Double & Triple Stops

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by ISO Groove, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. Hi Guys;

    I'm pretty new to bass. I've searched the archieve and can't find the answer. What are double & triple stops, how do you create them, when do you use them, and what are some recorded examples?

    Thank you.
  2. Sarbecue Boss

    Sarbecue Boss

    Jul 9, 2006
    there may be some guys that can answer this a little better, but a double stop is playing two notes of a chord and with those two note vaguely determining there tonality

    Fm Fm Fmaj Fmaj
  3. and triple stops would just be adding one more note, making it 3 notes out of a chord, or a triad.
  4. ExaltBass

    ExaltBass Just a BassGuy! Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2006
    Twin Cities, MN
    "Walk on the Wild Side" - Lou Reed was my first exposure to double stops and IMHO still the classic.
  5. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    Why are bassist calling two- and three-note chords "double and triple stops"?? ...Just curious, I've never done that...
  6. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    My guess. When you finger a note you stop the string from vibrating its full length. Fingering 2 strings, double and 3 strings, triple.
  7. doesnt everybody call 2 note chords double stops :confused:
    We call them that in orchestra class on every instrument...
  8. BlimpPilot


    Sep 22, 2006
    Because, traditionally, a chord by defined as 3 notes or more played at once. 2 would be a double stop because you're stopping (depressing) two strings :)
  9. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    As I understand it, a double or triple stop doesn't have to be a chord, but rather can be any interval-I use 4ths 10ths and octaves a lot for doubles. Check out Herbie Hancock's Headhunters album-there's great use of bass 10ths on watermelon man, if i remember correctly.
  10. Otso


    Mar 6, 2006
    The infamous power "chord"...
  11. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Stop comes from stringed instument players before frets existed...when a violin stops an A, he's playing an on the G string (rather than the 2nd fret.)

    There are a lot of ways to play chords on the bass -- basically limitless, but there are good places to start. The first would be to just get used to playing in the key of C, the triad would be C E G.

    You can play C, E, and G in ANY octave and any combination. So you could play:

    You can also move these shapes up and down to different keys. So:
    C -> C E G
    F -> F A C
    Bb -> Bb D F
    Eb -> Eb G Bb
    Ab -> Ab C Eb
    Db -> Db F Ab
    F# -> F# A# C#
    B -> B D# F#
    E -> E G# B
    A -> A C# E
    D -> D F# A
    G -> G B D

    Play around with those for a while and just try and get different sounds. What will also sound good will trying it with minor triads, and mixing those sounds. The minor triads would be:

    C -> C Eb G
    F -> F Ab C
    Bb -> Bb Db F
    Eb -> Eb Gb Bb
    Ab -> Ab Cb(B) Eb
    Db -> Db Fb(E) Ab
    F# -> F# A C#
    B -> B D F#
    E -> E G B
    A -> A C E
    D -> D F A
    G -> G Bb D

    You can mix and match these according to what key you're playing in. The key is based off of the major scale. The major scale is constructed starting on C: C D E F G A B C

    So if you're playing in C, you can play:

    C major triad
    D minor triad
    E minor triad
    F major triad
    G major triad
    A minor triad
    B minor triad

    With the notes all in different octaves, etc. -- if you really play around with this a lot, you can make a lot of great sounds. And this is very, very, very much only the beginning.
  12. fcleff


    Apr 22, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    While the question on stops has been answered there is one thing that I would like to put to rest here and now. From the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians comes the definition of a chord: "The simultaneous sounding of TWO or more notes." (my emphasis) It is that simple.

  13. moogboy

    moogboy Banned

    Mar 1, 2007
    Moog Artist in Rock/Pop 5th down
    i thought that a Double-Stop was two notes played together and you bend one note but not the other.
  14. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    That is correct TWO of more notes played at the same time. That is why most double-stops are the 3rd and 7th of the chord, those are the notes that define the flavor of a chord.

    Triple stops usually are the root, 3rd, and 7th of the chord. On bass you have to be careful about how you voice chords because of the range of the instrument. Close voiced chords become very dark and muddy in the low end of the bass. Even some open voicings can get muddy in the low end depending on the bass. Play a Maj7 triple stop on a bass down low and it gets real ugly sounding.

    A good exercise is to work out the chord voicing yourself. Create Maj7, Mi7, and 7th chords. Put the 3rd and 7th of the chord on your two highest strings and put the Root on your lowest string. On a standard four string bass your root would be on the E-string, and 3rd and 7th on the D and G string. Now do the same but time put the root on second from lowest string. So root on A and 3rd and 7th still on D and G string. Those are good handfull of chords to get your through most situations. Later you will want to create major and minor triple stops. Root, 3rd, octave works good, but depending on range a Root, 3rd, 5th can work nice too.

    Now if on a 5 or 6 string bass continue same process with root on B and 3rd and 7th on D and G. On a 6-string bass or one with a high-C move the 3rd and 7th up to the G and C strings. What is good with these voicing is they make are good for implying the chord and still keep the bass line going, like do guitar chord melody playing.

    Last you can get into root-less chords if in a musical situation where another instrument or looping pedal is holding down the bass. Then you can do 9th or other chord extentions or alter 5's. Lots of stuff you can do with chords on bass, just have to watch your voicings.
  15. fcleff


    Apr 22, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    Doc Bop, all that you say is true. But if you step outside the box of tertian harmony then double, triple, and quadruple stops can really open up some neat non-tertian harmonies.

    While I consider myself a TONAL composer, I frequently employ the use of stops to kind of destroy a sense of harmony for a desired effect. Sometimes I even write pieces that disregard key signature function entirely.

    My point is that too many people tend to think that you have to have at least three notes to make a chord. This is just not true since stops have been used at least as far back as Bach to imply harmony. Double stops are not merely intervals and they can be very effective at creating music that is not based in tertian harmony.

    I think that players should try toying with minor 2nd stops and other dissonances to see what they can come up with.

  16. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm open to anything musically I like disconance and rhythm. I like avante garde classical, outside Jazz, used to go to sleep every night listening to Tibetian Monks growling away. But when I post I tend to stay inside the box because many posts are from people just getting into a new musical technique or concept. I hope they do learn it and then expand on it and search for their own voice.
  17. fcleff


    Apr 22, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    Yeah, don't get me wrong on my post. I wasn't directing that specifically to you. I just wanted to make a clear point.

    I am in total agreement that most of the theory posts here will deal in tertian harmony. I just feel that it is really important to understand that there are other forms of harmony available to players in all genres. That, and I love a good theory argument!:)

  18. for some great chordal work, give a listen to some of Oteil Burbridge's work with the Peacemakers. Beautiful stuff.
  19. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    Slight correction: frets have existed as long as string instruments have - gamba family instruments were fretted, but "frets" were tied on to the neck with gut.
  20. fcleff


    Apr 22, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    True. The term 'stop', while I am unsure of it's origin, refers simply to the act of 'stopping', or pressing down a string at any given point on the fingerboard, fretted or not.