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Best Bass Theory Book? (Opinion)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by coolrays, Aug 25, 2017.


  1. Gully Foyle

    Gully Foyle

    Sep 28, 2014
    Near Boston

    Now I see my problem! I've been thinking it was 12 notes all this time!:D
     
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  2. Howlin' Hanson

    Howlin' Hanson Lighter cabs, please.

    Sep 3, 2007
    Austin TX
    Isn't that an oxymoron? :)
     
    CereBassum likes this.
  3. csc2048b

    csc2048b

    Apr 4, 2010
    philippines
    if you want it to be
     
  4. mambo4

    mambo4

    Jun 9, 2006
    Dallas
    you don't need to be a fluent sight reader to benefit from notated examples!

    you don't need the scary amount of patience to learn to sight read
    just a small bit of patience to work out one example at a time.

    It actually takes very little effort to memorize the lines and spaces, and have basic grasp of rhythm.
    You don't have to be fluent or fast, just accurate. (Same applies for learning to find notes on the neck.)
    Just apply a little willpower to buckle down and force yourself to slowly decipher stuff.

    plus, each time you work out an example slowly and painfully...you're also learning to read better.
     
    CereBassum and Pbassmanca like this.
  5. bfields

    bfields

    Apr 9, 2015
    Ann Arbor, MI
    I was curious about this book, so I tracked down a library copy and spent some time flipping through it.

    I like what I saw. In addition to the theory there's lots of other stuff, including for example a section on technique with pictures and detailed explanations addressing some talkbass FAQs (finger pressure, shifting across strings to play fourths...).

    I think it'd be great for anyone who had some basic music education and is willing to just skip around following their curiosity. I'm curious whether it would work for someone who'd played a bass a little but had no theory, and was trying to self-teach from scratch by working through the book from page one. Sometimes it seemed to me like the progression wasn't entirely logical, or terms were used without my being able to find the definitions. (But, I was just skimming so I'm not sure.)

    Beginning music theory is a thicket of interrelated facts and ideas that you have to learn, and then memorize, and then internalize to the point they're automatic. I'm not sure this provides quite the right structure or enough exercises for that. But, I guess that's really a question better answered by any teachers in the group.
     
    CereBassum and Pbassmanca like this.
  6. True. But theory needs to be applied to an instrument and that works differently on different instruments. The best way to play a major triad on a piano is not the same as on a bass. So it's good to have a book that teaches theory and how you apply it to your instrument.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  7. This book has been out for a while - long before Ariane Cap's. It's quite good:

    Essential Music Theory for Electric Bass - Robert Garner
    https://www.amazon.com/Essential-Music-Theory-Electric-Bass/dp/0786677368

    This book is designed to help guide a beginning music theory dialogue between instructor and student in private one-on-one lessons. Six areas of beginning music theory are covered. The major scale, the natural minor scale, intervals, triads, seventh chords and harmonized major and minor scales. Fingerings, intervallic structures and note names are also diagrammed in each chapter. It is highly recommended that this book is used in the course of study with a professional bass instructor, though many players have found the book to be useful in self-study.
     
  8. You don't need to be a good sight-reader unless you're planning on making a living doing session work, TV, shows - stuff like that - where you walk in and they put down a sheet in front of you and you have to start playing.

    Learning how to read well enough to get through examples and exercises isn't that hard, and you should learn how to do it if you have an interest in theory. You don't even necessarily have to be able play it - just read and understand so you can absorb what the books and examples are telling you.

    Theory books often give you examples in the form of notes on a staff, not necessarily explaining every detail - the notes say it better than words.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
    Leo Smith likes this.
  9. +1

    I played 2 weeks for 10 minutes per day with this tool and now it doesn't matter any longer wether I get tabs or notation.
     
    BeSeeingYou, Leo Smith and CereBassum like this.
  10. Looks like a good site. :thumbsup:
     
  11. Nah. Theory lives in my head, not on my Bass.
     
  12. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I have to disagree. You are talking mechanics, not theory.

    A major triad is just a major triad. Because I can finger it in many different ways on my bass doesn't change anything about what it is or it's musical purpose.
     
    Leo Smith likes this.
  13. Pachap

    Pachap

    Jun 21, 2014
    Savannahstan, GA
    Man, thanks so much for posting this. I was telling someone a few days back that I would benefit mostly from general theory lessons right now that any more lessons on any instrument, and feel like I'd have to start at the beginning. I think I am going to give this a shot.
     
    40Hz likes this.
  14. I get that the principles of theory live in your head. But I think we're talking about theory as applied to your bass. That's why there are books like these - you need to know the concepts in your head, and also how to apply them to your instrument - how to play a triad in different positions and inversions on your ax, how to use it in a bassline, etc - that's what these books do:

    Essential Music Theory for Electric Bass

    Music Theory for the Bass Player: A Comprehensive and Hands-on Guide to Playing with More Confidence and Freedom

    Same for lots of other instruments.

    That's what the OP asked for: Bass theory book.

    It's more than just method, which as I understand it deals mostly with the pure mechanics of playing. Maybe I'm wrong on that.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2017
  15. Triangle Guy

    Triangle Guy

    Mar 3, 2019
    Central NC
    In re not being able to read music: How the heck do you read written music theory without reading music?

    The author has got to have some sort of notation to indicate what he's trying to describe - so instead of a staff with C,F,G,C symbols drawn on it, you're gonna hafta invent some sort of notation to describe what you're talking about - something like "I, IV, V, I", or "tonic, sub-dominant, dominant, tonic" - but symbolically, those are all equivalent to the notes which are drawn on a staff.

    Now with modern multimedia software, you could maybe produce a completely aural software package wherein a spoken voice leads you through the sounds "...this is the sound of the dominant major chord, and now we add the minor seventh to it, which sounds like this, and finally we resolve to the tonic, which sounds like this..." but, again, the very words you are speaking are symbolically indistinguishable from written notes on a staff.

    Plus, with multimedia, you could just go ahead and add the picture of the staff & its notes on the screen while the voice was describing what was happening [and maybe leave the option to turn off the pictures if they proved to be too confusing for people who are resolute in their determination to not learn to read music].
     

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