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Music Theory Books -- This is what I ordered...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Knavery, Aug 18, 2005.


  1. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Hello everyone:

    I am trying to get a grasp on music theory, but apparently have been buying the wrong books. I have a book called The Bass Grimoire, but it doesn't dive too much into explaining music theory. It does explain how the different scale modes are set up etc. etc., and it explains a bit on the circle of fifths, but that's about it. I did order this from bassbooks.com:

    http://www.bassbooks.com/shopping/shopexd.asp?id=203

    Has anyone purchased this? I bought it based on the reviews that have been submitted, so I am hoping it has some useful information.

    What other books have people found useful? The way a buddy explained music theory to me once was that you are just really confused until it actually just all of a sudden makes perfect sense. I'm still in the really confused phase and am hoping to get out of it. I can play... I just don't know what I'm doing.
     
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I love how "Creating an Original Sound" gets a single page.
    I studied theory at a local university and at Berklee, but the most progress I've made at getting that knowledge in my ears and under my fingers by studing privately for the last 8 or so years. I highly recommend finding a good teacher. If you can't find a bassist that has a good approach, you may want to look for a pianist (or even saxophonist) because you're not looking for technique so much as concept.

    But the other part of the equation is this: "learning theory" is not some magic pill you can take that suddenly is going to make you a better player. Playing music in a creative way is all about getting the sounds you hear in your head out into the world via your instrument; that's a number of skill sets. My teacher (Joe Solomon) works on ear training and singing concurrently with scale and arpeggio work (for fingerboard familairity and dexterity with position shifts etc.), improvisational exercises, melodic fragment (improvisation and dexterity), learning melodies etc. All theory does is collate observations about why certain things seem to work and yes, you do need to have that understanding.

    But the understanding HAS to be in your ears and under your fingers for it to be of any use to you when you are playing. And, in my experience, the BEST way to get that going is to have the help of someone who has a deeper understanding of it than you, who is right there in the room with you and can respond to the things you are getting and the things you aren't in ways that keep you focused and moving forward.

    If you want to hear what I sound like so that you can assess whether or not that advice is something that makes sense for you, go to the DB side and click on the TALKBASS DB sampler in RECORDINGS, then look for my name. there are several music files you can play.
     
  3. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Thanks for the feedback. No, I've never had a problem coming up with things. I've been playing for about 15 years, but have never learned theory.

    What's really odd is that I know what works and what doesn't on the fretboard. I just don't know the name of what I'm doing. I know the notes, but not the scale names.

    I'd like to get into a position where I could hop onstage with a few players, and they could give me a series of chords or scales and I could play along with them. That's kind of where I'm at right now.
     
  4. Good post, Ed. I'm going to scoot over and have a listen right now, been wanting to hear you for a while!

    I feel like I'm in the same boat as Knavery. There's a stickied thread for GI Books. I'm currently saving up for Mark Levine's Jazz Theory book :)
     
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    NAY, VERY - how long have you been playing? WHat kind of playing have you been doing?
     
  6. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Hey Ed,
    I've been playing for around 13-15 years. Most of what I've been playing is progressive music from bands like Dream Theater, Yes, Flower Kings, Rush etc. etc. I don't play THEIR music per se (aside from Rush) but music much like it.

    However, I just need to learn the theory behind what I'm doing. That is all. I don't have a creativity issue, and I don't have a motor skills issue. The issue is the knowledge of music theory, and to me, that is what's holding me back the most.
     
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well your certainly right to disregard any advice I might offer. I only started playing about 2 years before you were born and have only been playing in NYC for about 3 years longer than you've been playing bass.

    I reiterate, it's NOT that you don't understand theory. If you had your ear as together as you thought you did, you'd be able to "hop onstage with a few players" and HEAR what's going on with enough clarity to "play along". If you had your "motor skills" as together as you thought, you'd be able to play what you heard with clarity because the instrument wouldn't be an impediment.

    I'm not saying alla this crap cause I think you're subhuman, I'm saying it because I went through a similar situation and that's what got me out of it - studying with an actual human who worked at coordinating a lot of different things. Not reading some books.

    Feel free to do whatever you feel most comfortable doing though. And continue to only take advice that you agree with.
     
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Ed's advice is all good of course - but I wondered about this ...."objective"...?

    So I just can't imagine it happening like that...so I can imagine somebody saying let's do Blues in F or Bb etc. - but that's pretty easy to study and doesn't require much theory - or I can imagine a group of people saying "let's play xxxxxx song" that everybody might know.

    But I've never seen what you describe, happen...exactly...:meh:

    So it would be pretty boring for the audience, if one person were to outline a chord sequence to every member of the band before playing the tune - either you know it, or if it's an original that nobody's heard before then the 'leader' (writer) hand out chord charts/lead sheets/sheet music and the band reads it - but as an audience member I would think it pretty 'unprofessional' to say the least, if a band stood around on stage discussing chord sequences!! ;)
     
  9. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Ed,

    I appreciate the feedback. I don't normally have problems hopping on stage and playing something simple. It's the more intricate passages with odd time signatures and melodies that I feel I need to learn music theory. And believe me, it wasn't my attempt to make it sound like I know my ****. Hell, like you stated, you've been playing since before I was born. Whether that makes you better or not is anyone's guess, but I think a requirement of music theory largely depends on the style of music being played. And I happen to know that what I play requires it.

