learning things

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by wcnewby, Jan 8, 2013.


  1. wcnewby

    wcnewby Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Location:
    St. Germain Wisconsin
    In keeping with how life is, I've seemingly studied for the wrong test again. This is kind of a music teacher verses self taught type thread. I've been playing for about a year now, got lessons from a very good teacher and I'm working with my first band. They are all self taught, all of them. Lead guitar, rhythm guitar, drummer... and they are good.
    They play their instruments well, and I would like to play my instrument well with them.

    To start, I kind of thought I would get music, or a copy of chord progressions, but I did not. I did get a cd, and I went online to get the chord progressions. Note... they aren't all the same... It is possible for the rhythm guitar to memorize one progression and I to have another.... even in the same key... They don't read music, but they know their necks, which means they know mine. They can see what I am playing, or, they know if I'm not playing the root note of their chord.

    They say I should watch their hands, and I do... but my music teacher taught me a different way of making the chords. I make a G different, and don't recognize from looking that he is making a G. Furthermore, he uses a Capo, I do not speak capo. My music teacher taught me to shift between frets in order to achieve different notes.

    So, today could have gone better... there were good moments. I got the right progressions on a couple of songs. I have asked for chord progressions, I don't know how well that is going to go over. I won't say that the way I learned is better and I am trying to make sure that it doesn't even look like I think my way is better. I'm trying to fit in and be part of the team.

    Surprised... that is what I am.
  2. fmoore200

    fmoore200

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Location:
    NYC
    A G major chord is a G major chord, is a G major chord. I don't understand how you could be playing different chords at the same time :confused: that sounds strange unless you're talking about slash chords, but even then you're still playing extensions/inversions..

    This is why I hate playing with musicians that have no theory. Even if they had basics (notes, scales, etc) it would make communication way easier.

    Good luck...
  3. wcnewby

    wcnewby Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Location:
    St. Germain Wisconsin
    Exactly! If it was written down, everybody would know what was going on... any deviation would be a mistake or an embellishment. You could plan your embellishments... I was coming here to say YAY! chord progressions are forthcoming.

    The thing of it is. I got a song list, and a CD with the original artists performing the song. I went online and dug up the chord progressions to make a bass line. There are all kinds of variations on the progressions, it turns out, and many different keys. I thought I had the right ones, I wrote them down I practiced them with the CD until they worked. After all that, it sounded like I had hadn't bothered to learn the songs. Sure, I hit the switches, but with the wrong notes... I realized that excuses like "hey, can you give me your chord progressions" sound like excuses... even to me. It doesn't change the fact that if I had them, I would have been dead on today.

    I didn't have a real firm reason for posting this up, ie. a question... or even a gripe. I choose to do this, I enjoy it. Not the easiest thing I've done. Mowing the lawn always goes perfect.
  4. Mushroo

    Mushroo

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2007
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Ear training is a tough skill, it took me about 20 years to really start to "get it" (I always thought I was "born tone deaf") so you are in a good place for 1 year. But I really do encourage you to work on your ear training a little every day, so you don't need to look up chord progressions/tabs online, you can learn the song directly from the CD or from the guitarist teaching it to you. Best ear training exercise is just sing along with the radio in the car, sing in the shower, if your band needs vocals: volunteer. Singing is so good for bass playing.

    The bottom 4 strings of the guitar (the lowest-pitched, fattest strings closest to the ceiling, NOT meaning "bottom" as in "closest to the floor") are the same as the 4 strings of a bass: EADG. So what I do in jam situations with guitar players is watch their hands carefully and "map" what they are doing on the bottom 4 strings onto the fretboard of my bass. That way, even if I can't hear the exact progression or figure out the name of the chord, I can see the basic geometric patterns. Are they staying on the same fret and moving up and down 1 string? Are they going up 2 frets? Down 3 frets? Are they pedaling the open E string and riffing on the other strings? Also it kind of sucks, but it is good to learn how to take instruction from guitarists, even if you know more about theory than them. Sometimes it is worth it just to say "oh, OK, I get it now, you want me to play G major like THIS..." (even if you know it's a G7)

