1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Bass note not in guitar chord

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Kabal, May 24, 2011.

  1. Kabal


    Nov 8, 2007
    I'm trying to put the finishing touches on a song and wanted to know if anyone could help me with this. I don't know how to speak theory very well so sorry if it isn't entirely clear.

    Can the bass be playing a note that's in the right key of the song but never lines up with a guitar chord that also has a B?

    For example my bass line starts on B. The guitar progression starts with D#G#A#(low to high) but the bass B never lines up with a guitar chord that has a B in it as that progression goes on.

    Is this kosher or does this fall into the category of "its music so do whatever as long as it sounds good"?
  2. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters

    The chord you describe - B, D#, G#, A# - is a BMaj7 (add6). There's no F#, but it's not necessary.
  3. teleharmonium


    Dec 2, 2003
    It's not entirely clear from that info; but, there is no rule or convention in pop music requiring the guitar voicings to include the roots, nor the bass to always be outlining the roots. It's common in jazz for guitarists to omit roots and other chord tones when they know a bassist or pianist is going to handle them, and it can lead to very cool, sparse arrangements if done well in other kinds of music.
  4. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Fonzie says "AYYYYYYYY"!

  5. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate

    Aug 14, 2009
    I'm practicing an original by a guy in our church (Key of G Major).

    The intro starts on E, but none of the guitar chords are the E chord. Keep in mind that E is one of the notes in the Key of G Major
    (G, A, B, C, D, E, and F♯).

    The bass musician also plays some unwritten notes between chords (here and there) to make it interesting during this song! The song writer gave me the lesson (and music) around lunchtime, today.
  6. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Maybe it's actually in E Minor - E, F#, G, A, B, C, D, E.

    But from what you've stated, there's not a lot to go on: "The intro starts on E, but none of the guitar chords are the E chord."

    Are you saying that the first chord is E Major (E, G#, B), E minor (E, G, B) or there is an E Pedal while other chords sound OVER the pedal?
  7. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate

    Aug 14, 2009
    You might be right! The song writer is not a Pro, and the various guitar chords are:
    D, Em, C, G, D/F#

    I'm not sure if the D/F# chord appearing in one bar is meant for one guitar to play each, I did not ask.
  8. What happened to all the sharp chords? You are not telling us all the story. Little hard to help with out the correct picture. OK if you - and every one else follow the chords you can not go too wrong no matter if they make musical since or not. Looks like they do all stay in key - pretty much.... Gather your bass line from the chord's tones and change to the next chord as the song progresses. If all of you do that you are going to be OK.

    I....ii....vii. IV..I
    D, Em, C,.. G, D/F#

    The D/F# is a D chord with a F# bass note added. We play the F# and leave the rest of it to the guitars. Most of the time the guitars play the D chord and leave the F# note to the bass player. That out of the way......

    You asked about the intro starting with the E note and there not being an E chord. I'd have to know a little more about what follows that first E to answer your question. There is an Em chord, but, I doubt this entering into why the intro starts with an E.

    The thing about starting with the B note. B is the 6th note in the D scale. The 6th note is neutral; I can see this as a lead in note. You say "Your bass line starts with a B note." Meaning what you are playing from or did you decide to use the B note yourself? Your thinking about the B note not falling in any of the chords as one of the major triads is sound. But, it is still one of the notes in the D scale so it will not sound bad, perhaps not great, but it'll do.

    The C is not in scale - C# is in the scale, but, that is done all the time.

    There are all kinds of things that can be done, knowing just what you have told us we have to assume what actually is happening. Back to your OP...
    See my note on the B being a neutral 6th note - it fits, would like to know what follows after the B note .... to really answer your question. I'm sure there is more to this than the songwriter just happened to start with the B note and it just happened to sound good.

    Wow, that rambled. Not sure that help at all.
  9. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters

    I think you have combined TWO different posters into ONE single poster.

  10. Kobaia


    Oct 29, 2005
    Denton TX
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amp Gruv Gear and Mono Cases
    I have an article coming out next month that deals with this exact issue. Look for it in next months Bass Musicians Magazine
  11. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    These are called "slash chords" (or in some cases "inversions") and they are common in many styles of music.

