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Booo...playing strictly diatonically is getting boring and limiting..

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by AndyMania, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    Ok guys,

    I now notice that playing strictly diatonically is getting quite limiting and a little boring and was wondering how can I spice up my playing by incorporating non diatonic notes? I am aware of approach tones/chromatic notes but was really wondering how can I incorporate other chords/notes from other keys and bring them into the main key I am playing in.

    For example: If I am playing a "ii V I" in the key of C, what other notes can I use besides D F A C G B D F C E G B? I can only play those chord tones in so many combinations..............:(
  2. Jazzkuma


    Sep 12, 2008
    Its not simple, thats why people study theory and transcribe. But some examples could be:
    ii-7, bII7 (lydian b7), I = this is just a tritone sub on the V.
    ii-7, V7alt, I = if you know V7alt then its just a melodic minor scale starting on #V (bVI). It brings out all the tensions from the V chord so when it resolves to I on a diatonic note it releases the tension.
    You can also take a diminished approach, whole/half...etc
    There are a lot of different possibilities... the best thing is to transcribe and then analyze what they are doing on the ii-V-I 's.
  3. If you add in "approach tones and chromatics" you'll have every note.

    You already have ABCDEFG add in a chromatic approach to each

    A A#/Bb B C C#/Dd D D/Eb E F F#/Gb G G#/Ab A and that's all 12. You just need to play the right one at the right time. ;)
  4. GeoffT


    Aug 1, 2011
    Since you're talking about 4 note 7th chords, playing 4 quarter notes with no notes repeated, there are 24 permutations for each of those chords just in a single octave. So for a 3 measure ii-V-I, you have 24x24x24=13,824 possible ways to play that progression using only chord tone quarter notes in a single octave. If you really know your fretboard and can extend that to using notes in 2 octaves you can at least double that to 48 permutations (no repeats, keeping all notes in same octave), that gives you over 110,000 permutations. Now if you allow notes to be repeated, in a single octave you have 256 possible ways to play a single measure or 16.8 million ways to play those 3 measures. Add in the fact that you could use 3 or 4 different fingerings for any of those arpeggio/inversions and all those numbers get substantially larger. That is all with no rhythmic variation and straight quarter notes.

    You get the same kind of numbers if you use 3 chord tones and a chromatic below the next chord tone on beat 4. Chromatic above, that many more. Dominant approach to the next chord tone, that many more again. Mix those up and the numbers get REALLY ridiculous, just for those 4 very simple concepts.

    Another simple concept, chord tones on beats 1 and 3, chromatic approach on beats 2 and 4 will give you 11 of the possible 12 notes and 784 different permutations for a single measure.

    Are you sure you want to stick with those simple concepts being limiting or boring?
  5. Would definitely recommend you check out and transcribe some Paul Chambers basslines and solos, or even get a hold of Jim Stinnett's "The Music of Paul Chambers" book. Many of PC's solos contain a fair amount of diatonic notes, but when he does use chromaticism, it's in an incredibly hip and funky way, and his basslines are textbook examples of bop bass playing. His solos offer an incredible wealth of information and practicing material through analysis and playing certain phrases in all 12 keys, or even taking little licks here and there and using them in your own playing.

    Here's the link to Stinnett's site: http://www.jimstinnett.com/books.html
  6. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    deleted...I was on about chromatics which the OP already mentioned.
  7. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    How about thinking about melodic ideas, things that sound good, things that create tension and things that provide relief?
  8. NoiseNinja

    NoiseNinja Experimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone Banned

    Feb 23, 2011
    You can play which ever notes sounds good.
  9. Basshoofd


    Jan 14, 2009
    Check out chord tones and use chord substitutions to spice things up. For a ii-V7-i, you could for example substitute the V7-chord for something with more tension. Like a V-augmented, or a vi-diminished.
  10. bass_study


    Apr 17, 2012
    You can check out Jeff Berlin lessons on YouTube and you will get tons of ideas.

    Also someone mentioned the downbeat approach notes thing above
  11. mbeall


    Jun 25, 2003
    Borrowed and modified from another thread:


    Diatonic “Major Scale” Modes
    The first on the list.

    1) Ionian - C D E F G A B - Cmaj7
    2) Dorian - D E F G A B C - Dm7
    3) Phrygian - E F G A B C D - Em7(b9)
    4) Lydian - F G A B C D E - Fmaj7(#11)
    5) Mixolydian - G A B C D E F - G7
    6) Aeolian - A B C D E F G – Am7(b6)
    7) Locrian - B C D E F G A - Bm7b5

    Harmonic Minor Modes
    Here are the "technical" names for the Harmonic Minor modes according to Gary Keller's book which is kind of becoming the standard in teaching these days.

