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Sight Reading

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Bassin4God, Jan 10, 2020.

  1. Bassin4God


    Jul 27, 2015
    Is reading chord charts like found on iReal Pro considered in the same category as sight reading.
  2. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member


    sight-reading a chord chart is not the same as sight-reading bass clef notation. that said: if you can sight-read changes = you're way ahead of many and the skill is probably good for a lot (most?) of playing circumstances/gigs. but the term "sight-reading" refers to notation. (bass clef for bass instruments.)
  3. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    Agreed. Reading chord charts is a great skill to have, but "sight-reading" means reading notation.
    DJ Bebop, interp, TolerancEJ and 3 others like this.
  4. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    "Sight reading" means reading notation and playing at tempo with proper timing the first time you look at it. Being able to read standard notation isn't even sight reading. I can sight read simple passages. I cannot sight read complicated passages.

    English is my native language. I can read a passage out loud regardless of the complexity as fast or slow as needed and understand what I read. I can understand and read a lot of Spanish. I cannot read it perfectly if I try to read quickly and I won't understand what I said. The latter scenario is like reading music while the rather is like sight reading music.

    Likewise, if someone posted an ad looking for a bassist that could sight read, and you show up being able to sight read chord charts and tablature, you won't likely be what they are looking for.
    RocknRay, DJ Bebop, JC Nelson and 5 others like this.
  5. Bassin4God


    Jul 27, 2015
    Any recommendations on where I might start i.e. books or websites
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Transcribe your favorite songs. Learning to write will also improve your reading.
  7. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    Also, just get any book of music you want to learn and start reading. It will be slow and painful at first. There are several beginner bass books that would start with simple passages and work toward more complicated passages. Just choose one that doesn't have tablature if it causes you not to use the staff.

    The Best Method Books for Bass Guitars ⋆ Hear the Music Play
  8. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

    Apr 2, 2013
    Just get your hands on as much sheet music as possible (online and magazines are fine) and practice reading it. Slow with a metronome at first, and gradually work your way up to where you can sightread at tempo.
    Pacman likes this.
  9. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    If someone posts an ad for a commercial bassists with sight reading skills, there is a good chance they will want someone who can read standard notation and chords. Many bass parts are written in a way that requires you to read both. If you can't do both, IMHO ask for clarification.

    If someone wants you to read TAB or Nashville numbers they will generally specify TAB or Nashville numbers. I never saw TAB as a professional and was only exposed to Nashville numbers once or twice. However in some circles, Nashville numbers is very common.
    DJ Bebop and Nevada Pete like this.
  10. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Nashville numbers is just a chord chart that can be used for any key.
  11. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    True but I can read chord charts. I wouldn't know where to start with Nashville numbers.

    Here's an example from Crunching The Nashville Number System The link explains how the system works for anyone who is curious.
    DJ Bebop, Nevada Pete and AGCurry like this.
  12. MichelD


    May 19, 2014
    I've been trying to improve my reading skills so that i can more easily study bass books teaching walking bass.

    A series I found on the 'net is this:

    Unfortunately, it is incomplete, but it's given me back the basics.

    I had no music schooling until grade 12. I lived in a small town and our high school had no music program until my last year. I Learned to read a bit of treble clef to play clarinet, but that was just less than one year nearly 50 years ago. I have since tried to get better reading treble clef, but it's become easier with Internet lessons.

    This has helped too:
  13. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan DNA Endorsing Artist Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    No absolutely not. Sight reading is reading notes on sheet music where the notes tell you the pitch and the rhythm. Chord charts are just "chord charts". They are just a guide telling you what chords are played there. The chord charts are like a skeleton whereas real sheet music is like a completely developed, mature body.

    With chord charts, you follow a framework. With sheet music it tells you exactly which notes to play, when to play them, and how to play them (dynamics).

    Big difference.
    DJ Bebop and IamGroot like this.
  14. James Collins

    James Collins

    Mar 25, 2017
    Augusta, GA
    I would start by saying there is no unified Nashville numbering system. There are different versions of the Nashville numbering.
    Gabbs, DJ Bebop, Nevada Pete and 2 others like this.
  15. Nope. Sight reading means reading standard notation at first sight. Something you’ve never seen/heard before. Reading standard notation slowly, figuring it out note-by-note, is also not sight reading. That’s just reading standard notation.

    If a gig requires “sight-reading,” you should assume they mean they will put a song in standard notation in front of you and you can play it correctly at tempo the very first time through. IME.
    bassliner50 likes this.
  16. NOLAbass1960


    Dec 14, 2012
  17. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    I get charts on the gig all the time with some sections containing only chords and other sections containing only notation. What am I doing then? ;)

    Remember, there are also folks who sight read who are lost when the notes disappear...different skill sets. Best to have both.
    That looks like a bit of enhancement to the basic Nashville numbering system with some notation hints thrown in to boot, but it makes sense at first read. If it were that different everywhere, odds are it would not be used so widely.
    Nevada Pete and Wasnex like this.
  18. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    I have only come across Nashville numbers a few times and both times what I was given looked pretty much like the example I posted.

    Although I am slow at it, I can make sense of number systems such as I vi ii V. But honestly the Nashville numbers looked like gibberish to me. Our music director scratched out a standard lead sheet, and we were good to go.
    okcrum likes this.

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