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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. Chad Michael

    Chad Michael Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2001
    Pacific Northwest USA
    Exactly.

    Good post.
    :cool:
     
  2. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    Eastern North Dakota
    To be a good bassist, no.

    To be a good MUSICIAN, yes.
     
  3. NoisemakerD-Lux

    NoisemakerD-Lux

    Oct 12, 2004
    You know, I've been reading music for almost as long as you've been alive. So I suggest you take that comment and shove it up your behind. I also suggest that, in the future, if you disagree with someone, you just explain why, instead of automatically resolving to an insult.

    As far as that "serious and uptight" comment, I suppose you've never been to a session where everybody is so business-like that the entire fun of playing music is gone. That's what I was referring to and I thought that I was pretty clear on that.

    Just for the record, reading music will not make you a better player. It will only make you a better reader. It's a convenience factor, really, for when you want to, or have to, read something off a sheet of paper.

    No one here will tell me that someone who knows how to read, and knows everything there is to know about theory, is a better musician than a person like Stevie Ray Vaughan.

    People who concentrate on the "mathematics" of playing music are typically average players who play with absolutely no heart in their music (that's what Vic refers to when he talks about this). Music should flow from your heart, not a chord chart or a sheet of paper.

    Ear training and improvisational skills are much more important than reading. Basic theory is a must, too, since we don't want to be playing random notes. But reading is the very last on the list. Funny thing, because it's also the easiest.
     
  4. Well, ultimately, yeah, but really, this is a false dichotomy. There is nothing about reading that prevents music from coming from your heart. All standard notation is is a device (one of several available to us) by which music is conveyed in some form from one musical mind to another. It's not how you got the music that determines how much heart you play with, it's *what you do with the music once you've got it*. I've heard people play from paper with immense heart, and nonreaders play with little.

    I agree about the importantance of ear training, theory, and improvisation. But again, none of those are necessarily opposed to reading in any conceivable sense. Most of the best musicians I've encountered can do all those things: read well, hear well, know theory, and improvise. Or at least three out of four.;)
     
  5. NoisemakerD-Lux

    NoisemakerD-Lux

    Oct 12, 2004
    I never said that the ability to read is somehow bad. It is definitely a benefit. I'm just saying that people often put too much emphasis on all kinds of things, other than the actual playing. I see it all the time and it's definitely out there. And, you're right, reading is just part of the overall music thing that we all love to do. I would never discourage anyone from learning to read.

    But I must stress that reading ability most definitely comes behind technical skill, good ear, (basic) theory, and just a good sense of melody and emotion in playing.

    When a musician is standing on the stage and is playing his heart out, does anyone stop and think, "Gee, I wonder if he knows how to read music [or the names of the chords he's playing]?". No one really cares if you do or don't. Being able to read certainly doesn't help the musician on stage, unless they're in some Chamber Music ensemble and have to play right off the charts.

    Reading is good, but let's not overstate it's value here. Many professional musicians use it very occasionally and many not at all.

    :cool:
     
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