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Hello,

Since I am not familiar with composing (bass) guitar at all, I would like to ask some questions:

  1. Do (bass) guitarists prefer notes notated in the TAB or treble (sounding an octave lower) / bass clef? If it is the first: how does TAB work and how can I compose for the (bass) guitar in the most efficient way?
  2. Are there any special effects and how are these to be notated in the score? Examples of how these effects sound are really appreciated.
  3. Are there any limitations that I should keep in my mind when composing for the (bass) guitar?

I am looking forward to your response!

Maarten

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The only thing I can say is that bass guitarists don't play double stops/chords often, but they're not impossible. I would also say that bass guitar music is generally notated in the bass clef. It is very likely to be a transposing instrument by the octave, but I'm not certain.

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For ease of notation, bass guitars write one octave higher than concert pitch (like the contrabass)

14 hours ago, ilv said:

It is very likely to be a transposing instrument by the octave, but I'm not certain.

 

Edited by aMusicComposer

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On 9/30/2017 at 1:20 PM, Maarten Bauer said:

Do (bass) guitarists prefer notes notated in the TAB or treble (sounding an octave lower) / bass clef? If it is the first: how does TAB work and how can I compose for the (bass) guitar in the most efficient way?

I'm a guitarist (never played a bass guitar, but I'm familiar with that amazing instrument!) and personally, I prefer a sheet which included both notes and tabs, in treble clef. You know why? Because tabs can help me to find the correct position of the notes on the neck. Let me explain this, if you want to play a high E , you can play open top string, or 5th fret of B string, or 9th fret of G string. Guitar shredders and soloists, use the G string one to compose/play because everything they do is there (between 10th and 24th frets). But in songs like "Nothing Else Matters" you can easily find that high E note is played on open high E strings.

Also, I love notes, because first they can help me become better in music theory and score reading, and second, I can find correct timings. For example, recently I was practicing theme from "Papillon" and when I found sheet music (which had tabs), I was the happiest guitarist in the world :grin::grin:

On 9/30/2017 at 1:20 PM, Maarten Bauer said:

Are there any special effects and how are these to be notated in the score? Examples of how these effects sound are really appreciated.

This is a bit weird, but I can show you examples of tabs which have effects included :

https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/sunn_o/richard_tabs_1857348

In this tab, you can clearly find that you should use a pitch shifter pedal. Also, you should note that your song/solo is played with pick, fingers, slapping or bow (real bow or electronic bow). But, there's no musical way for them, just note in your score.

Good Luck :)

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For bass, I think it would be ideal to have a staff in bass clef 8vb along with a tab. I'm not sure what notation program you're using, but I know musecore does allow you to copy and paste from a regular staff into tab. It does tend to produce non-idiomatic fingerings though, so I typically have to edit the tabs. 

I'd recommend including notes explaining any notation you use for special effects, as there's not (to my knowledge) a particular standard for notating bass guitar techniques. That being said, I would just use typical symbols from stringed instruments for things like harmonics and slapping (Bartok pizz). Guitarists often move between notes with slides and hammer-ons. If you wanted to notate those, I'd use glisses for slides and slurs for hammer-ons. However, you could potentially leave those sorts of choices to the player's discretion. 

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