While once the electric bass just rolled along muffled in the background, the expression possibilities for this instrument have expanded enormously in the last 20 years. A big part of this emancipation is playing with harmonics. With flageolets, the bass can climb to unexpected ‘heights’.
The father of this development is Jaco Pastorius. His solo piece, “Portrait of Tracy“ on his first LP is a milestone in the history of electric bass playing. Here he shows almost all of the possibilities of playing flageolets. He unintentionally made the fretless bass socially acceptable and set new standards for the conventional way of playing. His type of rhythmical, melodic and harmonic playing and his typical ‘central’ sound still influence fretted and fretless base players today.
Flageolet notes are equally suited to fretted and fretless basses. Even double bassists can get some inspiration from this book. With flageolets, you can play the melody, conjure chords or simply add a dash of colour to grooves. Your own imagination knows no bounds. The new possibilities and the bell-like sound of flageolets lift the instrument into a new dimension.
This book should above all kick your creativity into harmonic land. I want you to vary the exercises and bring your own ideas. Starting with the four-stringed bass, you can also include the five or six-stringed bass. Now all that’s left to do is practice!
The harmonic book for sub-woofers
Because the demands for bassists have changed a lot since the 1970s, in particular because the expression possibilities have dramatically increased, Norbert Dömling has written the book “E-Bass Flageolets”. Playing harmonics allows bassists to come out of the background by designing melodies, conjuring chords or put a dash of colour into a groove.
The author begins with a section on theory in which he explains the most important principles of flageolet playing. It’s all about harmonics and how these can be made audible, about harmonically pure intonation and tempered intervals. At the end of this section on theory, the author gives tips about how the player can aim for a good flageolet sound.
The practical part is split up into harmonic exercises one to four and five to seven. Here pupils will learn everything about simple melodies, elementary chords (with two, three or four flageolet notes), special riffs and complex voicings. The final chapter is dedicated completely to artificial flageolets. A fingering table and a fingerboard diagram, showing where the harmonics can be found over all 24 frets, is provided for all the exercises.
Alongside the countless exercises, the author allows the player free reign to develop their own ideas, meaning that this book is not just aimed at owners of fretted or fretless basses, but can also be used by double bassists.
Practical Theory Section
What are harmonics?
What are flageolet notes?
How do you make notes of the harmonic series audible as flageolets?
Pure (natural) harmonic tune – tempered intonation
How do you get a good harmonic sound?
Getting to know the flageolet fingerboard
A – Harmonics one to four
Fingering table for harmonics one to four
Exercises for harmonics one to four
Descriptions of intervals in chords
Developing chords with two flageolets and a base note
Chord progression exercises with two flageolets and a base note
Developing chords with three flageolets and a base note
Developing chords with four flageolets
Chord progression exercises with three flageolets and a base note and four flageolets
B – Harmonics one to seven
Fingering table for harmonics five to seven
Exercises with the first seven harmonics
Fingerboard table first to seventh harmonics within 24 frets
“Warping“ natural flageolets
Natural flageolets in notation
Exercises in score and tablature
Exercises with artificial harmonics
Chord progressions with artificial harmonics