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Jazz on Bass...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Knavery, Nov 4, 2005.


  1. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Ok... I am at my wits end. I have ordered the Jazz Theory book by Mark Levine, and it's geared more towards pianists than bassists. Not to mention I don't understand it.

    Does anyone know of a book that just lays out what chords, walking bass lines, and scales go along with jazz on the bass? I mean seriously... I don't want a book I don't understand, and that doesn't pertain to the bass. I just want a no-bull rundown on tab or in chord diagrams. If it's notation, it will take me longer to decipher, but it's better than trying to transpose piano, which I can't.

    I have been getting into jazz A LOT lately, and would like to have some kind of reference for bass. Thanks.
     
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You know, it certainly doesn't hurt to know how to play a little piano. There's a reason most theory books center around the piano...it's laid out to where you have a visual of every note and how it pertains to the different theoretical concepts. Not saying you should become Liberace on the piano, but I think everyone studying theory should at least know where all the notes are and how to form chords.

    Also, forget tab if you want to learn theory. Tab does absolutely nothing to understand musical theoretical concepts. It's almost like you're saying, "I want to learn theory and how to play jazz but I want it all laid out for me and I don't want to be bothered with actually learning it." There are no shortcuts. If anything, the Levine book proves that. Either you're going to learn theory or you're not. Memorizing a few scales from tab is not learning theory.

    I know, not the answer you wanted, but it's the answer you need to hear.
     
  3. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    **Edit** I have to approach this more diplomatically.. Jimmy was just trying to help, and my response was a bit harsh.

    How do you suggest I learn the Levine book if I don't understand it in the first place? Because I can certainly tell it's a great book, but I understand NOTHING from it. Any OTHER books you could suggest as a primer to the Levine book? If I understood the book, and I can generally figure things out, I wouldn't have asked for any advice. As it stands, the Levine book is simply something that I do not understand at the moment. It's like trying to ask someone to run before they can walk.
     
  4. tflane

    tflane

    Oct 7, 2005
    Gotta say I agree with the post that said you should slowly work your way through the Levine book. I'm a bassist who plays a little piano, and the Levine book is pretty happening, just go slow. BUT -- the best way to get good at jazz is to play jazz. In the old days you could drop in at local jam sessions. You'd suck for a year or two, take a few lumps, and then get good by association. Not a lot of those jams around anymore. I suggest buying a bunch of play-a-long records by Jamie Aebersold. You can start with the easy ones and work your way up to the more advanced stuff. A lot of the records also have books you can buy on the side containing transcriptions of the bass lines (you need to know how to read bass clef, of course!).

    Other great books: The Ray Brown Bass Method and The Evolving Bassist by Rufus Reid.
     
  5. Building Walking Basslines by Ed Friedland, The Jazz Bass Book by John Goldsby, and The Evolving Bassist by Rufus Reid are all great books with tons of info and exercises/examples. Any of these books should give you the tools to better approach the Levine book.
     
  6. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Well how do I transpose the piano to bass? I just don't understand it. I have been through some of the book, but am completely lost. I ordered it off the internet, because I was told great things about it, but I had not realized it was that difficult.
     
  7. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Thank you very much! So all of you agree that the Levine book is a good jazz book as well eh?
     
  8. tflane

    tflane

    Oct 7, 2005
    Yeah, it's definitely a good jazz book. But you know, I think that book is more geared toward becoming a better jazz musician, as opposed to a better jazz bassist. It's all about theory, and it can apply to any instrument, even the voice. I guess the piano is the best instrument for explaing principles of theory. If you want something geard toward jazz bass playing, the Goldsby, Reid and Brown books are your best bet, I think.
     
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Oh, I think my answer helped you in more ways than you know ;)

    I agree with tflane...work slowly through it. Open it to page one and don't move past page one until you understand it backwards and forwards. Then move on in the same manner. Maybe even get a teacher to help you work on it.

