#1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFAW29odUPE

Let's get heated! I just saw this vid and was stunned that someone would think this. But it makes sense if I try and see things his way. I just don't know that what he says about metronomes ruining your learning is true. I probably wouldn't be as open minded about it if it wasn't for his awesome skill and knowledge. And he's also the head of his music school...

What do we think, here in the bass forum?
...it was bright as the sun, but with ten times the heat
#2
Jeff Berlin is a fantastic bassist, but he is also well known as the official curmudgeon of the bass world. I believe that he enjoys saying things that he knows will inflame passions in other people. If he did not, then he wouldn't be a curmudgeon, right? Berlin takes a very "intrinsic" approach to learning music. He believes that it is essential to develop an innate sense of timing; whereas the use of a metronome develops a sense of timing that is somehow artificial. Evidently, his gripe with the metronome applies only to using it to develop a sense of timing. I doubt that even he would argue that a metronome is an excellent tool for developing speed. The thing is; as far as I know, he has never acknowledged that some people simply do not have the ability to develop a sense of timing the way he has done for himself. He is a remarkably opinionated man and he appears (in public, at least) to be absolutely inflexible regarding his views. There is no doubt that what he has done has produced spectacular results for him - he is one of the finest bassists in the game - but he seems to promote a "one size fits all" approach to learning music. If his approach works for you, then by all means go for it. Otherwise, you will need to find your own way - and that might very well include the use of a metronome.
"Drinking is a skill and should be recognized as such!"

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Quote by Spaz91
DAMNIT FATALGEAR YOU RUINED MUH FLOW!
#3
I knew ever before I opened up the thread that Jeff Berlin was involved. As stated above he is a virulent hater of metronomes. I will add one thing, it does teach you to lock with an external beat, which is a highly useful skill as a bass player who plays with a drummer. It also can even out your groove and from there your timing can flow out from within.

We had a board member a while back who felt the same way as Berlin and I couldn't ever find the logic of being so anti-metronome.
#4
It is ironic when you think about it: for a guy who hates machines, Jeff Berlin sure loves pushing (people's) buttons!
"Drinking is a skill and should be recognized as such!"

Quote by gregs1020
FatalGear41 knows the ways of the obscure. I hear it's just not with Gibsons. Beware, Halloween approaches...


Quote by Spaz91
DAMNIT FATALGEAR YOU RUINED MUH FLOW!
#5
I'm sure he's a great bassist, but his idea here is stupid. We've all heard players that have never practiced with a metronome. We've all heard our own first attempts to play along side other people, and we've all heard the first time we try to record a track to another instrument and see how wrong we are. Sure, developing good enough rhythm to sound like you're in time by yourself, like he's doing in this clip, should come naturally once you get used to what ever piece you're getting through, but practicing it like that isn't going to help you play it along side others.
#6
Professional jazz bassist here, I can say that you shouldn't learn to rely on a metronome but metronome training is crucial to proper development of time awareness. You should learn to play perfectly to a metronome without a metronome.
#7
Quote by FatalGear41
Jeff Berlin is a fantastic bassist, but he is also well known as the official curmudgeon of the bass world. I believe that he enjoys saying things that he knows will inflame passions in other people. If he did not, then he wouldn't be a curmudgeon, right? Berlin takes a very "intrinsic" approach to learning music. He believes that it is essential to develop an innate sense of timing; whereas the use of a metronome develops a sense of timing that is somehow artificial. Evidently, his gripe with the metronome applies only to using it to develop a sense of timing. I doubt that even he would argue that a metronome is an excellent tool for developing speed. The thing is; as far as I know, he has never acknowledged that some people simply do not have the ability to develop a sense of timing the way he has done for himself. He is a remarkably opinionated man and he appears (in public, at least) to be absolutely inflexible regarding his views. There is no doubt that what he has done has produced spectacular results for him - he is one of the finest bassists in the game - but he seems to promote a "one size fits all" approach to learning music. If his approach works for you, then by all means go for it. Otherwise, you will need to find your own way - and that might very well include the use of a metronome.


