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Lessons

Lesson 1 Relaxation
Lesson 2 Practicing
Lesson 3 Playing fast
Lesson 4 Plucking
Lesson 5 Walking bass
Lesson 6 Ethics in jazz
Lesson 7 Bass solo
Lesson 8 Your story
Lesson 9 Listening
Lesson 10 Mistakes
Lesson 11 Questions
Lesson 12 Standards
Lesson 13 Rehearsing
Lesson 14 Tensions
Lesson 15 Timing
Lesson 16 Price/Quality
Lesson 17 Taking lessons
Lesson 18 AABA
Lesson 19 Your own style
Lesson 20 Basic theory
Lesson 21 Modulating
Lesson 22 Rapid changes
Lesson 23 The left hand

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Lesson 12 Standards

The ideal jazz bass player has an enormous memory; he knows every standard that is being played by heart, and he can play them in every key. Jazz musicians play about 300 standards. Most musicians use the standard reel books. Most reel books are illegal, no royalties are paid for them, but jazz musicians from all over the world copy them enthusiastically. Every group of jazz musicians plays it’s own favorite songs, but the ideal bass player knows them all. My memory is not ideal; I tend to forget a standard when I haven’t played it for some time. What I’m very good in nowadays, is to remember the harmony of a new song very quickly. Playing a song once is usually enough for this. This is very nice, because I definitely play better when I know what’s coming.

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Knowing the harmonies is not enough. You’ll have to be able to play it in any key without using pen and paper. This takes some practicing. Most tunes are played in only a few keys, blues for instance are played in F and Bb in most cases. But when you play with a singer, it is expected of you that you’re able to transpose a big number of standards immediately…

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Don’t let these demands discourage you. The ideal bass player can do this, but if you’ve just not got the right memory but play beautifully, people will still enjoy you’re playing and ask you for gigs. Do you want to make learning all these standards you’re priority – or do you prefer spending more time on developing your technique and on learning to play more in tune? I prefer the latter, these things make me attractive to play with also. And I can’t know for sure if I’ll ever play all these standards that I would otherwise learn by heart.

If you play Dixieland, things are less complicated than for a mainstreram bass player. 80 % of the Dixieland repertoire is so simple that you’ll be able to hear what chords are coming, even when you don’t know a song, or you’ll know this when you’ve heard the harmony once…