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help with 12 bar blues, please

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by funky, Jan 12, 2005.


  1. funky

    funky

    Jan 12, 2005
    Hi -
    I'm a fairly new bass player, taking lessons. I am working on the 12 Bar Blues. My teacher explained the I, IV, V. That makes sense. He wrote out the 12 bars for G for me (using notes), and I am using a walking pattern. I was working on bass runs the lesson before.

    Here's what I have:

    G..................................................
    R 3 5 3 | R 3 5 3 | R 3 5 3 | G A Bb B

    C............................G......................
    R 3 5 3 | C E F F# | R 3 5 3 | G B C C#

    D...............C.............G.............D....
    R 3 5 Db | C E F F# | R 3 5 3 | R 3 5 3


    I can play this just fine, but I get a little confused when trying to apply it to different keys.

    One main question: In the 8th bar, why does he use G B C C# instead of just G A B C?

    Another example is the 10th bar. Why C E F F# and not C D E F?

    I think that if I understood that, it would make a huge difference.

    Thanks in advance. I'm glad I found this forum, and I hope you can help!
     
  2. Eli M.

    Eli M. Life's like a movie, write your own ending

    Jul 24, 2004
    New York, NY
    Funky,
    The notes you have questions about - Bb, F#, C# and Db - are passing tones. Passing tones are notes that you play in between two chords that are not members of those chords (non-chord tones). You can play them to create a smoother transition - they can help lead into the next chord.

    You may know this already, but I'll give you some basic information about what these notes are. In the key of G Major, you have 7 notes in the scale, G-A-B-C-D-E-F#. The notes are named as scale steps 1 though 7 - G is 1, A is 2, etc. When you alter one of these within a given key, you call it a chromatic note - a "lowered 5" or a "lowered 7", etc. In your example, the Bb is a lowered 3, the C# is a raised 4, the Db is a lowered 5.

    Passing tones and chromatic notes are not necessarily the same thing. The F# is naturally occuring in the key of G major, so it is not a chromatic note, it is diatonic. But it is still a passing tone, since it isn't a member of either the C chord or the G chord.

    So, when you want to apply is to different keys, just keep in mind that you have these chromatic alterations. For example, in C major, your scale is C-D-E-F-G-A-B. The lowered 3 is Eb, the raised 4 is F#, and the lowered 5 is Gb.

    (You may notice that Gb and F# are the same note on your fretboard, as are Db and C#. These are enharmonically equivalent notes. This means that they sound the same in the tempered scale* but are spelled differently)

    In terms of "why," your instructor probably chose to use the passing tones because
    1) he wanted to teach you about passing tones
    2) it makes more sense in that style of playing
    3) he thinks it sounds better (as do I) :)

    So, that's pretty much all I can say about this, unless you have any further questions. I hope this helps.
    ---
    *tempered scale. Look it up, or wait for someone else, because I won't do a good job explaining it

    [EDITED because I left something out the first time]
     
  3. funky

    funky

    Jan 12, 2005
    So for overall better sound, I should continue to use a lowered 3, raised 4, and lowered 5 for each of the other keys?

    Thanks so much for your explanation. I do not really know anything about diatonic, passing tones, etc. (as far as terms go), but I do understand the scales.
     
  4. Eli M.

    Eli M. Life's like a movie, write your own ending

    Jul 24, 2004
    New York, NY
    Yes, use the passing tones if you want to exactly transpose the exercise into the other keys. In terms of whether it is an overall better sound, that's your call, but I happen to think the chromatic alterations make it a smoother/more interesting line.
     
  5. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    UK
    you can use the notes you chose, and they'll work fine, but the harmonic language of blues/jazz has evolved to the point where those chromatic bits are just part of the landscape.. they have a certain 'slinkiness' and character about them that the straightforward run up the scale doesn't provide...

    as a bass player, one of your many jobs is to outline the chords and signal chord changes, and when you hear a chromatic run up to a chord it strongly points the listener's ear to in the right direction... they give your line a little more harmonic tension.. and the more tension you have in your lines, usually the more satisfying the resolutions (thus making your lines more interesting)

    you can take huge liberties with chromatic approach notes... as long as they resolve nicely... they can sometimes be the ugliest notes available, but as long as you resolve all that tension to a nice sounding note, you'll be fine...
     
  6. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Scotland
    That will come with practice.

    Because the double chromatic approach (G, B, C, C#, D) draws the listener very strongly into the D chord. More strongly (perhaps) than the scalar approach does (G, A, B, C, D). Both sound good. Use them both.

    Same as above.
     