This is such a great answer that I had to quote it. And second it. However Jeff makes sense in that the subdivision of the beat is more important than staying perfectly in time at the point of LEARNING an exercise or section of a song. Memory and mechanics THEN evenly at a slow tempo THEN gradually increase to full speed
Last edited by P_Trik at Jan 12, 2014,
#9
Quote by c3powil
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VRzl6Xb5OWc

Woaahhhhh... Jeff keeps on pushing those buttons!

Tabs are bad for learning music? Agree or disagree?


I disagree. I'm sure plenty of people will disagree with the first point I'm about to make, which is that sheet music is incredibly inefficient for guitar/bass. Tablature is honestly a far superior notation system for these instruments. Two people looking at the same sheet music will end up with a way different sound without being told what strings to play things on, or when to use open notes, and without being able read really far ahead of where you're playing, you often won't even put your fretting hand in a good spot to get from one riff/melody/chord to another. Tablature solves that problem, and then, at least in tab books and in Guitar Pro files, are still able to use the same rhythm notation, or dynamic markers, and so on.

As for the argument that is made that everyone should be able to learn by ear... well, yes, we should, but that's not necessarily a great idea until you've learned a decent amount. I still recall when I was a new player, I found a tab for The Beautiful people, where the main riff (D-0-6-0-6-0--0-6-0-6-0--0-3-0) was tabbed as (D-5-6-5-6-5--5-6-5-6-5--4-5-4), and my underdeveloped ear could not figure out that something was terribly wrong there. My point here is that your ear needs to be developed in other ways before you start just trying to learn music that way, and you need to be able to read SOMETHING to do that.

The one minor flaw I see in relying on tab and neglecting standard notation is that you will be unable to read music that is not intended for guitar (well, unless you tediously copy that standard notation into Guitar Pro where it will turn it into tab), and in that circumstance I would say... use your ear.
#10
So, according to Jeff, learning tabs isn't learning music. He alsos ays that tabs originated from the lute. Ergo, lutists aren't musicians. Plebs maybe (I'm looking at YOU, Sting), but really Jeff?

Never been a fan of Jeff. He's a jerk. I don't like his tone or style either.
#11
thats harsh, man
...it was bright as the sun, but with ten times the heat
#12
The positive responses he'd had to his virtuosic playing over the years have burdened him with the unfortunate side-effect of the illusion of intellectual authority; an authority which he doesn't enjoy having challenged.

Spare a Cow
Eat a Vegan
#13
One thing to remember, he runs a music school in Florida, and part of his business process is that he is going to push his "agenda" and methods.

I actually met him at a Bx3 tour date--he's approachable but really, really opinionated. His passion is there but sometimes I think he does play devils advocate just to be a devil's advocate. There's a lot of the arrogant professor as well.
#14
Quote by Macabre_Turtle
I disagree. I'm sure plenty of people will disagree with the first point I'm about to make, which is that sheet music is incredibly inefficient for guitar/bass. Tablature is honestly a far superior notation system for these instruments. Two people looking at the same sheet music will end up with a way different sound without being told what strings to play things on, or when to use open notes, and without being able read really far ahead of where you're playing, you often won't even put your fretting hand in a good spot to get from one riff/melody/chord to another. Tablature solves that problem, and then, at least in tab books and in Guitar Pro files, are still able to use the same rhythm notation, or dynamic markers, and so on.

Standard notation will show more about a piece and how to play it than a tab with to a good reader. Such as key, rhythm, tempo, time signature etc.

The notes and positions are also clearly notated such a the ledger line below the staff would be open E, the first space is open A, the middle line is open D and the top space is open G. Everything else is in between and higher or lower note would be marked by a 8va or 8vb for example. Or how a specific passage is to be played showing articulation marks to show staccato or note accents.

To me notation will by far be a go to method of playing through a song live/sight reading or in the woodshed. It is a valuable skill for bassist to learn regardless of genre for you never know when its needed.

