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From "Player" to "Musician"

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Rimshot, Feb 13, 2018.


  1. Rimshot

    Rimshot Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Chicago
    I'd like to move from being a "player" to a "musician" which, to me, means understanding what I'm playing and why it works. Every time I've tried to dip my toes into the waters of musical notation, theory, scales, modes, etc., I find that my hands just end up going back to memorized patterns and I'm not internalizing the knowledge.

    I've been playing bass and guitar for about 35 years, mostly rock. I grew up learning songs by ear, then supplemented by tab when it became readily accessible (and they really should vet those before allowing Joe Public to post 'em...some are just plain terrible). Through this I've found shapes and patterns to speed up the learning process and taken what was pleasing to my ears to write lines.

    I'm considering ponying up for Scott's Bass Lessons, but am open to your advice based on experience.

    Thanks, in advance, for your kind counsel and suggestions.
     
  2. Drgonzonm

    Drgonzonm

    Sep 4, 2017
    American SW
    I have my mediocre bass number, so what I say may wrong. Take your existing music, to me a lead sheet, look at the first chord, is it the same root as the staff indicates, also, look at the last measure in the song, it is likely the same as the first. Ask yourself why. Maybe the first chord is a minor chord. Is the chord a major 5th above the root?
    Now look at other chords in the music, which are minor, which are major, are the there any 7ths, then ask yourself why. There should be patterns.
    These questions help you know if the song follows some of the standard rules.
    Do your chord patterns repeat how many measures,
    After you've done this to several songs, do you see any patterns.
    Look at the notes in the measure, are the notes in the chord? They don't have to be
    I would start with blues numbers,
     
    Rimshot likes this.
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    LOL, I never in a billion years thought I'd see myself typing these words, but here I go....

    Go check out Jeff Berlin's forum (in the "Ask a Pro" section here).

    He may have what you're looking for. He certainly believes he does. Would love to hear if you do, how that worked out.
     
  4. Sneakyfish

    Sneakyfish

    Jan 24, 2014
    London, UK
    Very important question. Firstly, I'd like you to consider music and bass guitar as separate. Music is everything you've learned about the subjects you mentioned and the rest of it. Bass guitar is the conduit through which you'll channel that musical knowledge.

    For me there are two ways to learn theory, theoretical studies and applied studies. It sounds like you're trying to combine the two. Which could be where you're going off track or falling back into your recognisable patterns.
    When studying matters of theory like intervals, scales, chord construction based on scalar forms, cadences, harmonising, reharmonising, cycle of 5th's etc. PUT THE BASS DOWN!!

    For subjects like these, work with pen and paper until you can write down everything you know without referencing from your learning material. Take yourself back to school. This, to me, is theoretical study. It only works when you put the bass down because otherwise, like me, you'll just end up noodling on what you already have because it's too much fun!

    When you know that you've absorbed the info, you're ready to pick up the bass again and apply what you've learned. This is the applied study I mentioned, where you take your knowledge of music and see how can be applied to the bass. But because you've got that clearer theoretical picture now, you can focus on specific elements and you know what you're looking for/at. Try to stay aware of what you're doing. Play the bass, don't let the bass play you. Hopefully you won't slip into those familiar patterns, except for when you choose to.

    I don't know what theoretical concepts you have locked in but I think a good starting point would be:

    1) Note names
    2) Intervals
    3) Scale degrees (roman numerals) I II III IV V VI VII
    3) Pentatonic scales and also Diatonic scales like Major, Pure minor, Harmonic minor and Melodic minor scales and their associated modes
    4) Triad chords constructed from these scales
    5) Seventh chords constructed from these scales
    6) Cadences
    7) Progressions based off of these triad and seventh chords

    These and some other things will give you a decent start in diatonic harmony (the relationships between all the notes and possible chords derived from the diatonic scales).

    Maybe go for the synthetic and exotic scales after this and also extended and altered chords.

    Hope this helps! ;)
     
    Leo Smith, mobdirt, JFMusic and 9 others like this.
  5. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I will recommend Scotts Bass Academy.

    Huge amount of value for the money. Just don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by what’s there. Because there’s a huge amount of stuff available and it’s easy to get distracted. Make a personal development plan and stick to it.

    Another good vid guy (who I think is now doing some stuff with Scott’s) is Adam Neeley. He’s refreshingly focused and not too chatty (hear me Scott?) and has his own channel on YT well worth subscribing to IMO. (Probably because so much of what he says is in sync with with my own pet theories about bass playing. ;):laugh: )

    Here’s a sample:

     
    soulman969, osonu, bwoodman and 6 others like this.
  6. Sneakyfish

    Sneakyfish

    Jan 24, 2014
    London, UK
    I've been chatting to Jeff recently and this made me laugh! XD
     
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  7. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    You don't internalize theory by dipping your toes in the water, IMHO. Get a good teacher and work at it. It takes time and hard work to get to the next level.
     
  8. Rimshot

    Rimshot Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Chicago
    Thanks for your comment, sir. I'm afraid I don't know what to make of it though. How would I know if someone is a "good teacher"? Trial and error? That seems an expensive route to take on the way to finding someone "good".
     
