Reading Music on the Bass Guitar
When starting out, reading music on the bass cleff can be very intimidating, especially if you get used to bass tabs.
I always encourage, and in fact demand that my students start learning to read music right from the beginning because the longer you wait the harder it becomes!
Your mind has to keep track of a few things when learning to read, and I equate this to actually learning a new language.
Reading the rhythm
Reading the notes
Having the technical dexterity, to actually play what is on the page
When you learn to read a language you first start by learning the sounds of a few letters, then... how to make them into words, then... how to form them into sentences.
Think about how you read your language. You don't sound out every letter and word like you did when you were a child, you "see" words, and "see" sentences.
You instantly understand whole complete lines of text because your brain has seen those same words strung together many times in the past.
It's the same in music!
First you learn to play a few notes, and then a few different rhythms, then... how to make those notes and rhythm's into a bar of music.
Eventually with repetition you will "see" whole lines of music on the page and just understand how it will sound. Your mind and body have seen and played that combination of bass guitar notes many times in the past.
So where to we start?
First with simple notes and rhythms, and then gradually make them more complex.
We will be reading music in 4/4 time, or "common time". This is the most widely used for music and consists of 4 beats in one bar.
Let's read some music on the bass cleff
These are whole notes, and last for four beats, or, an entire BAR. The red numbers symbolize the beats and it really helps if you count, either out loud, or in your head. 1... 2... 3... 4...
These are half notes, and last for 2 beats. Again count out loud, the red numbers are when you play a note, the blue is a "place holder" you're still counting but the note is being sustained.
These are quarter notes, and last for 1 beat. Every beat you count, you play a note.
Getting a little harder now, and we introduce eighth notes.
There are two eighth notes for each beat so we can count, 1 and 2 and 3 and 4.
Remember when counting, red means you play a note, blue means sustain.
There are four notes for each beat so we can count, 1 e-and-a 2 e-and-a 3 e-and-a 4.
Now see if you can analyze and play this bass line yourself...