What the hell is wrong with me?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by OItoTHEbass, Mar 22, 2004.

  1. Ive been taking guitar lessons for the past 8 months, but I've been trying to play bass the whole time, as that's what I really want to learn. I feel my teacher is an idiot. For example, he uses these damn Wolfe Marshall Guitar Method books and they don't teach anything but how to finger chords and do really basic stuff that I knew after watching a lame video I bought. That isn't my problem though....

    For the life of me I cant transcribe even some of the simplest bass progressions. I've been working on "Out in the Cold" by the Business for the past 2 weeks and I can't seem to get it no matter what I do. I downloaded the Amazing Slow Downer but that hasn't helped at all. It's just like whatever I play doesn't sound THAT close to what the CD is playing, however it does sound almost like it. And it's not like I just haven't tried enough, I practice all the time. So what are some things to remember when trying to do this? Any tips?

  2. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    First of all (and this may sound silly), make sure you are tuned to the song. There are a couple of old Black Sabbath songs that I have to tune a touch flat in order to be in tune with the song.

    Other than that, try to find the root notes, then figure out whether the song is in a major or minor scale. Then figure out if it's in a certain mode. This part will be easier once you've figured out if the song is major / minor because major modes are only Ionian, Lydian & Mixo-lydian, while minor can be Dorian, Phrygian, Aeolian or Locrian.

    At least, that's how I try to learn songs.
  3. Ok, thanks. That seems like an easier way to figure it out. Only problem now is that I'm not sure if the bands I listen to actually use scales and such. It's 80s British punk rock... aka, Oi! (actually I listen to a lot more types of punk than that, Oi! is just what I'm mainly listening to now)

    Is it probable that the songs are just in the major or minor scales, or what? I mean, I don't know a lot about it, but I do know that there's a TON of scales.

    Also, a song won't follow a scale indefinately will it? By that I mean if it's in the Major Ionian in the key of C, will it be C D E F G etc, or can it be all mixed up?

    Thanks man, I have a lot a questions like that, just not anyone to ask
  4. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    First, find what note seems to be the center of the song. Many times this is the first and/or last note in the song. Listen for chords made using this note. The only difference between a major and a minor chord is whether the 3rd (as in Root-3rd-5th being the 3 notes making a chord) is a major or minor 3rd. A minor 3rd is 3 half steps away from the root while a major 3rd is 4 half steps away from the root.

    Once you figure out whether its major or minor (probably minor for punk and most rock) then you know what notes are within the scale.

    That doesn't mean you are limited to those notes. It should cover most of the notes in a song though.
  5. A good way to start might be to get the guitar chords and then work from there. Just play along with the chords with the root, then move on and play an argeggio of the chord then try and work it out...dont no if this will help or not....havent ever heard of the song your talking about
  6. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    Ask here, but "What the hell is wrong with me," is not the best way to get answers, but then here I am!

    Look at a newspaper. How are the titles worded above the articles. Use that style for your thread titles.

    Try to figure out what one thing you need help with, and ask about that.

    Learning is a skill. Asking questions is a skill. Wading through the b.s. here is a skill.

    Let me answer this on what I guess to be your level. Sorry if I am too basic. Yes and no. There is a ton of scales from a music theory point of view, but there is one basic pattern of notes accross the guitar or bass fretboard for the major scale, the relative minor scale, and the modes. This pattern repeats every 12 frets. You can buy a guitar with led lights that light up for one key all the notes in that key. So, we have four fingers, that span four to five frets, so we learn these notes on the fretboard in multiple patterns. Different people use different patterns. I use one set of patterns that is four fingers to four frets with five patterns based onthe caged system, and another set of patterns that is three notes per string with seven patterns based on the modes. I work on some part of these every day. I keep a sheet of paper on my music stand with all the note names. I cycle through the keys. A different key each day. Maybe not all the patterns every day.

    For most songs there is one key for a period of time. This key may last for the entire song. There may be one key change. If it is jazz, there may be key changes every four measures, with mode changes every measure. With lots of pop, punk, rock, it is one key for the entire song. This means that those led lights would be on the same frets/strings during the entire song, and if you kept your hand in one position, you would be playing one pattern the entire song.

    If you are learning a song, and you can determine the key, and the position you want to play from, and get the pattern postioned, you have just narrowed down the notes to pick from out of the pattern notes.

    You have to slide the pattern up and down the neck to lock into the key, but once you have the pattern position, you can play any mode, major or relative minor, from that same pattern. And if the song changes keys, you can slide the same pattern up or down the neck, or keep the same neck postion, and use a different pattern.

    When some people talk about a mode, then really mean the fretboard position. This can be confusing. My teacher and I talk this way. I will say I am playing in the key of F, the Mixolydian mode, but I am really not. I am playing the major scale fretboard pattern that for the key of F starts on C on my lowest sting, my 5th string. Ok, about 12 people just saw this fretboard pattern in their heads when they read that. They can see the notes, and feel the position of their wrist and fingers.

    But there is not just the stuff that is based on the major scale patterns, There are basically three important patterns accross the entire neck, one is based on the major scale, another based on the pentatonic scale, and another based on the blues scale.

    You gots to start learning those patterns. And not just spending five minutes "learning" them. I mean hours every week for years or for ever.

  7. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003

    What is wrong with you?

    1) Maybe you don't realize that your music playing skills are not at the same level as your music listening skills.

    2) Maybe you do not realize in music how much time you have to spend on something after you already "know" it. No way you "know" chords after watching a video. This is not a history class. Knowing a fact for school is not the same as knowing a fact for music. It is like the difference between microwave cooking and slow cooked bbq. Time. Lots and lots of time it takes.

    3) Maybe you want to learn songs, and your teacher thinks you want to learn how to play the instrument. Usually when one human thinks another human is stupid, human A has not considered that human B is actually very smart, but just has a different goal, or belief, or agenda. Talk to him. Take that song to him. He needs to be willing to help you do what YOU WANT to do, to satisfy your fun level, but you need to be willing to do what HE WANTS you to do, for you to get better. To get better, you are going to have to submit to some teacher, somewhere, and do basic stuff for hours and hours.

    4) You need to get to the point where you can learn songs on your own. If you are having trouble, that needs to be part of your lessons. Right now your lessons could be 1/2 learning how to learn songs, and 1/2 music basics, then later 1/2 music basics and 1/2 playing together.

    5) You are not going to get any sympathy on this forum for not wanting to cover pretty basic stuff in your lessons. Scales. Arpeggios. Chords. Get used to working on them for hours or get used to sucking.

    6) If you teacher is lame, quit. Find a bass teacher you are convinced will make you a better player.

    7) Keep working on the most difficult songs, you gota stretch, but start working on some easy songs. What music do you like? Ok, now think of the "lame" bands in that type of music, who have "sold out" and are playing the "watered down" versions of that style of music. Learn that.

    8) Find someone to play music with. If you do not have friends, ask your teacher to hook you up.

    9) There may be an eaiser song by that same group on that same CD, that you can learn, and then go back to the more difficult. While you are working on the easier song, you are learning ear stuff and learning how that band works a song.

    10) Yes, make sure you are tuned to the song. Most tuners will show how many cents flat or sharp you are, so once you get one sting tuned correctly, go to your tuner, look at the needle or light, and tune the other strings to that same value above or below normal (440). Just play up and down one string working its tuner gear until it sounds right.

    11) Learn how to work up and down one string to determine the key, and then how to play in that key at one spot on the neck. This will mean learning the major scale in different positions on the neck.

    12) Get something that has a "hold note" function. I use the Akai Riff-O-Matic. It has a hold function where you press a button and it holds out the note. I do not need this for every note, but sometimes I just got to dive in. While learning Cumbersome, working out the bass runs near the end of the song, I just could not get it. I was close, but not on. I had to use that hold function to get maybe three notes that I just could not get just with the slow down function.

    13) You are taking lessons. You are playing a lot. You are learning songs. You are frustrated. This is good. This is the path.

  8. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    This is a better question than you know.

    They may not be thinking music theory while they are playing, and you may be able to learn those songs without music theory, but there will be some type of repeating pattern of notes. Their guitars may be tuned a strange tuning, they may play notes together that you would not hear during a christmas song, but there will be some type of group of notes and tones.

    Music theory is not rules that someone came up with first, and then followed. Music theory is a description of what gifted musicians do, did, have done. It is a historical discription of what happened. The music came first. Later someone came up with the "roadmaps".

    So, if you are really really really smart and gifted at music, you can pick up a musical instrument, hear a song and start playing. You do not need to learn the theory, you have it within yourself. You can speak english without learning grammar. Don't tell our school system, but you can learn how to speak english just by speaking it. Now, my mother corrected me, but not by telling me a rule, just by saying, say this.

    Just because you can not describe the inner workings of the song does not mean that it is not there. "I don't use music theory, I just play." Yeah, you may not KNOW music theory, but you grew up listing to the radio, so your muisc will be within or against the basic rules in an orderly manner. Read that again. Within or against the basic rules in an orderly manner.

    So, since I am not really really really smart and gifted at music, I need the help of knowing some of the basic rules to help me.

    I am just writing here, is this helping at all?

    Am I way off base with what you need?

  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Just to add to this so it doesnt sound so much like a life sentence... as soon as you start doing this dedicated work, you will notice the difference in your playing and undestanding, but Tim is right, it is a never ending path - you'll always be learning, "just like in real life" and that's a good thing!

