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Bass Instruction Without Sight Reading

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Ole Rumblekat, Nov 1, 2010.

  1. Ole Rumblekat

    Ole Rumblekat

    Mar 12, 2008
    I am 50, and have been playing bass for a couple of years now. I've been using Ed Friedland's Bass Method books and CDs, and have learned a tremendous amount from them. But Ed emphasizes sight reading, as many good teachers would. Can anyone recommend a book which does NOT stress sight reading? A book that uses more tabs? Or maybe a book where most everything is written in C?
  2. Don't get into tabs they are a dead end. You can remember just so many songs with tabs. With the following system you will be able to play thousands of songs. If you do not want to go standard notation I'm going to suggest you use Ed's book and then use the interval number system he shows, i.e. instead of using standard notation use the major scale box pattern and interval numbers. I bet you are already using this -- if not help yourself.
    Major scale box with note names shown 
    Major scale box with interval numbers shown
    Go to page 15. OK you are going to have the roots, 8ths and some 5's. Place your major scale box pattern over the F chord - play the root note. Where is the 5? Up a string and over two. For the Bb7 chord place the major scale box pattern over the Bb note (A#/Bb). Where is the 5? Up a string and over two frets. Yes it's always up a string and over two frets.

    Where is the 8? From the root it's up two strings and over two frets - or - right over the 5. Yes it too is always there waiting on you in it's assigned spot. All you have to do is put to memory where the other intervals are - in relation to the root.

    Look at page 34. Same thing.

    Put that box pattern over this.
    and then figure where the 2's, 3's, 4's, 5's, 6's, 7's and 8's will be. They will always be in that same spot.

    You will probably need this;http://www.smithfowler.org/music/Chord_Formulas.htm Fake chord tells you to use the A chord. Well the A chord is a major chord and from your chord formula chart a major chord is made of the R-3-5 notes so ------ play R-3-5-3. Why the extra 3? It's probably going to be in 4/4 time so you need 4 beats (notes) to the measure. A7 will be R-3-5-b7. Take it from there. Put the following into muscle memory:
    Major chord = R-3-5-3
    Minor chord = R-b3-5-b3
    Dominant 7th = R-3-5-b7
    Minor 7th = R-b3-5-b7
    Major 7th = R-3-5-7
    Look up the others as you need them and remember what Ed had to say about the many other ways you can build a bass line.

    Yes you will have to learn some new stuff. But, If you are looking for Pop, Rock or Country sheet music I bet you will not be able to find standard notation bass cleft on the music you want to play. Fake chord and lead sheet yes, but those only show the chord name. With the interval number system and your major scale box pattern your in business.

    Are there other ways of going about this? Sure.

    Have fun.
  3. bassandbeyond


    Aug 28, 2004
    Rockville MD
    Affiliated with Tune Guitar Maniac
    I can understand not wanting to get into reading and the "academic" aspects of music, if you are entering into it just as a very casual hobby. If that stuff is a major turn-off for you, then I might suggest that you simply get some guidance on proper technique, and then learn by ear, copying bass lines off of recordings. Use your ear, rather than TABs.

    However, if you want to go further with music, then reading is the key. And if you've already worked through a good deal of Ed's books, then you probably can read enough to work out transcriptions of your favorite lines and dive into any other material that interests you. Start buying sheet music for tunes that you like, and play them. That should keep you engaged.
  4. there are probably not going to be many books for non readers....;) tab is meant to be a short cut,but it really is a dead end.....reading gets easier and allows you access to far more info...the eds stress reading because it needs to be stressed to get the most out of their stuff.....50 ain't that old...the time you spend learning to read will save you loads of time figuring out stuff later on.....
  5. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Ed has it right. Tabs can be written by just about anyone that can count, that's why there are so many, and that's why so many are inaccurate or just wrong. The fact of the matter is that you cannot yet relate what you can currently play to Standard Notation (SN).
    Go to a music teacher, ask them to notate what you play. Play five short pieces or exercises that you can play and repeat with ease or play all the time.
    If that teacher now mixes them up and puts any one in front of you in any order would you be able to play what was written? Well yes if you recognised the music in front of you, no if you don't, but the truth is you can play it, you just don't recognise it. SN in its simplistic form is recognising what is written and relating to the notes of the bass.

    Tab is the same principal but a lot more restrictive because it shows you where to put your fingers. That is the person who wrote the tabs and where they put the fingers, not where you put your fingers. Tab is a good tool but it does not convey as much info or as many options as SN.
  6. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    I'm an "old guy" novice too (46) and recently started taking lessons. At first my instructor kept writing things out in tab because that's simply what "all" students want. But I had to keep reminding him that I *don't* want to use tab. I'm literally the only student he has who insists on tab-free lessons and he absolutely loves that. I still suck at it, but I'm also much better than I was when we started. And to the naysayers who tell you they don't *want* to read and/or learn theory because they don't want stiff, allegedly artificial, rules to get in the way of their creating music that sounds good, learning to read stifles *nothing*. Please don't listen to those people, they're simply full of poop. I mean, just how stupid do you have to be to believe that consciously deciding to limit yourself is the key to breaking through your limits. :meh: ;)

    Like my signature line says "Yeah, I admit it, I suck. But at least I suck a little less than I did yesterday." Working on reading is a key part of that.
  7. dwm74


    Nov 8, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    You know, I read quite often here that tabs are often wrong. And I'm not arguing with that assertion at all.

    But I remember spending many a hard-earned dollar back in the 70's & 80's for 'official' published songbooks from major bands that also had a lot of stuff wrong, too. And having a entire bridge or section missing from the notation wasn't unheard of either.

    Although there is no doubt that following musical notation is better, neither are infallible, as much of the published music is transcribed by people not associated with the band in any way. Just my two cents.
  8. true enough,but reading inaccurate dots is still worthwhile practice.....the ability to sight down a four minute song in four minutes and then determine if it's accurate is a good thing
  9. Ole Rumblekat

    Ole Rumblekat

    Mar 12, 2008
    Thanks for all the help guys. MalcolmAmos you're right. I am using a lot of what you wrote. And I agree with most of the Tab comments. Tabs are limiting. Ed Friedland's book are great I have Bass Method Books 1,2 and 3. I guess what I was trying to say was this: OK, let's say today's lesson from Ed is mostly about rhythm. He knows it and explains it well. But if only the examples were written in C. I could concentrate on the rhythm lesson, and not get bogged down keeping track of sharps and flats. I know sight reading is valuable, but it just seems to take up too much valuable practice time. I guess I'm looking for that book in C. Again, thanks everyone.
  10. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    It is extremely valuable to separate the pitch information and focus on rhythm alone. I am no fluent reader but I habitually focus on just the rhythm when I see any notation. and it has been oh so valuable as far as really increasing my understanding rhythms.
  11. Nagrom


    Mar 21, 2004
    Western Canada
    Don't hesitate to learning reading. With lessons it will only take you about 6 weeks to get the basics going and then you'll have it with you forever.
  12. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Then what you need is to re write ( transcribe ) the parts you do have on to a single line or space on the staff. This allows you to see the rhythm clearer. Multiple tied notes are like words, learn to pronounce there rhythm on sight as one, then all you have to do is add the pitch of notes create finished article.
    Write out one of your songs/exercises on a single line, group the notes as they appear on the original but just on a single line. This is now the way the song/exercise feels so now you can learn the rhythm without worrying about pitch.
    You have in effect halved the task, so it is easier to learn this part.
    Once you learn the rhythm you can add the pitch. Again the the effect is the task is halved because you know how to play the rhythm, you only have to work on the pitch of the notes.
    The more grouped/tied rhythms of notes you recognise and learn the more see the group and know how it will feel... why?
    because in music certain rhythm combinations of notes always come up, so you learn to recognise the whole groups rhythm.
    Look at scores and find all the tied/grouped notes and compare them....suddenly it does not look so daunting because there is repartition in the rhythm, it is the pitch/keys that is changing.

    It is like when you read English.. you know phy and f sound the same because you recognise the group of letters phy in physics but not in phyood, that has to be food with an f.
    You know the sh in shop is different to chute but in the context of the word chute the start of both the words sound the same. You know para and pyra sound different because of one change of letter. Pyramid is not piramid as in piranna and you know the para and chute combined gives you parachute.
    But enough...... you get the idea.
    You learned all these things, and still do, to learn by association, that's why you can work out how to pronounce words, because you can associate the whole word as one, not individual letters. Music is no different in that regard if you see tied groups of notes as having a rhythmic pronunciation.
  13. Take a few minutes and pencil in the sharps and flats. I won't tell. :D
  14. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    I do that, too, sometimes in my lessons. My instructor cringes when he sees it in my books but he lets me go, for now at least. I don't write it in for EVERY note that gets a sharp or flat. It's just that for some reason, in some spots of some songs I never flat/sharp a note when I'm supposed to because of the key signature. If I find that happening repeatedly in that spot, I'll write in the accidental as a reminder to myself.

    Maybe it's a crutch? I don't know. But then again, my wife is a pretty talented clarinetist and she makes all kinds of notations in the sheet music she gets for the orchestra she plays in, including occasional accidentals. I figure if she can do it for her performacnes then there's no big deal with me doing it in my lessons.

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