    Then the next step is to learn common chord progressions. I am not talking about having a music theory understanding of harmony (which is also a very nice skill, and it sounds like something you are good at) but rather, if you turn on the radio in the car and surf the channels, what are the ACTUAL chord progressions that are getting used over and over and over and over in thousands of popular songs that people love? Once you have internalized the sound of, for example: I-IV-V or I-V-vi-IV or i-bVII-bVI-V or the 12-bar blues, then a whole musical universe will open up and you can jam with musicians you've never met, no rehearsal. Also you can bring some of these progressions to rehearsal to jam. "Hey guys, check out this cool progression! Try soloing over this!" Guitarists love that stuff, and you will be teaching them music theory like I-IV-V without them even realizing. :)

    Now the capo thing is a specific and easily learned skill. Do you understand the "math" of how it works? Basically, whichever fret you put the capo, that becomes your new EADG, mentally speaking. Guitarists do this so they can use the comfortable "open" chord shapes/fingerings, and don't have to think too hard about sharps or flats. :) For example a really common progression is switching back and forth between E and A, right? Now if you put a capo on the 3rd fret, the same progression becomes G to C (but guitarists think of it mentally as E and A shape). So as a bass player, you have your choice: you can either buy a capo too, or you can just mentally figure it out: ignore the "capo'd" shapes that the guitarist is using and just play the actual notes that are really sounding.

    Hope that helps, I liked your philosophical posts! :)
  5. wcnewby

    wcnewby Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Location:
    St. Germain Wisconsin
    That does help... I play guitar too, but not as well as they do, not even close. That is why I can't look down my nose at them for being able to play notes. You are dead on about a couple of things. I kept my mouth shut while he was showing me an "E" that was an Em, also chose not to hear that it is easier to play open strings... it is for a while in the beginning.

    Ear training. That is what I don't have. Since this is the second time I have played with a band, I don't have it. They do, big time. They don't understand that I don't hear their chords the same way they do yet, which is why I know that they changed, but not to what. And hand watching. I am surely going to learn what his hand looks like when it is doing what, but it is different than I learned. The tip about watching their back four will come in handy, also the tip on speaking capo...

    When I get the progressions, I'll be learning the guitar parts as well. I am going to learn from them if it kills me.

    overall, thanks
  6. MarkMgibson

    MarkMgibson

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2012
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    I think your bandmates are *$$*wits. Why can't they take the time to write out simple chord sheets for you. It takes very little time, so why wouldn't they want to help you out? It's just my opinion, but they sound like a mob of wankers who, instead of trying to help you, just want to show that they're better than you. I recently wrote out chord sheets for a bass player who just wanted to jam with us for one night. It took me all of an hour to chart out 25 songs. And this was just a guy who wanted to jam, not a band member. (he was pretty good too)

    When I was starting out, there were plenty of experienced musicians who took a lot of time to help me out, and I do the same for young musos whenever I can. That's how it should be.
  7. wcnewby

    wcnewby Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Location:
    St. Germain Wisconsin
    I'm sure there is a little bit of "showing" going on. They aren't wankers, they were frustrated, so was I. They are ear trained and I am not. To them, it was like I was deaf... I am deaf compared to them. Luckily it isn't a disability, it is an ignorance. I can fix that.
  8. 4dog

    4dog

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2012
    The capo thing works pretty good if you know your notes on the neck , that is until they throw on a cut capo,then ya got two capos glaring at ya.
    Ear training is a must,learning your neck is a must,watching the guitarist is a must,the more you play the more you practice on ear training the quicker youll follow your guitarists,time and practice ,all that has been posted will help you,just maybe not with THIS band but youll be ready for the next,good luck.
  9. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Ear training websites are very helpful. Check out my >500 links below for lots of great TB threads on this topic and many more.

    Good luck!
  10. MarkMgibson

    MarkMgibson

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2012
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Sorry, I didn't mean to insult your bandmates. It's the same with everyone when they're starting out - it's like "your deaf" compared with experienced musicians. I wouldn't worry too much - in 10 years you'll be playing with some young guy, and he'll feel exactly the same way about you.
  11. wcnewby

    wcnewby Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Location:
    St. Germain Wisconsin
    Thanks for the links stumbo... I took the ear test to start, and got a 72.3. Then I did a half an hour of ear training and took the test again. 77.8....

    Thank you sir.
  12. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Glad to help out.

