Your ear; the most powerful weapon you possess in your musical arsenal.
The sad thing is most musicians don’t realize this. The ear is a special thing, and it can make or break you as a musician. If you have a great ear, chances are you will have great music. If you have a poor ear, there are more chances that your music will sound awful.
Bassists with good ears can hear what sounds good, and more importantly why it sounds good. Bassists with bad ears tend to have trouble discerning whether or not something sounds pleasant, or if it is an atrocity. This is because you have developed the key skills of relative pitch.
Every bassist has the skill, but not many acknowledge the fact. Nor do they understand that it is extremely important to nurture the skill.
In this article, we will give you some tips on how to nourish your ear to better improve your relative pitch skills.
Tuners are great for a lot of reasons; being on stage when you can’t hear, making a quick tuning adjustment when you are in a rush. They aren’t a great tool to use when you are sitting around at your house.
They rob you of valuable learning good ear training skills for bass playing.
Tune your bass by ear, using either a piano or another bass. Use an online tuner if you want; just use any tuner that makes you use your ears instead of your eyes. A blind musician is gifted; a deaf musician is nonexistent.
Once you tune up, sing. Every single time that you play a scale, sing your notes. Hold the note until you are able to match it. Whether you are an octave low or high, that doesn’t matter; it’s the ability to recognize the note and understand how it sounds that counts. A C4 and a C5 are both C notes. This means, in the long run, they are the same exact note no matter how you put it. If you can sing a C4, you can recognize a C5 without any issue.
Keep this in mind because many bassists tend to give up their ear training due to the inability to sing every pitch in existence. No one can. Don’t mope around if you can’t hit the specific C note; as long as you hit a C, you are doing your job correctly.
When you aren’t playing your bass, listen to music. Chances are you already do this. However, the chances are equal that you don’t actually listen to the music, at least not as a musician.
From now on, make it your goal to do so.
Try to decipher individual notes within a song. Start off by focusing on the most prominent voice. More often than not, this will be the electric guitar. Don’t worry that it isn’t your instrument; do your job. Try to recognize the notes being played. Once you find this easy then you can worry about the background instruments.
In the end, awareness and practice are the only ways to improve your relative pitch skills. Music is everywhere; it’s now your job to take notice.
JamPlay has thousands of video lessons that are conveniently arranged in structured lesson sets. With high quality instructions from world renowned bassists, Jamplay is an unparalleled learning resource. Whatever your genre preferences, you’ll find something here to help you improve your current level of playing.