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Minor bassline over Major melody?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by kiwlm, May 30, 2004.

  1. When a melody is in Major, but the bass line is in Minor, what key is it?

    I want to refer to WAR's LowRider song,
    the melody uses notes:
    D Eb F Bb
    which I would interpret as being in Bb Major, because
    D=Major 3rd
    Eb=Perfect 4th
    F=Perfect 5th

    Then the bass line is mainly based on the following notes:
    Bb Db Eb F Ab
    which I would interpret as being in B minor Pentatonic, hence B Minor, because
    Db = Minor 3rd
    Eb = Perfect 4th
    F = Perfect 5th
    Ab = minor 7th

    Before this, I never attempted to transcribe the melody, I just learn the bass parts, so all the while I know the song as in Bb Minor!

    I understand that the Minor Pentatonic notes are also in the Blues scales notes, and that the Blues scales can be used in any tonality, does that mean that the song is blues?

    I am really confused.... :confused: :help:
  2. In blues (and rock) it is common to 'mix' major and minor scales. Listen to Pride & Joy by Stevie Ray Vaughn for instance. It is in E, but there's a lot of G's in it (not G# !) .

    Or Buddy Guy, who likes to play a G against an E chord.

    A major blues which is stricktly in major will sound kind of dull, or maybe 'country' like.

    In a major blues or rock song, it is cool to throw in some minor thirds. But never throw in major 3rds in a minor song!

    So I would say the song is in Bb Major.

  3. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    In your key, the notes of the bassline should be Bb C Eb F G
    but you're right about thinking of it as a minor pentatonic. C is the tonic, which should be clear when you end the song (you end on the tonic, and it sure isn't Bb).

    The bassline would be C minor pentatonic, starting on the Bb instead of the C.

    Hope this helps.
    The actual recording is in G, by the way, if you care.
  4. Hmmm... dun really get you, the bass line and the melody lines both end on Bb, so my question was either Bb Major or Bb Minor, and I think the note is Db, and not C... :meh:
  5. Thanks a lot! That confirms it!

    It goes in sync with my ABRSM theory book which mentioned that sometimes a Major song can borrow notes from a Minor key, but not the other way round. Because Minor keys already have more notes from the melody/harmonic different scales.
  6. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    Do you have a recording of the actual song? I don't know, maybe your midi is wrong. The notes you said don't make sense in the actual song, even if you take it up a 4th (ie I say bass starts on F, you say Bb.).

    I am quite sure, as least as I understand it, that the song is in G and the bassline is a G min pentatonic.

    PM me about this if you want.
  7. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Agree 100%.
  8. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Where do you get this from?

    In the MIDI file you link to, the Bassline is in G. It begins on G, and it ends on G. The notes in the line are:

    G B C Db D F G

    Definitely NOT minor. G Mixolydian perhaps. The Db is a passing tone -- the tritone, which gives it a funky flavor.

    The melody is in G (not minor) again:

    G B C D
  9. Ok, sorry guys, I think I have confused myself, the MIDI file that I posted is in G.

    The Bb version is performed by Korn, as from here:

    So I guess everyone agreed that the song is in Major, while the bassline either is in Minor Pentatonic, or some of you said that it contains passing notes...

    Leane, I still dun understand your statement
    Are you referring to the original Bb version or the G version? Coz suddenly C minor pentatonic is brought up...
  10. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I think she was correcting your earlier notes(from your initial post)-
    You said...

    She countered with...

    In your initial post(again), you evoked Bb minor("...so all the while I know the song as in Bb minor").
    Leanne is saying it's actually C minor pentatonic(that the 1st note is a "Bb" does not automatically put the figure into Bb minor).

    Anyway, the original version by War is in G minor pentatonic(1st note = "F").
  11. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    edit: nevermind, see next post
  12. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    OK - I think the MIDI is wrong. Listening to what I can find of the song online anyway.

    edit: wow, and most of the tabs out there are wrong, too.
  13. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...you sound surprised?
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    And that's exactly why you should concentrate on developing you ear and ditch the Tabs!! :scowl:

    Trust your ear and what you hear!!

    At the time the original War version came out, there were no Tabs and no Internet - it was one of those bass lines you just had to learn to play and it was much nore straightforward just sitting down with the record and your bass and playing along with it, until you got it.

    Of course the irony is that all the stuff mentioned here - like Tabs and Midi - have only served to confuse the issue and almost certainly meant that it took longer to "get it" !! ;)
  15. ok guys, 6 months later, I am convinced that I should learn as much songs by ear as possible. If I have the recording version of the tune. :)

    The original WAR bassline is G minor pentatonic, and the first note is F.

    But the concept of minor bassline over major melody still troubles me.

    If I want to harmonize the song, say play the 5th to the bassline. It matters if the key of the song is in G minor of G Major, as that will affect whether the 5th is actually a major or a minor.

    The bassline to this song is
    F G Bb C D F G

    Looking at the song as a Minor, I would play this at harmonized 5th.
    C D F G A C D

    If I look at the song as a major, I would play this at harmonized 5th.
    G D F# G A C D

    Which one should I choose? Or both will be ok? :confused:
  16. Sounds like plain G pentatonic to me.

    The bassline notes are:

    G B C C# D F G, the C# being a passing note.

    Occasionally you can get away with playing a minor 3rd in a major chord if it's blues, or if you kinda bend the note up from the minor 3rd.
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Errr.... no it doesn't!

    The 5th is the same note in a major or minor chord * - the fifth of G Major is D - the fifth of G Minor is still D!! :meh:

    F# is the Major 7th - but as people have said, this is frequently used as a chromatic passing note to G - in G Minor.

    (*unless we're talking diminished, half diminished etc.)
  18. Hmmm, I do know the 5th of G minor and G major is D. But what about the point when the bass line goes to play Bb, if I were to harmonize to that, is that F or F#?

    Or am I totally getting this wrong? :ninja:

    To add to the question, if I am to harmonize it to the 3rd, I need to know whether the key is in Major or Minor, so that I can determine whether the 3rd of each of the notes played should be major or minor, no? :confused:
  19. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004

    You're thinking way more than most people do when using the minor pentatonic. I'm not familiar with the song, but the minor pentatonic is usually used in this way in a riffing context, where you don't really think about it in terms of harmony.

    The most effective thing to do is to stop worrying about it :)

    If you really need to know, the minor pentatonic over a dominant major chord isn't really a minor scale. The "minor 3rd" is really an augmented 9th. Sounds like we're getting a bit jazz there, but the 7#9 is one of the most common rock/blues chords there is. It's that Hendrix/Purple Haze chord guitarists like so much:


    If you were to analyse that chord in simplistic terms, you'd see that it contains both a G (minor 3) and a G# (major 3), but the G actually functions as an F## (#9)
  20. Personally,I just call one a passing tone,and use your ears to decide which one is a scale/chord tone and which is just a passing/approach note...but that may just be me :D