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Question on reading notation that's not bass specific

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by LoJoe, Jan 9, 2003.

  1. LoJoe


    Sep 5, 2002
    Concord, NC USA.
    Ok, in the rock jam band I'm in, we just play by ear or hand scratched chord lists. In the church praise band I'm in, we get word/chord charts. I've been learning to read notation and now have a question for a situation I have coming up. Our keyboardist is playing at a wedding and wants some of us in the band to assist her. She gave me some music to look over. It's a little more involved that just 3 chord repetition so I'd like to give the notation line a shot. This is a book for "piano/vocals". There is no chord line but the line on bass cleff looks fairly simple most of the time..EXCEPT...Some of the songs have 2 note stacks in the bass cleff line, as in there are 2 notes written in a beat like an F and a C. As the bass player, is it proper to play the one on the bottom as you do when you have a chord like Eb/F, the one on the top if the bottom one is below the range of a 4 string low E, or does it really matter as long as I don't switch back and forth through the song? This is probably a dumb question, but like I said I am very new to reading notation on bass. Thanks!
  2. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    It's difficult to say without seeing the music. I suppose it depends on the style of music too. Given that situation - play the bottom note, I would say. The fact that there's two notes in the left hand is probably just because there's something else going on higher up in the right hand - or maybe it's a very spread out chord. The left hand is not restricted to bass lines - it's common to split the chords between the left and right hands, depending on the voicings, and whatever else is going on in the right hand. What kind of music is this? If it's one of those pop/rock piano & vocal arrangement - I presume that the piano will be filling in the entire arrangement, and it is essentially designed for just piano and voice - and that there will be a bassline of sorts in the piano part. In which case, going with the bottom note of the left hand part is a very safe bet. Given that situation, it might be an idea if she doesn't play that part at all, and leaves it to you. Perhaps she could leave out the bassline and just play the chords etc. and you could play the bottom line of the left hand part?

    If it is below the range of your bass, play it an octave higher. Your job is to play the bass note of the chord. Also, bear in mind that your bass part will come out an octave lower than it is written. So if the written note is too low for your bass, when you play it an octave higher, you're actually playing at the pitch that is written.

    The point is - just because there's 2 notes in the left hand part, that doesn't mean there's 2 bass notes. It probably just means the chord is split between the hands. So I imagine, stick to the lowest note - in whatever octave you can play it in.
  3. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I agree - if the chords are there, go with that rather than the notation.

    But without seeing it, it's difficult to say. The arrangement could have notes in the bass that wouldn't be the actual bass note of the chord - like Ed said. I've seen piano arrangements of pop/rock tunes that would work fine with you playing the lowest note of the left hand part, but it doesn't follow. You might do well to listen to the bass parts original recordings of the songs?

    Nice typo - 'painist'. What are you trying to say about pianists? :D
  4. LoJoe


    Sep 5, 2002
    Concord, NC USA.
    Thanks for the great advice guys. Unfortunately the music does not have the chords written above the notation. It is my hope to soon be able to simply look at the notation and decipher what the chord is. In fact I bet if I ask real nice since I am doing the piano player a favor, she could probably just write these in for me. Duh! Major lightbulb! :D Thanks for that idea!!
  5. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah, if she can write the chords in for you, that'd be your best bet I reckon.
  6. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It would also be good to have a go at playing it, both on your own and with the pianist. Use your ears to judge what does and doesn't work and make notes (notation or scribbles) accordingly.

  7. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Maybe it was... do you have deep-seated feelings of resent towards piano players? :D
  8. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I'm of the firm belief that all chord charts should always fit on one side of one page.
  9. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Please add me to the "Page Turns Suck Club" members list! Man, those things mess me up more than codas.
  10. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    It's difficult to tell without hearing what the chart sounds like. In most cases playing the lower note will be appropriate because in most cases it is the root to the chord, and this is probably especially true because of the genre of music you're playing. What you do in a case like this is play through it with the keyboard player if available or put the chart into a sequencer and play through it. This way you will be able to hear whether or not that bottom note works, moreover once you've figured out what works with the bass you can then figure out what the chord is.

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