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do you have to read music to be a good bassist

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by haythamehab, Feb 2, 2005.

  1. :D
    I'll give you a clue Suite 1 -stu hamn taps it on his slap tap pop video so you can learn by ear

    Aww shucks it's moonlight sonata by Bach in G
    Thanks for the link jade if you can read you get to reap the rewards but hey playing by ear is just as good if not better
  2. Kevjmyers


    Dec 10, 2004
    Boulder. CO
    Learn to read music.
  3. I see I got some interesting responses to my "Vic can't read" statement. Yes, I have seen the music written on his website, but that doesn't mean he can read. I know a lot of players (guitarists mostly) who can't sightread, but can write -- it just takes them a while.

    Well, who knows, maybe I'm wrong and he's learned to sightread.

    P.S. Don't know if this has been mentioned in this thread, but Flea can't read music, either. (by the way, Flea supposedly doesn't even know what notes he's playing)

    As a side note, there's a little in-joke at the end of one of the tracks on "Me and My Bass Guitar" where someone says "Yo, Victor, can I have your charts -- I left mine at home."
  4. Being able to read and being a good sightreader are not the same thing.;)
  5. think about it in terms of reading a book though. i write charts, know how to read ect, but am not a good sight reader. my sight reading is almost the equivalent of someone sounding out the words when reading a book. if you heard somebody reading out of a book like that you would say they couldnt read. they know the mechanics of it, but still arent really reading yet.
  6. Definitely. But what's the point of being able to read but not be able to sightread very well?
  7. Rav


    Dec 29, 2004
    Aurora, IL
    Most bass music isn't exactly fast. You would have to be a pretty bad sightreader to not be able to manage 1/4 notes in 4/4.

    Its not that hard to read bass clef.

    In fact in the length of time this thread has existed you probably could have learned it from scratch if you were so inclined.

  8. Rav


    Dec 29, 2004
    Aurora, IL

    Its a way to store and retreive information. Even if you can't sightread quickly being able to look at a peice of sheet music and commit the intro, chorus etc to memory then play the song from memory is a useful way to learn something you've never played before.

    In my opinion its a ton better than reading tab. Sheet music denotes the timing in a simple to read manner and doesn't tell you someone elses idea of where it should be played on the fretboard it gives you the flexibility to play it where you want it.

    Knowing how to read and understand what notes your playing makes learning other scales and modes much easier. For instance switching from Ionian to Dorian Mode knowing its the same except you start on the second note instead of the first note in the diatonic pattern is a hell of a lot easier than memorizing the keys and scales all over again in fretboard patterns.

    If you avoid all knowlege of reading and theory your just makeing it harder on yourself and multiplying the things you need to memorize by 1000.

  9. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    "Supposedly" being the key word -- mostly because it's total BS. Flea was jamming on trumpet with professional jazz musicians (his dad was a jazz muso and had friends over to jam all the time) before he was 10. He might not have been able to sight-read notes, but something makes me very much doubt that he couldn't blow through changes or "didn't even know waht notes he's playing," etc.
  10. I guess it's part of the process of getting towards becoming a good sightreader plus reading helps not only on sightreading but transcribing lines from other players or composing your own music although this is to do with theory in a way , but if you transcribed a lick or song and wrote it down , then read it you'd get a few lessons out of it .
  11. Are you kidding? There's plenty of point. You can read music quite well without being a great sight reader. It's the difference between knowing a language and being verbally facile. For instance, classical musicians need to be able to read, but they don't need to be able to sight read in a hurry, because they typically have time to sit down with something and work it out, and classical soloists generally memorize a piece before they play it in concert.

    A studio musician, on the other hand, needs to be a fast and accurate sight reader, because of the nature of the job.

