One of the hardest questions to answer

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Zjarrett, Jan 31, 2001.

  1. Zjarrett


    Sep 17, 2000
    This will be harder then the 4v5v6v12000 string issue but Its really become a problem and this is the quickest and best resource I have available for a week. So here goes:

    Music Theory. Could someone post just exactly what it is and where I can get started learning it? I understand intervals, i know some scales such as the major and minor, and i know a few chords even. With this in mind, I have no clue how to use this to modify songs, add my own variations, or fit them together to just be creative. I have these amazing beats in my head and after hours and hours of play I cant share them with anyone. So, to sum it up for everyone, I need help grasping the concept of well everything, if its too hard or trivial for someone to post on the board contact me privately at Really, I know everyone has these incredible musical idea, and to me its just torture not being able to express them.....thanks in advance (been playing for about a year, I have a Stingray 4, this might help)
  2. do you know how to break up intervals
    i.e. thirds in C
    play C E D F E G F A G B A C
    and so on, you can do this with any interval
    seconds, fourths, fifths, my favorite sixths, seventh, octaves
    i find doing this has giving me lots of ideas
    plus you will start hearing song by other people that may help you to understand things better, if you play the thirds you might hear dueling banjos or many clasical riffs

    if you go to you will find a lot of helpful info, good luck.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    "A start"(at the very least)-
    1)Understand how chords/harmony are created
    ...knowing scales(Maj/min, etc), modes, intervals...what makes a minor 7 sound different than a Dominant 7, etc.

    2)Get a grip on TIME
    ...can you write out what you're playing in, at least, rhythmic notation?
  4. CS


    Dec 11, 1999

    There seems to be two different problems.

    1 is playing what you hear in your head

    2 is knowing how it is constructed

    Learn basic theory as the others have said but try this.

    Get an album of music that stretches your abilities (ie not easy and not hard for you) and get the tab book/chord book etc. Now play the CD and do two things.

    1 play along without the music

    2 read the music without your bass

    Do you see what I am trying to say (and doing it badly)
    1 and 2 are separate problems but joined. You dont have to know any theory if you can just play anything without effort. You dont have to be able to play by ear if you can sight read anything.

    Personally if you can match ear and theory, you will be able to play what you hear and construct music using and breaking the rules.

    I am struggling here someone help.
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Music theory is nothing more than a codification of standard musical practice.

    In other words, over the years music educators have pored over music by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, etc. and figured out what is going on in their music and why it works. They then have written books explaining the theory behind the music in WORDS.

    Some players may say "I don't need to know theory" but in reality anyone who can play music well knows some theory even if they don't think they do.

    Someone who plays totally by ear will eventually figure out scales and chords even if they can't read music or describe it to you verbally. Much more common is ear players who can't read but at least know how to describe keys, chords and scales.
  6. Lance Jaegan

    Lance Jaegan

    Dec 23, 2000
    An excellent resource for you to look into would be "Improvising Jazz" by Jerry Coker. You can find it at Amazon. Great book, I loved it's excellent description of melodic motifs and melodic evolution. Although a bit short on the rhythmic side, (it was written by a saxophonist) it goes over quite a bit of music theory, especially in a jazz context, and how it relates to songs, and song structure.
  7. DaveH


    Feb 4, 2001
    Well, just bass actually.

    Zjarrett (and others). OK, don't laugh. I know you can tell I'm new to this 'forum posting' business because of how much I'm writing. However, this thread immediately caught my eye.

    I know exactly how ZJarrett feels. I reached the brick wall of self-teaching about three years ago but I still haven't got around to taking lessons. I don't even play in a band but this frustration is a subject I 'do' know about. A problem I have found is that most of the theory books you can buy tend to be a money making spin-off for established musicians. I have bought many and consistently find that on page one they are telling you which way up you hold the damn thing and how to pluck a string and then on page two they hit you with musical notation and key signatures etc. Hmmm! Perhaps they think all beginners have all been to 'The Matrix' school of bass playing.

    However, about six months ago I found a HAL.LEONARD book, part of the "Bass Builders" series called "Fingerboard Harmony for Bass" by Gary Willis. This is truly excellent and reading it is a bit like switching a light on. It's still hard work but it's head and shoulders above anything else I've seen. It even accommodates 4,5 & 6 string basses. It comes with a CD too. Outstanding! (UK price £11.90)or($17.95 US).

    There is no substitute for playing with other musicians though. I just wish I did.

    DaveH (in rainy England)