Chord tones, upbeats, downbeats and changes

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by AndyMania, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. AndyMania

    AndyMania Guest

    Jan 3, 2010
    Questions for you guys:

    I know that beats 1 and 3 are the strongest and that chord tones are usually placed on those beats but:

    1. What about beats 2 and 4? What's good to use for those?
    2. How about the "ees ands and uhs"? What is used for the offbeats?

    3. Are chord tones ever used off the beats?

    In regards to chord changes:

    1. Are there ever more than 2 chord changes per bar?
    2. Do they always occur on beats 1 and 3? (I'm thinking of Gerswin's "I Got Rhythm")

    3. Can chord changes happen off the beat? ( on an "and" or "e")

    Thanks guys.
  2. Yes beats 1 and 3 are normally what we use, i.e. Root on 1, implies that something (5) will be on 3, however some styles of music, i.e. gospel and ballads use the 2 and 4 as the downbeat. I know, there is always an exception...

    With 4/4 time and the "ands", etc. if you are playing four to the bar it's 1,2,3,4. However if you are playing 8 to the bar, then the ands come into play. Sixteen, triplets, etc come into the picture after that.

    Are chord tones used off the beat? Yes for example a bass line of R-3-5-8. The R and five on the 1 and 3 beat and then the three and eight on the 2 and 4.

    I've never see more than two in what I play.
    There are no absolutes in music, but, normally we do not have to worry with that. Keep reading.....

    A rule of thumb I live by is one beat per lyric word. Hap-py and birth-day get two beats. Chord changes do happen in the middle of a two or three syllable word - just as a chord change could appear at the second chord in a measure.

    Which begs the question, why does the chord change? To have harmonization the melody line and the chord line need to share some like notes. When the melody line has moved on to notes not found in the old chord you fall out of harmony and need to insert a new chord that does have some of the melody notes or insert the needed harmonizing note into the old chord as an extension, sus chord, etc. Where and when that happens deals with the flow of music, i.e. when does the change fit in.

    I understand where you are coming from I had problems in 4/4 time fitting pentatonic's 5 notes into the measure, drove me crazy till I realized I did not have to include all 5 notes.........

    Good luck.
  3. AndyMania

    AndyMania Guest

    Jan 3, 2010

    Thanks for the very informative answers but I don't think I was clear about one of my questions since you didnt really answer what I was asking. My question # 2, in regards to what to use for the "ands" and sixteenth notes.......I was wondering if you have a busy solo that especially utilizes 16ths and such, are all those busy notes just chromatic/approach tones?

    The reason I am asking is when I listen to Jaco or Hadrien Feraud blister through these crazy solos, I hear many notes and was wondering what are these notes and what are their functions?

    I loved this response dude:

    This is what I have been thinking about lately.
  4. I'll have to send you to someone else on this. I do not get that involved with the ands, etc. as my music is dirt simple Country, Rock and Gospel where 3/4 or 4/4 time is about all we really get into.

    As to the 16th being chromatic, not necessarly, but, here again this is beyond what I deal in.
  5. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    When you hear a solo you aren't as tied to the harmony as say the backing. During a solo you should concentrate more on where you start and where you want to end your sentence than the role of the 3rd 16th note you played on the 3rd beat.

    It will be a mix of passing notes and chord/scale notes. Well if it is what you hear.

    Also if you really want to know is going on, you can try to transcribe it or find the official music sheet and looks each note again the chord.
  6. 2 and 4 are the strong beats.

    No, 1 and 3 are the "strong" beats in 4/4 time - Bill
  7. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Eugene Oregon
    1-2: 2 and 4 are the backbeats, Cissy Strut (Meters) good example of bass on 1 and rhythmic emphasis on backbeat.

    3-5: Yeah changes will happen in relationship to the melody, or arrangement. Sometimes there are four changes per bar, often III-VI, II-V, translates in the key of G to Bminor-Eminor, Aminor, D. This is a common turnaround at the end of 16 bar rotations. The roman numeral notation refers to the root of the chord counting up the scale 1-7, so III is G-A-B, etc.

    There's a lot music out there, after awhile you can listen to a song and hear the 'intervals', the 1-7 chords under the melody.
  8. backup

    backup Guest

    Oct 21, 2011
    Saturn, Solar System
    i intend no disrespect but answers to these questions you can find out easily by just listening to music. or at least limit these questions to specific styles as there are no general rules for music but for certain genres there are certain attributes

    strong beat differs frmo style to style. 16th feel rhythms such as in funk and reggae put much more emphasis on the 1 while slower 8th feels such as swing have strong beats on 2 and 4 ie the upbeat.
    if you play swing and you emphasize the 1 and 3 you get a very chopped of sound with no drive. by emphasizing 2 and 4 and playing on top of the beat it all starts to sound faster and more progressive.

    off beat is a matter of feeling. talking about walking bass lines syncopations and fills are placed there. but you have to feel it there is no rules for that either

    use the tones that sound good and place the m where they sound good. you play the root on the one and then you can basically play whatever you want

    and no chord changes dont always occure on beat 1 and 3. there can be 3, 4 chord changes in a 4/4bar. dont forget specific odd time where you dont count in quarter notes

    and yes chord changes can happen off the beat.

    listening to music answers these questions and gives you the feel for it. this is the kind of "theory" that is not nessecary at all you just have to feel it
  9. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    the formula "chord tones on 1 and 3, passing tones on 2 and 4" is simply a very simplified fundamental starting point for creating 4/4 walking Jazz bass lines. All those other beats matter as well, there's no rule operating. Let the melody be your guide.
  10. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA

    I remember on the Unsung episode about the Ohio Players Rock Jones explains that even though they are a Hall of Fame Funk band he was not tied to "The One" like say James Brown's band was. So even in a genre known for some signature style there will be some out there who break the written rule.
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    What do you use for the "ands"? Whatever the heck you want! Roots, chord tones, non-key tones, anything at all, really. You can make any note on the bass sound good if you do it right, even if it's out of the key of the song. Check out what other bass players do that you like. Steal their riffs when you hear some that catch your ear. Play a lot of stuff and make mental notes about what sounds good and what doesn't. After a while you will start to get an idea of what works and what doesn't.
  12. AndyMania

    AndyMania Guest

    Jan 3, 2010
    Thank you all for the responses. Especially JimmyM for getting straight to the point.:bassist: