Talking BASSically with JD Deservio - Episode 1

Episode 1: Last Minute Gig

JD Deservio in NYC

Hey everybody! This is John JD Deservio, bassist from Black Label Society! First off, I want to say what an honor it is for me to write this column for my Hartke family. As I’m writing this, I’m about to do my second gig with Zakk Sabbath tonight in Edmonton. Zakk called me Friday afternoon and told me he needed me for some gigs. The first gig was on Monday in Vancouver, I live in New Jersey. I basically had from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning 6:30 AM to learn 13 Black Sabbath songs. Thank God I had played about six of them in my life, so it made it a little easier. I flew to Vancouver on Sunday morning got there late Sunday afternoon and listened again that night. Soundcheck the next day was our only rehearsal together. Thank God I went to Berklee College of music which really prepared me for things like this. Knowing music theory and how arrangements work was key.

Sabbath is mostly pentatonic blues-based stuff which I’ll try and explain. Most of the classic rock stuff is this way. In a mode or a scale there are 7 notes. For instance, A minor is A, B, C, D, E, F, and G (root, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, and b7). The pentatonic only uses five of those notes the A, C, D, E and G (root, b3, 4, 5 and b7) . A lot of people refer to this as “The box”. In Sabbath’s case, they would add the blues note in there as well, which is the flat fifth (b5) of the scale. From the root note, the flat five is called the tri-tone and that’s that classic evil scary sounding interval (intervals are the distance between each note). For instance, a half step interval is one fret away from the original fret on the same string. All musicians should really practice singing the intervals in a scale to train their ear and to understand the scale better. In the A minor blues scale, the b5 blues note would be an Eb, making the A minor blues scale A, C, D, Eb, E and G (root, 3, 4, b5, 5 and b7). To make the scale sound complete, we would add the octave, the 8th note which is the same as the first note, only one register higher! We can use the intervals of the blues scale with a different root note to play in different keys. For instance, an E minor blues scale would be E, G, A, Bb, B and D with the octave E to complete the scale. When people write songs or riffs they don’t always adhere to the exact scale. For example, in E minor, you can add a chromatic note between the D and octave E and add an Eb to the scale making it E, G, A, Bb, B, D, Eb and E to get a different sound.

JD Bass Lesson 1

As we progress on through these articles, I’ll be dealing with music theory, rhythmic composition as well as live performance!

I can tell ya this, a lot more time, sacrifice and dedication goes into doing what we do than people could ever imagine! So get ready for the ride!! Keep funkin, rockin and always grooving!