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self taught issue

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Minitruth1984, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. I am a self taught bassist, I have been playing for 7 years I think im pretty good I play with a lot of scaling and different finger picking styles but I feel like there is so much I missed and would like to learn, but it is so f**king hard to go back to the beginning. I know no musical theory or anything like that im usually pretty good at matching the key but would like to be spot on with it and also I would like to learn more advanced stuff but it kind of screws me up missing some stuff I feel like I should have learned does anyone have any advice or gone through a similar issue?
  2. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    If you wanna learn theory, you just gotta immerse yourself in it. You will grow from putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, and eventually you will crave to learn more and more theory. Right now I'm teaching myself to use traditional Japanese scales in Western contexts, a couple years ago I would have never imagined myself doing this.

    Learn your chord tones and intervals, practice with a metronome and get your inner clock tight, train your ears to recognize patterns and pitches, there are tons of free lessons and programs online for learning these things.

    Never let your study get in the way of your passion though, nothing is more important that the feeling you put into your playing.
  3. Sloop John D

    Sloop John D

    Jun 29, 2012
    I went through a similar issue. I had been playing for about 8 years before I started taking theory more seriously. I knew the pentatonic scale and the major scale, and I knew about chord tones and a little bit about modes, but beyond that I didn't know much. Trying to get through a theory lesson video or a few pages on theory was a chore, because I did know some theory, so I would find myself sitting through long lessons on the major scale that essentially didn't provide any new information.

    I've noticed that recently there have been more and more good theory lesson sites that organize the sections in a more digestible manner. This one in particular has been very helpful with my studies: http://music-theory.ascensionsounds.com/

    He covers everything from basic theory through harmony, and because everything is divided up into very small sections, it makes it really easy to skip over something if you already understand it. I've seen a few others that take a similar approach, but in my opinion this site is the best I've seen so far.
  4. I just checked that site out I like it thanks alot
  5. Does anyone know a good site that is more centered around bass a really good free lesson site or something?
  6. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012
    My advice is learn bass clef as quickly as possible, then write out the theory lessons you find. It can make a lot more sense when you put it to staff and then play it back than if you think about it in the abstract.
  7. Yogen


    Jul 15, 2012
    I've had the same problem even on guitar, just started out on bass but surprisingly I fit kind of right in the key and sound ok. Problem is there are not too many theory sites, and most just teach very basic and skip to very advanced stuff.
    Thanks a lot for the link, been trying to learn theory for a while now.
  8. Duckwater


    May 10, 2010
    USA, Washington
    If you want to learn note theory quickly/easily, start playing piano/keys. I learned more about harmony playing keys for a week than I learned playing bass for years, and the knowledge has carried me exponentially.
  9. I would really like to learn bass clef any books you guys recommend? Also thanks alot for the responses!
  10. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    Ed Friedland's Bass Method Book1 (Hal Leonard), & Bass for Dummies are great books that teach the bass clef basics and continue on to much more involved & important stuff.

    Also check out this bass specific FREE site: http://www.studybass.com/
  11. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    The best way into theory based ideas is to come at what you already play. As you said going back to the start after a long time playing is a pain, but look at it this way, when we study theory based ideas we learn for any application that may come our way, in other words an applied experience of what we learned to fine tune it to be relevant.

    You are going to do to in reverse, you have the practical experience, so how does what you play and know stand up?

    Take the songs you know and break them down, see what elements are in them and learn to name them, and understand why what you play is so. You might need a lesson or two to get you to think in a different way to how you approach breaking songs down, but here on TB there is a collective of minds that can help instill that process. You are not looking at a song to play, you can play already, you are looking at a song on its merits as a written piece, not a performance piece. Yes the two are tied together because when you understand why something is so you tend to perform it better, you try and let the little nuances in a piece come out, because you know why they should come out...anyway getting deep, bit you will get after a while.

    Here on TB there are as I said many players that can give you a different perspective on the musical theory behind a song.
    So post one you can play and a little info on what you get from the piece, and how you see it work. This may seem awkward to put in words, but that's what theory can offer you, the opportunity to explain or write down what you are doing....and more importantly to understand quickly and easily what others expect you to play from just a few chord and interval ideas.

    I am sure of you want to get started on learning the process, the TB community can give you hard theory, other examples of its use in other songs, different arrangements and versions of songs etc...but they all give a different learning opportunity.

    For example take a simple song like Stand by Me, Ben E King, four chords that just go round, but why do they work.
    Here's what I know,
    The intervals used are I VI IV V, so from a scale point it is last five notes of a Major scale being used.
    So for the song in key of AMaj it has three sharps, ( F, C, G ) so that is being reinforced with the passing notes being used between the chords.
    The notes A-F#-D -E being used, so the chords should be A, F#m, D, E. This supports the I VI IV V theory on intervals, that simple harmony for a Major scale which is Maj, min, min, Maj, Maj, min, min, Maj. ( all chords as a rule are considered Major unless stated other wise, but I will name them so as to cut out any confusion ),
    So the I is Maj, the IV is Maj, the V is Maj, and the VI is min.

