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Where to start with theory?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by aabassist, Oct 16, 2002.

  1. I can play songs from Tab and figure out stuff by listening for the notes and then finding them on the neck.

    But now i want to learn some music theory, what should i start with? if someone could list the order they feel is best then it would be greatly appreciated.

    I don't really know many scales so maybe i should start with them???

    Thanks in advance....
  2. lpbassics

    lpbassics Guest

    Jan 26, 2002
    if i were you, i would seriously try to get in a class...

    because i was you, and thats what i did, and its a great way to get ALL the fundamentals down.

    But we started with (if i can recall)

    1. Note names (formal: like c1, BB, g5)
    2. Clefs (Treble, bass, alto, soprano, bari, tenor)
    3. Scales (major, 3 types of minor, tetrachords)
    4. Rhythem (basics)
    5. Terms (enhamonic, etc la dee da)

    This was the 1st chapter basically, really basic and easy stuff, but important. I can get my book out if you want tho...

    Get in a class.

  3. just_a_poser


    Apr 20, 2002
    The major scale.
  4. alx564


    Jul 31, 2000
    Emmaus, PA
    I am still a beginner basically but I would like to give some suggestions:

    1) Start with learning the notes. Along with the notes make sure to learn the chromatic scale and the intervals between notes. This is the very basic on which all music theory is based on so make sure you have that down well. It is also good to know where all the notes are on the fingerboard.

    2) Learn both the bass and treble cleff. It is very very helpful to be able to read music. There are other cleffs that you may want to learn but I haven't found a need for them yet as a bassists but I'm sure others have.

    3) The thing I think would be the next logical step would be to learn some scales: The major scale, dominant, natural minor, harmonic, melodic minor, blues, pentatonic major and minor. Those are some major scales that you will be probably be using a lot.

    I think that is enough to last you for awhile. But you can never replace a good private teacher or a music theory class. Good luck and keep playing
  5. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    The first place to start is with a good, complete book on music theory. Such a book will be organized in a logical and coherent way so that you build from simple basics and move on toward more complex ideas.

    Of course, not all theory books are organized exactly the same way, but they all do move from the simple...such as note names (do, re, mi, fa etc.) and whole notes, half notes, etc. to the complex, such as modes and odd time signitures.
  6. Thanks for the suggestions, i am going to look for a book to buy. Anyone know a good one available in the UK?

    Also is there a website where i can get a list of all those scales mentioned in tab form?
  7. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
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  8. You might be better off not using tabs for the scales. Try learning the notes on the fretboard and, when reading your music theory book (when you get it) find the notes on the neck. This way you start to associate a note with each fret as opposed to a number, which will be much more useful for you in trying to learn theory. In the theory books that I've seen, the scales are presented in one or both of the following ways:

    1) alphabetical characters (i.e C Major scale: C D E F G A B C)

    2) standard notation (generally in treble clef in a basic music theory book. If you find a half way decent bass method book you can use the bass clef in there, which will also help you).

    Try to avoid using tablature while learning theory as it tends to be a bit of a crutch because you put yourself in a position where you don't have to learn much. At least that's what happened with me. I used tab to learn a few basic scale patterns and now I think of the scales as a pattern instead of notes and that doesn't help me understand how and why a given scale works within a chord (a fair part of what learning theory is all about, IMO). I now struggle with my theory work because of this.
  9. I played trumpet for 12 years and then due to injury I am unamble to play any more so a few months back I picked up a bass. Due to my background with the trumpet there is not much theory that I need to learn.
    I think that you should start with scales
    1) major scales
    2) minor scales
    learn the triads of these scales and also learn all of the notes of chords
    that should keep you busy for a long time when you get those done then come back
    also the thred at the top of General Instruction is a great place to look at.
  10. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Rock on, Ed. Been here like 5 minutes and you're already a supporting. I knew were ok, even for a smarta$$ :D
  11. Kung Fu

    Kung Fu

    Oct 18, 2002
    Bath, UK
    One by Dave Stewart called 'Reading and Writing Music' (something like that).

    It's not just how to read music, but includes a lot of theory, including chords and intervals and even applies them to guitar, bass and keyboard.

    It's also written in a funny kind of way, as opposed to snobby classically trained blokes.
  12. Thanks Packard, and you know, it's better to be a smart a** than a dumb a**. So I try to be the better of the two. Anyways stay cool man.
  13. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    As Bop said, get yourself a book or two, preferably a teacher to help show you the way.

    Untill you get that teacher/book you can learn:

    major/minor scales and arpeggios in all 12 keys, in the order of the circle of 5ths. (preferably in 2 or more octaves on the scales)

    as you practice you're scales and arpeggios say the note and its interval as you play it.

    that should keep you busy for a lil while at least
  14. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    Don't just learn to read. Make sure you practice it everyday. There's tons of public domain music available on the internet. Print a bunch of it out and pull out a new peice everyday and try to play it. It will be frustrating at first but you'll start getting it and before you know it you'll be able to sight read most anything in front of you. Get a few pieces in treble clef too, don't worry about playing the written pitches (if it's music for piano, violin, etc.) but work on the notes in whatever register is most practical. You know never know when you'll be playing and a sneaky composer will throw in some treble clef out of nowhere.

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