Jeff Berlin can play good but he is a huge button pusher and say things just for a reaction I feel so I've needed cared for him much. To each their own and some people learn very differently so I do respect his approach to teaching but its not for everybody.
#15
Standard notation came about when there were no means of recording a piece. It had to show everything that the musician needed to know to regurgitate the piece of music as the composer had intended. Tablature need only show what is necessary, under the assumption that the musician already be familiar with the piece of music, rendering it more "efficient" for want of a better word.
Spare a Cow
Eat a Vegan
#16
Very true with a tab if you know the song it can be quite easy to play by just looking at the tab and doing a play through.
I sometimes get asked to do studio work for a female jazz/bossa nova and get handed sheet music play through once and hit record. If it wasn't for the fine details on the sheet music I would be lost trying to do something like that with a tab. Notation is more my thing but whatever works for me doesn't work for everyone and I'm fine with that.
#17
Quote by fudger
Standard notation will show more about a piece and how to play it than a tab with to a good reader. Such as key, rhythm, tempo, time signature etc.

The notes and positions are also clearly notated such a the ledger line below the staff would be open E, the first space is open A, the middle line is open D and the top space is open G. Everything else is in between and higher or lower note would be marked by a 8va or 8vb for example. Or how a specific passage is to be played showing articulation marks to show staccato or note accents.

To me notation will by far be a go to method of playing through a song live/sight reading or in the woodshed. It is a valuable skill for bassist to learn regardless of genre for you never know when its needed.

Jeff Berlin can play good but he is a huge button pusher and say things just for a reaction I feel so I've needed cared for him much. To each their own and some people learn very differently so I do respect his approach to teaching but its not for everybody.


Any good tab gives you the rhythm, tempo, and time signature as well. The key signature is unnecessary in tablature, of course. They also have staccato, and articulation. There is seriously nothing that standard notation can do for accurately representing guitar music that tablature can't. And the notes themselves are of course clearly notated either way, but standard notation does not in any way illustrate the position. The 24th fret of the low E string looks the same as the open high E string in standard notation, despite creating vastly different sounds. That is where sheet music fails.

Not that standard notation doesn't have it's benefits. I understand standard notation (I can't read it fluently, but I can work my way through). I can see a handful of uses, like, as I mentioned, if you want to learn a piece that wasn't written for guitar and thus potentially has no tablature. Or maybe you work in a music setting where you are writing music for people that play other types of music (in which case your motivation to understand sheet music is not even being influenced by the fact that you play guitar). But unless you are one of very very few people that are in one of those situations, I honestly find it useless.
#18
Quote by fudger
Very true with a tab if you know the song it can be quite easy to play by just looking at the tab and doing a play through.
I sometimes get asked to do studio work for a female jazz/bossa nova and get handed sheet music play through once and hit record. If it wasn't for the fine details on the sheet music I would be lost trying to do something like that with a tab. Notation is more my thing but whatever works for me doesn't work for everyone and I'm fine with that.


See. As a studio musician, it is useful because you are being handed music by people that don't play your music and thus don't write in tablature. But how many people that pick up a guitar/bass will ever end up in that situation? I admire it's usefulness in certain professions that will require it, but the number of guitar/bass players that will ever actually need that skill for anything is close to none. Also, you mention "the fine details." What are these fine details that standard notation can illustrate that tab can't? If I was to open any of my tab books or Guitar Pro files, I would see dynamics, staccato, legato, time signatures, rhythms, vibrato, and whatever else may need to be there.

Disclaimer: I'm not talking anybody out of learning standard notation. I've learned it, and I have uses for it. I'm only arguing that the cases where using it instead of tablature is actually beneficial to you are far and few between.
#19
I'd do agree about tabs being more accessible to the average user. As the musical theory needed to play off a tab is minimal at best. I don't really learn other peoples songs so I don't ever care to look at it. Most I do if I had to learn a song would be figure out the progressions, improv and hash it out by ear. Outside of guitar, bass and other liked string instruments tabs are unusable. If I tried googling cello or piano tabs Google would laugh at me

I'm not bashing tabs at all as they are a good start for the average user. Though ear training and musical theory would provide a better foundation musically as the honeymoon period is over.
#20
Having come late to the game with tabs--since I've been reading standard notation for years, they are a good shorthand on how to play a line but I don't find them horribly useful in bass. Many times they don't work for me due to either my smaller hands or the tonal choice of playing a note on one string vs another. I also sight read well, so having a standard notation version in front of me is always going to work better than a tab notation. I also find standard notation tends to be a bit more accurate in reflecting rhythm and I know what key I'm playing in from the get go.