    You may want to check out the ear training website (chords, intervals,scales) here: http://www.musictheory.net/exercises to continue your development.
  13. wcnewby

    wcnewby Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Location:
    St. Germain Wisconsin
    Today's practice was much better. I ended up writing down the proggressions and today I had the guitarists ammend what I had. I made it in pencil, and brought an eraser. This worked out really well, and now my callouses are going to have to re-grow.<snicker>

    Still haven't broken the 80% layer with my ears. I've been working with the ear training thing and have gotten my score consistsent. It has made a difference, I can notice it already. Another thing that turned out to be good advice happened by sort of accident. The drummer was playing a really slow grindy rhytm... just goofing around, and a started playing the progression for "whisky in a jar" but really slow. Both the guitarists got right in there and tore it up. It turned out to be fifteen minutes of nice grindy jam. I'm thinking we have the language barrier flattened, and now I'm seeing them as kind of fun... I play the metronome with the drummer, but as long as I stick to my guns with the progression, they can get all wild and still get back to the tonic in time, the bass holds the thing, and they round it out. Or as they explained it to me, the bass and the drums are the cake, and they are the frosting.

    I'm learning from them already, AND it is way more fun than butting heads and grunting in different languages. I'm thinking, for what they do, it is almost better that they are more creative than structured. Would you want a cake decorated in evenly spaced squares?
  14. wcnewby

    wcnewby Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Location:
    St. Germain Wisconsin
    After I got over figuring the notes out for the songs, we were still kind of floundering. It just wasn't clicking consistently. Rhythm guitar/lead vocal said that my complex rhythm was throwing him off. My first inclination was to be annoyed, but I remembered that I was there to fit in... to be able to play well with them. I had given up fifths, octaves, chromatic scales, riffs.... just the root notes that was all they wanted, now, quarter notes....

    I went home frustrated, yes, I knew the notes, but no one was really happy. I practiced all of the songs using only quarter notes. I must confess I was disgusted, played open strings with one hand with my "downs syndrome" face on. No one was looking, what the hell. Yesterdays practice started late, but we jammed until 3:30 in the morning. It went that well, now everyone is happy.

    Well, sort of. I wonder if one of my talk bass bretheren would see me playing root notes and not tearing it up like victor wooten, or at least trying... would they snicker? I think not, or I would snicker back. I've been learning from these guitarists, who are not arrogant pricks because they are really good. They freely admit that the base is the cake, right...

    What I learned this time is that I am like the monkey bars in the playground. They climb around on my dead steady bass line. Yes, it could be played by a rhesus monkey, or perhaps a focused chimp, but man, everything just came together... timing rhythm... and overall, it sounded awesome. With more practice, I will find little windows to do complex things, but overall, that sort of thing is not what is needed in a band context, or this band...

    It is ironic because in practicing myself, in learning bass, I have always tried to do more and more complex things, assuming that is what my future band mates would want. It is funny to find out that now I am good enough to play with a band, the notes a beginner would play are what is required.... to some degree.

    When I saw how happy the guitarists are when they can pull out their trick bags because I stopped moving the rungs on the monkey bars it was worth accepting simplified parts. And that advice whoever it was gave about taking riffs to practice.... awesome. One better, let them make their own. I let them pick the chords... last night was lead guitars birthday, and he picked E,C, and D. I put together a simple pattern and stuck to it while they just tore it up. Great advice... I just forgot who offered it.

    One other thing... we discussed what to wear when we played out. They say, no tie-dye, and no zoot suits.
  15. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    You are part of the "rhythm" section, right? You need to play lines that fit the music and expectations...not complicated lines because you can.

    Lots of bass players do lots of wonderful things with quarter notes....most bands don't need a lead bass player.

    Sometimes it's also the space between the notes that count more than how many notes. Maybe do some palm muting or change your tone for certain songs.

    Maybe you can work out some complicated riffs where you and the guitarist play together during musical breaks or interludes within a song or jam.

    Good luck.
  16. wcnewby

    wcnewby Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Location:
    St. Germain Wisconsin
    I like how the simple bass lines sound because the band is behind them, it sounds good. Before there was floundering. I didn't really think about how the lines affected the others until they said something. They sounded right rhythmically. I'm always surprised by what I learn. It is getting really fun now.

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