    So if the song is transposed into another key, as is common practice for music, the intervals remain the same,but the notes will change to reflect the new key and scale, but the chord description of it being Major, minor, Major, Major will remain.
    So the second chord is always a minor, and the notes will always be the last five any new scale key.
    Extensions to the chords can be used such as a sus4 to help support the melody of needed.
    So adding a D note in the chord makes the A and the F# sus4s, and the
    E an E 7.
    As the D is already present in the D chord, so adding a G to that chord makes is a Dsus because G is fourth scale note of DMaj ( a suspended or sus chord replaces the 3rd within it with either the 2nd or the 4th scale degree note )
    The E7 can sound a bit overbearing in this situation, so using it first and removing 7 to make it resolve quickly back to E, helps it all resolve back in to AMaj to start again.
    Most of the chords I have listed come with other names, but essentially the same notes being used.
    That D sus could also be classified as G/Dsus2..but I have never heard it called that for this song.

    Rhythm wise it has a Cha Cha Cha feel to it over a 4/4, but sort of implied Cha Cha Cha.
    So listen to the relation of the vocal to the first beat of the bar, in relation to the Guiro which scrapes that strong second beat.
    In Ben E Kings verses the vocal comes in on the 'one' of the chord change, except for the first change of each new verse to the minor, where it holds off and comes in on the two of the beat with the Guiro.
    He does it again with the placement of the word 'stand' in the choruses, where again he moves it from the 'one' to the 'two' of the beat.

    So all in all quite a lot going on before the strings come in, which is why the backing bass works so well, it does not change, it is in itself, by being so straight, helping define the feel of the rhythm of the song against the 2 of the Guiro.

    So for me that's all I need to know about the song other will offer more info, or comparisons on the use of the I VI IV V which is quite common once you are aware of it.

    So this is just one example of looking a bit deeper into the application of how a bit of theory can reinforce what you can play. In all you can explain the song to others very quickly on how to perform it, rather than trying show...."it's just a cha cha cha feel to 4/4, on a I VI IV V, with an accent on the two, make that IV chord a minor please" explains it all really in a performance situation.

    So of you can learn to think on how to break a song down to relevant parts to you and how any theory or extra knowledge is applied, then you start to build a library in you head, the more you learn and add, the quicker you can break songs down and piece them together in your head, with the best options to play in seconds.
    You also learn to hear this info in others songs, because you hear the intervals as well as the notes chords or extensions.
    In other words you build on what you use and know, rather than just learning ideas that are pointless to you.

    So post a song with what you get from it and see if everyone concurs or sees elements in it you did not realise could be there.
  12. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Simple: get a teacher. It's the best thing you can do for your playing right now.
  13. odarellmc


    Jul 8, 2012
    Good stuff, thank you for this, i had to read it a couple of times, but i get it...
  14. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Like I said, it is quick and easy to explain the chord structure, rhythm and arrangement, so long as the players have the same understanding, that is what theory essentially is, a uniform understanding of what is;
    a/ required of you, what you require of others
    b/ what you should play, what you should not play

    What you can play or not play, is not theory that is art, that is a choice.
    An A7 chord is always going to have A-C#-E-G that is theory, how you can play it is art. But make that chord A7sus4 and there is no mistake that the C# is to be replaced by a D.
    In each case there is no misunderstand of what is involved, the theory clearly defines what is required. How you can play it, well that's another matter, and that's where experience comes in and then we add;

    c/ what you can play, what you cannot play.

    or understanding and accepting that what that really means is;

    d/what you can play, what you cannot play............yet.

    To get the most from 'd' there has to be an understanding, an internalisation of many skills and ideas acquired from playing the wrong things, more so that playing the right things. We always learn more from our mistakes, that's why experience teaches us that what is a mistake in one situation, is actually a desirable action in another......but in music that is art not theory, that's why the two things cannot be really separated because one is an objective use of the other, and again that comes from experience, or a " eureka" moment that pays off, which does not require and experience, but being in the right place at the right time, with a thought or idea that fits it.

    Listen to, No woman no cry, by Bob Marley, or, Can you feel the love tonight, by Elton John, and you will hear the art of using those intervals used in Stand By Me, and what's more you will identify there use in more and more songs faster, so leaning song that use them, or variations to them, becomes easier because you know 'where to look' for the notes rather than trying to find them.........and as usual you know where not to look for them, which is just as important.:)
  15. I was in the same situation as you are in right now, and I decided to take lessons after months and months of doubt. Trust me, you will not regret it. Such an extremely big help.