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importance of standard notation/notes

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by PUNXBASS, Apr 30, 2005.



    Apr 23, 2005
    i am in an original and a few covers punk band. we sound like Anti Flag kinda but with a more origainl sound. Ive been a bassist for near 4 years now and havnt learned Notation or letter notes not sure hwat they are called though. i raelly play by ear and use very minimal tabs but when i right my music down for my band i use tab form isntead of notation. my real queation is for playing punk and if that and rock n roll is really all i want to do with my bass career, then do i really notation? i dont have the time nor money to REALLY invest in learning it, as ive never found the need.

  2. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
    Do you really need it? Apparently not, as you've been playing without it. However, it is useful even if you play punk. I know it's very useful in my doom metal band.

    One, you suddenly gain easy access to the entire reportoire of Western culture. That means you can also disrespectfully steal ideas and spit all over them. Feel like doing a punked-out cover of "Autumn Leaves" or Tchaikovsky's "Chanson Triste"? Want to do some cheesy lounge song as a bad joke, say at a friend's wedding? No problem.

    Two, you can become a better technical bassist and better musician by practicing stuff like Simandl's bass method (though some classical bassists dislike it, it is good for drilling position shifts), Bach's cello suites, trombone etudes. Or if you're in a rut you can play some opera arias or jazz tunes just to get different ideas in your ears and brain.

    Three, you can communicate with the rest of the musical world. That means you can add trumpet, bassoon or violin to your band, even just for one song.

    Four, when you're writing your ideas you're writing musical notes, not fingerings (as with tab). That makes it easier to change and edit those ideas on paper or in your head without needing to be near your instrument. You can work on songs at work or in class or whatever it is you do away from your bass.

    Fifth, I thought I'd never want to play anything serious, fancy or complicated either. But you never know... someday you may surprise yourself and join a technical death metal band or a jazz combo.

    It's not really much of an investment of time. If you practice, just practice some Simandl every day. You'll learn to read bass clef at the same time as you improve your bass skills. Worked for me. Granted, you'll have to practice at slow tempo at first, but that's not a bad idea either. Very slow practice translates to cleaner and more precise playing at fast tempo later.

    I know I sound like a charter member of Old Farts For Doing It The Old-Fashioned Way. But this is my opinion, take it for whatever it's worth.
  3. In your situation, I don't think knowing standard notation would be very useful. Especially if your bandmates don't read it either. I find it very useful. I can write a piece of music down and not have to worry about remembering it at all. I can look up a song and play it from the notes on the page. When I want to communicate with other musicians, we have a common language. If you aren't doing those things, you'll never use it. You may find it helpful in the future, but you can always learn it then. It won't cost money, but it will take time. Don't put in the time now if you don't want to.


    Apr 23, 2005
    i def. want to but between baseball, band practice and gigs, i have no time to work on it. i really dont read much tab i do them myself say ew paly a cover. and i never say the frets or ta s to myself...i learn it once and remembre were to put my fingers rather then reading the tab. thanks for the help. :bassist:
  5. seanlava


    Apr 14, 2005
    as an actual "old fart who does it the old fashioned way", i'll throw in my two cents. When i started playing bass 20 years ago, i said the same thing: "all i want to play is hard rock, so why do i care about reading?" But as you mature (trust me, you will, and your musical tastes will expand) reading will make learning new styles much easier. And as for the "i don't have time" argument, I'll tell you that learning to read music saves you time in the long run. Here's an example: say you want to learn a tune. If you're a tab reader, you'll need to get the tabs, learn the fingering, listen to the song a bunch of times to get the correct rhythm (because tab doesn't tell you how the rhythm goes, right?) then play the song over and over until you have memorized the bass part. As a standard notation reader, all you need to do is read the part as written. It's that simple; understanding the language of music, and knowing your instrument are the fastest ways to make progress. One caveat: i do understand that not all rock music is written out, but there is 20 times more rock bass transcription books and magazines out there than there were when i started playing.
  6. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Excellent post.

    PS: Simandl is basically useless for electric, or at the very least, fretted players. Simandl is *very* unmusical -- "drills," is a good word for most of it. Now, it's very useful for getting excellent intonation on DB, and nailing those position shifts, but unless you're playing a long scale, unlined fretless, don't bother. You'll get bored, and it'll be a waste of money.

    The best way to make learning something easier is to make it fun, and Simandl is probably the least fun method of learning to read I've ever experienced. Trust me, there's a very good reason most "classical" (read: the vast majority of all upright bassists, including jazz and bluegrass) bassists have found alternatives to Simandl.

    My advice is to join the school's band -- march/concert/jazz, whatever. I joined my school's concert and jazz bands in September this year (barely able to read at all, NO sight-reading skills) and at this point, I'm sight-reading the pieces we get on the first go around, instead of taking 10 minutes to figure out even simple parts while the rest of the band is already playing the tune. Also keeping in mind, I barely practice reading at home (this, however, is NOT something I'm proud of, and as of recently, I've redoubled my efforts in reading something new every day.) This way, you're also playing actual music -- not simply scales ascending the neck one semitone/fret at a time.

    Good luck dude. It just takes a little bit of time -- half an hour, even -- every day. You should also probably look into taking a music class at your school, so you can do what you love, get a credit for it, and learn to read!
  7. ireidt


    Mar 6, 2005
    I agree with Govithoy. I can read music, had to learn becuase I am in AP music theory, but I couldn't sight read at all. I joined my schools marching band ( 2nd practice today) and I am talkign to the band director to start a jazz band at the school, and already, after the first marchign band practice ( I am in the pit btw, ) I could sight read the insturment I was playing ( timpani's ).

    In other words, you might think of it as hard, but if you just focus at learning the fretboard and notes, then before you know it, you are sight-reading.

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