open spots available now. Give us a call and get signed up today!
Hello! Today, I would like to introduce you to Hannah. When Hannah and I first met, I had asked her if she would be willing to do some proofreading and editing for the website, along with some of my blog posts. I realized I kept stalling when it came time to share some new information.
It is fair to say I ain’t the grammar wizard or skilled writer I once was. All apologies to my 7th grade English teacher, Mr. Berg, who scared everyone in his classes with his enthusiasm and commitment to improving our sentence diagraming and grammar use. Mr. Berg, you did a great job, but it’s faded a bit. Continue reading “Hannah Lee Joins Green Hills Guitar Studio”
Hello everybody, and especially you singer-songwriters! Here is a new post from Nashville vocal coach and Green Hills Guitar Studio instructor, Jaime Babbitt.
It is full of love, non-judgement, compassion, empathy and NO PITY! That’s right, it’s time to own it! If you are a singer-songwriter, you know it’s important to work with a vocal instructor that not only understands the mechanics and ins-and-outs of the human voice, but also gets what it means to be a writer, performer and artist developing a style and a voice in many senses of the word. Continue reading “3 Qualities Singer-Songwriters Look for in a Vocal Coach”
Most musicians do not have perfect pitch and have practiced and employed several skills to improve their ears’ abilities. At the collegiate or academic level, a student is required to test through several levels of ear training to further their abilities and continue their musical study. Continue reading “Ear Training for Musicians”