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Can You Help My Old Brain Understand This?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by mickeyw3340, Feb 4, 2003.

  1. Excuse my ignorance on this subject....
    I have purchased an instruction book on learning to read music for the bass and am wood shedding to begin to try to learn to sight read the bass clef. I want to begin to do more than just play the root note of the guitar chord notation. I play mostly church music with our choir. In reading ahead in the book it talked about chords on the bass. What are they talking about? They talk about a particular chord notation and then talk about the corresponding chords on the bass. I assume this is not talking about strumming the bass strings. "Duh!" My interpretation of it is that for any particular guitar chord notation on a piece of music, that there are certain notes one should play while in this chord. It also talks about developing bass runs based upon these notes using passing notes, which I can comprehend from my old days. My full time playing background from years ago being country music and 50s and 60s rock and roll, I come from an old 4 chord song progression using 2 beat rhythms. Learning a repertoire of songs in this mode simply consisted of doing covers of artists by listening to the records and memorizing the bass lines. Reading music wasn't necessary, and was seldom if never used. The one problem with this book is that it is evidently designed to be used with verbal instruction and explanation from a qualified teacher, so it leaves a lot to try to figure out exactly what is being discussed.

    On that same subject can anyone recommend a self teaching lesson or book/CD series that I can use to further develop my playing from learning to sight read the bass clef and reaching my goal of being able to sit down with other musicians, being handed a piece of music and be able to do something with it, other than follow the guitar chord changes? Something that gets down to the novice terms and works up, not requiring additional input from an instructor.
  2. JizzDogg


    Nov 4, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    I swear no one, absolutely no one, makes theory instrustion easy to understand I've read that link 2x and bought bass playing software went to http://www.cyberfretbass.com/index.php, i still only have a vague understanding of it. Definetly not enough to utilize it. I want to pull my hair out on the subject because i love the instrument so much but I'm limited by my lack of knowledge.

    I've been searching stores for books on the subject and no luck understanding it as of yet. I'm incredibly poor right now so private instruction is out of the question at the moment.

    What helped everyone with learning Bass Theory and applying it to what they play and what they want to play? For those of you that had a really difficult time with the subject I would love your input .
  3. I second what JizzDog says. All the articles I read on the net, including the link listed in this thread are not aimed at the player who is trying to move from "Figuring It Out Themselves" or learning it from a CD to being able to take a piece of music and do something other than play the root notes of the guitar chord notations, with a few walk lines. We need to begin with "Look Look See Spot Run!" and work our way into the heavier music theory.

    Jizzdog, I have had two books recommended to me which I have ordered. I will post back here as to what I think of them. One is:
    Music Reading for Bass: The Complete Guide" by Wendi Hrehovcsik (Musicians
    Institute Press)
    Essential Music Theories For Electric Bass Book by Robert Garner. Here is his web link:
  4. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Unfortunately, some things do require face to face communication to learn. Think about teaching yourself to learn to read English, or any other language. Could you do it on your own with books? Maybe, but it'd be pretty hard. There is a reason that many popular musicians don't read music -- learning notation is hard work! A teacher doesn't just motivate you, they show you what to do, correct your errors, and answer your questions. If funds are limited, save up. Even a lesson once a month or once every two months can help you make sense of your books. Good luck, Jon
  5. Thanks for the reply Jon. I am waiting on a call back from a "bass teacher" here locally. If he can teach what I want to learn, it is not out of the relam of possibility for me to take a class once a month. I myself have always been a great self-teacher so I am trying that approach first.
  6. JizzDogg


    Nov 4, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    Mickey, where did you look to find a local bass guitar instructor? Actually, this question can be posed to the rest of you as well.
  7. The Ken Stanton Music Store here that I shop at has classrooms in the back and seems to have a steady stream of students in and out. Supposedly they teach everything from banjo to piano. They have one instructor who teaches bass classes. I am expecting a call from him tomorrow so I can discuss my needs with him. I don't know his credentials yet. I'll post back the results of my phone conversation with him.
  8. JizzDogg


    Nov 4, 2002
    Seattle, WA
    I'm now finally starting to understand theory and how it applies to the bass guitar. How I did, was a combination of trial and error, a bass guitar poster and the Lessons on this site. Which I must say are fairly easy to understand but they do require as it seems to me at least 6 months - 1 year of playing to actually understand them.

    I think instead of rushing it, like I did, because of feeling that I didn't have the advantage of playing when i was younger (i'm 20), a consistant attempt to understand it will eventually help you understand plus a little experience. Ironically what I'm posting here will be almost as vague as what I used to think of postings such as this.

    As said many times before, people, including myself, want to be one minute experts. In reality though, it probably won't ever happen like that.

    :bassist: Keep rockin it...
  9. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    As bass players, we usually play arpeggios, not strumming all the notes of the chord at the same time. For example:

    Your guitarist plays a C Major chord. In your measure you can play C E G C (arpeggiated). It's very important to learn the notes of the chord and also the scales and modes Then for your basslines you can start adding chromatic notes and passing tones to add some flavor.

    There was just a similar thread I just read here about that:


    Be sure to check out Jazzbo's wonderful post there...and don't forget to click on the baby frog! :D

    As for site reading I like the book "Note Reading Studies For Bass" by Arnold Evans. It doesn't come with a CD, but it's very helpful and highly recommended by many here.
  10. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire

    The book you have is not good. You have basically figured out the "bass chord" thing. The author is simply telling you to play the notes that spell the chords as bass lines. i.e. arpeggios. This is NOT learning to read. And, it is also not good advice for learning to play bass lines. Arpeggios are good to learn but not as suggested in your text.

    I have written a number of books with the emphasis on trying to lay out the suggested material in a very elementary and step-by-step manner. My books are well received so I feel this presentation is successful.

    It is important to decide very specifically on a topic / area you are wanting to study. Then seek out specific materials to study. The biggest problem with self study is that most bass books are a hodge podge of many things. It is virtulally impossible for the "student" to decifer the specific intent and practice procedure. My favorite (most dissapointing) blunder of a poor author / publisher is the necessity of the 3 years of practice you will need to get from page 2 to 3. Often the material contained is not bad, the book is just not well conceived and layed out.
  11. Unless you're Lemmy. :bassist:

    Yeah, normally play the root of the chord, instead of the whole thing.

    You can also imply chords by playing the root note, and have the guitarist(s) play the 3rd and 5th degrees, but you don't see this too often.
  12. -or Joey DeMaio....
  13. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Oops. My brain wasn't working yesterday. Sorry. I was trying to explain that bass players don't (normally) strum a chord, all the notes at the same time; instead we play the notes (root, 3rd, 5th) seperately.

    C major = C E G
    G major = G B D
    D major = D F# A

  14. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    That's not implying the chord, it's stating it. To imply the chord would be to not play all of the notes of the chord, thus leaving it a bit more open to interpretation by the listener/players. The root, 3rd, and 5th are there - even though they're split between the guitar and bass - so it's still a complete voicing of the chord. The fact that the bass is playing the root and the guitar is playing 3 & 5 doesn't matter.

    And actually it is common, especially in Jazz. Not so much in Rock, especially where guitars are involved.

    In Jazz it's not uncommon at all for the pianist and/or guitarist not to play the root of the chord.

    I frequently play Jazz piano voicings which don't contain the root.