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Alternative Pedals and Substitutions

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Pacman, Jun 23, 2003.

  1. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    My piano player really digs it when the bass player uses a lot of pedals, as it opens up the possibilities for him.

    Now, other than the obvious pedal 5 on a ii-V, and pedaling 1 through the A section of changes, etc, etc, what are some pedals that you guys like? What's the theory behind them?

    One that I dig is pedaling Dm through the A section of Bb changes so that when you hit the D dominant at the 'B' it's a great release.

    Hit me with your best ones!
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    If you have made a decent mental analysis of the key centers involved in the tune you're playing, you can pedal across each entire key center as it occurs if you choose ,...the easiest and neatest choice is a Dominant pedal, but other choices can work as well depending on the context (i.e.: on "Miss Jones", you could pedal C across the entire "A" section since all of the harmony is organic to Fma, [assuming you don't use or honor the 1/2 step sideslip reharm in bar 7 than many folks make a habit of playing] ). What I like about using this approach (and I use it far more sparingly than I used to) is that it allows you to play a "global" game of "target-approach" with the following key center or chord - i.e.: if you are pedaling the dominant in C (G pedal) and the tune modulates next to Eb (Dom Bb pedal), you can "target" the Bb by adding "passing" pedal tones between the two. Obviously, diatonic is easier on the ears, but chromatic can work as well if the vibe is right.

    What's good to keep in mind in these situations is that you can either "target" the specific chord that comes with the next key change, or the dominant of the Key itself. This gives you multiple "targets" to shoot for, so if you get burned out on one approach, you can try the other. If I haven't been very clear in this reply and you want more examples, let me know.

    Great topic. :)
  3. For me, a little pedal goes a long way, maybe two, three times in an entire night. Otherwise, it feels to me like a contrivance. I like to come out of a pedal ostensibly 'wrong', e.g., on Chris's Miss Jones, at bar 15 the whole world is expecting an F, but I go off the pedal C with a half note of B natural against the F (Cm7) chord, the line being half notes B/Bb/A/F to Bb of the first chord of the release. Or maybe not. Depends.
  4. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    I've just searched and can't find anything explaining pedal tones to the uninitiated. Can someone direct me somewhere where I might get an introduction? Thanks.
  5. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Johnson Outboard:

    This "pedal" deal they're talking about is playing one bass note over some chord changes. That's called a pedal tone, and when you're doing it, you're pedalling.

    The term derives from something piano or organ players do with their feet, don't ask me what, I play things with strings.

    This is a cool thread, I'm learning here...
  6. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Another cool one (I was supposed to be asking here...), but I love the sound of the 4th against a minor chord, ala G against a Dm7. When taken to the extreme, you can play 1 and 4 against a minor chord or just the 4th.... on a tune like "Blue Bossa", this can make for some wild alternate harmony on the front half of the tune - if your piano player catches it (thank god for mine...) - mine does, and loves it!
  7. A low register 4th under a minor is one of my favorites. It's a hip ending.
    As with the pedal, when and how often a device is used is important, otherwise the surprise factor wears off and the sound is perceived as gimmicky.
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah, that turns it into a Gsus. So you've reharmonized the ii7 chord as the corresponding Vsus. Which is cool, and works well for a pedal - because you've got the tension of the sus chord with pedal, which you then release.
  9. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    This much I figured, but I'm still a little unclear. The idea is to play a single note over a chord progression? And this creates a tense feel that will resolve into something more consonant? Or am I totally wrong about that "playing one note over several chords" part? Thanks.
  10. Think "under" several chords and you've got it.
  11. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    To date folks have been exploring pedal points. Pedal-town is a cool burg, but it's only one of the suburbs of the Greater Substitution metropolitan area.

