Discover Double Bass, a web site dedicated to all things upright, has just released an online course taught by Barry Bales, surely among the most celebrated bassists in bluegrass music. From his three decades keeping the beat behind Alison Krauss to his time with artists like Dan Tyminski and Ronnie Bowman, he has set a very high standard for bluegrass bass. Barry has recorded with more bluegrass and country artists than would be feasible to mention, and is a first call guy for a good majority of sessions.
His course is entitled My Approach to Bluegrass Bass, and includes nearly three dozen separate lessons running more than two hours in total. Some, especially those on basic techniques like intonation, hand positioning, attack, bass lines, runs and licks, and walkups, have Barry alone on screen demonstrating the concept in question. Others find him with a small band showing aspects of bass playing with a group. These techniques, along with other tips and tricks, are further explicated in a number of familiar bluegrass standards in a variety of keys: Bill Cheatham, Banks of the Ohio, Red River Valley, In the Pines, Billy in the Low Ground, Wild Bill Jones, Train 45 and Bluegrass Blues.
Barry explained a bit about how this course came to be…
“Geoff Chalmers from Discover Double Bass reached out to me sometime last year with a proposal to do a course for his online teaching site. At that point, it was pretty much all soloists, jazz, and classical instructors. He said he had received a lot of requests for bluegrass instruction, and for me in particular. So we filmed for three days last summer in Nashville.
The course is broken down into 33 separate lessons. There are also band performances (with Justin Moses and Jeff White), as well as play along tracks and downloadable sheet music of the things I demonstrate. It’s called My Approach to Bluegrass Bass, so I give a lot of my thoughts about bluegrass, what to listen to, who my influences were, etc. I cover lots of things all the way through, but it is definitely beginner friendly.”
Here’s a course teaser on video.
Enrollment for the Barry Bales bass course costs $89.95, far less than several private lessons with Barry, if they were available! Once enrolled, you have access to the lesson materials in perpetuity. Discover Double Bass enables reduced speed playback of the lesson videos so you can be sure to capture every nuance.
Full details and enrollment information for My Approach to Bluegrass Bass can be accessed online.