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Improving my ear?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Mikey96, Feb 21, 2001.

  1. Hey everyone, I am very pleased with the progress I have made with the bass in the past 7 months. I feel I am quite competent in a lot of areas, and am planning how to learn to read music soon.

    However I am having one slight problem. I have only in the last month and a half sat down with my cd player and tried to hear things. This might have been why progress in picking bass parts out of songs has been slow. I can pick the bass parts out in songs that have bass solos, and that are relatively easy. However I lack any ability to figure out a bass line on more than one in 5 songs (mostly punk).

    My question is, what is the best way to train my ear, by sitting in front of the cd player with my bass for an hour or two and playing the same song? Also how long does it take the average bass player to have a capable ear (where they can pick out moderately challenging stuff?) how should I improve my ear.
  2. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Well, I suppose that your ears just improve the more you play as you start to connect what you're hearing with what you're playing. But if you want to work at it, then you can do what my guitarist suggested I do - keep playing scales over and over, until your ears eventually get used to hearing the notes in tune. Hope that helps.
  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The more you play, the better your ear gets. Part of recognizing what you are hearing is reproducing it on your own. That means learning scales, arpeggios, etc. Then when you hear one being played you'll recognize it.

    Also learning some music theory can help. Understanding how chord progressions work can narrow your choices when youre trying to guess what the next note in a run is.

    Taking lessons, picking up lines off of recordings and jamming with other musicians all will help you in developing your ear.

    By the way, any book on scales and chords (arpeggios) will get you started in reading music.

    Good luck.
  4. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Gary Willis has an excellent book with CD called "Ultimate Ear Training for Guitar and Bass." He starts the reader off with intervals.

    The very first lesson is learning to distinguish the sound of the various intervals of the major scale. He has drills to help you hear the diffeences among these intervals both up and down. For some reason, the "down" was always harder for me. For example, major six to the root is harder than root to major six.

    He urges you not to move on until you can reliably hear all major scale intervals. Then he moves on to minor scale intervals. Then goes to chromatic intervals, harder yet because they are so close in tone, such as major third to perfect fourth.

    The book keeps advancing until he has you picking out inversions for chords, even seventh chords. It might take a student a long time to hear chord inversions.

    In summation, that is his approach to ear training...a step by step plan, gradually increasing in complexity, and probably can not be done in a month or two.

    Not only does he train one to hear intervals, he trains one to hear rhythmns, also. They are important too. The book does not have tab, but does have some fretboard charts.

    jason oldsted
  5. Ear training comes along as you play more. I remember picking up my bass for the first time, threw on 'Sinister Minister' by Bela Fleck, and thought I was going to listen to it and get all the notes down no problem. WRONG! I had no clue. Once I started taking lessons, hearing the bass a lot more, and got accustumed to the notes and such, I gained a better ear as well. I still have a ways to go, but I've come a long way as far as listening to stuff and transcribing it. Then again, that's just me.

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