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Learning to read music

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by funkybass, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. funkybass


    Oct 19, 2006
    I've been asked to play bass for the community play bye bye birdie. The problem is I'm not a strong reader. I'm decent with notes and rhythms, it's recognizing the key signatures that's the main problem. I'm making flash cards for the key signatures, but would still like to go through a good reading method. Any suggestions on the method or remembering key signatures?
  2. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Work through the book, slowly if you have to, that's time well spent.
  3. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Yup, get your hands on the book. Don't be afraid to make notes in the book that'll help you out on the fly.
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    After experience it becomes second nature. I agree with Phil...just work through the book on your own time and use your ears well, and key sigs will become more apparent.
  5. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    Do you have the bass score yet? Get it and get a good pencil and a pencil sharpener. Make ample notes in the score in light pencil so you can go through the score and highlight key changes for yourself. The other key tip is to get a copy of the soundtrack and listen to it several times so you have the bass part rhythms in your head. Follow the score while you listen and the rhythms you hear will become associated with the rhythms as notated in the score.

    Having done this, you've removed half of the work of reading. You now know the rhythms in your head and you know what they look like so all you have to do is to concentrate on the correct pitches.
  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    As someone who absolutely hates to read a sheet of music with pencil markings all over it unless they're mine, I strongly suggest making copies of the score or using a separate sheet for notations.
  7. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    That's why I said light pencil. Whenever I've marked up a score, I erase all traces of my markings before turning the score back in.
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    And they never go away completely, and the longer they're on there, the harder they are to get out. Or they make big black marks because the eraser sucks. Or they miss something.
  9. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    1.) memorize the circle of fifths

    Starting form C major, going Clockwise : the order Sharps are added, Counter clockwise: the order Flats are added.

    2.) the last sharp is always the 7th scale degree of the key.

    3.) the last flat is always the 4th scale degree.
  10. Here are some of my memory pegs.

    Sharps. See God Destroy All Earth By Fiery Chaos. No sharps = the C scale. One sharp = God or the G scale, etc, etc.

    Which sharp? Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Birds. The G scale will have one sharp and I know it will be the F# (from running the memory peg Fat Cats Go Down). The D scale will keep the F# and add the C#, etc, etc.

    Flats. Farmer Brown Eats Apple Dumplings Greasily Cooked. Same thing - Farmer or the F scale has one flat the Bb. Brown or the Bb scale has two flats the Bd and the Eb, etc, etc.

    Key signature has 4 sharps - which key is that? God, Destroy All Earth - so four sharps in the key signature tells me it is the E scale and the E scale will have (Fat Cats Go Down) the F#, C#, G# and the D#.

    Now up pops the devil --- Lets say the key signature tells me it is the C scale. This also tells me it could be the Am scale. The key signature tells me the major scale and the major scale's relative minor scale. Each have the same notes. Chords are the same, but, in a different order. If C the principle chords will be the C, F & G7 chords, if Am the principle chords will be the Am, Dm & Em. The chords give it a major or minor sound.

    And yes to having a Big Pink Eraser handy.
    The big pink will not smudge.

    Have fun.
  11. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    The trick we got when I was studying music in college ...

    With Sharp : the key signature is always a minor second over ... like if you only have F# ... the key is G... If you have F# and C# you have D. Simple ? The only thing you have to look out is if it is major or minor key.

    With Flat : outside of Fmajor/Dminor, if you have two Flat or more ... Bb and Eb you are in Bbmajor. If you have three Flat ( Bb, Eb, Ab ) you are in Eb. So the key is always the next to last Flat. As with sharp you only have to check out if you are in a minor or major key.
  12. Smallmouth_Bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    Good trick to remember the key signature F Clef!
  13. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Here are some links you may want to check out:
    Sight read standard notation(SN)?
    Beginner's Bass Clef tips
    "Name that note" online SN game
    Downloadable read "bass clef" software
    Online bass clef audio/visual trainer
    print bass clef flashcards/staff paper
    {www.studybass.com/lessons/reading-music/bass-clef-fretboard-notes/bass-clef-notes-fretboard.pdf}Note: paste web address to your search bar to Download this cool doc: clef to fretboard translation. Memorize this!
    1 Learning
    Sight reading source material
    Transcribe/read transcriptions free online
  14. Kubicki440


    Feb 6, 2011
  15. So, I'm a real noob at bass. Only been at it for a few months. I'm going through Hal Leonard's book. My church has asked me to play some simple bass for them. I'm very excited but also have a very naive question. I understand the all 4 sharps in the signature means it's in the key of E. Right? Do I leave my 4 string bass to standard tuning? Sorry...I did say I was new to the bass. Thanks for any help fellas.
  16. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    4 sharps is the key of E. If you look at your circle of fifths, go to C, then go right once for each sharp.

    No matter what the key the stave is written in you leave your bass in standard tuning, unless you prefer to play in another tuning.
  17. Thank you so much for the quick reply.
  18. Bisounourse


    Jun 21, 2012
    Gent, Belgium
    Basic tuning can be applied to all keys.
  19. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    As mentioned about erasers, it's vital to have a brand new one that hasn't gotten all hard. I like the ones that are white, and just a bit gummy.

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