If you get serious about studio work or go into a genre such as jazz, then tab will be completely useless since its not used and even frowned upon.

IMHO, learning both makes you a better musician and far more versatile. Being dismissive of either is an unfortunate path.
#21
Quote by Macabre_Turtle
Any good tab gives you the rhythm, tempo, and time signature as well. The key signature is unnecessary in tablature, of course. They also have staccato, and articulation. There is seriously nothing that standard notation can do for accurately representing guitar music that tablature can't. And the notes themselves are of course clearly notated either way, but standard notation does not in any way illustrate the position. The 24th fret of the low E string looks the same as the open high E string in standard notation, despite creating vastly different sounds. That is where sheet music fails.

Most tablatures I've come across have one major flaw that I've found to be make or break for me on more than one occasion. Although they give rhythm, they make no distinction between a crotchet, minim, or semibreve (that is, 1/4 note, 1/2 note, and whole note). This means that if I'm reading something that has undergone a resize, or was simply printed poorly and I have 3 notes in a 4/4 bar I'm left to work out which one is the minim. And when you're sight-reading, by the time you've even worked out there's only 3 notes there you're playing the last note.

Also looking at more classic examples of music, I don't think there's any proper way to represent a cue in tablature (that is, another instrument's part written over the top of a section of rests).

Quote by Macabre_Turtle
Not that standard notation doesn't have it's benefits. I understand standard notation (I can't read it fluently, but I can work my way through). I can see a handful of uses, like, as I mentioned, if you want to learn a piece that wasn't written for guitar and thus potentially has no tablature. Or maybe you work in a music setting where you are writing music for people that play other types of music (in which case your motivation to understand sheet music is not even being influenced by the fact that you play guitar). But unless you are one of very very few people that are in one of those situations, I honestly find it useless.

Now I know tablature doesn't force it, but it definitely encourages a lack of knowledge of the individual notes being played. That can be bad if there is an error (not as uncommon as most people think), as you possibly won't even know what note you're playing let alone how it 'should' fit into the chord.

Also tablature makes alternate positioning (alternate fretting) much more annoying. For example I read an F# and I know exactly where I can play it on each string (and the two places I can play it on trombone). You give me D|--4- and I'm going to have to remember there's 5 frets difference and work out that it's then A|--9-. And forget about swapping to my trombone on that one, I'd have to write them all out.
#22
Quote by chatterbox272
Most tablatures I've come across have one major flaw that I've found to be make or break for me on more than one occasion. Although they give rhythm, they make no distinction between a crotchet, minim, or semibreve (that is, 1/4 note, 1/2 note, and whole note). This means that if I'm reading something that has undergone a resize, or was simply printed poorly and I have 3 notes in a 4/4 bar I'm left to work out which one is the minim. And when you're sight-reading, by the time you've even worked out there's only 3 notes there you're playing the last note.


Any good tablature (and I don't mean the shoddy impressive tabs people upload here. I'm talking about what you'll see in a book, or a Guitar Pro file) absolutely does make the distinction. I haven't looked at a regular, shoddy tab that gets made here in the last 6 years or so because I know that they are horrendous, but every guitar/bass tab book I own (somewhere between 20 and 30 of them) has the rhythm accurately and efficiently notated in the tablature, and so does every Guitar Pro file.

Quote by chatterbox272
Also looking at more classic examples of music, I don't think there's any proper way to represent a cue in tablature (that is, another instrument's part written over the top of a section of rests).


