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Music Books - a confession

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I have dozens of these. Bass books, books on Jazz harmony, piano voicings, arranging, orchestration, instrument treatise, guitar chords, Jazz lines, BeBeop theory, solo transcriptions, guitar transcriptions, bass transcriptions, saxophone transcriptions, trombone transcriptions, studio recording techniques, MIDI orchestration and any number of other subjects of a musical nature. I have bought all of them in good faith in an effort to develop some insight, knowledge or skill that, at some point, I felt was in need of attention. As I stand here looking at my comprehensive library of publications, I realise that I have hardly ever got past page 12 in any of them. I start in earnest and then, when it gets complicated, I bail (not consciously; I just move on to something else. My theory is clearly, if I only read 10% of each book, if I buy 10 books, then I will have read one. :lol: I have looked through my stack of books and I think there are about three that I can honestly say I have done cover to cover.

 

Is it just me?

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No, it's not just you, I'm the same. Although I use online resources I still like having a book to refer to but I've found that many of the ones I've bought over the years have explained relatively simple ideas in needlessly difficult ways so that if and wen the penny drops I end up thinking "is that it"? Modes are a prefect example, I'd spent ages trying to get my head around them and once it clicked I couldn't understand how anyone could have made such a simple concept into such a complex subject. The book that made the penny drop on modes and a few other things was actually Bass guitar from Dummies, someone bought it for me as a novelty Christmas present years ago (I'd already been playing for 20 or more years by that point) and it's perfect for my style of learning. It's just simple, straight forward paragraphs that make no effort to blind you with science, there's music and tab plus a CD to play along to too. You have to ignore the Americanisms in it and the bland humour but otherwise I highly recommend it. It's the theory book for people who don't like theory books. I've got about 3/4 of the way through it but still reference some of the earlier stuff from time to time. 

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I know exactly what you mean. I got right through the jazz theory book as I had a piano and a sequencer to hand to play/program the examples. However I remember a book about chromaticism and playing ‘out’, by David Liebman I think, (edit: ‘A chromatic approach to jazz harmony and  melody’) - I didn’t even get to page 12 on that one :)

Edited by FDC484950
Added book title

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There are some books I have gone through, but only few are interesting. An idea here or there. Some score books have gotten a new meaning because I carry them to rehearsals: I bought a 10" tablet and the software for notes (Mobile sheets pro), and the situation changed. I have scanned few of my books. When I carry them around, they get attention. Bookshelf, yes, it's an archive.

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I'm happy to admit to being exactly the same - I realise much to my embarrassment that there are quite a few books on my shelves that I've bought and never opened.

It also seems to be the books that I feel are the 'best' are just the ones that I've persevered with over the years - I don't know if they really are better, or that I've got more out of them because I've put more in...

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Guilty as charged - over 2ft of shelf space taken up by books I've barely looked at.

It's clearly a 'thing'.

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This could turn to "The best books you have bought/loaned/read/stolen/copied/whatever". These are the first three that I remember:

Standing in the shadows of Motown

Slap it! by Tony Oppenheim

Bass line encyclopedia by Tim Ferguson

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9 minutes ago, itu said:

This could turn to "The best books you have bought/loaned/read/stolen/copied/whatever".

I was thinking along the same lines, but more a question of 'Which books have you actually made it through?'

Mine would be:

Simandl - Method for Double Bass Book 1 (I found this hugely beneficial to my electric bass playing)

Louis Bellson - Modern Reading in 4/4 Time

Anthony Vitti - Fingerfunk Workbook

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Totally agree. Start in earnest working front to back but bail after a few chapters. 

I dip back in though over the years, but never in order. Levine's Jazz Theory has been back out over lockdown. 

Unlike the profilic completionist @Bilbo , I also manage to apply this same distraction / inertia to transcribing, have an absolute stack of unfinished solos, alas never seem to revisit these.. 

 

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2 hours ago, Drax said:

 

Unlike the profilic completionist @Bilbo , I also manage to apply this same distraction / inertia to transcribing, have an absolute stack of unfinished solos, alas never seem to revisit these.. 

 

There is value in partial transcription. I suspect a lot of details in a full transcription are repetitious and the actual learning is limited. My transcriptions are mostly complete to make them fun for people to practice reading (which is why I publish them). Two written bars of a lick that is otherwise hard to pick up by ear is one thing and is perfectly legitimate. Learning to read a score end to end is another skill that requires a different, but equally legitimate, approach. 

Edited by Bilbo
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Not just you at all. I could easily have written that post. So much so, that despite some amazing new books/courses coming out from the likes of Danny Ziemann, Damian Erskine, the DiscoverDoubleBass folks, Janek Gwizdala, etc - I have vowed not to buy anything new until I've finished at least 3-4 of the method books I've bought and all of the courses I've bought from Janek and DiscoverDoubleBass. So far it's actually working out great - focused me to finish the first Michael Moore method book and I'm about 20 exercises away from finishing the first Bottesini method.

