Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by rymiraflores, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. rymiraflores


    Jan 17, 2009
    I would be interested to know what you guys do , in general..structure your bass line chord by chord or just play in the key....I tend to follow chords for fast songs and play in the key for slower...also I tend to often follow the melody more than the guitar. Any opinions without starting an arguement :bag:
  2. pbass337


    Jul 9, 2010
    Reading, Ma
    i mix it up. in jams when we never have a set chord progression i go by key but in songs i usually go by chords unless i get bored
  3. but key IS chord!
  4. Understand I play Country. A little rock, but, mostly Country. I play chord tones - root and R-5 with chromatic runs to the next chord rule my World. Very seldom venture into a scale, and if so it's a pentatonic. Modes or a full 7 note scale - in scale order, never. I assume by playing in the key you are speaking of using notes of the scale, i.e. not holding to just chord tones. Yes I also do that.

    For slow songs I still play chord tones and seem to follow a generic R-3-5-3, i.e. adding a few more chord tones (b3 and the 7's) into the mix - plus like your "playing in key" - if I have the time between changes I'll use something like this - R-3-5-6-8-7-6-5 and things of that nature. I do like to come back down with the 8-7-6-5.

    We are jamming, no sheet music so I assume a lot and hopfully hear the chord changes. Stuff we do is basic I IV V and easy to pick up. That and watching the rhythm guitar's hands pretty much gets it done.
  5. Basshoofd


    Jan 14, 2009
    I've been wondering the exact same thing. Sometimes, when the root key is very obvious, it can sound 'wrong' to play the chords instead of following the key center. Both are almost the same, but there are a few color notes that can sound off. I'm curious what others have to say about it.
  6. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    This is where you need to know your chord tones, tensions and avoids and how to use (and not use) each.
  7. everything I can, melody, chords, scales, superimposed pentatonic solos, extensions, harmonics, pitch less ghost notes, whatevers clever.
  8. TL5


    Jun 27, 2005
    All of the above.

    MalcomAmos, I find it interesting that you use chromatic runs predominately in country music. I tend to favor diatonic walks/runs into chord tones only using chromatic as a change of pace.
  9. Like so many "versus" threads here, it's a false and misleading dichotomy. (No offense meant.) There is no opposition between the two: you do both.

    For one thing, it's generally the chords that determine what the key is in the first place! They're not two separate things. You might be laboring under the impression that playing in C means that you can just wander around in the C scale, or that you can only ever use the notes from the C scale. Neither is true at all. Playing in C means that the harmony has established the key of C major.

    Look at it this way. You always have to play the chords of the song because, well, those are the chords of the song. But how you emphasize them or connect them is governed by how they're working or functioning together, which means how you understand what they're doing in the tonality/key/modality that's happening. For instance, if you're going from a G chord to a C chord, how you connect them and how you deal with them could differ, depending on whether you understand that chord sequence as a I-IV in the key of G or as a V-I in the key of C.
  10. Understand this is East Texas. I'll have to give that a try.
  11. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada
    i play chord tones and use non chord tones as passing notes ....passing notes definately get less duration and just add some dressing between chord tones.

    in rock, blues and country i'm always keeping my eye on the root, 3rd, 5th and octave for any given chord.
  12. Jake D

    Jake D

    May 20, 2010
    Kansas City, MO
    I think I understand the question. When I play bass, it is mostly walking bass lines in blues songs, and I change to the four and five. I have played on "country" sounding songs and bounced between the root and the 5th, following the chord changes with the progression. When jamming, I usually don't just stay in one key and jam on a scale. I am sure that would sound fine though. Sort of like a guitar solo that stays in one key. But the root of the 4 chord and 5 chord (for example) exist within the song's key scale, so you could just land on them to declare the change as it comes, without ever leaving the songs main key.
    I am a rank beginner on bass though, so don't pay attention to me.
  13. rymiraflores


    Jan 17, 2009
    oops hehe meant scale not key :D
  14. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I usually only "think" in terms of chord tones and passing tones when I play, using my ear and taste to determine what passing tones work best. Ultimately, what sounds best often tends to end up being in the key...but only cause I likes how it sounds, not because I tried to stay in the key.
  15. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    not always. chords don't always match up to the key.

    i use a combo of key and chord to figure out lines to play. generally i'll stay in the key for the most part unless a chord that's outside of the key comes up and i can think of something outside the key to play. it's all a case by case basis, with a combination of trial by error and past experiences that lead me to play certain things that i know will work. the more you do it, the easier it gets.
  16. beggar98


    Jan 23, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    From my perspective, the goal is to avoid "wrong" sounding notes. To that end, I try to play first off the melody, then the chord, and finally the key. The melody will usually lead you through the chord changes, and the two together can often leave the key behind. I think most music students are taught to look at things the other way around and it hinders their development.
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