  7. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Scotland
    The F# is a chromatic passing note, regardless of whether it is in the key or not. "Chromatic" means ascending or descending in half steps. You are confusing it with "accidental" which refers to a note being outside of the key.
     
  8. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    In a way, you're both right (though dlloyd is a little "righter"). Chromatic does mean (1) ascending or descending in half steps, but it also means (2) any music or chord that contains notes not belonging to the diatonic scale. dlloyd is right that the F# is chromatic in sense (1), regardless of whether it's also chromatic in sense (2). Rosencrantz is right that F# is not chromatic in sense (2)--though it is in sense (1)--and that passing and chromatic tones are not the same thing (which no doubt dlloyd would agree with).

    Group hug, now.;)
     
  9. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Scotland
    Yup.

    Sure... :)
     
  10. Eli M.

    Eli M. Life's like a movie, write your own ending

    Jul 24, 2004
    New York, NY
    Yup, I got confused with my own terminology :) . Anyway, I'm glad someone clarified this - I had a feeling I didn't get it completely right. "Accidental" was the word I couldn't think of the first time.
     
  11. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Actually, at the risk of further abusing an already moribund horse, as I understand it "accidental" is not quite the right term either. Technically, I believe, a *note* cannot be an accidental; the accidental is the *sign* applied to the note. Thus, F# is not an accidental, but the sharp applied to the F is.

    Sorry, funky, you may not be interested in this; we theory-lovers just get like this sometimes. Carry on....:bassist:
     
  12. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Scotland
    You're right (and I've been calling them accidental notes for 20-odd years).

    How about "non-diatonic"?
     
  13. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Perfectly valid as far as I can see. That or, er, "chromatic," per sense (2) above.;)
     
  14. The passing tones used by th OP's instructor are chromatic in the context of the scale of the given chord.

    The moment that the Root of the next chord is played, the passing tone becomes diatonic because, the passing tone from the previous measure is the leading tone or 7th of the current chord/scale. Creating the sonic sensation of falling off into the tonic of the next scale or the root of the next chord.

    This is why the change sounds so "right"

    .....Jim
     
  15. funky

    funky

    Jan 12, 2005
    Thanks for all of your help. While the terminology is a little confusing for me, I think I understand.

    I spoke to my instructor at my lesson last night. He said that when going from C to G, the reason I use C E F F# is because E is 3 over from G, and that's what my second not should be. Same with going from G to C... A is the third over, so it would be G A Bb B.

    I'm sure I'll understand all of this more as I begin to play songs and can see everything in use.
     
  16. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Scotland
    Ultimately the reason you use it is that it sounds good. The theory can help you guess where else it might sound good... you're doing the right thing in asking questions.

    However, I'm not sure about your instructor's explanation. You use the E because it's a chord tone of G7. It's the third of the chord... was that what he was saying?
     
  17. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    I think his instructor is simply having him play the three chromatic notes leading up to the next measure's root note. Having him play the three chromatic notes on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th beats of last measure of one chord that lead up to the root of the next measure's chord that will be played on the 1st beat of that next measure.

    tim99.
     
  18. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    Have your teacher show you three different fingerings for those chord tones:

    |-----|-----|--5--|-----|-----|
    |--1--|-----|-----|-----|--3--|

    |--3--|-----|-----|--5--|-----|
    |-----|--1--|-----|-----|-----|

    |--5--|-----|-----|-----|-----|
    |-----|-----|--3--|-----|-----|
    |-----|-----|-----|--1--|-----|

    Try to not get into the rut of using only one shape and just moving your hand up and down the neck. Instead, try to stay within a five fret position, and change shapes as required to stay within that five fret range.

    Like this:

    |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|
    |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|
    |-----|-----|--5--|-----|-----|
    |--G--|-----|-----|-----|--3--|

    |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|
    |-----|-----|--5--|-----|-----|
    |--C--|-----|-----|-----|--3--|
    |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|

    |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|
    |-----|--3--|-----|-----|--5--|
    |-----|-----|--D--|-----|-----|
    |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|

    Or:

    |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|
    |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|
    |--3--|-----|-----|--5--|-----|
    |-----|--G--|-----|-----|-----|

    |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|
    |--3--|-----|-----|--5--|-----|
    |-----|--C--|-----|-----|-----|
    |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|

    |--5--|-----|-----|-----|-----|
    |-----|-----|--3--|-----|-----|
    |-----|-----|-----|--D--|-----|
    |-----|-----|-----|-----|-----|

    Those are just two examples. There are other combinations.

    And no, I do not always stick to this. It is just good to think about and practice. But in the heat of the moment do what you know and what works. The more I am walking, the more I try to stay in position, the more I am playing a repeated blues pattern, the more I just shift my hand.

    tim99.