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I need to learn how to read music for bass, how do i do it?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by petchimp123, Oct 18, 2008.

  1. petchimp123


    Oct 22, 2007
    I've been playing bass for 3 years and I can only read tabs for bass. Right now I'm interested in joining jazz band. I talked to the band director and he said I don't have to audition and I just have to show up next week for sheet music and other information.

    I told him that I know very little music theory, but I'm willing to get a bass teacher and learn how to use music theory. Could someone show me examples on how to read from the bass clef? It seems very hard for some reason.
  2. go to studybass.com and check it out.

    Really, there are about a zillion online sites that can teach you how to read. The key to being GOOD at it, though, is just like playing your bass: daily practice.

    Do a search on TalkBass and see who likes what reading method books.
    IamGroot likes this.
  3. Quap


    Oct 14, 2008
    Austin, Texas
    Do you know your Major and Minor scales?

    A lot of Jazz bass in walking lines made up from the chord changes of the piece. You can do a lot with just those scales

    As far as reading music, get a beginner book, or look online, and practice.
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Intergalactic Mind Space CA
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    After a few hundred hours, it becomes quite a bit easier.

    Here's some info to start with:
    Online study of music theory. http://www.teoria.com/ Check out the tutorials, exercises and reference(dictionary).

    The following TB threads may also be helpful:

    This is a very helpful program for learning the notes on the bass clef. (as recommended by AlphaMale)

    And don't forget the GI stickies:

    Also, learning the bass and treble clef on the piano is also helpful.

    If you can get the sheet music ahead of time to read from, that would give you something to focus on with immediate results.
  5. learn the modal series and practice reading alot and you will be fine
  6. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    Stumbo always has the links... How do you do it man? lots of bookmarks?
  7. kb9wyz


    Sep 8, 2008

    Has trainers for learning notes for both treble and bass clef. You can download the site to use offline as well. Free.

    Also, has fretboard trainer.

    Then, there are books...lots of books.:bag:
  8. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Intergalactic Mind Space CA
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    I have a pretty fast internet connection that gets searches done quickly.

    I'm pretty good at coming up with search terms. I also read the Google search help files: http://www.google.com/support/bin/static.py?page=searchguides.html&ctx=basics&hl=en

    I store links in a (notepad replacement program called Metapad) text file so I can copy/paste just by popping open a file from task bar. Metapad has great "recent" files feature that keeps up to about 30 of the last files you opened on a drop down menu.

    I read through the TB stickies on a semi-regular basis.

    I enjoy researching stuff.

    MalcolmAmos likes this.
  9. chainsaw


    Oct 16, 2008
    Are there any simple software games/website, where it keeps playing a note and i try to recognise it on my bass and then type in the note?
  10. DudeistMonk


    Apr 13, 2008
    Newark, NJ
    teoria.com has a ton of flash based trainers that you can use for reading, relative pitch, all that stuff.
  11. kb9wyz


    Sep 8, 2008
    Again I shall pimp out: www.musictheory.net
  12. petchimp123


    Oct 22, 2007
    musictheory.net doesn't have a bass trainer though. what's up with that?
  13. cmewhinney


    Jul 11, 2008
    Concord, NH
    Pick up a book called "Reading in Bass Clef" by Jim Stinnett and go through it a couple times using your metronome. If you don't have a metronome, buy a metronome. Play each example until you can do it 10x in a row completely right, then move on to the next example. Do this for at least an hour every day and in no time at all (read: a few months), you will be able to read most of what they throw at you. If you get finished with that book, I recommend checking out "All Cows Eat Grass", also by Jim Stinnett. This guy is the best teacher I've ever run across, so his materials are highly recommended.

    I realize that this is more of a long-term solution than what you're looking for, but if you want to be a good reader, this would be very helpful.
    bench, wesonbass and Old P Bass Guy like this.
  14. When I started learning to read, I read classical scores such as the Bach Cello suites.. you can start reading from anywhere, and it's easy to tell if you have stuffed up;)
    Even piano scores with a left hand part are good...
    Also, learning to read phrases rather than just individual notes is a good thing to start learning: like seeing a major arpeggio in a score, rather than just three notes.

    Hopefully the jazz charts you get will be mostly chord changes and not too many individual notes! :)
  15. pankykapus


    Jun 25, 2007
    I learned reading charts little by little, so just like with a double bass starting with notes from 1/2 position then 1st position etc. This is not a very quick technique but surely does the job. Also with a jazz type of things get used to keys like Eb maj, Ab maj, Db maj, because flat keys are in majority. Yeah and learn basic patterns so you won't have problems when only chord changes are written down. :)
  16. E2daGGurl


    May 26, 2008
    The key to both clefs (in terms of sight reading) is middle C - the line ABOVE the five lines on your basic basic lines. The space in between that extra line is B, and so the top line in the bass staff is A.

    The 5 lines of the staff are (from the bottom). G B D F A
    The spaces are A C E G

    Some sites want you to learn way more at once to use their tutorial quiz software. Kids usually start out learning from C down to G (lowest line) and the sharps/flats in between - because that's enough to bite off and will get you a long way.

    What I found helpful was getting manuscript paper that shows both tab and staff and juxtaposing them. you can get some here. Writing it out a couple or three times really helped me (I sight read - didn't know/still am not fast at tab).

    Learning to read traditional staff notation and then making the connection to the fretboard are often broken down into two steps by many learners.
  17. EADG mx

    EADG mx

    Jul 4, 2005
    Start with some charts. One of the chromatic scale, and one for major scales, natural minor, and harmonic minor.


    Learn the major and minor scales for each key (shapes are moveable - bonus). Major scale for major keys, natural minor and/or harmonic minor for minor keys. This will speed up the process because you'll know which notes are applicable to the particular key you're in. From there you just need to watch out for the accidentals (and in jazz charts there will be plenty).

    It's really just making the connection between notes on the page and positions on your instrument. Feel free to change up the fingerings. Remember that you can shift anything down a string and up 5 frets and vice versa (D2 = A7)

    As for rhythms, tempos, expression marks, rehearsal marks (ex. Coda) and etc, these are general skills for reading notation that are easily accessible and will (should) be covered in any beginners book, website, class.

    Don't be daunted by this. I didn't know how to read a note when I started in jazz band and I was fluent by the time I graduated HS. Practice practice practice (with a metronome).
  18. dwanetom


    Aug 20, 2008
    When I started out to read bass clef on bass I devised a shorthand notation above each note:

    Say, the note is on the 4th line (2nd down from the top line), an F ... to play that note I use the 2nd string on the 3rd fret with my 3rd finger...2/3/3. I would go through a whole page of music and do that and then practice it ever so slowly. Eventually the speed picked up and you use the shorthand less and less.

    Each time I wrote out a new sheet I wouldn't notate the notes I really knew and within a relative short period of time I weaned myself, although I still use it at times when I venture up the neck.

    Anyway...it worked for me.
  19. EADG mx

    EADG mx

    Jul 4, 2005
    I wouldn't place that much emphasis on fingering from the start. Of course you don't want to get into bad habits, but as long as you're sounding good no one is going to care if you're not using strict 1234
  20. Old P Bass Guy

    Old P Bass Guy

    Nov 26, 2017
    Are their short term solutions? I think it's a marathon not a sprint.

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