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notation instead of tabs

Discussion in 'Tablature and Notation [BG]' started by hernameisrio, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. hernameisrio


    Sep 27, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    Hello my darlings.

    So I just started taking lessons with a new teacher and he wants me to study and transcribe all my bass lines as notation instead of tabs.

    I'm looking forward to an approach like this because actually, I totally hate tabs and find them really annoying, as someone who started out reading music as a kid (when I took piano lessons).

    Of course I'm a little rusty at reading bass clef, which is kinda frustrating...but it's starting to come back to me day by day. I've been giving myself homework in Garageband where I'll play a bass line on keys (as MIDI) and then view it as notation so that I can get better at reading.

    But I just really wish there were more resources out there for bassists who want to learn bass lines by reading and transcribing them, instead of by ear...anyone know of any websites or anything? Should I just get Sibelius and start doing this myself?

    Thanks in advance!

    edit: ooooh, I just found The Bassment (thebassment.info) and they have downloadable tabs AND notation! Yay!
  2. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    There are a couple of sites that have notation bass lines- not many. The issue you will run into is most actual basslines for rock songs are not actually written correctly in notation, it is usually a left-hand piano part- and many times NOT even close to what the bass guitar actually plays.

    If you play jazz tunes, there are more notated songs.

    Personally I use chord charts and tabs to learn songs, and sometimes notation if there aren't too many sharps and flats.
  3. seekir


    Jun 30, 2006
    Also, as you likely realize, unlike piano, stringed instruments generally have several alternative places to find identically pitched notes and notation won't necessarily be the best guide to finding the best way to play a note sequence (best sounding, most efficient, least difficult, using fretted notes, using open strings...). Tab, on the other hand isn't too great for music of unknown time/tempo etc. Wish I could read notation.
  4. Another thing you will find is that the overall quality of any notation you find will be much higher than that of tabs. Musicians who have taken the time to learn to read and write notation will typically produce better transcriptions.

    There are lots of sight reading books available from different publishers, too.
  5. Bredian


    Apr 22, 2011
    NO KIDDING. Read through the funkier stuff (MJ and Stevie Wonder) as well as Bruno Mars while listening.... these notations are great.... to have to learn these tunes with tabs (I do all the time) would include listening and adding to while learning them....in other words, tabs are usually incomplete and inconsistently written and don't really convey the feel of the music.
  6. lexington125


    Sep 11, 2013
    hollywood, baby......
    someday I will find 4 or 5 other guys who want to play the blues the way it was played before it became all about guitar heroics
    maybe tab is useful for bedroom players who don't play with anyone else, but i can't see how it helps you communicate w/ other musicians? Standard notation opens up the whole world of music and you can then speak the same language as any other musician. STRONG recommendation for notation over tab.
  7. ronpdenver


    Nov 14, 2009
    Transcriptions are the way to go. I get zero nuance from TAB, so don't use it. I would rather put my ears on a piece of music and learn that way than to utilize TABs. Maybe it is time to transcribe a piece a month, or a piece a week to post over at thebassment.com A library of quality transcriptions would be useful…
  8. Octaves


    Jun 22, 2012
    +1 to standard notation.
  9. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    How are you getting any more nuance from a transcription vs. a tab that has note lengths and hammer-on, slide notations?
  10. Bredian


    Apr 22, 2011

    I've seen bits a pieces of these notations in some better tabs, but have never seen a tab convey a tune completely with out the ability to listen to the tune.

    Do you have better examples?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm 55 and get most of my information from tabs, but typically they're good for a lick or chord basics, the rest I get from listening to the tune... I used to condense these down further to chord patterns and organize 3/page but at this point, I don't bring notes to gigs unless I've only rehearsed the tune 1x and had questions....

    Often I'll dig through a pile of tabs written for a popular tune to find something correct... as most seem written by first year players with limited hearing.

    BUT when I sit in with the 18 piece jazz band (vs the rock bands I love) its all old school.... standard notation and sometimes a few chords.. that I copy and put cheats on due to my near 30 year break...
  11. NinetyFive


    Jun 22, 2013
    New York City
    Try http://freebasspart.pv24.pagesperso-orange.fr/Bass_Players.htm. There are hundreds of free bass transcriptions of RnB, funk and soul songs. These include lines by: Donald ''Duck'' Dunn, Rocco Prestia, David Hood, Jerry Jemmott and Tommy Cogbill among others. This guy, Pierre, has spent years transcribing, and the results tend to to accurate.
    Matt Wilson likes this.
  12. since 2000 guitar rags have gone to that method to tab songs....and it's ok,but there is just not enough of it out there.....i usually convert them to notation anyway....learning a song via tab,sure,but i want to get better at reading dots and even the best tab is no help with that...
  13. mapadofu


    Mar 19, 2013
    I've copied several bass lines out of The Beatles' Complete Scores, mainly since I find it hard to read them when they're all mashed up with the other instruments' parts.
  14. It pretty much goes both ways in terms of quality.

    Most of the Tab I read is from those free-sites where anyone can upload their transcription good or bad. I use them just as a guide while playing along to the song. Most of the time they're wrong: miss notes, in the wrong key, the syncopation looks off because the way it's written. However if it's really accurate Tab, it's real strength is learning the correct area on the fretboard to play solos or intricate note-runs.

    I tend to be a slow sight-reader when it comes to Notation, it's been way too long for me. For example, as I look at the "What Is Hip" in Notation, it's a real chore because of the range Prestia plays bass. Some Notation tends to over-analyze and over-compensate the groove, which breaks things into sixteenth and triplet notes/rests. Which again, makes it harder for me to read.

    Overall, it's best to know both. Use them as guides. Know they're both just methods of written-communication for music. I tend to write music with a mix of both depending on who is supposed to read it. Notation for the rhythms, tablature for accurate fretting if needed. Sometimes it's just chord and note names. For example:
     Em e e f# g g#  Am c c# e g Em Dm 
  15. i found that if you photo copy the pages and cut out the lines you want , re attach the ones you want to another page and make a copy it's a lot quicker than making dots....

  16. Those parts are pretty playable- they work- but they have mistakes in the bass parts. I use the parts for cold reading and as a framework for transcribing the real parts to notation, I write the correct part over the ink and then dump it all into finale so I have a legible part to work from.
  17. Amen to that! I started on tabs...of course. Later discovered that tabs are the equivalent of 'giving a man a fish and feeding him for one day', you do him a disservice. Nowadays I use only notation and find it easier to read than tabs.

    Since I subscribed to Scott Devine's bass lessons on Youtube, my playing has dramatically improved. He's an awesome instructor, check him out.

  18. D.M.N.

    D.M.N. (O))))

    Oct 6, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    I think my favorite method at this point is using GuitarPro to notate out songs. This way, as you write in the tab or standard, it automatically does the other one. So you can write in the tab of fret numbers, then adjust the note length in the standard notation part, and eventually play back the entire song in the program. It's also a great ear training exercise to go through and listen and write the whole thing out yourself, and you have both standard notation and tabs.
  19. terranova


    Sep 9, 2011
    Write stuff out, there is a free program available I use called Muse Score, it may not be up to sibelius but its free.
    Reading bass clef is fairly simple compared to piano or guitar there is not a good reason I can think of not to be able to do it on a basic level.
    The only thing tab is good for is indicating where you may want to play a note, I echo that disservice sentiment :) That said I am happy to provide tab for anything I put up on my site for a small fee :)
  20. freatles


    Jan 9, 2014
    One free program for writing out sheet music or tabbing is "TuxGuitar"

    Notation to tabs, tabs to notation, piano roll, midi playback, and much more.

    Linux, Mac, Windows.