    As a primer, I would suggest maybe buying a small cheap keyboard and a beginner's book like John Thompson or John Brimhall. Really, you don't have to learn anything beyond what's known as "arranger's piano," but at the very least, reading music is a prerequisite.
     
  10. No problem, and yeah the Levine book is killer, once you get going you'll love it. As far as transposing piano, you don't really have to at all, but it is a good idea to learn a little piano. You do have to read treble clef though, which isn't that hard once you get used to it, and it'll help you learn melodies and understand what the piano/horns are doing.
     
  11. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Thanks Jimmy. I actually just went and purchased a book about 15 minutes ago as my I'm close to a Barnes and Nobles. I bought "How to Read Music." I sat and looked through it, and it really teaches you a lot from pitch, timing and rhythm, keys and scales, the circle of fifths, time andd tempo, minor scales, intervals, harmonic theory and how to put together triads and inversions, groups and phrases, and much more.

    I looked through the book, and it looks very user-friendly and comes with an accompanying CD with exercises after each section. I think this is what I need first.
     
  12. The Clap

    The Clap

    Jan 5, 2004
    Scottsdale, AZ
    ...Get a teacher? When you have learning frustrations, as everyone does, there's no faster way around them than having someone show and explain it to you in person.
     
  13. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    That is unrealistic for me at this point as I have a full-time job and college classes to keep up on. But, I was JUST talking with one of my managers here at work, and she suggested taking a class at the college on music. I think I might do that over the summer.
     
  14. Pruitt

    Pruitt

    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    For all your Jazz Book needs...

    http://www.jazzbooks.com/

    Like an earlier contributer to the thread already mentioned, pick up a couple of the Jamey Aebersold Play Along books. They can be purchased from the above website. In my opinion, they are excellent!! And there are a number of them geared towards beginners. ;)

    Good Luck and Have Fun!! :bassist:
     
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Knavery, looks like you're well on the road to jazz salvation! Reading music isn't as hard as some would like you to believe. If you can learn how to speak a language, you can learn how to read music. It takes a lifetime to understand all there is about music, but reading music takes a couple weeks to a month.

    As for transferring piano to bass, once you learn where all the ntoes are on bass and where they are on piano, that becomes self-evident. I'm not saying that you absolutely have to know how to play piano to play bass, but I know very few good musicians who can't bang out a few chords, and it really does help.

    Anyway, like I said, it looks like you're taking the right steps now, so best of luck with it!
     
  16. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    A book you might think about is Chuck Sher's The Improviser's Bass Method. It's not a walk in the park either, but it has a lot of useful stuff.

    http://www.shermusic.com/tibm.htm

    And BTW, JimmyM is right about tab. It's useless for understanding anything about theory, jazz or otherwise. Its only real pedagogical use is as a fingering guide, and even then, there are other ways of doing that. You'll need to get comfortable with notation to use any books that are worthwhile.
     
  17. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Sounds to me like Knavery needs something a little more basic than the "Jazz Theory" book. There's a book called "Jazz Bass Conpendium" by Sigi Bush that's pretty good.
     
  18. groove100

    groove100

    Jan 22, 2005
    VA.
    you can also look at "the evolving bassist" by Rufus Reid. That's the one im using, and I tell you It is really helpfull in learning the construction of walking basslines, and even some samples on afro-cuban, bossa nova and some other styles which is incorporated into jazz as a whole.

    the book is both for Double bass and Electric bass.
     
  19. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    There is indeed a certain level of learning that the Jazz Theory Book assumes you have. "The Evolving Bassist" by Rufus Reid is great for learning jazz bass from the very beginning. Great book. Also, there's a companion DVD, but about half of it is specifically focused on playing DB.
     
  20. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Update: I have an excellent spiral book entitled "Bass Logic," that I picked up in Guitar Center. It focuses on theory and exercises to improve overall understanding of the bass and music itself.

    I have also been studying "How to Read Music," which is also very good. It's easier than I thought. I can tell what a note is on the staff, but I have to count up the staff to determine it. I am guessing it will take a lot of time.