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How many of you know how to read and understand music?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by mike phillips, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. it aint so secret ive been playin less than a year. teachin myself out of as many books as i can get my hands on. sometimes i have questions so i go to the local music shops. so many people playin killer lines. it fastenates me to hear them play. so ill ask them my question and the typical reply is i cant read music. how can you play like that and not read music? i want to learn how to play and learn music theory. am i wrong for this. so here is my burnin question. how many of you know how to read and understand music. thank you for your replys.
  2. g00eY


    Sep 17, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    i can read treble clef, but not bass clef. i also play clarinet so it helps. i think i used to know how to read bass clef when i still played piano, but i have long since forgotten.
  3. Lots of those guys you hear noodling in the guitar store have spent hours and hours listening to a song and copying what they hear. That's how they learn to play the song.

    But they will probably never undestand what makes the bassline so good, and they will never be able to write one of their own to match.

    Its like being a great author who can't read.

    You should aim to learn the most you can about theory, learn to read music and also to learn by ear.

    you will be a more rounded and trained musician this way
  4. DougP


    Sep 4, 2001
    i can read and understand music.

    but i learned on piano and never took formal bass or guitar lessons so i have a hard time visualizing theory on a fretboard. so if someone in my band says A7...i have to visualize the notes on a keyboard and then mentally translate that onto the fretboard.

    its a pain, thats why i am going to start taking lessons.
  5. i can read treble and bass clef, but on bass i can only sight read bass clef, not treble, but i could do it if you gave me some time :)
    as for your friends in the guitar store, they probably learned from tabs and playing along with cds, and stuff...thats an ok way to learn, but it would really be to your advantage if you can read music...i would go so far as to say that the guy playing that primus lick at the store can't play much outside of that...if you brought him to your house to jam and said, "let's play a song in Bb" he would probably just play that primus lick...its not always the case, but it happens
  6. ibz


    Apr 14, 2005
    Columbus, OH
    I think if you can master both playing by ear and reading music you're way ahead.

    Music theory is a big plus, and I think some poeple take the time to sit down and learn it, while others have enough experience where they know what works, but thats about it. I feel for the most part those types of people are limiting thier potential.
  7. ibz


    Apr 14, 2005
    Columbus, OH
    But also keep in mind, I've rarely been to gigs with people reading music, note for note while their playing. Lead sheets maybe, but not note fully written out bass parts...
  8. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    The more different ways you can get the music into you (reading treble and bass clef notes, tabs, chords, learning it by ear) the quicker you will get up to speed on a song. The more music theory you know from ALL genres (classical, jazz, blues, big band, rockabilly, raggae, Chinese semitone, Ugandan tribal chants, etc.) the better you will be at improvising something REALLY UNIQUE - and hopefully good-sounding.

    Learn as much as you can as many different ways as you can. You wanna be the best, don't you?
  9. i want to learn all there is to playin bass. most of the music i listen to doesnt have slap in it but since its part of the bass i want to learn that. i cant slap worth crap by the way. music theory is important to me. my daughter is teachin herself guitar so now im learnin trebel clef as well. im gettin better at playin by ear but still not where i want to be. how do you master playin by ear? any tricks other than experiance. thanks again, mike
  10. I'm with DougP - having learned the piano first, I tend to translate the notes via a piano keyboard in my head.

    I think it depends on your aspirations. As a gigging bassist in a covers band that's never going to go anywhere I don't need to read music. If you want to make a career out of it you need all the arsenal you can get so it's worth the effort.

