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Reading up an octave?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Spearhead, Jan 25, 2003.


  1. I've read on many websites online and several other places that electric bass players when reading music read up one octave. Is this true? Ive never come into contact personally with another bass player who could sight read, so my information is limited. I only ask because I have run into quite a few pieces that dont notate anything below an E (two notes below the staff). Ihope this isnt a terribly stupid question.
     
  2. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    It is true. The music that electric bass and upright bass is written in is an octave hgher than it sounds. The low note, low E, is 1 ledger line below the staff, when the same note for a tuba, which is written in the "correct" spot, the low E is below the 5th ledger line below the staff.

    On a 4 string bass, the lowest note is written as 2 notes below the staff.
     
  3. That clarifies a lot. Thankyou. The other question I have is why exactly would a musician be taught to read one octave above the true sound of your instrument.
     
  4. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    It is a LOT less confusing having the actual staff to read out of, instead of having all of those ledger lines.

    With my tuba music, which does go down to the low E and sometimes lower, it is hard to read in the low notes. When there are so many ledger lines, it is hard to instantly recognize exactly where it is. It is easier to have the music in the staff where it is clearer and easier to read.

    Anything below low A can be a chore to read because I am not able to instantly read how many ledger lines there are.

    So a quick answer to why it is written an octave up-

    It is easier to read.
     
  5. skaboy

    skaboy

    Oct 16, 2001
    NZ
    There's also the tenor clef to learn if you ever wanted to play the bass as it sounds, it will make your clef reading life much easier.
     
  6. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    AFAIK, the low E on a 4 string is actually the pitch on the first leger line below the bass clef. I say this because with middle C being 1 leger line above, and being the same C as is the 5th fret of the G on a 4, if you go down to E on the D (3rd space) then 1 octave down is 1st leger line. This can only be refuted if I am wrong in the placement of middle C on a bass. The lowest E most tuba players use is not the same as this, and thus they play an octave down from the written notation often.
     
  7. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    skaboy - the tenor clef is higher than the bass clef. You can go lower in the bass clef without running out of stave than you can in the tenor clef.

    MontyP - No, the pitch of the low E on a bass is actually an octave lower than the E on the leger line below the stave. It's written an octave higher than it sounds for convenience. Middle C is not the 5th fret on the G string. Middle C is the 17th fret on the G string. You're playing an octave lower than you think you are.
     
  8. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    Very good to know, thanks a ton :D
     
  9. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    No problem :)
     
  10. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    once again moley, you've taught me something.

    every day's a school day on talkbass.com kids :)
     
  11. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Heh, Howard didn't you know about the octave thing? Have you not been doing your HOMEWORK??

    Right...

    (Gets out the cane)

    ...bend over, boy!!!

    :D
     
  12. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    HA!

    "How can you have any pudding, if you don't eat your meat?"

    (that's from Pink Flloyd The wall - I'm not being a control freak!)
     
  13. Originally posted by moley

    Well, the 4th fret on the G string isn't a C at all, middle or otherwise. Oh well, we all have typos.:D
     
  14. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Ah crap, I meant 5th fret. Corrected. The interval is a 4th, you see, and it seems I inadvertantly typed 4th instead of 5th :)
     
  15. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    excuses excuses, it seems there's a hole in your seemingly unfaultered knowledge moley!

    you must stay behind class and write a thousand times, C is 5th fret on the G string on the blackboard!
     
  16. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    LOL. Ah, crap.

    Well then, here goes...

    C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string...
     
  17. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    ...C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string C is 5th fret on the G string...
     
  18. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    ...Can I go home now sir?
     
  19. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    no, you used copy & paste :D

    damned technology!