But then you've gone and thrown a spanner in the works with all of your wonderful transcriptions. ;) ('Why Not!' is giving me a dirty look from the music stand.) 

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29 minutes ago, Gareth Hughes said:

Not just you at all. I could easily have written that post. So much so, that despite some amazing new books/courses coming out from the likes of Danny Ziemann, Damian Erskine, the DiscoverDoubleBass folks, Janek Gwizdala, etc - I have vowed not to buy anything new until I've finished at least 3-4 of the method books I've bought and all of the courses I've bought from Janek and DiscoverDoubleBass. So far it's actually working out great - focused me to finish the first Michael Moore method book and I'm about 20 exercises away from finishing the first Bottesini method.

But then you've gone and thrown a spanner in the works with all of your wonderful transcriptions. ;) ('Why Not!' is giving me a dirty look from the music stand.) 

I like that idea (he says, looking out the window for the imminent arrival of a new theory book). I am doing the same with the 30+novels I haven't yet read. I should do the same with my music books. 

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Ha! Don't get me started on regular books - I had to make a stack of unread books and let it guilt me into submission. And then there's the dvd's.....the umpteen gigabytes of questionably sourced mp3's....the lost folders of barely perused pdf's.....

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On 02/06/2020 at 10:15, TKenrick said:

I was thinking along the same lines, but more a question of 'Which books have you actually made it through?'

Mine would be:

Simandl - Method for Double Bass Book 1 (I found this hugely beneficial to my electric bass playing)

Louis Bellson - Modern Reading in 4/4 Time

Anthony Vitti - Fingerfunk Workbook

Louis Bellson!  my 'Bible' when I was learning to sight-read..     Hip-Hop Bass [by Hal Leonard books] is full of not-too-difficult great Bass lines..

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16 hours ago, Beneath It All said:

Louis Bellson!  my 'Bible' when I was learning to sight-read..     Hip-Hop Bass [by Hal Leonard books] is full of not-too-difficult great Bass lines..

It definitely helped me get my act together having arrived at music college with zero reading ability!  One day I'll get past page 1 of the odd-time book...

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I have found that improving my reading has opened up a lot of the books to me. I can rattle through a book of transcriptions in a few hours now, rather than spending days on one tune. 

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On 28/06/2020 at 09:05, Bilbo said:

I have found that improving my reading has opened up a lot of the books to me. I can rattle through a book of transcriptions in a few hours now, rather than spending days on one tune. 

Hey bilbo, did you improve your reading through a book or just transcribing a lot? I transcribe quite a bit but wouldn’t say I can read through a transcription without slowing it down or breaking it into sections and learning it a part at a time. I used to have a tutor who could sight read the James  jamerson book! 

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Through just reading. Transcribing helps with learning details but the discipline of concentration whilst reading charts in tempo is not the same thing at all. 

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I have a lot of books too. Bought plenty of online materials too.
 

However I am of the thought that a few ideas from one book is good mileage. It depends on what the book is for as well. A transcription book may be practiced for months, or bought for a single tune. A jazz theory book may give an overview and also be the source of just a few ideas which can be used and practiced meticulously in all keys, but not necessarily worked through in its entirety, especially if some of the ideas just don’t sound good to you.

My practice is split into 3 categories, mostly. Applied harmony/fretboard knowledge, sight reading practice, and transcription.

For now, my sight reading practice is exclusively the Jameson Motown transcription book. It could as easily be a Real Book, or another transcription book, but I must admit the Motown book is plenty of work as it is. 5 flat key signatures, I think there may be a 6 flat key signature in there (!!) lol. I have felt the benefit of the Motown stuff after just 6 weeks of sticking at it. 

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I thought it was just me!

I've got tons of books from years ago, some of which I've bailed on and some I've just not touched at all. It was the same old story - buy a book, have a quick read through it, and then slip it into the bookshelf to be forgotten. Often I buy a book because "it will come in handy when I get around to learning it", but when you have several periods of 'Step 1: pick bass up, Step 2: play it for a bit with loads of enthusiasm, Step 3: then put it down and forget about it for a few years' you end up accumulating a trail of abandoned books.

I've got a new rule as of around 2 months ago: I'm not buying any more books until I've gone through the bass books I already have. Now that I'm older I've become more patient with myself and am learning things in a more modular way, rather than in a haphazard overenthusiastic way.

 

 

Edited by TheLowDown
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it's not just you, and it's not just music books in my case. Got a stack of books to read, latest one is by Billy Connelly,all his "wee stories". gonna definitely read that one.....

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