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Going to get serious with theory

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by tallguybcs, Apr 18, 2001.

  1. I am going to get serious with learning theory, my goal is to be at least a decent jazz bassist (at least decent enough to be able to apply it to punk music)

    My question, how should I learn, I know lessons will be best, but the local guy is real flakey, last time he missed almost half of our appointments. Anyway, should I look for another teacher, or learn from online references? Any help will be appreciated.
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I think you'll get more replies on this in Miscellaneous.
  3. It's difficult to say exactly what you should do, I think everyone will have a different answer for you, I think that it will depend upon your dedication no matter which route you take. For myself, I taught myself mostly, and had about a dozen lessons when I was 14. I didn't use tutor books very much, when I satarted out there wasn't many and thoses that I could find were to technical for a complete beginner. So I bought standard theory books that were intended to help people get through their grades in Music, I bought all 8 and worked my way through them, so that I knew thoery as best as I could, I must be honest, I stopped at grade 6 and I never took the exams. Along with this I bought lots of sheet music, anything I could get my hands on from Sinatra to Sabbath and played along with records and if I couldn't get the records I would just read the music.

    I wouldn't say that I'm a brilliant player or sight reader but I know enough to get by in any situation I've come across, including one night when a rock band I was in were sent to a restaurant to play and they were expecting a nice low key jazz outfit, well I took out my dots and the keyboard player, Drummer and I played Fly me to the Moon, Call Me, Take Five and some other standards until the crowd had had quite a bit to drink then we rocked out.. Fly Me to the Moon lasted 30 minutes ! Is that a record ?

  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I once played Blue Bossa for a set (around 50 min) just to see if we could do it and keep it interesting. :D
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    As far as music theory goes, there are a hundred different ways you could go about studying it, but IMO the first question anyone in your position should ask themselves is, "what do I want to do with this, and how can I relate what I'm learning to the music I'm interested in right now?" Several centuries ago when I was 17, I wanted to start learning about jazz because I admired those who could play it...the only catch was that I found "conventional jazz" to be boring as hell. My compromise was to find some music which combined jazz and rock (which I was into at the time) and try to learn from that. Back in the bad old days, this music was called "fusion". Is there anything out there that is beyond your current abilities/level that really fascinates you? If so, I'd focus on that since I have seen way too many of my students get confused between "labor" (ie - working on something strictly for self-improvement) and "labor of love" (working on something that fascinates the hell out of you). There's a huge difference, and I think that this should always be the primary consideration.

    Once you find the music that inspires you, learning to read will open all of the doors to the rest. If you can develop some decent reading skills, the next thing to try to tackle is transcription and notation. When I was up at Berklee in '84, I discovered that about 90% of the guys who could really play were transcribing regularly, and this really helped their reading as well, since it's like doing the same thing in reverse. Once you have a handle on the reading/notation issue, all of the theory stuff in the world will be available to you, and you'll take it in on a much deeper level. If you can find a good teacher to be your guide - one who will respect what you are trying to do and help you get there - the road will be a lot less bumpy.

    Good luck.
  6. fisk


    Jan 3, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
  7. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Also check out:




    There are numerous other theory sites on the Internet, but some of those theory sites are hard core. I mean those folks are really fanatic on the most obscure details of theory...aspects you may never need if you play bass guitar for two hundred years.

    There are some excellent books on theory, but if you are just beginning be careful about buying one that is extremely advanced or esoteric, such as you might find at a university book store or one more suited to symphony orchestra use than to jazz.

    Many folks here endorse "The Jazz Theory Book" by Mark Levine. It is in my personal arsenal of theory books, but I feel it is way too expensive and way too advanced for someone just starting out. The disadvantage is that you might get discouraged.

    A much easier book to comprehend is"

    "Mel Bay's Complete Jazz Bass Book" by Earl Gately, $19.95

    This book teaches you how to read the bass clef, fretboard familiarization and theory in a systematic way that gradually builds up basic skills and technique. Once you have waded through a book like Gately's, you can then advance more confidently to books such as Levine's. His book IS especially good, but, like I say, it can be daunting to a beginner in theory.

  8. Yeah, what I want to do is apply it to punk music (before you all get mad, listen to Rancid, Matt Freeman is a great jazzish bassist).

    Thanks for all the replies
  9. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I guess I truly don't understand punk. I always thought it was about 2 - 3 chords and lot's of screaming. I'm not trying to be mean, I'm serious. I guess I just don't understand it.

    Anyhoo, the book thing can be helpful, but like most people say, it really comes down to what's comfortable for you. I can't learn from books. I can take etudes and play them, and try and figure out what's going on, but it's when I'm with a teacher, and s/he can interact with what I'm doing, that I really learn. A book can't do that, so they might be limiting. Online resources are fine, but don't present a big picture, usually it's just a snipet here and there.

    Chris had great advice in finding a labor of love. I mean, let's be honest, we're in this for fun. If Rancid is your thing, than maybe there's something you can take from there, and their bassist. If you say he's jazzish, and that's what you like, really listen to his bass lines, and with the theory that you're learning, you can figure out what his approach is.

    Keep looking for a good teacher. It's obvious the one guy is a waste of time. Is there a junior college in your area, or some other school where you can take classes? If you can't take classes, is there someone at those schools that can refer a teacher?

    Most of all, good luck. It won't always be easy, and won't always make sense, but in the end it's worth it.

    P.S. I've heard of that time when you were 17 DURRL, this is about the time that Jesus walked the Earth, no?
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY


    No way, man.....Jesus came later.
  11. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    If you just want theory and yer bass teacher isn't happenin' look for a non-bass player to study with. It's all the the same theory fer piano, guitar, horns etc. and getting perspective on playing bass from someone who doesn't is a real good thing.


    Apr 13, 2001
    Kent, England.
    I would go to a teacher m8. I never had a lesson in my life, I learned from listening to records and watching other people and Im only getting good after 4 years!

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