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Learn To Read, People!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by brianrost, Sep 18, 2005.

  1. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    I think I remember someone saying this already but the best thing you can do for your reading is to transcribe. That way it's internalized from working out the notes and the rhythm.
  2. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    That's the best thing you can do for your reading, writing and your ear.
  3. lyle

    lyle Guest

    Jan 10, 2004
    Vernon, B.C. Canada
    Ya, this thread has encouraged me to read every day now as well. I can read sufficiently but not at tempo. I remember I got a gig for a musical and I had to read. I came in their not knowing much but came out reading better then ever. The gig forced me to improve my skills drastically.
    Thanks guys.
  4. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    wow. Just got the Bach Cello Suites last night and have played around with the Prelude to Suite 1 a bit already. Definitely recognizable and a beautiful song. I understand the recommendation from all of you in a big way. I can see spending months on this book and barely scratching the surface, and after an hour of playing with it, I picked up another random Real book chart and it seemed easy.

    Back to work!!
  5. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    I'm right with you man! I've been working on the Prelude to Suite 1 as well as the Allemande (tough one) and I skipped ahead to the Menuet II. Very pretty piece.
  6. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    A trick to remember when playing the Jamerson charts is that he started on upright, and one of his tried and true techniques was to rake the open string (no matter what the key) as a way to keep the groove going while making a position shift. If you study these charts (look at "Bernadette" - 4th measure of the 1st chorus, using an open D as a passing tone between Bb and Db) you'll see this all over the place. Also, Jamerson loved chromatic movement. Those two "light bulb" realizations made these charts much easier to digest for me.
  7. whitedk57


    May 5, 2005
    Franklin, NC
    OK. I just went out and bought Schirmer's Bach Cello Suite book. Luckily, the local sheet music store had it in stock.

    Let me start by saying that I am a 40 year old bass newbie. I don't foresee myself ever going pro. I would, however, like to play in the church band someday. After reading this post, I realize that I could be alot better if I could learn to read. I know it won't be easy because I am a newb(less than a year) and I have many things to learn besides.

    My other goal is to learn to transcribe music. With these two goals in mind (sight-reading and transcribing), what would the best course of action be besides just sitting down and doing it. I want to practice smarter. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  8. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Disagree totally. The best thing you can do for your ear is to transcribe. The best thing you can do for your reading is reading and preferably in a performance setting. Nothing hones your reading more than day in and day out session work.
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    How can you disagree with transcribing as a good way to learn how to read? It's a brilliant way to learn how to read. The more you write it, the more you internalize it, and the more you can apply it. Why do you think almost all college level music classes have you writing and transcribing a lot? I am testament to how well transcribing helps you with your reading. I can pretty much read fly poop now.

    BTW, you're never going to get day in and day out session work unless you already know how to read well or know the studio owner well.
  10. Well, I would disagree with Jimmy and agree with Phil. I think transcribing helps you with hearing and writing, not reading. When you transcribe, you're not reading, it's as simple as that. You're writing. There's no challenge in reading if you know what the notes are before you put them down. You already know what you wrote.

    No, what helps you with reading IMHO is trying to deal with stuff *that you don't know*. IOW, what helps you to read is, well, reading somebody else's stuff, and doing it a lot. No mystery here.
  11. Easy. They do it to train your ear and improve your *writing* skills. Both admittedly valuable. What they do to improve your *reading* is different: they put music in front of you and make you sight read it.
  12. I agree too: I'm a very capable writer, but a lousy reader. Probably because I do a lot of transcribing/composing/arranging, but rarely read stuff other than chord charts (but I'm working on it!)
  13. seanlava


    Apr 14, 2005
    Depends on your definition of "transcribing. If you mean learning a song by ear, and memorizing it's pattern on the fingerboard, then, no, transcribing won't help your reading. But to me, transcribing is the act of transferring the information from a recording onto staff paper. This process, which forces you to learn the notes on the staff, and more importantly, how to express complex rhythmic phrasing, is indispensible to improving your reading. Once you've counted out a syncopated 16th note rhythm, and translated that to notation, you'll be able to easily decipher that rhythm the next time you run across it in your reading studies. This is the secret to sightreading: becoming familiar with as many intervals and rhythmic permutations as possible eliminates the element of surprise in your reading. Transcription doesn't replace reading practice, but it does enhance it.
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Thank you Sean. You very eloquently stated the point I was trying to make, albeit not as eloquently as you.
  15. I still disagree. I think you have it backwards. Transcribing doesn't help you learn the notes, *because you can't transcribe something you don't know*. IOW, to be able to say, OK, I have to write four descending 16th notes here, D-C-B-A, you have to already know (1) what a sixteenth note is, (2) how it sounds and feels in relation to a quarter note pulse, (3) where D, C, B, and A are on the staff, and so forth. That is, you already know what that particular pattern of notes and rhythms looks like. You don't need to learn what it looks like for the next time you read it. What you need is to be able to *play* it correctly in real time when you see it next, and only practice and more practice with reading will help you do that with confidence.

    The point is, what makes you a *good* reader, as opposed to someone who knows what the notes are, is to be able to read *in something like real time*. Transcribing doesn't help you that much with this either, because except perhaps in some music class exercises, it's not typically done in anything like real time. You stop and start, repeat things, and go back when you need to. It's just a different skill. The only real way to get much better at your reading IME is to read a lot.
  16. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Let's take an example...you listen to a complex rhythm you have to transcribe, you write it out, then you see in notation how that rhythm looks on paper. Since you wrote it out, you are probably going to remember that rhythm a lot better than if you just read it. And the next time you see that rhythm on a chart someone hands you, you'll say, "Hey, I remember transcribing that exact rhythm out a while back!" And you will play it just like you remember it!

    Yes, reading lots of sheet music is the best practice for getting your sight-reading up to par, but transcribing is an invaluable tool for internalizing note values and rhythms to where you won't have to think about them when you see them.
  17. Not in my experience. IME it's more like this: unless I'd already seen it *and read it*, I wouldn't know how to begin to write it. I'd remember it much better if I'd read it; then if I'd heard that rhythm, I'd know how to write it. Whe I hear a familiar rhythm, I know how to write it out because I've read it before, and I can associate that sonic phenomenon with a visual representation.

    How would you even know how to write complex rhythms if you didn't already know what such complex rhythms looked like? As an example, how would you know how to write the word "rhythm" if you hadn't already read it? You'd certainly never guess the correct spelling just by hearing it. You can't write what you don't know.
  18. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I can easily disagree because the process you use to transcribe is vastly different from that that you need to sight read. A transcription is a tedious at times process of listening, re-listening, notating and then checking that your notation is correct rhythmically and harmonically. Sight reading is another ball game entirely as you have a single shot in real time of rendering what you see on paper into music that you've never seen or heard before.

    Fine, the point is that if you're engaged in reading every day on a performance level your level of reading will drastically improve in a way that no amount of transcribing will.
  19. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I absolutely agree with this, as someone who's has done just that for the last almost 20 years. I can read the hell out of music, because that's what I've done almost every day for that long.
  20. IcedEarthWOM


    Oct 2, 2005
    I'm kinda assuming that by "chord charts" you mean something like:


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