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!  

Dissecting notes played under the chords

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by daid_ghoti, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. daid_ghoti


    Oct 14, 2009
    Hey everybody just seeing if anyone could help me with how to go about looking at the note choices played under a chord progression.

    The first thing I do is write out all the notes in the scale for the key the piece is in. In this case D so I've got D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D.

    Then I write out all the notes contained in each chord played. D-F#-A / A-C#-E / and G-B-D.

    And finally write out the progression including the numbers of the chords.

    This particular progression starts with I-V-IV-I.

    Easy as pie line with all quarter notes:

    D (the root) is played over the I
    C# (the 3rd) is played with the V
    B (the 3rd) is played with the IV
    and finally A (the 5th) is played with the I

    Then I check what notes are part of chord tones or only part of the scale.

    Whew. Am I doing this right? Is there a better process? What should I really be focusing on to take away the most from doing this kind of process with different lines? Finding a teacher is in the works but for now thank you for any help/links given. Good day.
  2. Lost you here. Not necessarily what I would do, however, if it sounds good it is good, I did not try it.

    May I suggest you decide what bass riff you think will work with most if not all of this song, i.e. a Root, or a Root-5 or perhaps Root-3-5-3, etc. Then when the D chord is being played you use the riff you decided on - lets say Root-5, which would be a D note A note repetitive riff till the song moves to the V chord then use that same Root-5 riff this time it would be A note E note in the same repetitive riff till the IV chord comes into play. At which time you move to the R-5 riff of G note D note. Understand this is just a simple step one that I have found helpful.
    Again, not what I would do, however, that does not make what you have wrong. Suggest you spend some time with http://www.studybass.com/ Or ask Google to pull up something on how to construct a baseline.

    Better still, if you read standard notation get some sheet music and analyze what baseline is being used in the bass clef. I think you will find R-3-5-3, or something similar being used quite often. No reason to re-invent the wheel...... The Lord's Prayer page 271 in the United Methodist Hymnal has two chords per measure with heavy use of root notes, i.e. R-R, R-3 and R-3-7 through out and ends with a R-6-5-6-R

    Good luck.
  3. daid_ghoti


    Oct 14, 2009
    Sorry I should have been more clear. What I am trying to do is take a baseline that is already transcribed by someone else and make sense of WHY they chose the notes they chose to play. What do others look for when studying another artists lines and what process do they use? Someone already suggested to look for how notes that create tension (outside of the scale or chord tones) are placed and resolved like hanging on the 7th before the root etc.

    Thanks for the suggestion by the way, I stop by studybass.com almost every day and am currently working through the lessons.
  4. nothumb


    Sep 20, 2006
    in that case yes you're doing it right, at least to start. when you get more comfortable with chord spellings you don't need to write out all the triads before you start analyzing; you can just look at the note and say, "oh he played a C sharp there under an A major, so that's the third," etc. what genre of music are you looking at here?

    things to consider when asking "why" a particular note was played... does choosing a chord tone over the root give the bass line itself a better melodic flow? does it provide counterpoint to the melody (i.e. contrary motion, avoiding parallel octaves, avoiding the root when it appears in the melody)? does the inversion help add tension to an otherwise ordinary progression? do passing tones used in a particular spot help to hint at an upcoming key change? etc

    you'll probably want to abandon trying to work from a single scale once you start looking at pieces that modulate (change keys)...
  5. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
    That's a pretty sophisticated bass line. Your methodology is sound, though.

    Most bass lines would hit the root of each chord the moment it's played & then do something else.

    I don't know if there are any octave leaps in that bass line, but he's basically walking down the scale within each chord. It's pretty sophisticated voice leading, but not what most bands would expect a bass player to do.
  6. nothumb


    Sep 20, 2006
    sophisticated compared to what? there are zillions of classical and jazz pieces that use lines like this. you don't hear inversions much in rock or pop music but in other genres they are quite normal. this is a very common bass progression.
  7. Ten Four One

    Ten Four One

    Dec 5, 2006
  8. Understand - that's another story and it starts with the treble clef. The melody line. The baseline harmonizes the melody line. To do that each must share some like notes. IMHO if the melody line is open this gives the baseline room to expand, but, the baseline should always augment and not compete with the melody line. And as it's 2:16 AM and I have a meeting at 8:00 AM I'll see you tomorrow.
  9. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City


    In other words, while looking at the vertical implications of every bass note can be instructional, it's almost always more valuable (imho) to look at the horizontal implications of a bass part if you want to understand what the composer or player was thinking.

    It's a bass line that connects notes in series to move from one temporal location to another, not a series of discrete events.

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.