I’ve been moving along fairly well lately; just about ready to finish Module 11. One thing that bothers me though, the thing that I think really holds me back is what I guess would be called ear. I know theory pretty well, but if someone were to play something-- I could hear the bass line, but…what are they playing? If there were a way I could tell the root note…. I get all these musical ideas that I can vocalize, but there’s a barrier between my voice and my bass. My ear? I’m just not sure what to do about it. Call response exercises?

If I could dissolve this barrier between the two, I could get really excited. But, again, I am not sure what to do. I can sight read to voice, but I can’t translate what I sing or hear into my instrument.

1 Like

The answer no one wants to hear…time.
The other answer no one wants to hear…ear training (involves singing)
The real answer no one wants to hear…both of the above.

Developing an ear takes time. Be patient with yourself. It comes naturally but ear training courses can help.


I’m struggling with this too. I finally downloaded Transcribe!.

Going through the process of transcribing songs is supposed to go a long way towards developing your ear and figuring out how to translate that to what you play.

Josh talks about this in Module 16.


This is ear.
You have the ear.

If you can sight read and know what it will sound like, you have the skills.
Do you use solfege?
If you can solfege and sight sing notes, you can put it on your bass - if you also sing the solfege of the notes/scales that you play when you practice.

Solfege was incredibly helpful for my ear development and having a place to put the notes that I heard.

Let me know if that sounds familiar, or if you are comfortable with solfege. I hope so!
Just keep vocalizing the bass and singing the things you hear. It all comes to being able to hear and reproduce the sounds.
Singing is the built in machine for it all.


I think the most important thing is to develop your ability to identify a semi tone vs a full step. Then learn 3rd, 4th, 5th , 7th and octave tones. Whatever they play on beat 1 is most likely the root note or an inversion of the root which can be found if u know your chord tones.


I guess I need to be patient…or get my bass in gear and finish the course!

1 Like

Yes! I don’t use it much because I sing a lot. Not perfect of the page, but if I work at it, I can figure out the melody in a few minutes.

The question I have about Solfege and bass is that bass is pretty low in the money note section, or do you just move up the fretboard and work there?

1 Like

Good question.
Since no one can sing in the bass range, you have to try and adapt your ear to relative pitch, rather than exact pitch.
For example, if I’m singing the bass line to Elvis’ “Hound Dog” - it would be (in the key of C):

Do, Mi, So, on repeat, four times.
I’d have to sing it at the rhythm of the song, but that’s the line.

I can’t sing it low enough to be the actual bass line, but I can sing it from C in my comfortable vocal range. I’d be an octave higher than my bass, most women would be an octave above that.
But you’re still singing from the same root, and still singing the same relationships. The octave will - hopefully - not distract you from the core bass line.

That was my solution, at any rate.


I agree. I actually tried it last night and I was thinking, “Duh! You do it in choir all the time with women!” It’s the same thing,except I am singing from above and instead of from below.

Do you recommend a relative solfege, or is “Do” is always C? Or is it just Do is the “one” of any given major scale?


I recommend whatever system you know.
I learned relative Do solfege, and sang all my minor key pieces from La.
Very American of me, as I came to understand later.

Certain genres and styles of bass might work better with different approaches, but the only one I was ever any good at was relative Do.
Go with what works!


Yep, you can be good at putting and good at driving but you still need to play golf to get good at golf.

I’ve played music for many years, I have a good ear, I have good technique and I still have a lot of work to do to improve at getting the music from my head to come out my fingers :slight_smile:


Yup, that’s it. Solfège is relative to the scale you’re in.