Note Studies

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bcarll, Aug 1, 2003.

  1. bcarll


    Oct 16, 2001
    I'm sure this has been asked many times on this forum but here goes again. I have finally gotten to the point of settling down and wanting to study note reading on the bass. Currently have Mel Bays Books 1&2 and that's a start but what other books would you folks here at TB recommend to learn sight reading. Also please mention any that would contain a CD to make the process more interesting.

  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    you just gotta do it, practice practice practice.

    full of transcriptions that you can take a swing at if you want a challenge.

    read any piece of music you find, you could read treble clef stuff as though it was bass clef if you wanted.

    just gotta keep doing it.

    also might want to do a search, this has been covered before and many great ideas are to be found in the archives.
  3. efcleff


    Jan 20, 2003
    Well, one series of books that come to mind is the " Fasttrack" series by Hal Leonard. They come with a CD and are specific for Bass. There are also Guitar, Drums, Keyboard and Sax books that are coordinated so that you and your buddies can play. At the end of each book are three songs- you would be given the Basslines for the song, your buddy on guitar would have the guitar part, etc. Also, the CD will play the song with and without the Bass part-you supply that. In addition, they have songbooks out with a CD. You get the Basslines and play along to the songs. The "Fasttrack" books themselves are written well, easy to follow, and tend to be written with humor. The songbook songs tend to be watered down, but are a whole lot of fun to play along with anyway. Check them out... and practice.
  4. OldDawg


    Jul 4, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    To get lots of good sight reading material don't limit yourself to bass books. Get music for any bass clef instrument. Some of the classic books have been transposed into bass clef so cool things like the Charlie Parker Omnibook, or Jerry Coker's Patterns for Jazz are available in bass clef. Also learn to read treble clef. You'll need it at some point.
  5. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    Wrong Robot: Great link! One question for you hot shot studio pros and gigging types. How fluently can you read? Can you actually nail stuff like Jamerson's parts in Standing in the Shadows of Motown, at tempo, on the first shot? Professionally, is this what is expected of you, or is the expectation more like you get to see the part 10 minutes before you have to play it, and in addition to needing to be able figure out fingerings/position shifts, etc. the critical skill is really being able to quickly learn the part. What I am trying to express is that sightreading seems to imply that you go in cold, start at the beginning, and just read the part, but I suspect that the real skill you need is the ability to quickly assimilate a new part, and this isn't just a question of reading; it involves some analysis of the part from a music theory/form perspective, and the ability to commit it at least partially to memory (i.e. the notation then functions more as reminder than roadmap).
  6. OldDawg


    Jul 4, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    From back in my day studio players broke down into a few types of which one type could sight read ANYTHING. They could give you something that sounded like the style called for, and get a lot done fast. They tend to do the film and jingle work where time is money. That was their forte and it was scary to watch them.

    In general they were not the same players you would hire to lay down a monster groove on a chord chart that other bass players are going to be learning for years to come. These guys read, and some were also great readers, but in general you hired them for their creativity and feel.

    Reading is just one of those things you have to decide you want to be good at and spend the time necessary to pratice it. It's one of those skills that can atrophy fast if you don't do it daily.
  7. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire

    I have written and use these books regularly in my teaching at Berklee. I am sure you will find them helpful.

    Reading Bass Parts Vol. 1 is a reading / play-along combined. Moderate to difficult reading level. The second track of each song has no recorded bass track so you can improvise your own line or play the written one.

    Slap Bass Workout has 58 tracks of play-alongs. Each line is written out. So you can practice reading funk lines.

    Reading In Bass Clef is a fundamental reading book which emphasis correct fingering and good hand position. This book is written to promote success. The songs are sequenced very developmentally.

    It is vital to practice reading on three different levels. 1. Very simple material so you can play without stopping and only a few mistakes. Keeping your eyes moving is a learned skill. If you make more than 10 percent mistakes without stopping, this material is moderate level for you.
    2. Moderate difficulty level material is used to force yourself to not stop even though you will make a number of mistakes. This is extremely valuable practice because in learning to read well you must not stop the groove. This is where play-alongs are necessary. A metronome will work but a play-along is far supperior. 3. Difficult material which you must take out of time and work out the rhythms and fingerings for the pitches. Reading difficult music well is simply a recongition of patterns or combinations of patterns already mastered.

    Hope this helps.
  8. chardin


    Sep 18, 2000
    Or you could read treble clef as is. :) There is a lot more music for treble clef than bass clef. Or learn to read both bass and treble clefs.

    Bottom line, just do it and do it a lot. Use it or lose it.

    Also check out the resurrected Libster site TB'er Gabu has done a great job bringing this site back to life.

    Edit: Added link to new Libster site.
  9. Funkateer


    Jul 5, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA
    Along with 'practice with a metronome', 'practice sight-reading' has been the kind of vague instructions that have lead to endless wasted hours in my past musical life of playing classical guitar. The advice above is a stepin the right direction (IMHO).

    My own sightreading skills are poor. I never got great at it on the classical guitar either. One issue I have is that I find it very difficult to be looking at a note that I am not playing. In practice this means that as I read, I look at a note, play it, and effectively don't move onto the reading the next note until I get audible confirmation that I'm playing the right thing. As a result, I get surprised when I have to move onto the next stave, and I can't read up tempo stuff well at all.

    How do you train yourself to read ahead? How far ahead should you be reading? I find it very difficult to mentally be in two places at the same time - keeping the music coming on schedule, while reading forward 1/2 to a full measure.

    Any specific practice tricks for mastering this?
  10. OldDawg


    Jul 4, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    It is a process of learn to look at half a measure at a time. Then while playing it looking at the second half of a measure. In general called reading ahead. Main thing is learning to read like read the words in this message. You aren't reading each letter of a word to read a word are you, well your sightreading music has to become the same way. The main thing to learn to read as a group of notes is rhythms and just know what that rhythm sound like. If you know that then all your doing is hanging the pitches on the notes. Same as piano players sightreading fully written out chords. They learn what common chords look like and read them like the words in this message.

    How to practice this I've seen computer software that does it in places like GIT/BIT. It shows half a measure for a percentage of the tempo then blanks out, or move to next half of bar depending on your skill level. If you don't have software like this available then take simple excersises and with your finger cover half a measure while you sing the rhythms (with a metronome). Get books on rhythmic sightreading and drill, drill, drill on reading rhythms. Start your reading practice without your bass. Sing or clap the rhythms till you can nail them at tempo. Then figure out the pitch values and fingerings. 'Now pickup your instrument and try to sightread. It sounds like a slow process, but in long run you will progress faster. You are separating the mental learning from the physical.

    Good sightreaders tend to read one to two measures at a time. It has been said great sightreaders can read a line at a time. Another thing about sightreading is learning to focus only on reading and playing with the group. Once you can block out everything except the music and the time keeper of the group. It will seem like you have all the time in the world to read ahead and play the music.
  11. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    And that is the simple truth.This is "reading ahead".And it does'nt happen overnight.It's an acquired process.Takes time and patience.