    Somebody in a band, on the third hand, may need to read, depending on the band, but it may not be critical that they be a blazingly fast sight reader. For instance, I work in a band with a couple of other guys where some of our communication is done remotely, by faxing charts. We do some work on the charts on our own, then get together to rehearse a bit. In this situation, it's essential to be able to read, for purposes of communication, but it's not critical that any of us be a super sight reader, because we have time to work the stuff out. All of us read at better than "See Jane run" level, obviously, but we don't need to be able to read fly specks in 27/32 on the first take. I actually am a fairly decent sight reader, but I don't necessarily have to be in this situation.
  12. No, that's not really true IMO. Really, it's more like somebody who is interlligent and completely fluent in, say, English, but who is not highly verbal or articulate, is not a good public speaker, can't improvise a comedic sketch, or whatever. We all know people who are perfectly fluent in English but who talk slowly or haltingly, whereas others seem to be able to talk as easily as they breathe. Two people can both be native speakers of English and have equal knowledge of the language, yet one has more verbal facility in speaking or writing. There's a physical component to sight reading--the ability to convert what you know into physical playing *in real time*--that has nothing to do with your understanding of the material. I had an old classical guitar teacher who was a better guitarist and a more knowledgeable musician than I was, yet for some weird reason, I was a much better sight reader. It's just a different thing.
  13. Trust me, being able to sightread is very important and very useful. Being a keyboardist by first instrument, I am used to sightreading that sort of material -- so treble+bass clef each playing multiple notes at a time. Being able to sightread reasonable well saves me so much work and time.
  14. Of course sight reading is important and useful. Who ever said different?
  15. Not suggesting that anyone disagreed with that statement, I'm just asking the question "what's the point of being able to read if you can't sightread at all?" Just like what's the point of being able to read a book, but have to sound out each and every word?

    Anyways, merely my opinion. All I'm really trying to say is that from what I've found, being able to sightread is extremely helpful.

    I'm going to go back into hiding now.

  16. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I "read" but can't sightread(e.g. Flip open to Pg. 112 in The Real Book & let's play 'the head' together).
    I'm "OK" with this, too.
    The "reading" part also entails the "writing" part. I can write out parts that I might otherwise forget...& I can transcribe.
    I can usually see a written line & hear it in my head, too.
    Still, I wouldn't be able to play it cold at 120bpm.

    BTW, I'm not really talking about 1/4 notes in 4/4 at a non-fast tempo(as was mentioned above).
    FWIW, if these 1/4 notes in 4/4 are a walking/swing bass thing...I'm saving that for the shed as I want to improvise on my own in that sorta context.

    I'm talking about the sorta music you'll find in Jamerson's book or the James Brown/Bootsy book or the Steve Khan/Anthony Jackson book, etc.
    In other words, a lotta syncopation + odd-metered stuff(in Khan's book). I would love to hear someone rip through this 'cold' & at tempo.
    (I know you guys out there...would just like to see it!)

    Don't get me wrong-
    Sightreading is awesome.
    ...don't forget some of us may be a 'little visually-impaired', too!
  17. Look Geoff I've been sightreading since you were crappin in your diapers :D
    Seriously though dude jokes aside I think the keyboard is one difficult instrument to play let alone sightreading , I enjoy sightreading which you reap the rewards if you know how and is fun ( esp. when you get money from it ) and yes extremely helpful
  18. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    like virtually everything in music, you'll never get to a point where you can't go any further... there's no dividing line between 'being able to read very simple stuff' and 'being able to read very hard stuff'... you just have to get to one via the other...

    now, if people can get benefit from being able to pound out some music after grinding through a score for a few hours, even though they can't sight-read it, that's all that matters... they benefited

    ideally they'd have monster reading chops and sight-read it but none of us are blessed with infinite time and we all have to decide what our bass-playing priorities are... with hindsight I wouldn't have spent much more time learning to read music but I would have spent more time in the early days on ear-training
  19. Cool; no rancor intended, and no need for you to go into hiding.;)

    My point is simply that your comparison is off. To me, what you're asking is more like, what's the point of being able to speak English if you don't have the verbal facility and vocal capacity to be a stage actor? Obviously, there's plenty of point.

    IOW, it's possible to read music perfectly well for all the purposes you need to, yet still lack a particular ability (sight reading) that, though important and useful and essential for some, is not necessary for everybody. Again, many excellent classical musicians are not wonderful sight readers.

    It's almost as if you're considering reading an either-or thing: that is, either you can read anything at the first take or you take hours to puzzle out even a simple written chart. IME this is false. There is an enormous range of reading ability between those two extremes. IME, that middle ground is probably where most musicians actually live, some closer to one extreme and others closer to the other. Just because somebody is not an A-level studio sight reader, that doesn't mean he/she can't read or that reading isn't useful or used.
  20. Deep


    May 8, 2002
    Everyone here is making valid points. But like I said once in another post....CHILDREN in grammer school bands know how to read......why shouldn't/couldn't an adult bassist? It's really not THAT hard...you just gotta want to learn...and do it all the time....it gets easier and easier. Sometimes kids have an advantage.....just like when we all learned our ABC's and then read words and then sentences...etc. Their mind is clear and can learn things without thinking that it's hard or not. It's never too late...you just gotta wanna do it.
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