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Is this a good first step toward sight-reading?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by SalmonKing, May 17, 2011.

  1. SalmonKing


    Apr 28, 2011
    The sight-reading thread on the first page made me decide to start this one. A couple of days before my new bass arrived, I got a couple of basic books on walking bass lines and decided to fill the time by singing or whistling the music I was reading. I can recognize all the intervals within an octave by sound and am slowly gaining the ability to do it by sight as well. Before the bass came, I had already sung or whistled many of the lines; when I started playing, I was able to verify that I had read most of them correctly.

    I'm currently working on finger-rolling and have invented a little mental exercise to go along with it. A pair of notes played over a finger roll on adjacent strings is by definition a perfect fourth--for example, you roll from the low G of the E string to the low C of the A string. So I'm practicing finger rolls all over the bass, with all of my fingers, and visualizing the perfect-fourth intervals on the staff at each new location. I feel I'm killing four birds with one stone: I'm learning the finger roll, memorizing the fretboard, solidifying my knowledge of notes in the bass clef, and learning to recognize all perfect fourths on the staff by sight.

    It seems to be working well so far. When I pull out a new piece of sheet music and try to hear it in my head, I recognize most of the perfect fourths immediately. Once I have this down cold, I think I'll play, say, perfect fifths and do the same thing.
  2. You asked if this is a good first strep. You are way beyond first step - keep going you are doing fine.
  3. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    This all sounds like useful ways to improve - and thank you for at least trying to distinguish between reading and sight reading as I did in my earlier thread.

    All sight reading is reading, but not all reading is "sight reading" in the way that the term is used most of the time. From what you've said, your reading is coming on fine and this can only help with reading material "on sight".
  4. Intenzity


    Oct 15, 2006
    Seattle, WA
  5. SalmonKing


    Apr 28, 2011

    I clicked the link, but I can't find the PDF file. That's exactly the kind of training aid I'm looking for; in fact, I had exactly the same idea and threw together my own random assortment of quarter notes in Noteflight, but 750 measures put together by someone else would be far better.

    Idea for a programmer: Write a program that allows the user to see hundreds of quarter notes spewed out randomly, as mentioned above, but also allows the user to specify which intervalic relationships he wishes to see. So, for example, you might see pages and pages of nothing but minor sevenths, all over the staff. (To avoid confusion, it would be best to use 2/4 time, so that it would be clear which notes were intended to be seen as pairs.) Once the user had minor sevenths down cold, he could study (for example) major sevenths, then enable both minor and major sevenths at the same time so he could learn to instantly distinguish between them on the staff.

    Anyway, Intenzity, how do I get the PDF?
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    any time you practice your reading, you are "practicing your sight reading." i put it in quotes because you really don't practice sight reading, but it does improve the more you read. good sight reading comes solely from experience with reading. so yeah, you're doing fine.
  7. Intenzity


    Oct 15, 2006
    Seattle, WA
    There is an icon with an arrow pointing down, click on that, see the image below.

    And there is an app that does what you want, I used Reason, but there is a notation program called LilyPond that I have used before that can generate random notes with a range. It is a deep program and takes some time to get figured out, (it has its own programming language built in) but it can do what you want. And it is free.



    Attached Files:

  8. SalmonKing


    Apr 28, 2011
    Sorry for not seeing what was right in front of me last night, Intenzity--it's what I get for trying to do this at 3 a.m. These are very useful links.
  9. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate

    Aug 14, 2009
    Rolling on the...

    Here's a video for those that want more on this technique. Pardon the choice of instrument.
  10. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Sounds like you have a good thing going on; any time you can sort of create your own way of learning things can make it more interesting and therefore more conducive to learning more and more.

    One suggestion I would make regarding your perfect fourth interval training. While you are correct that the finger roll you describe gives you the interval of a perfect fourth, it might be better to think of the G to C as the resolution of G7 to CMajor. Intervals of a perfect fourth (in the sense of playing both pitches at once) aren't terribly common because the natrual fourth clashes with the natural third. Instead, start to recognize that what you are calling a perfect fourth is also a perfect fifth that is inverted.

    In other words, if G to C is a perfect fourth, take the G and put it on top and your new interval is C to G which is a perfect fifth. Depending on where you stack the notes, all perfect fourths are also perfect fifths.
  11. SalmonKing


    Apr 28, 2011
    So, to make sure I have the inversion principle right: an ascending A --> C is a minor third, while an ascending C --> A is a major sixth. So, depending on where you stack the notes, all minor thirds are also major sixths. And you get the same relationship between minor seconds and major sevenths?
  12. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    You got it. Your apparent knack for both visualizing and hearing these concepts will really help you. You don't need theory to be a great musician, and knowing theory doesn't make you a great musician, but it's a great help for learning how to construct lines, melodies, intervals and chords (particularly voicings of chords, which not only have their place on bass, but they also form the rudiments of bass lines. "Different" chord voicings lead to "different" bass lines).

    In your examples you were correct, but it's not likely often that you'll think about the complimentary or inverse nature of a major 7th and a minor second. The "perfect fourth is also a perfect fifth" is one of the most important just because of the way it falls on bass (being tuned as it is) and its relationship to resolving the dominant 7th chord back to the I chord (e.g., G7 ----> CMAJ in the key of C).
  13. Intenzity


    Oct 15, 2006
    Seattle, WA

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