    1) Aeolian #7 - A B C D E F G# - AmMaj7(b6)
    2) Locrian #6 - B C D E F G# A - Bm7b5/Bdim7
    3) Ionian #5 - C D E F G# A B - Cmaj7#5
    4) Dorian #4 - D E F G# A B C - Dm7(#11)
    5) Phrygian #3 - E F G# A B C D - E7(b9,b13)
    6) Lydian #2 - F G# A B C D E - Fmaj7(#9)
    7) Mixolydian #1 - G# A B C D E F - G#dim7

    These names may seem odd at first, I know I found them strange, but once you look at the notes it makes sense. The system is designed to relate these modes to the modes of the major scale, so instead of learning a whole bunch of new scales/modes, you just change one note from the major modes you already know and you've got your harmonic minor modes.

    Melodic Minor Modes
    Sure, here's the names for the Melodic Minor modes according to Keller:

    1) Dorian #7 - C D Eb F G A B - CmMaj7
    2) Phrygian #6 - D Eb F G A B C - D7sus(b9)
    3) Lydian #5 - Eb F G A B C D - Ebmaj7(#5)
    4) Mixolydian #4 - F G A B C D Eb - F7(#11)
    5) Aeolian #3 - G A B C D Eb F - G7(b13)
    6) Locrian #2 - A B C D Eb F G - Am7b5(#9)
    7) Ionian #1 - B C D Eb F G A - B7alt


    Assuming you know and are comfortable with the diatonic stuff, move on to the harmonic and melodic minor modes and the chords that occur naturally within these paradigms. Get 'em in your ears.

  12. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    You know guys, I'm just gonna keeping reading and playing from sheet music. I still don't know how to use non-diatonic notes "at the right time". I think just reading and transcribing will be the only way for me to full grasp this stuff. I can read all the posts I want about theory but to full understand it in action, I believe can only be achieved by reading material from the masters. But thanks for the replies!
  13. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    any book on walking basslines is going to cover target notes (diatonic/scalar and chordal) and approach notes that can be above or below chromatic, scalar or dominant (5th from target tone)

    It's pretty standard fare and not all that hard to understand. Getting good at it 'on the fly' takes some time and effort.

    The Ed Friedland book covers the theoretical guidelines about as well as can be done, bit there are other plenty of other walking bassline books and transcriptions that iuplement the 'rules' in many variations.
  14. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    First you said
    So I held back. but then you said
    A lot of these posts are over thinking the common use of chromatic tones, imho.
    Its simply connecting root notes using chromatics to build tension.
    here's my compilation form other threads:

    Q: how do I use chromatic notes?

    • chromatic notes almost always have the purpose of leading to the next root note (occasionally other tones)
    • the ryhthm you use is crucial to making it 'sound right'.
    • It's useful to subdivide and syncopate the basic beat when throwing in a chromatic run.
    • for example if the basic feel is quarter notes, then a chromatic run should fall on the off beat eighths or sixteenths.
    • The dissonance+syncopation creates tension and wants to be resolved so that when you hit that root on the one, the ear rejoices.

    I always play chromatic runs with the sense of urgency. You can toss a ball in the air and simply catch it, or you throw the ball up , do a crazy break dance move that makes everyone wonder if you'll actually be able to catch it, and then pop up at the last second and catch it.

    some common runs:
    • b7-7-8 (Dom or Min chord)
    • 4-b5-5 (Dom or Min , some contexts Maj)
    • 6-b7-7-8 (dom, maj)
    • 3-4-b5-5(dom,maj)
    • 5-b6-6(maj)
    • b3-3-4(min)

    also common is leading into downbeat of a root or chord tone from a half step away, either above or below.

    A great explanation of chromatic notes in a blues line:

    A simple exercise is to pick a chord progression, and build a line that use only root notes and chromatic approaches. Ignore all other theory/scales/chord tones. Play each root for a half note(roughly) and then just run up to the next root form 3,4 or more half steps below. Experiment with timing and see what sounds good.
  15. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010

    Thanks for the explantion. I will mess around with what you said. I also remembered that the chromatic notes can be played an octave above before landing on a chord tone too, for added flavour. Now, does the James Jamerson feel revolve around alot of these concepts as well as James Brown type bass lines?
  16. Another thing to do is change how you play those notes. I have to admit that I think playing strictly quarter notes, for example, is boring to play and to hear. There are so many different ways to spice up any notes by using various note lengths and don't forget rests! You can create some really cool sounding tension and release by playing nothing (rests) on a beat (or beats) and then coming back in. What you play with your plucking/picking hand is just as important as what your fretting hand is doing.
  17. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    yes, these kind of chromatic ideas show up all over old school soul and funk lines -with rhythm being the crucial other half.
  18. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Listen to Night and Day.
  19. If something diatonic sounds trite or boring or "weird", I change it.

    One common example is changing the 7th chord (Locrian, or sometimes straight diminished) to a minor chord.

    If I'm writing a song and the chord progression comes to a major chord which I don't necessarily like, I sometimes replace key notes of that chord to make it a suspended chord.

    It all depends on the context.
  20. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

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

    1) Do not waste your time with all that "this mode with that chord" stuff. :rollno:

    2) Check this out (from a DB post).

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