    At one time I made a concerted effort to practice reading music to play bass. When it came down to it, I never used these skills when I gigged with my band, so I gave up trying to sight read faster. It is very handy though to be able to quickly find the right note on the fretboard when you have a 'blank' moment in a gig, and need a prompt from the guitarist.
  11. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    A parrot can mimic human speech. It appears to talk, but really, you can't have a conversation with a parrot. It really can not talk. It can only mimic speech. There is a huge difference. It's pretty much the same difference that exists between a guitar store wanker and a functional musician. Put that Guitar Center shredder in a band situation and - well, it might be a lot like trying have a conversation with a parrot.
  12. b2d2


    Sep 1, 2004
    Seattle, Wa
    Yes learning to read music will help you tremendously. Just as being able to read and write the language you speak, in the same way it will help you musically. Music is made, and how do you remember what it was you just did so that you can show someone else how? Or you want to identify a cool chord progression to use later. Theory is the art of specifically identifying the music just played, or heard. Music was music before theory was theory, so I believe that it is a useful tool in communicating the details.
  13. seansbrew


    Oct 23, 2000
    Mesa AZ.
    I do not know how to sight read. I know plenty of theory/technique and can hold my own in most situations. I think I would be a much more efective bass player of I knew how to read music. This would allow me to study compositions and undertand music on a whole different level. For a pro musician I would think one would be more marketable knowing how to read. I may learn someday when I can dedicate myself to it. Till than I am ignoramous. :meh:
  14. Learning how to read music will help alot, the problem with tabs is that you have to hear a song a few times just to be able to get the rhythme. If you know how to properlly read music all you need to do is take a seat and start up. Reading music isn't that hard once you get used to it, keep practicing it will get easier.
  15. thats my thought. if you dont know the song tabs are useless. bein able to read music will let me play anything. i know my scales and can read music in positions 1 and 2. ive figured out the pattern of the fretboard but need to think about it before i can get the note. what am i gonna do with all this knowledge? i reckon just play along with my cds. i would eventually like to play out but dont feel comfortable in front of people.
  16. FunkSlap89


    Apr 26, 2005
    Albany, NY
    I know how to read bass clef and some treble clef. I learned treble clef when i used to play piano. Now that skill has basically left me. I learned bass clef for the school band (i played trombone). The band director wanted me to play bass for the jazz band, so i picked up how to play bass and was able to read bass clef.
  17. Herman


    Dec 25, 2005
    Lynchburg, VA
    I can read treble and bass clef - originally learned from piano lessons and taught myself to play bass. I believe being able to read music beforehand was a big advantage to learning the bass.
  18. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    I have two degrees in music, can read all the clefs (treble, bass and moveable C clef). I've played in bands, orchestras, musicials, theme park bands, jazz and rock. I've written over 1000 arrangements for all kinds of groups and taught music for 30 years.

    BUT..... some of the most interesting and useable things I've learned about music have been taught to me by people who never learned to read. There's something very special about musicians who have had to 'figure it out on their own'. They may not know as many things as a schooled musician, but what they know they know better and deeper.

    While I would always recommend that young players learn to read (its a great way to communicate with musicians, even the dead ones!) I have total and tremendous respect for anyone who has made it in the music biz without reading, and I'm always ready to find out how they did it, cause thats when my learning increases.
  19. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I can read music okay because I had to learn how to read the treble clef when my parents forced me to take flute lessons when I was really young (My skills deteriorate quickly when I don't do it often enough, though).

    Taking guitar lessons for a year or two helped me understand chords and music theory (I had no clue how chords worked before that) and reading bass instruction books helped me become better at reading rhythms. I only had one real bass lesson but playing bass in my "official" school band taught me how to read the bass clef because we were usually using song books instead of figuring out our parts by ear.

    Does anyone else get really confused when playing melodies that are written in treble clef on bass, by the way? :eyebrow:

    Hehe, looks like I missed superbassman2000's post.
  20. Took piano as a kid, along with sax, and other instruments, and my piano teacher also had me going through theory books. Made a big difference in my total overall outlook. Funny, though...I picked up bass and played by ear for many years before I was in high school and the other bassist in the jazz band showed me how to read the notes for the bass. (It helped that I already read music; just needed to apply it to where it was on the instrument.) Between being able to read, and then having the ear-training experience for bass, I took off. Reading down "charts" isn't a problem now.

    Learn to read! It'll make you a much more versitile player.