1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Reading?

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by dubmon, Mar 17, 2008.


  1. dubmon

    dubmon

    Sep 20, 2007
    Hi JMJ---I was just curious how much sight-reading enters into your session work these days. My sense is even on lotsa soundtrack stuff these days there's nearly as many composers out there who don't read/write as there are players ('cause they all started as ear-trained players I guess!:) Curious what you face in your work--thanks!
     
  2. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Sight reading? Once in the bluest of moons. I suck at it anyway. I can read chord charts all day, though. But actual bass notation? Never happens. I faked it on the score to Dukes of Hazzard, but it worked out just fine, and the composer even knew that I wasn't one of those hardcore "reader" guys.

    It's always just chord chart, sometimes with some key rhythmic/melodic parts notated, but usually just chords then verbal descriptions of the desired part, if they have things in mind.

    JMJ
     
  3. dubmon

    dubmon

    Sep 20, 2007
    Thanks. I feel better about my reading skills now;)!
     
  4. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    How much do you think it varies with the music style? My bass teacher is a jazz session guy. He is frequently given a fully notated bass line, or a combination with a chord chart and notation for certain parts.

    I would guess that you bring enough unique flavor that they're paying for you to throw down "some of that JMJ stuff" rather than having to dictate what notes you're playing.
     
  5. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    I think that's exactly the deal,yes. Very style dependent, and sometimes that people are hiring me just to be myself and interpret, yes.

    JMJ
     
  6. Rob Mancini

    Rob Mancini Guest

    Feb 26, 2008
    I don't think you can compare what the average studio guy does and what Justin does. Justin has made a name for himself as an experimental popular music bassist with a heavy heavy groove. As far as I know (correct me if I'm wrong, Justin), he's not getting hired to read the bass chart for the latest Applebee's commercial. He's getting hired to be Justin Meldal-Johnsen for the most part.

    Again, if I'm out of line here, please set me straight, but I don't think of him as the traditional studio guy like Joe Osborn or Carol Kaye.

    And I wouldn't use what Justin says about not having to do much sight reading as an excuse not to practice your sight reading. He's JMJ, we're not ;)
     
  7. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Hear hear! And what I need to do as well is PRACTICE MY READING, because guess what: I certainly do know contractors and they know me, and I know people that do commercials and they know me. I'd like to be getting some of those gigs sometimes (especially when the "cool" stuff has a dry spell), and they require those skills. And I LOVE the fact that I have tons to learn to be able to do the occasional gig like that.

    I certainly pray to the altar of Joe Osborn, Carol Kaye, Will Lee, Leland Sklar, Chuck Rainey, etc. But just because of my musical history, I can indeed get slotted into "alternative guy" thing sometimes too easily. But I'm lucky: I do stuff that is quite varied, and not a lot of guys get to.

    Does anybody have any simple reading method books to recommend? I started reading with clarinet, bass clarinet & contrabass clarinet in junior high and high school. The problem is, in the key of B flat in treble clef, it totally sometimes gets in the way of me easily reading bass notation. Rhythmically, it's just fallen out of practice, so there too I need plenty of work.

    Where's a good place for me to start? It can be as rudimentary as you care to suggest; I get off on the most basic basic stuff and repeating the hell out of it. For instance, these days, I sometimes practice playing whole notes at 100 on the metronome then fan out up and down from there, until they are the "world's best sounding whole notes" at any tempo! Sounds neanderthal, but it really helps my playing. So likewise, I'd like a good, gradual learning curve to get my reading chops back up to a level like they were when I was 13 playing Claude Bolling tunes on clarinet :D

    Thanks,
    JMJ




    JMJ
     
  8. Rob Mancini

    Rob Mancini Guest

    Feb 26, 2008
    Bach cello suites???

    :bag:

    But seriously, Carol Kaye's got some really good books on her site carolkaye.com for that...one of my favorites she sells is "Easy Electric Bass" by Frank Carroll. This one starts out easy and ends up pretty darn hard. And of course, there's always the Real Book. Sure, most of them are written in treble clef, but as many times as I've been handed sheet music written in treble clef and been expected to play it, it's not a bad idea to keep your treble chops up as well and play the heads instead of just following the chords.

    But really, you don't need anything fancy...just grab some sheet music and read it. I'll even play the piano bassline from commercial sheet music just to get a little practice in. I'm sure all your memories of Claude Bolling will all come flowing back to you once you spend a couple days working on it. Not quite like riding a bicycle, but it does all start to come back fairly quick.

    BTW, I wish more bass players would practice whole notes at 100. I can't tell you how many bassists who can play a million miles a minute that can't do footballs on the one and make it sound right.
     
  9. Rob Mancini

    Rob Mancini Guest

    Feb 26, 2008
    Oh, and another thing I started doing again recently at Janek Gwizdala's suggestion is transcribing. It's helped my reading tremendously.
     
