how to walk this progression...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by silentstranger, Jun 2, 2003.

  1. Okay, so my band plays a swing song. Should be simple enough; the main progression is
    B B E D
    with all chords being major (I never said it was diatonic...) The problem is the horn melody, which hits heavily on the minor 3rd. By this I mean that D natural is a significant note that they're repeatedly banging on, rather than merely a short passing tone. The sick thing is, with guitar and horns playing, it doesn't even sound bad like I'd expect it to. However, I'm rather stumped as to whether I should be playing major or minor 3rds over the B and E chords (experimentation proved to me that major 3rd is the only way to go for the D chord). Neither sounds obviously right or wrong to me. :confused:

    Changing the horn melody is out of the question, and when I made the guitarist play Bm and Em instead of major chords at practice today, that sounded like crap (didn't fit the song AT ALL). So I ask my more experienced brethren, how would you deal with this song? Major 3rds? Minor 3rds? No 3rds at all? All insights welcome.
  2. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    The combination of the major and minor 3rd is the basic blues tonality.

    It should sound pretty tense playing the mjaor 3rd over the horns minor 3rd, semi-tone intervals can sound odd when played in chords. That said, it's not unheard of, Mingus does it in one of his tunes that I know of - cant remember which one or anything helpful like that!

    Realistically you should be able to use either major or minor 3rds in your walking line, but they will have entirely different sounds, which you prefer is personal preference of course.

    You could use minor 3rds against some chords and major against others depending opn where teh horns melody sits at the time, or maybe you could use both notes chromatically over each chord - so you step from the major 3rd to the minor 3rd when the horns hit the same note.. or vice versa?

  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Are we not talking (Dominant) 7th chords here rather than straight major - if it is a Bluesy feel?
  4. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Out of interest, how have you figured out what the chords actually are? If you're working from a full score, then you've probably got the information you need to analyse the harmony. However, it's not unknown for musicians to name a chord based on one or two of the notes it contains (guitarists seem to be the worst at this :bassist:, although I know it's unfair to generalise) which can then be misleading in using theory to work out what should fit!

    In other words, if you've just going on what you've been told, maybe you've been told wrong ;)

    If your brain starts to fizz trying to figure it, just try a few different things. If both the major and minor third work on the B and E, you could even make a point of using the major thirds for one part of the song and then the minor third later on - that way you'll help change the whole character of the piece in a subtle way.

  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    oh sh1t, yeah you're right Bruce!

    man, i'm no good at this advice lark.

    what a comlpete mong :D
  6. Full score...bwahaha! Ohh, that's a good one. Sorry wulf, I should've specified that this is an all-originals rock band, though two of our originals happen to be swing songs...there's nothing that even remotely resembles a score, bro :)

    However, I just discussed it with my guitarist and he confirmed my suspicions; he plays them as straight majors, using standard E- and A-form barre chords (B and E at the 7th fret, D at 5th). The only exception is that he occasionally adds the 10th fret A to the B chord for a beat or so at a time (usually corresponding, I believe, with the horns' D notes), which means he's sometimes alternating between B and B7. My memory is failing me on whether that B7 is called "dominant" or otherwise (help, Bruce?)

    Does this new info change the advice at all? At this point, it looks like I'm just gonna be playing what "feels right", and possibly treating some of the same chords in different spots as major and some minor, as wulf and Howard suggested. I'll definitely have to look more carefully at the horn line; if I can get an exact transcription of it, I'll post that. Feel free to comment based on the new info though :D

    PS... what in the blue hell is a "mong"? I'm so not British... :meh:
  7. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Just thought I'd ask about the score - after all, 'to assume makes an ASS out of U and ME' ;)

    Also, adding a flat seventh to a root - third - fifth chord does make it a 'dominant' chord... you're right on that.

    Anyway, down to the music, you've got the guitarist playing:

    B: B F# B D# F# (or A) B
    E: E(or B) E B E G# B
    D: A D A D F# A

    I've highlighted the top three notes of each chord as that's where the 'color' is - below that you've just got roots and fifths, which thicken up the sound but don't add much harmonic information. However, I think the horn line is going to be the deciding factor, so going by what sounds right is probably the best approach.

    If I was taking the chords and trying to make it sound jazzy, I'd be thinking of resolving round the circle of fifths. For example, assuming that D is where we're headed, I'd want to insert an A7 leading into it and make the E chord into Em7. That could maybe spin out into something like:

    | Bm7 | B7 | Em7 A7 | Dmaj7 |

    (vi VI7 ii7 V7 Imaj7)

    However, you said Bm and Em didn't sound right...

    Maybe you could treat the last chord as A instead of D, giving:

    | B7 | B7 | E7 | Amaj7 |

    (V7 of V, sub for iim7, V7, Imaj7)

    but again, it's back to the ears to see what really fits ;)

    How about jamming round the progression with the band and deliberately trying out all sorts of approaches. Make sure you record it and then you can listen back and either pick out what works best (and possibly refine a few ideas together and try again).

  8. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Is it possible these are Dominant 7 chords with the #9?