So How Do I Get to the Next Level??

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by timidbassist, Aug 3, 2005.

  1. Here is my delima. I have about 5 years experience on bass, and am kind of in a rut. I have been in high school concert band so i know VERY basic theory from that such as reading music fluently and what not, and I am in an elite area jazz band that is getting me to be a lot better player because of the in depth music, but I havent learned as much about theory as I thought I would from it. I am also in a pretty well established rock band so I have played lots of different styles, but want to bring my level or performance to the next level. I have purchased many theory books to learn about major, minor, augmented, diminished, dorian...yata yata, and I just cant get it all in my head. Like I said I have had high school education of music and some jazz theory pounded in my head, but I can get this stuff down. How can I learn this stuff? I can memorize scales all day long, but what good is it going to do me? I want to learn what makes different scales and modes important, and how to use them. How do you learn this stuff besides reading confusing books? I would like to make playing bass my career one way or another, and for all of you out there who are at the professional level I would just like to know how to get there? Since I have 5 years experience its not like I'm not ready for the in depth theory and stuff, I just dont know how to learn it. I dont want to ramble on anymore in this post because every one more line this thing looks less people are going to want to read it so this is it for now.
    Thanks in advance for any help!
  2. Gigging, Gigging, Gigging. PLay with other as much as you can and experiment. Nothing makes you better than playing with others that are better than you.
  3. Well, for starters, you can post in the correct forum... :)

    But seriously, find a good teacher. He or she can assess how you play and find out the areas that you need to improve. You can't get that from a book.

    I remember being in a similar situation a few years ago. I had played bass for a few years but was in a rut, so I decided to take formal lessons. I found that I had improved a lot even after my first lesson, because my teacher had evaluated me and started me on a new approach to the instrument based on my strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    For what it's worth... You picked the instrument because you were inspired by some player or music out there. Learn the material that got you jazzed to begin with.

    There is software out there, one is call the Slow Gold for PC and The Great Slowdowner for Mac, that will let you select passages from any CD or MP3, loop them, slow them down without changing pitch. This is the greatest thing since sliced bread. It's like having your favorite player show you every one of his licks, showing them to you at a speed you can handle till you got it. Fingering is on you, of coarse. Somethings will be demystified instantly.

    Always good advice to get a teacher as that lessens the learning curve.

    Go see alot of great bassists. Alot can be learned by watching and talking to other bassists. Most are happy to talk. (not shortage of chatter around here..Har)

    Also, very important, ask yourself what do I wanna do with your bass? Is this a hobby, do you wanna be the next hot session hired gun who can read anything. Really learning everything about music is a lifetime committment and is not for everyone. Maybe you just want to play a few tunes with some friends.

    Any thing worthwile doing is hard. Bass is no exception. Aim high. Practice, Practice, Practice!!!! Then practice some more...or not. Have some fun. Life is short.
  5. Take or sit in on music theory class at a college.
  6. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Fo sho, get a teacher.
  7. learn different stytles that you havent played before since you play rock learn Motown or funk or some soloists and transcribe his style of playing this will help with your ears another is since you know your scales can you sing them in your head ie:try this play the starting note but before you play the next note sing it then play it this will help you in your improvising
    Good tip from bassman which gigging helps stamina plus in learning to play as a team member as your quite prof. at reading first sing the piece that your'e about to read in your head then practice with your bass after you've read /sung it does it sound like what you heard in your head if not go back to learning to sing your scales
    As well as this keep practicing your technique slap,pick,finger etc...seperate with the nome of course do this daily but don't spend to much time on it learn the musicianship first the rest will fall in place as time gradually goes by
    So the moral of the story is get to a stage where you can hear lines without the use of your instrument and can also picture it in your head remember one famous person said BASSPLAYERS are hired to HEAR fast not play fast
  8. dhadleyray

    dhadleyray Guest

    Dec 7, 2004
    IMO, don't beat yourself up too much. Practice and gig at every opportunity, but different people progress at different speeds. If you try to rush "your" natural abilities, you could suffer burnout. That would defeat what you're trying to do. Work hard, but be realistic, speed is not what your aiming for, "taste" is. Be a thinking bassist with harmonic AND melodic tendencies.

    Oh..., have fun learning, the trip is half the fun! :cool:
  9. I agree with Jace!

    And remember: Music "Theory" is a great thing to know, and I encourage every aspiring musician to learn the basics at least, and learn to site read if they can. But the absolute crux of being a bassist in ANY genre is feeling, soul, a sense of when to play and when not to, feeling the grrove and locking in.....again I emphasize that I mean no disrespect towards musical puritanism....but its the stuff burning down inside you thats really doing the screaming to get out...and when you begin to tap into it, you will find yourself on a level you never imagined!

