Groovin' over frequent chord changes?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Mr.Phil, Jun 16, 2005.

  1. Mr.Phil


    Apr 9, 2005
    Upstate NY
    Ok here's the deal... My guitar player likes to write his own little songs fun and all I guess. Here's my problem... He likes to use frequent chord changes, either every beat or every other beat. Any ideas as to how I can view these changes in a different way? I'm having a hard time really setting into solid groove when every beat I have to switch around what I'm playing.
  2. Hey, that's a tough one. I don't usually read charts with quick chord changes that require anything besides walking. First, know what general key the tune is in (i.e. even though the chord changes don't model a single set of modes or a scale, look for what chord it always go back to, but I'm sure you knew that already). The next thing is to map out each phrase. For instance, one phrase may have X amount of chords, and in that phrase, find the relative scale of that phrase and just use that as the one chord for that phrase to look off of, noting small changes in the scale that may occur later in the phrase.

    Last, and probably most important, play even more in the pocket. Chances are, if the guitar is doing a lot or interesting things, people listening won't want a bass to play all of the roots to all of the chords, making obvious, muddying-up, or oversimplifying the guitarist's line. Don't let it make you feel rushed. Just consciously or sub-consciously (depending on where you are theory wise as a musician) pick out an outlining, somewhat harmonic but still root, 5th b7th oriented or whatever-interval-sounds-good oriented note that lines up with the general direction of the chords of that measure or phrase.
  3. Mr.Phil


    Apr 9, 2005
    Upstate NY
    Thanks for the suggestions... You are correct about the walking thing too, thats the only other time I've had to deal with such rapid changes, but thats a lot easier to tackle.
  4. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Concetrate on the relationships between chords, not the chords themselves. Use your bass line to establish the changes the guitar will be doing, its much easier to do that when you aren't paying so much attention to the chords themselves as you are to the way they flow together.
  5. Right!

    Also notice that if the guitar player changes chords, that doesn't necessarily indicate that the bass should change, IE a pedal tone. I would say to go through the chords and make a bassline that will compliment the changes -- and remember, you don't have to play the root every time the chord changes.
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Agree. I was about to say "Play your groove underneath as a quasi-pedal tone". ;)

    Sometimes changing one(1) note can help, too-
    l---al1&a 2_&_ 3--- ---al1&a 2_&_ 3--- ---al etc

    l---xlEEE G_E_ A--- ---xlEEE G_E_ Bb--- ---alEEE G_E_ B--- ---al etc
  7. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    Give us some examples of chords sequence and we might come up with suggestions. Sometimes there is a little Funk or Blues behind everything.
  8. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    That pedal tone idea is a good one. Also, often one chord per beat kind of sums out to one chord per measure -- often you only really hear the overall tonality rather than each shift and you can make your bass line respond to that rather than each change. Lots of chords are functionally interchangable, too: although it depends on context, ii, V, vii can be treated as the same chord. vi and iii and IV can all pass for I at times. Any dominant chord with any chord a tritone away. Any chord with a chord a third away. Etc., etc. Use ears.
  9. Mr.Phil


    Apr 9, 2005
    Upstate NY
    thanks for the suggestions! The pedal tone works well!
  10. BenLoy


    Apr 29, 2005
    Remember that chords in a tune relate to each other.

    Find ways to use chord tones move from one chord to the next.

    Get away from thinking of each chord as a "closed" shape. The notes in a particular chord are spread out all over the neck. Use your sense of rhythm, melody and harmony to find a way to connect the chords together. Here's one way it can work.

    When the chords are moving by real fast it's tough...but I think it would actually be easier when playing a rock or funk tune rather than when walking...especially if the chords get pretty crazy.

    A pedal tone may work as well. Use your ears and your sense of taste. Sometimes you can get lucky and stay in A for the entire song!
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I heard U2's "Mysterious Ways" on the drive into work this a.m.
    That tune(the verses?), IMO, is a good example of the bass playing a repeated ostinato at the same pitch(s) over different chord changes.