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The power of the metronome and tab.

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Feb 24, 2005.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    Memories of Mr. Berlin still haunt me into the need to qualify my use of the 2.

    First - I've finally come to believe that tab CAN be incredibly harmful. I trained my ears long before I think tab even existed and it's pretty easy for me to learn songs off of cds. I've learned that the more I do it, the easier it gets also. A few years ago I was only good for learning about 5 songs a week - now I can pretty much do that in a day if I really need to. I think tab can seriously hinder the development of that skill. Tab DOES however prove invaluable to me in the learning of riffs that would otherwise be virtually impossible for me to learn by ear. Jaco kinda riffs. I'm playing with a guy now, www.bumblefoot.com who has some bass riffs on his cd that are mind boggling. He was kind enough to tab them all cuz he plays with a lot of bassists, and along with the tab and my trusty metronome - it is becoming possible for me to accomplish the impossible.

    What the metronome allows me to do is take the notes of these 1 or 2 bar riffs, and play them over and over and over until my hands memorize them. I'll play a riff 10 - 20 times, rest 5 seconds and raise the speed. Keep raising the speed till I can't go anymore and then take a longer rest and drop the speed again. I do this for an hour or so - put the bass down, and when I come back to it later or the next day the riffs just fly out of my hands. It's exhilerating. It works.

    Metronomes and tab can be really great tools. Please share your thoughts and agreement with us all. :)
  2. Metronomes = t3h r0x0rZ

    t4bZ = t3h sUx0rZ
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    ?????? no comprendo, but muy curioso.
  4. Sorry, my l337 could use some improvement. :D

    Metronomes are a great practicing tool. It helps developping a good sense of time. I've read a few years ago in BP that "your time is never good enough", and I think it's true. That said, I definitely need a metronome! :p

    Tabs, on the other hand, are nothing but a shortcut that takes you nowhere. Yes, I did use tabs when I first started some 14 years ago, but I soon realised that many of them were inaccurate, especially those put on the net by some 12 year-olds with no ear training at all.

    Also, the fact that tabs contain no rhythmic information is a major bummer. Unless you have the song really fresh and accurate in your auditory memory, you'll have a hard time playing a song using t4bZ.
  5. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Pfft... Jaco by ear is no problemo.

    I have a 12 foot johnson, and people love me. I should run for president.

    [/fake ego]
  6. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I think i'm not very clear on what people consider tab. I've never ever used that internet tab that i've seen. Don't know how, for one - and I'd never trust it fer nothing. The only tabs I ever use are the ones that come in the magazines (which in my experience have pretty much always been dead on), the ones in the books like signature licks (again - dead on), and the ones that this guy I'm playing with printed out himself in real tab notation which are once again dead on. it also usually has the notes written on top of it which helps me with learning note values and rythem notations.

    perhaps there should be some kind of distinction between the 2 tabs. internet tabs remind me of cheating on tests. i just about always trusted myself more than the next guy - and I wouldn't even consider looking at someone else's paper if i had no clue who they were. that would be ludicrous.
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Joe, you can of course do whatever the hell you want to. But getting a half speed recording/playback device so that you can take off hard stuff is going to make you a better musician than relying on tab.

    Secondly, as someone rightly pointed out, tab contains no rhythmic values. It's just a geographic map of where somebody put their finger, so you know where to put your finger. So they are making fingering choices for you. If somebody handed you these lines in actual notation, you would be able to play them without EVER hearing the piece. ALL the information is there - pitch, duration, phrasing, dynamics- just turn on the nome and go.
  8. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    People have tabbed Jaco? Nuts. If a tab is necessary for the root note thumping of the popular bands out there, so be it; but, truly, I can't imagine a Jaco tab being helpful.
  9. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    A lot of people have an aversion to learning to read notation, I'm sure there are many reasons, but at the end of the day, it probably has something to do with the whole system being so patently foreign. Compared to any language really. I think that part of the appeal to Tabs is that they use our same arabic number system, so there is instantly a connect in the learning process.

    *shrug* It took me a long time to shake treble clef out of my system in regards to reading for bass. It's funny how easy it was to learn to read notation when I was a kid playing sax and trumpet, but how much of a challenge it became later to adapt to bass clef on a stringed instrument. To be fair, one of hte big reasons for this, as Ed pointed out is that htere are multiple fingerings for any given note, And furthermore I would note that it wasn't till I started really thinking about my fingerings that I really started to improve with my reading.
  10. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I really wish people would read posts before responding. My post before this one addresses what ed and jazzbo just wrote. some of us haven't been fortunate enough to have learned to read from the get-go, and as much as we try it seems incredibly difficult to learn. I still am working at it though. Tab - when accompanied by regular notation really helps me with the rhythmic stuff. I also never said anything about depending upon tab and I don't depend upon it. If you guys can figure out jaco riffs note for note without any help god bless you (and i think you're lying). with no other way to go at the moment tab for such things is invaluable to me.

    The Essential Jaco Pastorius by Hal Leonard. It has the standard notation also which is a great learning device.
  11. Thee


    Feb 11, 2004
    San Luis Obispo, CA
    Tabs are usually only a starting place for me, give me a general idea, then I work it out from there, especially when I'm short for time as it seems these days and rehersal for a bunch of songs is coming up fast.

    So yes, it is cheating, and metronomes are my best friend.
  12. i agree with joe on this one 100% when i am getting too frustrated trying to learn standard notaion and figuring everything out i fall to tab for a couple days to just keep me interested. and though i do plan to further my ability to read and understand music tab has helped. i do understand however that it can only bring you so far.
  13. Superdave


    Apr 20, 2003
    St. Louis, MO
    I started with tabs, a self taught bassist, etc, but learning to read music was one of the best things I think I did (besides getting a teacher).

    If you choose to learn to read standard notation, it also helps your understanding of the music itself, notes, rhythms, chord types, key, whatever....you can analyze notation, you can't analyze tab.
  14. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    You know you can swallow spiders when you sleep. I was joking :p.
  15. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    It can be with Portrait of Tracy.
  16. I agree, it's true. Me too i started with tabs -now i learn songs by ear (not like jaco's songs, lol, like metal songs: i'm listening to the guitar and try to make a nice accomaniment (i'm not always doing what the bassist does, sometimes his playing is too boring.. lol) - but i'm trying to learn standard notation to be able to do sight reading... but i'm too accustomed with the treble key, lol, because of my high school music classes... anyways, standard notation is so much better.
  17. Perfect-Tommy


    Mar 28, 2004
    I think one of the biggest problems with tab is that it tells you where to frett instead of what note to play. It may say 5th fret on the E string, but to people that don't read music and aren't very experienced with bass, they don't know that's an A.

    I ran into this problem with this Bach book I had. While playing bluegrass I really started to use open strings a lot. Well, the person that tabbed out this music really liked using fretted notes instead of the open string counterpart. Well needless to say this lead to much frustration, cursing and eventually throwing of said book. Needless to say, this little part of my life has lead me to realise that I really need to learn to read bass clef. I have been putting it off for awhile and it always comes back to bite me in the butt.
  18. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I guess. But, I had the sheet music and a harmonics chart. The thing I liked about that, is I'm so visual, that with sheet music I can more clearly see the harmony, the rhythm, the theory behind the melody. But, then again, I'm geeky.