Chordy stuff..

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by Whafrodamus, Jun 13, 2004.

  1. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Now, I was instructed in classical piano for about 11 years, trumpet for 7, and I'm trying to apply all my knowledge to the bass. I also mainly play jazz/funk/swing. I just purchased a real book, and I've seen this before but don't really know how to read this. I know this is mainly for piano chords, but I see D13sus, Ami7, E7(#9#5). I was never really instructed on thisl.. Now, I know how to read these, but I really don't know what they mean. Ami7 is the A minor 7th.. Not knowing how to really read these has impacted my walking ability, and I was hoping you can help.

    Are there any good resources just to quickly catch myself up with this chordy stuff? I don't want to spend my money on lessons, because I really don't need them. I just need a really quick and direct resource on chordy stuff.

  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    many of these chord changes are "jazz" changes. To develop good walking lines over each of these chords, you really must understand how each chord functions (Functional Harmony) and know the scale that each of these chords comes from. Unfortunately, there is no way to "quickly catch up." There is a great book, entitled, The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine. It is very comprehensive. I believe it is available from

    D13sus is based on a D dominant chord. You will have the D, G(sus4), A, C, E (9th), B(13th). You alos have the 11th (G) but that is also the sus. If we look at the notes, we have D,E,F#,G, A, B, C and a mixolydian would work well.

    Ami7 is an A minor 7th chord (A,C,E,G). It is difficult to know what scale to play as we do not know how that chord functions. Is it a tonic minor chord, part of a II-V? Until these questions can be ansewerd, we cannot determine the proper chord scale.

    E7(#9#5) is based on an E dominant chord (E,G#,B,D). The notes in parens, tells us that a #5 is subsituted for the perfect 5 and the chord also contains a #9 (E,G#,B#,D,F##). This chord comes from melodic minor harmony -which is a chapter in and of itself. The scale that woould be used is the "Super Locrian" or Altered Scale: E,F,F##,G#,A#,B#,D,E

  3. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    The first thing you need to do is decipher the chord symbols. I see Mike has addressed some of that, in addition, Amin7 = A C E G, which translates to the root, b3rd, 5th and b7th of a scale like A major, though this chord is more likely built from a scale like G Major(2nd degree of the scale), F Major(3rd degree of the scale), or C Major(6th degree of the scale).

    More generally:

    Where X = any note i.e. the root

    XMaj7 - X 3rd 5th 7th

    Xmin7 - X b3rd 5th b7th

    X7 = X 3rd 5th b7th

    Xmin7b5 = X b3rd b5th b7th

    Xaug or X+ = X 3rd #5th

    Notice that they are all stacked thirds. If you can play the chords as you see them on the page then you know them, if you can't think of them as stacked thirds which is something you've seen in standard notation i.e. notes all on the lines, notes all on the spaces stacked on top of one another.

    One way to get started with walking lines and this is just a starting point is to play the root 2nd 3rd and 5th of the chord you see or root 7th 6th 5th or the chord you see. Let's say we have the following four bars:

    | Amin7 | D7 | GMaj7 | G Maj7 |

    | A B C E | D E F# A | G A B D | G F# D B |

    | A B C E | D C B A | G F# E F# | G A B D |

    This will result in a passable line because you're approaching each chord with a note that's a whole step away.

    You should begin to spell out each chord you see and be able to play it on your instrument in all inversions.
  4. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    When my paycheck rolls in I'm sooo going to order that :).