Well, again, that's a good use of sheet music that will never actually be needed by the vast majority of guitar/bass players. I'm not a studio musician, and I don't play along with a non guitar based ensemble, and so I will likely never ever be handed a piece of standard notation sheet music.

Quote by chatterbox272
Now I know tablature doesn't force it, but it definitely encourages a lack of knowledge of the individual notes being played. That can be bad if there is an error (not as uncommon as most people think), as you possibly won't even know what note you're playing let alone how it 'should' fit into the chord.


"possibly won't even know what note you're playing let alone how it 'should' fit into the chord." I'm afraid I don't know what you're getting at there, to be honest.

Quote by chatterbox272
Also tablature makes alternate positioning (alternate fretting) much more annoying. For example I read an F# and I know exactly where I can play it on each string (and the two places I can play it on trombone). You give me D|--4- and I'm going to have to remember there's 5 frets difference and work out that it's then A|--9-. And forget about swapping to my trombone on that one, I'd have to write them all out.


Maybe I'm just speaking for myself here, but I don't want alternate positioning. I want precision. A tab telling me D|--4- is being a lot more precise in what it wants from me than standard notation telling me F#. Guessing the wrong position because I read from standard notation can lead to a) a very different sound than intended, and b) not actually being able to play the bit without reading far ahead to see what other notes I'm going to need to hit. For an example of A, I recently learned a song with a melody that relied on hitting the same note on different strings as part of an arpeggio. The sound of this is very distinct and important. But in sheet music I would simply see that I'm being told to hit the same note twice, and I would not know that it was meant to be played in such a way. And for a further explanation of B, imagine your playing a piece of guitar music where your notes are all based around the lower frets of b-g-e strings. A few bars into that melody you find yourself needing to pedal point that melody off of the lower frets of the e-a-d strings. If you had read in standard notation where you were not told in what position to play that first set of notes, you may have chosen to play them in a higher position on the lower strings, and then when those pedal tones pop up you'd have no way to access them. In this case, it is the standard notation that requires the extra effort of being able to read far in advance, whereas tablature never requires that of you because you will always be in the right position.
#23
A metronome is just just an incredibly stripped down rhythm section

Anyone who has done both studio and live work will know that the two are very different when it comes to timing. In a studio you will need to be locked in and may have to re-do certain parts against a click. Live you can let it fly and you will find that, unless the drummer is playing with a click track, that your timing speeds up as a band.

I agree over-use of a metronome can lead to a robotic feel but metronomes are a brilliant tool in development of timing if used correctly. I think there was another thread recently where i suggested playing with a metronome but on a very low BPM so you have to stay in time with no click most of the time.
#24
I think we should kill this thread. This is an argument that no one will win. Jeff Berlin pushes enough people's buttons as it is. There is no need to help him out.
"Drinking is a skill and should be recognized as such!"

Quote by gregs1020
FatalGear41 knows the ways of the obscure. I hear it's just not with Gibsons. Beware, Halloween approaches...


Quote by Spaz91
DAMNIT FATALGEAR YOU RUINED MUH FLOW!
#25
God, telling musicians that they shouldn't practice with a metronome is like those hippies that say kids shouldn't do homework.

Jeff Berlin has always been an angry little man.

Quote by FatalGear41
I think we should kill this thread. This is an argument that no one will win. Jeff Berlin pushes enough people's buttons as it is. There is no need to help him out.


Please, it's the first real discussion this forum has had in months.

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Last edited by ozzyismetal at Jan 29, 2014,
#26
Quote by ozzyismetal
God, telling musicians that they shouldn't practice with a metronome is like those hippies that say kids shouldn't do homework.


I hardly ever did my homework and got 9 A Levels.... Just like I never play with a metronome and nobody has ever complained about my timing. Although that might be because I played drums for 4 years before taking up bass...


Jeff Berlin has always been an angry little man.


Agreed, but still a decent bass player.
Quote by Karl Marx
Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form.
#27
I have nothing of value to add to my own thread.
...it was bright as the sun, but with ten times the heat