Musical instinct? Does anyone......

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Achey, Jun 13, 2005.

  1. Achey


    May 6, 2005
    Northern Ireland
    When you are playing a piece, like sight reading it, do you ever kinda "feel" what the next note is going to be without looking at the score? It happens to me often, but because I havent mastered sight reading yet, I don't "trust" myself with this "feel" of waht the next note might be, and instead I play something wrong. Often it is the case that after this mistake, I realise if I had went with my musical instinct I would have been right and it would have sounded better.

    I am wondering if any of you more experienced palyers can give me advice on how to "trust myself" in terms of just going for waht I feel is right, and trusting my instincts.
  2. sometimes if you're playing like a basic pop/rock song, you can guess the next chord or two. if they just played a I chord and a IV chord, you can put money on it that the next chord will be a V.
  3. I've been doing it for 27 years. If you do, and it sounds good, I guess you could say you have some sort of instinct, or maybe a better term would be natural ability. I, for one, do advocate seeking formal training in theory & technique- if nothing else it can help you communicate w/other musicians.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Yeah, instinct does kick in at some point. Mainly because changes can often be fairly predictable. You just play music for so long and you start to get a feel for what's coming up next based on other songs you've played in the past. That's a good thing.

    But going on pure instinct when you're reading charts can get you into a world of hurt. It sounds to me like you need to practice sight reading a bit harder. Get used to reading ahead of the music you're playing. Always know what's coming up next at least one bar ahead. Scan the chart for oddities before you start playing. Have a basic idea of what you're going to do before you start playing.
  5. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
  6. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Yes, chord progressions often move in 4th's, it is the most common kind of movement in this context, there are also other commonly occuring chord progressions that you will see over, and over, and.... JimmyM's point about passing your eyes across a change before you get to it is VERY key, especially as a bassist. When playing a "walking" bass line(1/4 notes)the shape and notes of your line should indicate not only what chord is currently taking place, but what chord is coming next, this note selection help move the song forward. Imaging driving and not bieng able to see more than a foot in front of your bumper!! You would be skidding and slamming on the brakes, your "passengers" would not be very relaxed, the bass is the wheels that the car(the band) rides on, they move it forward and steer it in the direction that it needs to go..
    Don't be afraid to trust your instincts as long as you work hard to fine tune the quality of those instincts. Work to find recordings of the songs you are playing and do lot's of listening!!
  7. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    It's not even so much knowing mentally where a standard pop tune will probably move. Your ear naturally develops tendencies relating to pitches, harmony and even rhythm. Lots of this is largely related to they type of music you surround yourself with, and it's not set in stone what you might hear or feel at any given time.

    One of the most enticing moments in music for me is watching someone interpret something I hear differently, or seeing how someone else hears something that I hear. Like, at a root level, their tendencies might be different than mine.

    That said, there is actually something of a science behind your ears tendencies. When you think of voice leading and such, there is a reason why certain rules developed as they did, that goes all the way to the core of how we hear anything. There are a lot of variables to it all, but there are also static reasons for why such and such might want to do such and such to your ears.

    All very interesting stuff, that, if it wasn't already abundantly obvious, I know nothing about :)
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yup - that's what we call "music theory"!! ;)

    I don't think what is being described in this thread, is really "instinct" as such - it is "pattern recognition" !

    The ultimate pattern recognition in music is music theory - so the more you know, the easier it becomes to predict what the next note will be in any tune, as you get to understand harmony and resolutions and what things tend to follow others etc. etc.

    But generally the more music you hear and play, the more you can spot patterns and how it all fits together. I can turn on the TV at random and play along with most tunes that come up - even if I've never heard them before - just because I've heard loads of things like that before....nothing to do with instinct as such!
  9. Achey


    May 6, 2005
    Northern Ireland
    Thanks for your thoughts guys and I do agree that theory and reading is very important for everyone. I am just getting to the stage now where I can read ahead a bar or so, and it is really wierd. I used to see ryhthm signs (rests e.t.c.) and count them as I was playing. Now I just kinda "Know" what a certain pattern of rests and notes will wound like. It is a really wierd feeling. Like you subconsciously know what you need to play without thinking it through the "mathematic" side of your brain first.

    Keep the comments coming, I find this real interesting guys.


  10. The thinking ahead and scanning methods are highly recommended - and combining them with already familar chord patterns is key to being comfortable playing them - I've been getting back into playing jazz again recently and it's always the way when you're given a fresh chart that you should look for the order in which the chords are moving.

    Obviously the variations are infinite - but the common ones are sequences moving in fourths, minor or major thirds and chromtically or by whole tones - these often repeat in simple forms like your average pop tune - and then again with more complexity in your classic jazz 'standards' - playing these a lot will drum then into both your head and your hands and in time it will get alot easier. I would never recommend that you purely rely on just instinct over actual knowledge - but that's not say employing your musical instincts as well as knowledge of theory is a bad thing - it's actually the ideal - as many players - Gary Willis for example - say that they actually play better the less they think - but unfortunately for us mere mortals there's still alot of thinking involved in getting to that point :) - keep at it - it'll come in time.