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Author Topic: A theory on Theory  (Read 9237 times)
Manbass
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« on: June 16, 2008, 09:31:05 PM »

There is no such thing as Bass theory.   Shocked

OK, there is theory applied to Bass however, in a broad view, what I keep discovering playing live is that the more I know the application of Theory in percussion, guitar, voice, piano, arranging and orchestration, the faster I learn my instruments theory application.  In fact, our instruments role...when successfully applied...is actually a blend of all the "other" instruments in a performance context.

Since playing live regularly started for me a few years ago, by attrition I had to get handle on treble clef, arranging and the other performers theory application, or fail.

I'll stop there and read from you all....please chime in.  Oh and you "ear" players  feel free to include your take and your theory on theory.

-D
« Last Edit: June 19, 2008, 07:30:20 PM by Manbass » Logged

LeCompte Catholic Thunder Bassist
Manbass
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2008, 07:33:19 PM »

Oy...guess I'm the only one interested in theorizing about theory....(ahem)

Well Dave, I play by ear, have developed a set of postion patterns for most chord accompaniment and I find I can support the Band as well as any player.
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LeCompte Catholic Thunder Bassist
Manbass
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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2008, 07:34:45 PM »

Nice, positionally, thats a fast start for sure.  I started that way too. I have some really good practice books on that like blah...blah...blah....etc. 


(see thats how we discuss on a forum topic)
« Last Edit: June 19, 2008, 07:36:23 PM by Manbass » Logged

LeCompte Catholic Thunder Bassist
fretlessguy
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« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2008, 03:17:48 AM »

I try not to think too hard about "theory"when I play, which I do by ear most of the time these days. It makes my head hurt and confuses me.  Huh
You are right about the role bass plays in most group situations. It is the bridge between rhythm and melody,isn't it?  Smiley
Doug
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...and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16B
2bhumble (Dave)
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« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2008, 09:42:18 PM »

It seems as if you want to kill a theard, just mention THEORYShocked

At one time I jammed some with a guitarist that really knew his theory. He spent quite a bit of time explaining theory to me as we would practice together.
I dont believe I would be less of a bass player today if I knew nothing about theory. Once in a while I might be able to answer a question for someone that I wouldnt had been able to answer if I knew nothing about theory.

Knowing all about theory is a good thing if thats what you want to do. But personally I do believe you can be a very good musician and know very little theory at all. I kind of think a lot of new players believe they need to know and understand a lot of theory and this will improve there ablity to play. They want to put a lot of time into learning theory when they need to be doing the most boring thing in the world and that is working with a metronome. You can know all the theory there is, you can know every scale, but if you cant keep time you have nothing. 
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basseddie
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2008, 05:51:24 AM »

I always get a good chuckle and shake my head a lot when I read posts about theory in a lot of the bass and guitar forums out there.
Ideas like , if I learn theory, I will loose feel, or be restricted in my creativity or, such and such artist doesnt know a lick of theory and he is famous, so why should I?
Then there are the theorists out there on the boards that try to impress each other, or the newbies with there vast knowledge of music theory... I remember reading on harmoney central, some new guitar player, didnt know any theroy, asked what key Free Bird (Leonard Skynard) was in and gave the chords to the song.  It was  in G, but F is in there and is not a chord that is in the G scale, it should be an F# something, the theroist all jump in and analize the daylights out of it, saying it changes keys for that measure, etc, and what mode they would play over that chord. Really trying to impress each other it seems... well that is enough to send the poor original poster running screaming back to his tabs..

I dont know if those guys from Skynard knew any theroy at all, but you gotta remember when these songs get written, they were probably sitting aound stoned, (a common thing for musicians back then) and or drinking, and came up with the chord sequence and it sounded good to them, and gave them the feel they wanted at that point in the song.
It is like Praise Adoni, by Paul Baloche, it is in C or Am, but he throws a Bb in there, not really in the key, but it works for the song.

Everyone seems to try to overcomplicate music and music theory.. all music is is sounds in pitch and seqences that are pleasing to our ears. Theory trys to explain it all how it fits together and give it some structure.
Theory gives us a framework to work within and around, these are not hard fast , written in stone rules, they are more like guidelines.
Theory does not bind your creativity, but it sets you free.

Everyhing opened up for me when I learned to play bass, I got a couple of bass books, (David Overthrow's) and they explained how scales were constructed from the chromatic scale and how the chords were constructed from the scale. Since we are bass players, it is important to know this stuff. It all started to make sense to me...why is a C chord a C chord, what makes it a minor, or a seveth, stuff like that.
Then there is the sight reading stuff, still working on that, I can read, but slow, not enough practice. Learning the fretboard opens up a lot of creativity, as now you know where you are, dont have to stop and think of were you are and where you want to go.
Also as Dave said, metronome... you have to be creative here, but if you can find a simple drum track to play along with, so much the better.
Im not sure what I am really trying to say here, but you do not need to know a lot of therory before picking up any instrument, it is an ongoing life long experience, and there is always something new to learn, and will surly make you a better musician, and be more in demand.
A little theory can go a long way in my opinion...

ed
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Manbass
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« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2008, 09:04:16 AM »

Nice post ed...I agree heartily.
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LeCompte Catholic Thunder Bassist
2bhumble (Dave)
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« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2008, 10:23:25 AM »

A very good post Ed. You summed it all up very nicely.
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1954bassman
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« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2008, 09:12:39 AM »

I feel that anything we learn concerning music, helps make us a better player. A better understanding of theory, chord structure, beat divisions, rhythmic patterns, etc, etc, has to make one a better player. just don't forget, rules were made to be broken (in this context)  Wink
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Bass with Grace
embellisher
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« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2008, 12:08:14 AM »

I flew by the seat of my pants for over 20 years, self taught, no theory, 100% by ear. And I got by OK.

But in the past 8+ years, now that I am learning theory, I am a much more complete musician than I was for those first 20 years.

It amazes me, the number of people that I play with, that are competent musicians, but have no desire to learn theory. It's amazing, to me, to have to explain chord construction or intervals to a pianist or guitarist who are better musicians than I am. And even more amazing when they can't fathom what I am trying to tell them.

If I had studied an instrument starting back when I picked up the bass, I can't imagine how much theory I would know today. And how much better of a player that I would be. Knowledge is power. Fear of knowledge is ignorance.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2008, 12:09:57 AM by embellisher » Logged
ii-v
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« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2008, 11:05:37 PM »

I flew by the seat of my pants for over 20 years, self taught, no theory, 100% by ear. And I got by OK.

But in the past 8+ years, now that I am learning theory, I am a much more complete musician than I was for those first 20 years.

It amazes me, the number of people that I play with, that are competent musicians, but have no desire to learn theory. It's amazing, to me, to have to explain chord construction or intervals to a pianist or guitarist who are better musicians than I am. And even more amazing when they can't fathom what I am trying to tell them.

If I had studied an instrument starting back when I picked up the bass, I can't imagine how much theory I would know today. And how much better of a player that I would be. Knowledge is power. Fear of knowledge is ignorance.

Sometimes I read threads like this and do not know where to begin, but the quote here helps me chew on my tongue and move on. Good post Embellisher.
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Eddy
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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2010, 08:23:15 AM »

The way I was taught:

Every one uses "music theory" even if they are unaware of doing so.
Music theory is really the language of communicating what is to be played, or being played.

When you work with those who understand some theory, it makes communicating the concept easier.
IE, this is a I IV vi V chord progression.

Everybody has heard this, played this, and in modern P&W music you could recognize this straight away becaus eit's used a lot (a lot is understated).
By saying it's a  one, four, minor six, five pattern I'm using theory, even if it's very simple/basic.
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mousekillaz
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« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2010, 03:42:21 PM »

lots of excellent replys here. I think theory is a helpful tool in the tool box . It can help you open up different ways to play and arrange songs. some of the best  players I ever played with knew no theory but knew their instruments very well. I  know just enough to understand why things work or don't . As bass players our job is to create texture to the music with  rhythm tone and harmonious
foundations... or not
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Eddy
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« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2010, 08:08:30 AM »

As bass players our job is to create texture to the music with  rhythm tone and harmonious
foundations... or not

My bass instructor has said often, "You learn the rules in order to know how and when to break them."

A super, simple illustration of this: To play "in key" the I and IV chords typically have major 7s, while the V chord has a dominant 7. In the blues, you use the dominant 7 for everything.
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CRBMoA
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« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2010, 09:36:04 AM »

When I was in college, my bass instructor held a Doctorate from Julliard. He was a harsh task master!

We had a sight singing/ear training course in which we were required to play music on paper pianos. That's right, 8.5 x 11 photocopies of a keyboard! Shocked

His method was to teach us to hear in our heads what we saw on the paper.

If you cannot hear the difference between a major fifth and a minor sixth, how can you play it?

Great! That was 25 years ago. Let's talk about real life.

Am I doing math every time I play live. Nope!

The BEST analogy I have heard regarding being able to read music and theorize, and to PLAY music comes from a professional guitar player (go figure).

He was explaining the difference between reading music and playing music. He said:

"If I read a prepared speech in front of an audience, I am demonstrating the ability to read. If I get in front of an audience and speak for 10 minutes about a specific topic, then I MUST know something about the topic." paraphrase

When you are having a conversation with someone, I bet you don't think in your head, "I hope I remember how to make the 'H' sound." You know how to speak, and the words flow. You also don't try to compose a sentence in your head, you express your thoughts because you have been communicating with words all your life.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.

Practicing does not ONLY mean you, F. Simandel and a metronome. Playing in a rehearsal is practice. Playing in church on Sunday is practice. Singing in the shower or the car is practice. Day dreaming at work is practice.

...........puts down the espresso..................backs away from the keyboard....................
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