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Bass Clef Theory Book for Self Study - Advanced Beginner

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by mattj1stc, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. mattj1stc

    mattj1stc Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    Dallas, TX USA

    I've been playing bass for may years, but I only took up reading and theory about 1.5 years ago. Luckily, I've been able to find some good basic books, and I now can read decently, I know the scales, modes, chords, etc. starting from different fingering, going two octaves, etc.

    Learning what I have so far has been extremely helpful in terms of learning new material - I should have done it years ago.

    That said, my current frustration is that when I see C7 then a Bb7 then a F7, I know the notes for each chord and can even improvise a little within the chords, but I don't know why these chords go together (other than a book has them as a blues progression).

    I'm looking for a good book that would explain how different chords and scales connect together beyond the scale/mode basics. How do you develop chord progressions?

    Ideally, I'd like for the book be in bass clef, but it doesn't have to be a specific bass book. For example, I've gotten a lot of good insight and practice using the bass clef real book. Also, I am self taught, so a book that has some text as well as music would be great.


  2. Get a cheap keyboard and several books for pianos---then take what you learn and apply it to bass. my two cents.
  3. From the melody notes we decide what chords will harmonize that melody. Or put another way --- from the chords we have what melody notes will sound good with those chords. It is a chicken or egg thing. My break through came when I understood what was necessary to harmonize both the treble and bass cleft.

    It's really pretty simple. The treble and bass cleft should share like notes. When they do they harmonize - sound good together. Why is it necessary to change chords? Well, when the melody moves on to new notes not found in the old chord we fall out of harmony and our ears tell us something is not right - so we add a chord that has some of the new melody notes in it's makeup. I wish someone would have told me that years ago.

    I'm going to point you to a video that goes into detail of how you would go about deciding what chords to play under Mary Had A Little Lamb. I think this may open a door that was probably locked. I know it took me years to find the key to my door.

    After watching this video do a Google on Harmonizing a melody - I think that will get you started. Ask specific questions here someone will help. And yes there are formulas for all this and a circle of 5th / fourths that you can peek at as a cheat sheet, but, if you understand why we need certain chords - and the reason we do is for those like notes - then all those charts and formulas begin the make since and pretty quickly we no longer need the cheat sheets.

    Good luck, it's a journey. One road takes you down harmonizing the melody line and the other road takes you down what chords are needed to move the verse (story) along from rest, to tension, to climax then to resolution and back to rest - the ole I-IV-V-I story. Right now lets work on harmonization. We can move the story along later. It's a balancing act, you have to accomplish both before you finish.
  4. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    Music theory, unlike scientific theories, is just a description of common practices used in composition & improvisation. Here is a book that explains the basics in simple terms, illustrated with simple songs;

    It's a good place to start & won't take a long time to cover. If you find you need to know more than you can get from Edly's, I suggest you register for a course in Music Theory in a conveniently located school. It is a subject that will benefit from a teacher who knows the material. When you are self taught, you can be sure your teacher doesn't know very much. :cool:
  5. mattj1stc

    mattj1stc Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    Dallas, TX USA
    Thanks for both the video link as well as the book recommendation. The video did help unlock some concepts, and I did just order the book to help to continue on. Much appreciated!
  6. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
  7. OrangeSun


    Jun 26, 2005
    Boston, MA
    A great book that is more bass specific and will take you farther with your scales and theory is

    Serious Electric Bass by Joel di Bartelo

    You can buy it off that link for like 20 bucks used. It is an excellent book that begins at the note names for the open position on the staff and at the end of it is on symmetric and whole tone scales. Pages upon pages of bass clef written exercises for the bass. Highly recommend it for someone coming from your current background, as you can pick up near the beginning and it will expose you to a ton of new ideas in an organized manner that makes sense.

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