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Hearing fast?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Kamuilija, Jan 5, 2013.

  1. Hi there,

    my bass playing is getting to the point where I can play anything I hear (clearly enough) in my head. I've been practicing a lot of hearing first, then playing, and got good results. But the problem is, I can't hear very fast. It's as though the music gets muddy, or unclear, if I try to play too fast stuff.

    I think this is a "psychological" thing, because sometimes, after shedding a difficult passage (legit) for long enough, something "clicks" together, and after that, I'm able to play the passage at any tempo. But this "realization" never lasts very long, and it doesn't seem to transfer to my improvised playing.

    I will ask this of my teacher, but she's currently on holiday (the first in five years, I hear), so I thought I'd ask the TalkBass people first: what do you recommend for practicing "fast hearing" in a systematic way?


  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Funny, I asked the same question years ago when I started on bass and now I think I can safely give an answer.

    You have to examine what is exactly this desire to hear fast. I'm allowed to rephrase it, it's actually to be came to come up with phrases that fit a fast tempo. You have to invent new phrases quickly to match the tempo you're asked to play at. To invent anything, you have to start from somewhere. You're trying to imagine sounds quicker, and the only real way to do that is to feed that imagination. IMO, you can practice scales and such til you're blue in the face and your imagination won't really grow or speed up. The only real way to feed it is to play melodies and study recorded solos through learning by ear and picking it apart phrase by phrase. Once you develop an ability to conjure vocabulary effortlessly, then things get easier to speed up.

    But also there are a couple key things:
    1) You have to have the melody memorized. The melody itself is a source for inspiration.
    2) You need to have the changes not only memorized but also internalized so that you're not fighting to keep track of where you are in the tune.

    Usually if I have 1 & 2 down, and over the years worked on developing my own language, then I can START working on playing fast in a coherent way with some level of effectiveness. The clarity comes alot easier. Takes lots of work and I'm certainly not there yet.

    Take a look at Ed's thread about REALLY LEARNING A TUNE here: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f73/really-learning-tune-304843/
    IMO, that's prob one of the fastest ways to start getting into playing everything the way you want. It's a long drawn out process tho.
  3. chicagodoubler


    Aug 7, 2007
    Chicago, that toddling town
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland, Genz Benz

    Please watch this and take it to heart:

    You need to work on transcription and ear training. This is a lifelong journey; don't be in a hurry. There are many many beautiful things that can and should be played slowly.
  4. Thanks, people. This is good stuff. I'll be digesting it for a long time. I'm in no hurry, I'm 23 and I've a lifetime of playing bass ahead of me.

    I began studying music at university level last fall, and in this half-year, my knowledge of what I don't know yet has been growing exponentially. It is a humbling experience, and it does me good.

    I recently set a goal for myself (after chatting with John Patitucci for a while before a concert here) that in 40 years' time, I'd still enjoy playing as much as I do now. I'm inclined to think that everything else will follow from that.
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    IMO, the emphasis should be more on ear training. The bigger your ears the more you'll hear.
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