A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Lesson 2: 4/8/2011 – More Notes on the E String

I didn’t get to do any additional reading yesterday in the PM, so today, I’m pushing that to the top.

Warm-up took 7 mins. I did the major, minor and blues scales, first starting on the E string, and then again on the A string. Some of them, I did twice if I messed up. So, it looks like 6 scales, up and down the neck, took 7 mins. I don’t think that’s too bad, but I’m definately no shred bassist. 😉

Ran through all of the exercises on the E string next. This included reading and playing all of them and then playing along with the CD for those last two, “Little Rock” and “Kinda Folky”. This took about 30 mins altogether. I played Little Rock with the CD a bunch of times. When reading, going from one “line” (not sure what to call the staff when it reaches the right side of the page and continues on a new staff) to the next, I was a bit choppy at first, but repeated runs made this smoother. I’m not sure if its because of memory or reading yet. Hopefully, the two of those will become one though.

I noticed that I fret harder when reading and playing with the CD than I do if I’m just running scales or otherwise fretting without accompanying music or reading. I’m not sure what the reason for that is yet. One possible factor is that when I run scales, I know the patterns and play more quickly (not too fast though). There’s less space to consider. When reading and playing, there are spaces in between notes, especially when moving from quarter to whole or half notes. I think I’m holding the string down more forcefully to keep the note ringing until the next one hits. But, enough babble.

Flats and Sharps

I went through Lesson 2: More Notes on the E String for about 25 mins today. These 2 pages introduce the concept of sharp and flat notes. Because we’re working on the first few frets of the E string, we’re looking at F#/Gb (2nd fret) and G#/Ab (4th fret).

Unlike whole notes, each of these notes has two names. The name varies depending on if you’re going up or down the neck. So, if you’re moving up from 1st fret to 2nd fret, you’re going from F to F#. If you’re moving down from 3rd to 2nd fret, you’re going from G to Gb. The 2nd fret is still there, just where it should be, and it still makes the same sound, but the note you’re coming from knows it by a different name. Its kind of like how in some cities, when a street get intersected by another (usually major) street, its called by one name on the left side and another on the right. Yeah I hate that too.

There’s another twist to sharps and flats as well. When you do either to a note, all of the rest of the notes with the same name are flatted or sharped for that measure as well, even if they don’t have the flat or sharp symbol next to them. So, if I make an F into a F# then for that measure, anytime there’s an F, I have to play F#. Its cancelled out at the beginning of the next measure though, so if to continue it, you have to sharp or flat the note again the first time it appears in any measure.

Here’s “Lookin’ Sharp“, Ex 19 from the Hal Leonard book, brought to you by PowerTab!

Ex. 19: Lookin’ Sharp

I know. That last measure line is wrong. It should be a thin line followed by a thick line, to mark the end of the song. I just don’t want to go back into PowerTab and create it over again. Learn from my mistake, padawan.

The sharps are pretty easy, but then came Ex 20. I know the note based on its position on the staff, and how long to hold the note based on the note symbol. The flat (there’s only one so far in the exercises) is throwing me off. I know what it is. I even know where it is, but I end up taking a few seconds, squinting at it and puzzling it out in my head before I play the note. I also call it by the wrong name when speaking the name of the note out loud. When playing with the CD, this makes me miss playing it in time. I’m sure there’s nothing to do about it except practice. This is where the online gamers scream at you in the chat window and say “lrn2play n00b!” I’ll flat their A’s.


One response

  1. Pingback: What are sharps and flats? « Ugly Bass Face

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