    The chord symbol is on the left of the slash "/" and the bass note is on the right. So for example D/F# means a D chord with F# as the bass note, Emin/B is E minor with B in the bass, etc.
  12. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: FretNation.com
    An advanced player (Piano / Guitar) will voice chords without the root note in it. This can open up a lot of things musically.

    And in general, the bass player has control of the chord.
  13. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
  14. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I never heard that terminology before. How is the chord controlled? I mean if you are playing with a keyboard there is no guarantee that you will be the lowest tone.
  15. SLaPiNFuNK

    SLaPiNFuNK Commercial User

    Jul 28, 2006
    LA California
    The Brains: FretNation.com
    Playing with a keyboard player that is pounding out the roots in his left hand will give you no musical freedom as a bassist, he may as well be playing walking lines and you are stuck playing a long.

    An experienced keyboard player will not be doing that (depending on the form of music, there are some where you want the keyboard player doing the above, but not many)...

    Say the chord is C Minor 7... The piano player voices it Eb Bb D G Bb Eb (nice sounding Jazzy chord)... When the Bass player focus's on C, it sounds like C Minor 7.

    If the bass plays Eb only, the chord now sounds like Eb Major 7

    If the bass plays G only, the chord now sounds like a G Minor

    If the bass plays Bb only, the chord sounds like a Bb Major w/ 4...

    There are tons of different things you could do as a bass player with one chord or chords in a progression (like a ii V I) that will make it sound like a completely different progression without the other players doing anything different. But if they are playing the root as part of their chord comping, it most likely wont sound too hot.

    Its basically chord substitutions...

    A practical example...

    Say the progression is...

    C / / / | D-7 / G7 / | C / / / | (I / ii7 V7 / I)

    if the bass player plays E / A / | D / G / | C / / / the progression now looks like iii vi / ii7 V7 / I ... And the piano player / guitar player doesnt need to change a thing...

    There is a whole world of options that can open up with bass root note substitutions... But you have to know where and when they work and what notes.... Playing with musicians on the same level, they will pick up on this and play off what you are doing...

    Another thing is Pedal notes... You can "Pedal" on the 5th of the key you are playing Blues in for example... Say its a Bb blues... you could pedal on F and it will completely change the tone of the tune.
  16. Minotauros


    Nov 23, 2009
    Yes, it's fine. It's a nonchord tone.
  17. teleharmonium


    Dec 2, 2003
    Conceivable, but without further info, the most obvious assumptions would be that the first chord is BM7 add6 (meaning the bass is playing the root that the guitarist is omitting), or that it's a G#minor (where the guitar voicing has an add9 and no third, 5th on bottom) and the bassist is implying relative major by playing the third (making it a chord tone).
  18. teleharmonium


    Dec 2, 2003
    Sometimes... not necessarily. Context is everything. Some familiar progressions are practically indestructible no matter what the bass player does; and how effectively you can reharmonize is related to everything else that is going on. A big group with a couple of chordal instruments can make the roots hard or impossible to override.

    IMO it's an ever present danger for musicians to make theoretical assumptions about the way audiences hear music. It is absolutely possible to hear, for example, a D7 above and an F# in the bass and not hear this as an F# diminished (with an extra minor 6). If the D7 is the V7 chord in a 12 bar blues played by a band coming around for the 11th time through the tune, there is nothing you can play on the bass that is going to change the way that chord is parsed by the ear; what you'll sound like is a bassist hitting the third, which is quite different than reharmonization.

    Familiarity from the context (in this, but not every case) easily overrides what the same notes would sound like played together outside of a song.
  19. Bredian


    Apr 22, 2011
    Learned a lot of chords as a jazz guitar player - maj7, min7, 6, dim6, ma/mi9, 11,13 and variations of. You listed to old charts, whether bassists or soloists, plenty of 1/2 step changes and transitions. Check this link for stuff I didn't think about. You likely can find any note you want in a chord.

    Here's a good link for advanced chords : ChordFind.Com - Guitar Chord Finder

    But really, you can trust your ears.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.