I suck with charts

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Paulabass, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    It's bizarre, I can look over charts before a gig, and play well from even a short time memorizing it, and I absolutely SUCK at reading charts while I'm playing.
    I know...read four bars ahead...
    I just can't, or, my playing is static and lifeless. Groove while reading...forget it. A sequencer has better groove.
    Anyone else?
    Bassbeater likes this.
  2. My ear is made of tin so I have to play from charts (fake chord charts).
    I am not the beat master as we have a drummer and I rely upon his kick to set the beat. I do ignore his fills and runs and keep the basic rhythm pattern going.

    Perhaps because a root, or root five with octave eights are about as fancy as my bass lines get. Plus I am not a note by note guy I can normally fall into a groove with little effort.

    Offered for what it is worth - dirt simple does it for me. .
  3. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Just something to work on. My guess is the reason for the problems you talk about is technical, and you have to put more mental power into reading the chart than you need to. Your goal on reading is to move from one note to the next with the same mental power and grace that you use when you read the written word.
    Keep working on knowing the neck (and you will always be working on getting better at that). Know all kinds of scales and different fingerings for all of them. When you practice, play things you know well, but start in a different place on the neck. Start with a different fingering.
  4. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    With charts I play about as well as I drive while reading a map.
    You don't want to be in that car.
    delta7fred and Paulabass like this.
  5. delta7fred


    Jul 3, 2007
    I use them to see what chords are in the song and usually rely upon instinct/experience to know when to change and to what.

    If I am reading directly from a chart it always shows so the quicker I can get rid of it the better.
    Bassbeater likes this.
  6. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    95% of the time, if someone hands me a chart, I look at it. I see the key, and the general flow (in numeric terms, it goes to the 4, after 6 bars etc.) Then I put it down. I'll play it better than trying to follow it.
    SeSt and Bassbeater like this.
  7. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I found that If I practice reading a chart, I get better at reading a chart.
    SeSt, JRA, Pacman and 5 others like this.
  8. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    ^^ Of course. I had my own band for thirty years, didn't use charts ever. I'm late to the game at jobbing/subbing, and suddenly I'm in five bands.
    delta7fred likes this.
  9. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Heh, the problem should evaporate in a month or two then :bassist:

    Another thing I found:
    some charts a crappy, poorly written or just plain wrong.
    I particularly hate reading charts where the number of bars per line is random.
    Give me chunks of four or eight and its easy to keep up.
    I tend to make my own charts at the first opportunity,
    which also helps solidify the tune in my memory.
    instrumentalist and delta7fred like this.
  10. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    Do you guys use charts on stage?
    For the kind of music I play it's not allowed. Just curious. Basically on stage I have to play perfectly and dance around like it's some kind of lazy fashion show. I might be more into charts if I was able to use them other than to learn the songs at home. I tend to write color coded notes on my setlists to help me remember things.
  11. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Inactive

    Nov 20, 2000
    Harrison Mills
    Get the iReal Pro app. It plays the song and shows you where you are in the chart. Great practice tool.
  12. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    For the most part, the chart gigs are NOT rock gigs, but other , older genres or cover gigs.

    I've gigged in both circumstances:
    No charts allowed for hipster DIY indie rock and roll,
    3 hour salsa gigs with the book in front of everyone.

    More recently I've played some seat-of-my-pants-I-only-sort-of-know-the-material
    chart gigs that were actually really fun, in spite of the occasional train wreck.
    Bassbeater likes this.
  13. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    Not with a rock or blues band. MOR, jazzy, show music, charts are fine.
    Then there is those times the person, usually female, comes up on stage, calls some introspective crap song by an Icelandic feminist folkie with bad shoes. And she says 'Here I have charts', hands them out, and proceeds to come in 7 bars late.
  14. ...... and asks for it to be in Bb.
    Bassbeater and delta7fred like this.
  15. farace

    farace Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2016
    Connecticut USA
    Our charts were written by our previous pianist, who is brilliant, but a bit lackadaisical about getting things on paper. Sometimes the charts are damned near incomprehensible. I'd bring it to him and ask what was going on in a certain place, and he'd squint quizzically at it, say, "what the hell was I thinking?" and promise to get corrected charts to us. Invariably, aside from a possible, "I'll get to those charts this week," this is the last we hear of it.

    Complicating matters is when our new pianist tries to play from these charts, and it's like we all get trapped in a snowball rolling downhill.

    Old pianist says he'll come to practice to explain things to new pianist. Not holding my breath.
  16. symbolic_acts


    May 24, 2004
    practice with iReal pro.
  17. IamGroot


    Jan 18, 2018
    Practice makes perfect. One of the gigs that forced growth was playing big band and jazz charts on the spot that you never saw before and probably would never see again. You dont want to get lost in the bass chair due to the train wreck with an audience. Incentive to practice.

    Not trying to be preachy but having an ear can help you float if you get lost. Also, having a knowledge of working music theory can turn a mass of unfamiliar chords into a road map. Ditto for all other written music from drunken scrawls in the studio to orchestral parts.

    Sightreading parts took me years to get good at.
  18. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
  19. Exactly the same as it is for me.
  20. What!! Bad shoes as well?
    delta7fred likes this.