    Best wishes!
  10. kserg


    Feb 20, 2004
    London, UK

    Biggest mistake I ever made so far was stopping going to my teacher... Had to stop because i didn’t have car that would make it or funds... I am trying my hardest to start going again, probably start with in next 2 weeks since i do have a nice jeep now and will have a job with in a week... but yeah... I think its very much worth it:) If anything you can go once or twice to see if it helps you or sence if it will help you at all:)

  11. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    A good teacher can show you how to get over barriers.
  12. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    You have to kill the boss of this one first. Once you do that, then your victory dance, you'll just appear at the beginning of the next level. Honest! Oh wait...

  13. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    The other option is to is say "I'm happy with the level I'm at",

    and just maintain what you've got.

    You sorta get to this type of thinking... eventually.

    Another good exercise is to find the biggest theory

    book you can get, and re-write the whole lot, in you're own words.
  14. Tingly


    Jul 16, 2005
    Yonkers, NY
    I think a good teacher might get you to the next level quickly.

    However, I tried to take a close look at what you wrote and it seemed to distill down to this: "I just cant get it all in my head...I have had...some jazz theory pounded in...How can I learn this stuff?...I want to learn what makes different scales and modes important, and how to use them...How do you learn this stuff besides reading..."

    A very basic thing that MAY help, if you haven't already done it, is to try to apply some of the stuff you have tried to learn, in a way that will best highlight the theory involved.

    Here's one method. I'm sure you can devise others. Record a particular progression, or use a specific CD with a chord progression on it, and repeatedly play different scales and modes over it, at different tempos, to try to get a feel for the different "moods" they set, or the differing resolutions they imply or offer.

    The idea is to standardize one thing (the progression in the above example) so that the differences in all the "major, minor, augmented, diminished, dorian" stuff STANDS OUT, by contrast. Repeat them or give them you own names, classify them, diagram them, anything necessary, until they make an impression on you that lasts and that you can utilize to improve your playing and your understanding of musical relationships.

    Practical exercises like that, although time consuming, could go a long way to "bring to life" the advanced theoretical ideas you need and help you remember and apply them.
  15. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Something else I've been thinking about.

    Todays bass players are multi-talented, multi-skilled, and mutli-tasking.

    Here's some ideas to take you to the next level:

    -web page development
    -teacher training
    -sound engineering
    -business management
    -organizational management
    -team building
    -Instrument manufacture
    -Instrument sales
    -Instrument repair
    -software development
    -multi-media developement

    The list goes on. I think todays bass players are more than just musicians, they're many things.
  16. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    Exactly. Just because I read a book about how to play tennis doesn't mean you should be looking out for me at Wimbledon! Theory is great, it allows you to communicate and stops you from wasting time reinventing the wheel. But if you don't or can't use it, it's junk. So as Tingly is saying, you have to apply what you learn directly to your playing. If you can't or don't, then you don't 'know' the theory, not in any worthwhile way. imo. I also think learning to solo will really help, even if you have no intention to actually step up and take solos. It will make you look at chord progressions and think about alternative approaches.
  17. Man you guys have some great advice. I am looking into much of the stuff you guys have said and it is definetly helping me get an idea of what I want to do.
    Thanks alot!
  18. stagger lee

    stagger lee

    Jul 11, 2004
    this is an aproach i use when learning a new scale or scale/chord combination.

    get a loop of the chord that the scale goes with(i personally use the autochord thing on my keyboard. the thing that makes it sound like a whole band's jamming on that chord, an added bonus of this is you can transpose it easily as well) and just noodle around a bit with the scale over the chord. try to get an idea of which notes give it it's distinctive sound.

    next loop a short progression with the chord you're studying and another one. for example if i was learning the melodic minor scale i'd have a G7/C-maj7 thing looping over. try to get the lines you play over the chords flowing well so you can tell when the new scale is being played but it doesn't sound stilted or out of place.

    the next thing is to either loop a full progression or find a song where you can use this scale over one of the chords. again try to make the outside scales fit in smoothly.

    this might seem like a waste of time for you, i don't know, but it's the method i use and it has the advantage of getting the sound of the scale rather than the theory of it into your head.
  19. CJK84


    Jan 22, 2004
    Maria Stein, OH
    I disagree.

    It sounds like timidbassist has already been exposed to the academic side of music theory, but lacks the practical application of theory.

    timid, pick a particular song that you like and figure out the bassline as closely as possible (as well as the chords that the bass line supports).

    Or pick a particular line that you've created for a song that you play in one of your groups.

    Then analyze the line from a theory standpoint. Work to understand how each note played fits into the chord that it supports and how that chord fits into the key (or tonal center) of the song.

    Are there tonal modulations? If so, how far has the key "moved"?

    At all times, I am aware of the theory behind the note I'm playing - whether it's a note from the triad being played (and where that triad fits into the key) or a non-diatonic passing note.

    Although I am pretty slow at reading music, I consider myself musically literate (and often more literate than some who read music but have seemingly little undertanding of music).

    It sounds like your understanding would be enhanced by analyzing lots of songs this way. Otherwise a note might just be a note and you may not understand why it seems to fit.

    Good luck.
  20. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    Modes? They simply help you to know the fretboard?