    I started this thread asking what good music theory materials are out there. I did not start it asking for advice on whether I need it or not. I am pretty comfortable as a musician, and know what I need to learn to push on, and become an even better musician.

    With that said, does anyone know of any additional materials on music theory? The sticky doesn't have a lot of information, but perhaps some jazz theory?
     
  10. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Damn... Everyone is missing the point. You make it sound funny. You have to know the history and what my future intentions of a musician are. If I choose, I'd like to get into a three piece jazz group, and know what the hell is going on. I'm in situations all of the time where I could sit in and play a few songs. Now, by all means, if you're all against music theory, that's fine, I'll go elsewhere and ask for advice... But man, let's just stick to the topic.

    I mean no disrespect to any of you, but I simply was looking for what materials were out there. I'm not looking for people to point out my possible short-comings, or what seems to be silly or unprofessional from the perspective of the audience. I have my reasons.
     
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I have the same objective as that - I'm not against learning theory, but I just think there may be other things you could do that woudl help you better achieve that objetive?

    So I have been trying to play Jazz for many years now and go to a lot of Jazz gigs.

    What I was saying was that in virtually every situation I have seen at Jazz gigs - it was either a case of : we/band all play a standard tune we know - OR 1 person hands out lead sheets (chord charts).

    So to get better at these two things it's not necessarily a case of buying books about theory - what you need is more repertoire and ability to read a chord chart.

    Ed's advice is best of course - but I was thinking what you need to do is learn the kind of Jazz "standards" that people are likely to play and be able to play these "at the drop of a hat" - then get experience of reading chord charts...?

    Just an idea? :)
     
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member


    Yes - I think you are heading towards "The Jazz theory Book" by Mark Levine !! :)

    This does actually have sections on building up a repertoire of standards and how to read a lead sheet/chord chart!! :)
     
  13. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Sweet! Thanks Bruce. That's two for the Mark Levine Jazz Theory book. I'll look into that one. The EADG 4 book by John Flastrom and this Levine book should be enough to keep me busy for a while.
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    No need to guess, my first post contains instructions as to how to get to soundfiles where you can actually hear me play.

    That's kind of where I live; talk to me in 6 months.
     
  15. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Ed,
    I went over to listen to some of your stuff. While you are good, you play a completely different style then myself--completely. Not to mention you played DB on all of them.

    You're messages come across as a bit holier-than-thou, and condescending. So, unless you can show me some Jaco chops or something, you're just another bass player like the rest of us. Pretty good stuff on the sampler though. ;)
     
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    No, Ed is one of the best and Jazz and DB do go together.... I'm also sure you'll eventually come to appreciate his dry wit, like fine wine - an acquired taste, but all the better for it!! ;)
     
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Certainly if you don't hear anything in my playing, then you can discount any advice from me.

    As far as holier-than-thou, which part of "I'm not saying alla this crap cause I think you're subhuman, I'm saying it because I went through a similar situation and that's what got me out of it - studying with an actual human who worked at coordinating a lot of different things. Not reading some books." is the condescending part?

    I'm done.
     
  18. Knavery

    Knavery

    Feb 24, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Well, I apologize if I find it condescending. I have no room for those types of people. If it's dry wit, that's cool. I can live with it. I was, afterall, told to watch out for the DB folks here. No offense intended of course. They are just a different breed, and probably take things a little more seriously then us rock musicians. But like Ed, I take my musicianship seriously. All I am trying to do is improve my playing. Nothing more, nothing less.
     
  19. JohnBarr

    JohnBarr

    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
    Knavery,

    I wouldn't mind hearing your opinion on that book after you've had a chance to look it over.

    I've been looking for a good single volume summary of music theory. I have some beginner books that are good, but the theory is scattered throught them. Good for learning but not helpfulf for quick reference (what are the be-bob scales? What's the Lydian mode?) or to brush up.


    Thanks,

    John
     
  20. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Knavery ... the Levine book certainly has its merits, as frankly ANY theory book does IMO. I'm always pleased when any bass player is seeking additional information ... far too many don't.

    And with the understanding that your post was requesting specific info, I hope you don't cast aside the fine advice Ed was providing, specifically the info regarding the number of "skill sets" required and the fact that "All theory does is collate observations about why certain things seem to work". 15 years of playing does provide you with some decent foundation, but your own statements of "I can play... I just don't know what I'm doing" and "I know the notes, but not the scale names" indicates that you need to be able to take the book smarts presented in Levine et al and apply it on a practical level ... that's very tough to do without human intervention, not impossible, but very very tough.

    Props to you for understanding that your playing skills need improvement (Lord knows mine sure do ;) ) and for your desire to increase your knowledge bank .... like I said above, I wish more bass players felt the need to broaden their horizons :cool: