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Learning to read as a tool to learn other things?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Grangur, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. Hi All, I've been learning for over a year now. Teaching myself using many of the online sites, such as TB and studybass.com

    Right now I'm using learning to read as a way to be able to play pieces and at the same time use it to test/train myself to be able to find notes faster on the fretboard.... is this valid?
    Does this work? or is there a better approach?

    My line of thought is learning to play simple stuff, such as from "BluesBass, The complete method" by Jon Leiberman, and then create my own lines from there. I've also just bought a drum machine. So when I get going with it I want to set up some rhythms and jam with that.

    I'm also working through Stuart Clayton's "Crash Course Bass"

    Does this seem sensible?
  2. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    IMO you are on the right track. Reading standard notation never hurts and always helps. Since you are reading give some thought to an inexpensive digital keyboard.

    Why? Well you can work out your riffs, melodies, etc. on the keyboard before taking them to your bass fretboard. Plus that keyboard will have drum tracks and other play-a-long songs (phrases) you can call up and use to practice your bass lines with.

    I have a Yamaha E403 digital keyboard - less than $200 - has 62 keys, more than I need and comes with many play-a-long tracks which while playing show the name of the active chord in a window display. I select a song and watch the chords come up while I'm practicing my bass lines. Like having fake chord sheet music plus sound. Great tool.

    Yes, you are on the right track. Simple to complex, slow to fast works best.

    Things that have helped me; Any of Ed Friedland's books on how to make bass lines. Scott Devine's video lessons - free plus great. And of course www.studybass.com.

    Have you found the box. Simple to complex. Start simple and later break away from the box. Here it is if you need it.
    Major Scale Box. 
    G|---2---|-------|---3---|---4---| 1st string
    E|-------|---R---|-------|---2---|4th string
    See a Cmaj7 chord coming up in the song and know
    that a R-3-5-7 scale degree will make a safe bass line.
    Now getting all that in before the music goes off and 
    leaves you ..... Root first, five next, 8 works next, then
    your correct 3 & 7.  Root on 1 and a groove of the other
    chord tones or scale notes will always work.
    Major chord - R-3-5-8 or R-3-5-6 love the sound of the 6, R-3-5-3 works.
    Minor chord - R-b3-5-8 or R-b3-5-b7 even R-b3-R-b3.  Experiment with 
    what chord tones work.

    That R-3-5-8 is explained here; http://www.smithfowler.org/music/Chord_Formulas.htm Use the box and scale degrees along with standard notation, what ever helps. Tabs are OK for working out specific riffs, but, do not get trapped using only tabs.

    This video willl go into detail how we can; use standard notation and the box together. He gets around to it at about 1:58 stick with him - worth your time. At 3:30 he gets into how to put scale degreen on your sheet music.

    Have fun.
  3. Commreman

    Commreman Faith, Family, Fitness, and Frets Supporting Member

    Feb 12, 2005
    New Jersey
    Yes!!! Reading will open up new harmonic worlds to you. I would encourage you to follow Jeff Berlin and Carole Kaye's advice and dive deep into chord tone studies as well. All of this will revolutionize your playing.
  4. Many thanks guys for the advice. I'm practicing a lot on major scales and triads using the box, but I'll take a good look at chord tones more too... long way to go, but it's good fun. Thanks again
  5. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    As a follow up ----

    Generic Notes - for your bass line.
    • The root, five and eight are generic and fit most any chord. Remember the diminished has a flatted 5.

    • The 3 is generic to all major chords. So R-3-5-3 will fit under any major chord.

    • The b3 is generic to all minor chords. And R-b3-5-8 will fit under any minor chord. Why the 8? Well the 8 is just another root in the next octave.

    • The 7 is generic to all maj7 chords. Yep, R-3-5-7 fits nicely.

    • The b7 is generic to all dominant seventh and minor seventh chords. G7 = R-3-5-b7 or Gm7 = R-b3-5-b7.
    • The 6 is neutral and adds color, help yourself to 6’s. Love the sound of R-3-5-6 with a major chord.

    • The 2 and 4 make good passing notes. Don’t linger on them or stop on them, keep them passing.

    • In making your bass line help yourself to those notes, just use them correctly.

    • Roots, fives, eights and the correct 3 & 7 will play a lot of bass. IMO no need to go higher than the 7's right now. Plenty of time for the second octave later.
  6. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Learning to read is the BEST tool for learning 'other things'
    It teaches far more than simply notes on the fret board...
    notation is a powerful tool for learning how think musically.
  7. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Plus, if you can read, you can also write. Think of that.
  8. learning to read will be hugely beneficial..

    it gives you so much more music to work with. learning by ear and finding tabs can only do so much, and i do stress the importance of ears of course.. but if you can read, you can learn so much more about music.
  9. blakelock


    Dec 16, 2009
    not mentioned yet....
    if working from lead sheets, reading allows you to play the melody line...AND see how the melody notes fit in (or not)
    with the chord progression.

    it can also help you talk to other musicians your working/jamming with.
  10. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    I have picked up my reading lately.
    Playing tunes I had a hard time figuring out now.
    Saves a lot of time.
    Playing out of Juaquim DesPres book, Bach for electric guitar.
    Real knuckle buster.
    Keep up your reading!
  11. mcm


    Oct 2, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    forgot all that. you really want to play? study blues and work on your ear. Then you wont need any of that thory mess.
  12. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    My apologies if there's a smiley in your post because my work PC seems to block them, so I might not be able to see one if it's there.

    However, if there's not a smiley there and that post wasn't sarcastic, then the statement is utter nonsense.
  13. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    Whenever I hear people state that learning to read/learning theory will ruin their playing I laugh at how full of crap they are. To me that's like saying learning to read and learning new words will ruin your ability to speak and communicate.

    For me one of the great things about learning theory is it has shown me possibilitys that I didn't see before.

    Sometimes bassists get too stuck on the root. For example if we play a pentatonic based fill we only do it off the root of the chord. The cool thing about the pentatonic scale is the lack of half steps. That lack of half steps means that it doesn't belong to one key. Every key has 3 Major Triads (I-IV-V) and 3 minor triads (ii-iii-vi). So for example all of the notes in a C Major/A minor pentatonic fit into the Keys of C (as the I and the vi), F (as the V and the iii) and G (as the IV and the ii).

    Now say you're playing a ii-7 | V7 | IMaj7 in F you can play all of your favorite A minor Pentatonic licks over them and over the ii chord (G-7) you'd be playing the 2nd/9th (A), the 4th/11th (C), The 5th (D) the 6th/13th (E) and the Root (G). Over the V (C7) you'd be playing the 6th/13th (A), the root (C), the 2nd/9th (D), the 3rd (E), and the 5th (G). Over the the Imaj7 you'd get the 3rd (A), the 5th (C), The 6th/13th (D), 7th (E), and the 2nd/9th (G). All while playing those "Old Tired Pentatonic Licks".

    I'm sorry I got a little off track now I'll tie that into what I was saying. These are things that come up in Horn Lines all the time. If you can read music then you can see it on paper and understand it. You can see what other instruments do and stretch your view of what you can do on bass. You can also figure out techniques that you might not have come up with to be able to play those lines for those other instruments.

    Stay Brown,
    Rev J