    Also, you wont be playing the basics forever - you will be able to develop it somewhat so you're not just playing C ionian, d dorian, e phrygian, etc, every day! It will get more interesting and the more you use these skills in a musical context the better it will get.
  10. wow, this has probably been my most helpful post to date. Thanks talkbass.com

    Yea, it's a lifetime of learning ahead, right? Well that's a good thing cause I got a lifetime (no seriously, Im 16) ahead of me ;)

    Tim, what I meant about the chords is that I know many of the open chord positions. I think you mean understanding them; which I don't yet. I think that a lot of the bands I listen to do change keys. It's like I can see/hear the same progression sometimes it sounds like its lower or higher pitched. Thanks (seriously) for the constructive criticism (Im not sure if this is how you meant it but it sounded a little harsh to me, which is alright)
  11. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    I am sorry I was harsh.

    Open chord positions on guitar are not going to help you much with bass.

    The point of open chord positions on guitar are that 1) they are eaiser for beginners, and 2) on an acoustic guitar, the open strings really make the guitar come alive.

    If you could start learning triads on your bass, moving up the neck, inverting the chords as you go, you will be learning some goooood stuff. CEG then EGC then GCE. Do you see how those three chord notes, "invert"? Have someone show you that. Have someone show you triad inversions all over and up and down the neck, then arpeggios all over and up and down the neck. The difference between chords and arpeggios are that with arpeggios, you can play two chord tones on one string. So, with an arpeggio, you can play CEG on one or two strings, but with a chord, you have to play on three strings, and spread them out. Think about this until you understand what I mean.

    Oh, and learning triads on guitar may not be helpful to bass playing because of the difference between the 1 2 3 strings on the guitar and the 1 2 3 strings on the bass. The bass strings are tuned to 4ths, and the guitar has a shift between the 2 and 3 string that the bass does not, so the shapes are different.

    Ok, that is theory. Now playing. Forget the chords and keys. Learn a song. Hear the notes that a player is playing on a song. Look at the fretboard. Now, those are your notes. Play the song again, with your very own bass part, using those notes, reaching deep inside you to try to hear what your inner self tells you to play. Just like before, you were listening to what the player on the cd played, now, listen within, and play the notes your soul tells you to play, using the toolbox of notes that the other player gave you. Then, reach out, and each time through, add a new note that was not in your toolbox. Did it fit? Does it belong in your toolbox for that song in that place? If not, throw it out.

    You want to be able to play what you feel, not what a teacher or theory tells you to play. It is like climbing a ladder, a little theory, a little soul. Don't leave out either part.

  12. pbd

    pbd Commercial User

    Jul 17, 2003
    Metro Detroit
    owner Procables N Sound
    Tim99-Great posts! Saying it like it is makes you want to knuckle down and get to work. You've broken it down into some great mini workouts for ear, finger placement and mind placement :)

    I'm going to go work on my inversions!
  13. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    I love the way it's your teacher who is an idiot because you're taking guitar lesssons even though you really want to play bass.

    There's some really good advice above (especially that bit about being in tune with the recording), but I think it's actually really positive that you can hear the difference between your playing and what you're shooting for. That means that you're developing your ear (a major part of playing in any style).

    I also think that it's very positive taht you're working on songs. I've seen many 16 year olds who ostensibly play and instrument but cannot play one song. I have a young cousin who gets together with his friends and "jams"- which means they play a riff for 20 minutes until it peters out. They don't know any songs. Songs are good, you're on the right path there.

    Good luck.
  14. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Another thing I want to add if I may. Bass is different than guitar. Yeah the thoery is the same but it's a different animal. I started off as a drummer. So I learned the bass is about a year good enough to play...shout I was gigging 3 months into it. And I'm not talking ridding the E string, I can carry a tune. I can't read music, just started to learn thoery and technique but yet can still play.....why? I have feel up the ying yang and my ear is awesome. I played a lot by ear at first, I just know what a C sounds like for an example. Also I understood from my drumming background to not worry about the guitars are doing and concentrate on what the drums are doing. You say when you play it almost kind of sounds like it but not quite. I bet if you listened and locked into the drummer (assuming your playing the right notes) it would sound a lot like it. Focus on the drums not the guitar. Your left hand may be fingering some of the same notes, but your right hand is hitting with the drummer. You must understand that relationship. If your passsion is bass I feel most guitar teachers will taint that for you, they are two different animals. One thing I think that is bad is when you see a guitar player trying to play bass...bad. The bass is truely the gap between guitars and drums. If anything study some percussion. Years of playing drums I would hear what the bass would be doing and soon it was ingrained in me how the drums and bass would work together (we are talking rock music). I was able to make the transition to bass easily because of that. Another thing ear training. Start off with some punk, simple stuff. If music is unavailable download tab (I know about 9 out of 10 tbers are shreaking here) but if its available and a tool use it. Practice with a metronome as well for your timing. What I do too is just turn on the radio and find some siple three note tune or a country tune and play by ear to the radio, soon you can identify notes by the sound. But you got to feel it bro, that's the key and there is no way to teach that.
  15. I love to read tabs of the songs I like and would like to learn. I know its not the best way to learn but it sure is quite a bit of fun playing along with your favorite band :)
  16. Can I just say thanks a lot tim99. You have really helped me with your posts in this thread an in other threads so I think you deserve some recongnition :) :bassist: