A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

SSRFB 02: Simple Notes – Exercise 1

So, its the middle of the night and I can’t sleep again. For the past 1/2 hour, I went over exercise 1 in Simplified Sight-Reading for Bass. After a few runs, I stopped and chopped up the exercise on the computer and removed the note duration count from it. This way, I’m forced to see the notes (whole, half and quarter) and read them for duration instead of subconsciously looking for the count above each as a crutch.

This is what it looks like with the note duration counts removed, and with the extra space between each set of ledger lines removed, to make it a little shorter:

Simple Notes -  Exercise 1 with count removed

Simple Notes – Exercise 1 with count removed

I noticed something. When I count out loud, I don’t make any mistakes. Whole notes get a “1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &”, half notes get a “1 & 2 &” and quarter notes get a “1 &”. I remembered to include both the upbeat and downbeat for each note this time. However, when I try to count in my head, I make mistakes on bars 7 & 8 and 15 & 16. It seems to happen when there’s a quarter note leading into a half note.

Its interesting how having to vocalize the count forces me to accurately keep time, but when its just my head I move too quickly for some notes. I think that repetition will eventually cure me of this particular ailment, but its something I didn’t know I suffered from. I always had a fairly accurate count when working against a clock or timer – like when I’m heating up milk for the baby, I keep a silent count in my head of the seconds that pass (1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, etc.) and I’m generally dead accurate. Apparently, this doesn’t translate to upbeats and downbeats. So much for daddy skills.

[edit] I should probably be using a metronome when I do these exercises. Rhythm is very time-centric. But, I’ve not been doing that. Anyway, I just ran the exercise with the CD track a few times. I think Josquin said that he starts them at 50 BPM. At that speed, and with the CD track, I made no mistakes. I know I’m counting faster when I do it without any accompaniment. I did it a few times without the CD after getting used to it and was able to replicate it with no mistakes again. Working at that particular tempo definitely made a difference. Ok. On to that blues lesson in the HLBM now.

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