    Here's a modest excursion to another neighborhood, Turnaround Town. This little minor-blues turnaround was brought to life by Senor Corea in Matrix off of the landmark Now He Sings Now He Sobs:

    Flat-6 7th | Major 3 7th | Flat-9 7th |Major-7 7th

    which in the key of C-minor means you play the last four bars as

    Ab7 | E7 | Db7 | B7

    Go boldly forth!
  12. Taylor Livingston

    Taylor Livingston Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    Oregon, US
    Owner, Iron Ether Electronics
    You mean, you don't play lead DB? ;)

    Thanks. I've just tried some of these pedals, and mostly just tried to get a feel for coming up with them. It's a pretty useful tool, that I hope to use once in awhile. I wish I had a better looper, so I could do more complex progressions, though. I'm generally afraid to venture down here; I'm glad I came out without a scratch. :)
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Interesting as the above may be, substituting bass notes isn't limited to pedal points by any means. The whole subject of the "ii-V-I" as relates to pedals brings up an interesting point: namely, that the reason it is so easy to tie this progression together is the fact that it already is together. The ii and the V are only minor variations of each other harmonically, to the point where there is very little functional difference between a "Vsus" chord and a "ii-7" chord. It is common when walking lines for a ii-V to simply walk a line for the dominant chord over the entire ii-V, i.e. - walking G7 under a D-7 to G7 chord change. In this way, a "pedal point" becomes a "pedal line".
  14. Which is why this particular application of 4 under a minor is kind of tame. It has more effect when the minor is the tonic rather than the ii7, or the 1m of a ii-V-i.
    7/3/03 A clearer way to say it is to play the 4th under a minor when the minor is the resolution of a cadence, wherever it happens.
  15. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Can one of you explain the term pedaling for me please. I think Ive got an idea, but Ive never heard the term used before, (other than effects pedals and things of that nature) so I just want to play it safe.
  16. ladykiller:
    A pedal is a single tone played in the bass while other parts above play independently, both harmonically and rhythmically. It's one of many devices for creating tension and release.
  17. A little music, like a picture, can be worth a thousand words. Check out Coltrane's version of "Body and Soul" on the Atlantic release "Coltrane's Sound" (and on other Coltrane releases also, I believe).

    I am sure others here can refer you to numerous other widely distributed recorded examples.

    The Coltrane Body and Soul example pushes what can be done in jazz with a pedal to an extreme. Throughtout the entire A section, with the exception of one or two bars, while the piano ranges through all sorts of chords around a Db major center the bass just pedals an Ab, using a very repetitive rhythmic figure. VERY powerful effect, which as Donosaurus says can sound overdone these days if you use it all night.

    In that particular period of Coltrane's music he and his rhythm section experimented widely with this concept, and the album I mentioned is rife with other examples. At the time, their brand of re-harmonisation and extensive bass pedal use sounded quite leading edge. Today, its more or less a standard part of the vocabulary, to be applied from time to time as good taste and judgement requires.
  18. For those who were asking, just thought I might add my two cents to the whole pedal thing. Perhaps it's implicit, although no one has really mentioned it. The other aspect of pedaling is the fact that it changes the rhythmic content. When you stop walking to focus on one note, you don't continue to play quarter notes on that one note. Instead, you are now freed up to try different rhythms - either a repetitive figure, with some variations, or a completely improvised and non repetitive approach. In the latter, I often tend to think more like a drummer, and try to follow the phrasing of the soloist - punctuating between phrases or accenting key spots within a phrase. And you don't have to play just the one note. You may add other notes around it, as long as the chosen note remains the most prominent focal point.

    At any rate, this activity may become more intense over the course of the pedal section, serving to spur the soloist on, and eventually providing the big release when you go back to walking.
  19. Oh, and I forgot to mention - perhaps the most common rhythmic device to employ with a pedal tone is to play on beats 2 & 4 only (half note on beat 2, quarter on beat four tied over to a quarter on beat one of the next measure, and so on. You get a really suspended feeling because the strong harmonic beats (1 & 3) are left unplayed.

    Just be careful not to turn the beat around!
  20. Do you mean pedal C through the V chord before the two bars of Cm7? If so, do you still play C on the 1 of the next bar (Cm7) or another chord tone?