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  9. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    You find a good teacher by getting referrals from people you trust. Or you could ask here on TB. Or you could look at online reviews. With Skype lessons, geography is no longer a limiting factor. Trail and error is the second worst way. Doing nothing is the worst. ;)

    Just to be clear, I'm talking about real lessons with an actual person, not watching Youtube videos. Nothing wrong with videos, but you get no feedback and that is a critical step in the learning process.
     
    FenderB and JRA like this.
  10. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I had to block his forum from my feed. I have much better things to be doing with my time.
     
  11. Start at the beginning.

    Take baby steps.

    When you learn one thing, the next thing you learn should be directly connected to the last thing you learned. A sort of musical "chain of custody" if you will..

    In other words don't just jump in the deep end of the pool and start trying to absorb all kinds of things that you don't understand and have no application to what you are currently doing.
     
    LowActionHero, Sneakyfish and Rimshot like this.
  12. Drgonzonm

    Drgonzonm

    Sep 4, 2017
    American SW
    I now consider you a grinch, :D
    His early posts are worth a read. But I will stay away with any threads that start with "JeffBerlinsays", too many religious overtones, in that phrasing. I am going over the forum for useful information.
     
    Rich Fiscus and Joe Nerve like this.
  13. arbiterusa

    arbiterusa

    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    Good goal. Learn to read music (#1), try composing some original material, and get a cheap piano/keyboard and learn some simple songs on that, because a lot of what you do on bass doesn't make much sense until you see it working with melody and harmony.
     
  14. mambo4

    mambo4

    Jun 9, 2006
    Dallas
    Fist off: replace "modes" with "intervals and chords" in your thinking
    "notation, intervals, scales, chords"
    leave modes for much later, they are a practically useless compared to those 4 ideas

    The bass line's job is to support the harmony in a stylistically appropriate rhythm
    Your goal for learning theory should be : to understand harmony, chords, cadences and chord progressions.
    You want to be able to see " I-iv-ii-V in E flat" and know what notes that means.

    Try the pdf linked in my signature for what I consider the most important and useful theory fundamentals
     
  15. BassUrges

    BassUrges

    Mar 14, 2016
    Denver
    My go-to recommendations are studybass.com and the Hal Leonard Bass Method trio of books. There's a LOT of really easy stuff that you don't need, like how to hold the bass, but also some very accessible theory, and both are free/cheap. Plus you can learn to read, which is really handy should you find yourself playing anything outside of current pop.

    I am lousy at playing by ear--I can work out melodies fine, but hearing the bass under everything else in a rock song is a struggle, and I spend forever trying to find the right key. It's only through theory, mostly from those sources, that I can play at all.
     
    SeSt and Rimshot like this.
  16. Waytootrue

    Waytootrue

    Jan 19, 2018
    Denver
    +1 to Adam Neeley. I also love this channel called 12 tone that does dissections of why songs work. It can be overwhelming at first, depending on your understanding of theory, but if you take what you can from each video, it will eventually all make sense.

     
    Drzejzi, repoman, Bioflava and 2 others like this.
  17. JRA

    JRA my words = my opinion Supporting Member

    IMO: https://www.talkbass.com/members/lfmn16.202464/ nails it. and about a teacher (i.e., getting feedback from one): you likely know a lot more than you think you do, but it's 'scattered' around in your thinking/memory. and a lot of what you already do is probably 'unlabeled' or labeled incorrectly by your experience. a teacher can help you correct your assumptions/baggage and give you some direction(s) to pursue. you will probably find that after a short period of total confusion: things start making sense...enough to keep on building your 'repertoire'.

    becoming a musician is cool! best of luck! :thumbsup:
     
    Rimshot likes this.
  18. mmon77

    mmon77 Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Southern MN
    This is exactly why I've never learned much theory. When I was playing guitar I tried to find several teachers to teach me theory so I could learn what I was playing. They all wanted to teach me songs. I don't need to pay for that, I can learn any song (within my playing ability) by listening to it enough.

    Now I find myself in the same position playing bass. I've been trying to learn online, but it's hard. Everyone has different approaches and ideas. People can't even agree on things like "how many different keys are there that a song can be written in?" (Victor Wooten says 30??).

    I'll be following this for suggestions for sure.
     
    Rimshot likes this.
  19. As crazy as this may sound, take a few months' worth of piano lessons, either private or a "class piano" course at a local college. If you take the latter route, look into a introductory music theory class as well.
     
    repoman, IamGroot and Rimshot like this.
  20. BassUrges

    BassUrges

    Mar 14, 2016
    Denver
    If you want a teacher who can do theory properly, look for music faculty at the local community college, a piano teacher, or if you really want something guitar/bass oriented, a Suzuki-certified teacher in guitar or (upright) bass. Most people will work with you if you are waving money at them. There may also be a community college or music organizations that have theory classes. In Denver we have Swallow Hill, which has a huge variety of classes for adults.

    As you already know, there are a lot of guitar "teachers" who are basically just about playing licks, not music.