Help playing chords please!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Iheartreverb, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. Iheartreverb


    Oct 31, 2013
    I've watched a few YouTube videos and even on the ones that explain the fingering at all, I, still having trouble.
    Long story short, I figured on my favourite bands bass players in mainly playing chords (both as individual notes and as a whole) and I'd really like to work on this.
    To add to this I can find anything resembling a chord chart.
    Any advice on how to play these or at least where to learn?
    Cheers all
  2. Yes, chords make up 90% of what we do. Where to start.....
    Music is made of melody, the part you sing, harmony, the chords that makes the melody sound good and rhythm, the part that makes you want to dance - or move your body. I'll touch on harmony and mention rhythm as being something you need to work out with your metronome or your drummer. What's that? You do not have a metronome. Go get one. If there is no drummer you are the beat master, i.e. the person the band relies upon to furnish a steady beat for every one to follow. Fact of life; vocalists speed up as they get into the song, our job is to lay down a steady beat so they can control this speeding up problem. OK back to chords.....

    Chords are made from the notes of the scale the melody uses. Do a Google on Stacking 3rds for the chords in a key. 3rds to find the chords of a scale

    If you have the melody line and the harmony line sharing like notes at the same time the two lines harmonize and sound good. So if the tune is revolving around the C, E and G notes (Mary had a little lamb in C) the song writer inserts a chord that has those same notes into the song. The C major chord has those notes so it would be a good choice to harmonize this part of the tune. So --- see a chord and play some of it's notes is what we end up doing. How many of the chord's notes are necessary? One per measure gets harmony, so just pounding out roots does work. Is there more to it? A lot, keep reading.

    I'm not going to give you a chord chart of how you place your fingers to form a chord so you can strum that chord, (as the guitar guys do) as when we first start out we will not be strumming - we will be playing the notes of the chord one note at a time to the beat of the song. To do that I recommend you learn the major scale box pattern and then memorize the chord spellings necessary to make the chords you will be using, i.e. R-3-5-7 is the spelling for a maj7 chord. R-b3-5-b7 is the spelling for a minor seven chord.

    Go here Read the entire string. Posts # 4, 6 and 14 will give you some of the patterns and spellings I mentioned above. When you come up for air, let us hear from you. Ask specific questions. There is always help, someone will answer.

    After looking at the string I listed above, here is a paper on how you can go about forming walking bass lines. It deals with things like the sheet music has two chords in one measure, what chord notes should I think about using?

    In the book “Jazz Base Lines Simplified”, Troy Dimes points out that jazz bass lines are normally played as a constant stream of notes. For example:

    That is unique to jazz and lends itself to the walking bass line. The following paper outlines what notes can be used in your jazz bass line to achieve this walking stream of bass line notes. For our study we will be using 4/4 time, or four quarter notes per measure. In this paper I've used words like will, understand can, could, should, etc. apply as well. Nothing in music is cast in stone.

    Chords lasting two beats or two chords per measure; follow these guidelines:

    • The measure will have a total of four quarter note beats, if we give each of these two chords equal time each would get two beats.
    • Root of the first chord on the first beat.
    • Beat two will be a leading tone to the next chord.
    • Beat three will be the root note of the second chord in the measure..
    • Beat four closes out the measure and is a leading tone to the next chord.
    Chords lasting for four beats or one chord per measure; follow these guidelines:
    • In this case just one chord controls four beats.
    • Root on the first beat.
    • Beat 2 and 3 will be chord tones or scale tones.
    • Beat 4 will close out the measure and is a leading tone to the next chord.
    The leading tones can be scale notes of the current key or chord tones of the current or next chord. Normally a leading tone will be a half step above or below the target root of the next chord. Target the next root note, then miss it by one fret, then walk to it and be on it for the chord change. Or it could be a secondary dominant of the next chord. The root note of the next chord’s dominant chord will pull you into the next chord’s root. Next chord is Cmaj7. C’s dominant chord is the G7 so a G leading tone will pull you to the Cmaj7 nicely. All kinds of ways to play a leading tone, find the way you like best.

    The number of beats the chord will be active dictates the number of notes to be used for that chord (in your bass line). If you have two chords in one measure each chord would normally get two beats. The first will be the root note and the second will be a leading tone to the next chord.

    If there is one chord per measure this bass line will involve four notes.

    • The first beat is the root note.
    • Beats 2 & 3 can be notes of the key or notes of the chord. Notes of the chord seem simpler to me and that is what I would use. What are my choices? The root again plus the 5 and 8 then the correct 3 & 7. In what order is left to me and what sounds good.
    • Beat 4 then would be a leading tone one half step above or below the next root.
    This of course is just a guideline; however, it is a good starting point for any jazz walking bass lines. Remember a jazz bass line is normally played as a constant stream of notes. It’s not rocket science, however, will take some practice to pull off.
    I should add; when rhythm enters the picture each beat need not be a note, i.e. a rest or pause adds to the over all effect of the song.

    Good luck, enough stuff here to keep you busy for a month or so. I do recommend you print some of this and put it in your reference binder. Most of what I've listed needs to be read several times before it will belong to you.

    Good luck. Ask specific questions.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014