  10. littlezak

    littlezak

    Mar 4, 2007
    I used http://www.studybass.com/tools/bass-clef-notes/ to help me learn the notes and to test myself as I progressed. I also used the mel bay books or anything else with music notation. Another important thing (for me at least ) was to start writing out all the little riffs and grooves I made up.

    I hope that helps someone other than me...:ninja:
     
  11. Steve Amadeo

    Steve Amadeo

    Nov 14, 2005
    Wallasey, UK
    Hi Justin,

    I'd recommend www.jimstinnett.com I've bought some useful books from his site.

    All the best,

    Steve
     
  12. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Thanks for these recommendations, all! I'll research each of them.

    JMJ
     
  13. pbass2

    pbass2

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    I should preface this with saying I'm also not advocating anybody should avoid learning to read on purpose, but speaking specifically of the advertising world as you were mentioning, and lots of TV music these days---a big part of my bread and butter is in those areas(as a composer and player), and I don't read well at all. Likewise, I know my theory and can get around any chord chart no prob, but reading notation? How much time ya got;)?
    What I do find myself doing pretty often is coming up with horn parts, strings, etc. (with virtual instruments in Logic in my case) and then printing out the notation as a PDF to send to the players I hire--but that's horn and string players. If I hire a guitarist for example, I just put down a rough track myself as reference. If I didn't play bass, I'd put it down with a virtual instrument and also just send that demo for reference (but I suppose I could print out the notation too---but there'd still be the audio to learn the part from). Even the hardcore orchestral composers put down a demo part on synth bass or whatever usually--pretty rare to be handed some music without a demo to listen to these days.
    So, from my experience, even in the ad/TV world, it's becoming more and more like the "rock" or "alternative" world all the time, and you don't HAVE to read to do those gigs. I dare say for a young player who wants to get into that, I'd make it a higher priority to have your own recording rig dialed in and learn ProTools, Logic, etc. (so you can track pro bass tracks remotely). Then work on your reading (I'll get some flack for that I expect, but realistically, there's only so many hours in the day!).

    But I DO also wish I could read better! It's like a foreign language for me I find. I'll take some classes and be spouting off in conversational Japanese for a few weeks, and then a couple months later "poof"! All gone. I must have retention issues:)
     
  14. Rob Mancini

    Rob Mancini Guest

    Feb 26, 2008
    I guess I'm more in tune with reading because when you back oldies shows, it's almost all reading. Sometimes it's chord charts, but if you back Little Anthony or Bobby Rydell, for example, it's heavy duty reading. I'm sure that the more the rock world gets assimilated into commercials that you don't need to read as much, but it's just one more skill that can get you a gig you may not have gotten otherwise. On the other hand, our keyboardist is not a strong reader at all and he makes as much as I do, so there you go ;)
     
  15. pbass2

    pbass2

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Yeah, man I wish I could read well enough to walk into the pit at a theater gig or what-have-you. And in the big-time film score world I expect you'd use it all the time, demo bass track or not. But Justin, you've done some major studio soundtracks---are you usually just getting a chord chart handed to you on those? is there usually a demo to listen to as well?
     
  16. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Sometimes a demo sure...or a reference. But yeah, the scores are precise in terms of bars and chords, and if there's a specific part, it'll get written. If I have a few minutes, I'm capable of figuring it out, so it's all good, just sometimes a little nerve wracking, and I want more ease and confidence in that department. I'm doing my second season of the Showtime show "Californication" starting next month, and that'll be some charts with occasional written lines, for instance.

    JMJ
     
  17. deaf pea

    deaf pea

    Mar 24, 2005
    Cuernavaca 1 hr S Mexico City
    Seymour Duncan/Basslines SMB-5A Endorsing Artist
    almost any "melodic etudes" for trombone would fit good . . . not really "reading method books", but they should help you some . . .
     
  18. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    Like learning any language, getting fluent reading music notation takes practice and use on a regular basis. It seems to me that there are plenty of players who can get by without learning to read music, but being a proficient reader can open some new doors.
     
  19. Rob Mancini

    Rob Mancini Guest

    Feb 26, 2008
    BTW, lest anyone think I'm not cool because I back oldies shows with (sometimes) corny music, let me assure you that I'm not cool for many other reasons besides that ;)
     
  20. JohnDavisNYC

    JohnDavisNYC

    Jan 11, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar, D'Addario
    my reading sucks now, but when i was studying double bass, my favourite 'method book' was by Billé, and it was called Corso Practico III... for anyone who plays upright, it is a great book, and is very musical and enjoyable... the music isn't just 'excercise-y' sounding, it is actually musical, so you can read, but also try to be expressive, too.

    these days my notation reading is pretty shoddy, but i can read charts and rhythms all day, and i can still write, which i think is more important, especially for those of us who also engineer, produce, and play in bands. it is much easier to hand a string or wind player a written part than to fumble about trying to tell them what to play or playing it on guitar or piano or something...

    john
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.