2008-06-01

Classical Bass

Here’s the tab for Bach’s “Minuet in G”, arranged for bass guitar in E:

Minuet Tab

It’s written based on hazy memory, but I think it’s mainly right. And, as tabs only include 50% of the information needed to play a song, here’s an MP3 of what it should sound like (more or less):

Minuet MP3

I’m always surprised when I hear that another tab site has been closed down by threats from the music industry, because tab sites actually work in favour of the industry. Music essentially consists of two pieces of information: pitch and duration. Standard notation supplies both of these. The vertical position of a note on the stave represents its pitch, whilst the note glyph itself (ie. the picture used; I forget the technical term) gives the duration. Guitar tabs give pitch but cannot communicate duration, so it is essential that you have the original recording in order to make sense of a tab (unless you know the original recording really, really well). You could argue that, given the notes, you could eventually work out a timing that sounded reasonable. However, this is easily countered by pointing out that most tabs available on the internet are almost always slightly incorrect, frequently contain obvious mistakes, and occasionally include such massive, showstopping blunders that they become little more than vague starting points for the guitarist’s own tab.

In summary:

In order to read the Sweet Child o’ Mine tab, you need to own a copy of Sweet Child o’ Mine.

Thus, guitar tab websites not only encourage musicians to learn their craft (where would the music industry be without musicians? Perhaps that’s a stupid question…), they encourage music sales too.

My wonky bass

Anyway, I don’t play the bass very much, mainly because it buzzes like crazy whenever I try to do anything with it. The bass I currently have is an ancient (up to 21 years old, I discovered today, with at least two previous owners) Aria Pro II SLB-2, which Aria themselves disavow virtually all knowledge of ever producing. Aside from being listed on their “we made these in the dark ages” product archive page, it doesn’t exist.

Fortunately, I’ve got a Fender Jazz Bass on order. I’m giving this one away to a pal as soon as the new one turns up.