#1
Hey UG, I've got myself into a pickle.

I've recently started at a new school and have taken it's large music department by storm, playing bass (very well, as I've been told) in several ensembles and projects, so much so, that the head of the department took interest.

Long story short, I've been drafted into the school's orchestra playing the bass guitar on certain songs.

Now, several problems occur:
  • I can't sightread bass clef.
  • I've never played in any group larger than a five piece rock band.
  • And finally, this stuff looks crazy hard.



I have three weeks over Easter break to learn my parts to two songs and see how things go. I really want to make this, but I definitely need some help.

The two songs are: "Symphonic Highlights from Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" and "John Williams: Soundtrack Highlights".

Can anyone who's ever played bass in an orchestra give me some pointers on where to start and/or some quick ways to master bass clef? The time changes and signatures are giving me a hassle too.

Any help is appreciated!

Thanks all!
#2
Sounds exciting, good luck
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Apr 2, 2012,
#3
All my usual approaches have failed me.
Why is orchestral bass so soft in recordings?! D:
#4
1. You won't be able to sightread bass clef in 3 weeks.
2. I don't see that as too much of an issue.
3. It looks carzy hard, but you're not sure yet because you can't read the music.

So,
a) Learn how to read bass clef. (Google will help)
b) Use that knowledge to work out how best to play these pieces on your instrument.
c) Practice (hopefully you can practice with the orchestra???)

I can almost guarantee that it'll be a struggle.
#5
You surely dont need to sightread in three weeks, you just need to procure the sheet music and write it into tab, which you could learn to do without too much difficulty (and using a program like GuitarPro could make it quicker).


Quote by Myshadow46_2

I can almost guarantee that it'll be a struggle.


True, It'll certainly be a motivation to put in the study required to learn to read, although you could try take shortcuts by making tab in the meantime. (I geuss cheating in an orchestra is a fair bit harder than in a pop band lol)
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
Last edited by Hydra150 at Apr 2, 2012,
#7
Look on youtube for the actual songs and practice along and see if you can match the bass notes. As long as you know the song off by heart, you may not need to sight read the music as you go along.
MY METALZ YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Quote by angusfan16
Okay UG where's my refund and free xbox. I need It for my 80 yr old grandma. She needs a new flower pot
#8
Learn upright and don't be the lame guy playing electric bass in an orchestra.


On a less patronizing note, just learn the songs, go over them with a teacher. If you are struggling really badly you might be out of your league.

When the time comes to perform make sure to look at the conductor to take cues, he'll definitely cue you in and if nothing else, at least you'll enter at the right time.
#9
Quote by zooloo99
All my usual approaches have failed me.
Why is orchestral bass so soft in recordings?! D:


Its played on a double bass

Some marking you'll have to ignore, such as
-arco (meaning bowed)
You'll have to play it all pizzacato (plucked) if your using an electric guitar

Other marking could include
-sempre con sord
Or something similar, this just means 'with mute'

For learning it write it out in tab if your more comfortable

If you want I could tab it out if you have the music, but i could only do that tomorrow as i'm then away, but give a go yourself, try reading bass clef, it'll help you in the future
#10
Learn to read the bass clef and then PLAY ALONG WITH THE RECORDING! This is so helpful with timing issues and time signature changes. With practice, you'll anticipate the changes because you will have learned them from listening to the recording. Please trust me, I know these things.
#11
As others have said, don't transpose it into tab, learn to read music! You'll thank yourself long term.
Quote by corduroyEW
Cheap amps are "that bad". They suck up your tone like cocaine at Kate Moss' party.


I am Michael!
#12
Quote by tubab0y
As others have said, don't transpose it into tab, learn to read music! You'll thank yourself long term.

While we can all agree with this, he has to also think about short term - If I were him I'd learn to read music (he is in a position that would motivate anyone to study hard), but in the meantime he cant and will have to bluff it for a month or two so tabs could be a way of getting by while he is learning.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#13
Right from the beginning, I said to myself I wouldn't tab it out.
I never got around to reading bass clef and I guess now comes the time.

@geo1450: Thanks for those markings, I was wondering what they meant.

I guess it's just going to be a hell of a lot of hard work, but it'll be fun.
In any case, if I'm having trouble, I'll just tell the orchestra teacher and he'll understand, the orchestra have been practicing these pieces all year and I get three weeks :P

My biggest problem apart from the bass clef is knowing when to come in, since there's a number of bars I have to wait for, and it's in unusual time signatures half the time (3/8 and 12/8).

Anyway, thanks for all the help guys, its seems a lot more possible now!
I'll let you guys know how I go
#14
Do you know how to follow a conductor?

When counting multiple rests, listen to the orchestra and pencil on your part where certain instruments come in so you don't get lost.

If the orchestra are gonna rehearse before you join, try to get a recording even if it's just your iphone - I use my iphone all the time to record rehearrsals!

Check your part for any 'exposed' passages, or solos - get these worked out first. When reading your part pay close attention to everything - the amount of times I've skimmed through a part thinking 'oh that looks easy' then got to rehearsals and found out it's super exposed!!!

Good luck mate.
#15
If you can’t sight read, that’s fine. Try working out each note and the fingering patterns. Break each section down to 5-10 measures each and work on them slowly, one at a time. If one section gives you trouble, come back to it later and take it even slower. I do recommend you learn to read the notes, but if you’ve only got 3 weeks time, tablature may be your best friend. Then you can come back to it later.

When playing it groups, it helps to know what the other section is doing, for placement. But I’m assuming you have no idea and the rule of thumb is it’s more important to worry about your own part. Let the others take care of theirs. The conductor should be the only one you’re paying attention to. Ask for cues and pencil notes into the music.

(This is coming from a violinist who converted to electric bass. )
We're all alright!
#16
Quote by Matt.Guitar

When counting multiple rests, listen to the orchestra and pencil on your part where certain instruments come in so you don't get lost


+1

Very good advice, For example, why count 35 bars when you know there is a french horn entry 2 bars before you play!!!

I have the advantage of when playing clarinet I don't need to count, the section principle will bring us in, but for you i'm guessing your the only bass, so you have to count yourself, you can't rely on other players

Also watch your conductor/director carefully, if there is a place your not sure when to come in, ask them and the'll give you a cue. Watch them for any tempo changes. It might take a while to get to know a conductors style, how he will beat bars etc. But you'll be fine after a while.

On the first rehearsal the power of an orchestra will hit you, my first time playing in an orchestra blew me away,the sound is amazing (providing your in a good orchestra)
#18
I think the tougher part of reading sheet music isnt the reading anyway, anybody can read a few scales, and know the notes... its translating that to you're instrument that gives most people trouble anyway, especially when theres weird key signatures
#19
cool thread.

I havent read sheet music since I played some piano as a kid, but if you can read tab and your musical you will get it lickety split. Just remember Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always!

Also be up front about your desires and limitations. If this guy asked you its because he thinks you can succeed. Im jealous... enjoy the project.

Best advice is like these guys said.. play along to the music. Find some of the root notes to changes and label them on your sheet music so it helps you follow along. Right the notes on the sheet music if you have to! It will only help. Enjoy... this is a super cool thing I think
he of tranquil mind