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Octives and Triads/ how far can they take you?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by sknubmallone, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. Greetings fellow bass players. I have been creating my own bass lines because i am tired of all the tab reading. I find that only using major and minor triads along with 3rds 5ths and octives creates a simple yet very effective and decent bass line. i can make a bass line for pretty much any song i hear if i hear and get along fine with most any drum player i know. is this method to simple?
  2. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    "Too simple" is a phrase rarely needed to be used with bass. If it sounds good, it sounds good. There are people out there who would consider anything more than the root note to be too much. Take care not to overthink a good part... better to be too simple than to wank unnecessarily.
    Remyd and Flad like this.
  3. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Yes ^.
    Roots to the beat will get you asked back.
    As we learn more we do tend to want to add more. Most of the time roots, fives and eights keep you in the game. It really depends on the song and the band. Some bands want you to play pentatonic and some want you to be melodic others give you fish eyes for anything other than root five.

    Good luck.
    Helaskold likes this.
  4. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    if you know your major and minor 3rd intervals you can build any chord

    for instance it just boinged on me last evening that from the 5 a major 3rd provides the maj 7 and a minor 3rd provides the minor 7 to the root.

    so just knowing your minor and major triads is enough to get your chord tones
    it is simple
    and playing on chord tones works, since it supplies the harmonic foundation
    esp on the strong beats
    given tension and release another bass function is driving movement to the next chord, so chord tones can manage that as well just as the chord progression itself build tension and release.
    but it wouldn't hurt to throw in a few chromatic approach notes now and then.
  5. thanks for the advice yall it is verry helpful and encouraging. i am just finishing up a Stu Hamm dvd then i am going to put an add on craigslist for a free bass player so i can get all the playing i can.
  6. kikstand454

    kikstand454 Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2012
    I LIVE on octaves and 5s in my 3piece band. You will be fine.
    Helaskold likes this.
  7. jorby


    Feb 25, 2014
    Prescott, Arizona
    Those are definitely the fundamental building blocks of being a bass player. You can also add the sevenths to your triads, you will inevitably need to learn them. Everything works in relation to the key/scale you are playing, so every seventh of the chord will be the next third in the scale. Knowing the chords that occur in major/natural minor, as well as the quality of their sevenths, will help a lot. Then, you can then speak numbers with people, and you will know what notes will work and what won't.

    Most of being a bass player comes down to the feel with which you play what may be a simple, repetitive pattern. Often, we don't add more "notes", but small rhythmic grace notes or little walk up notes to decorate the next root or fifth. Thirds and Sevenths can be dangerous, never play them on 1 unless you are walking up/down a chord (slow blues) or you really mean to.

    The song "Something Like Olivia" by John Mayer, is an excellent example of what it means to be a good bass player. He pretty much holds down triad tones for the whole song which is a very simple progression. But damn it feels good. Pay careful attention to his rhythm and feel, great grace notes. Good luck out there!
  8. thanks jorby going to listen to that song right now
  9. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You can use all the notes to create interesting basslines, but triads and octaves aren't a bad way to start. Some songs are nothing but triads, but they're really good songs anyway. The more you learn about it, the more you can start adding as you go along, but for now, work those triads and have fun. Maybe next you can work on adding the II and VI notes to your basslines. They're very effective in the right places.
  10. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    O.P. -- Check out these two vids:

    This is one of my favorite Scott Devine tutorials, in two parts. In the first, he uses a simple 4-chord progression (actually, a John Mayer tune) to demonstrate how to construct a bass line using only roots, then only roots and 5ths, and then only using roots, 3rds, and fifths. In part 2, he then uses the same progression to demonstrate one simple idea for spicing up a root-3rd-5th line: the addition of little chromatic runs leading up (or down) to each of those three target notes.

    So, in one lesson, you get a nice demonstration of both (1) how much can be accomplished using only roots, 3rds, and 5ths, and (2) one simple trick you can use to take your lines one step further.
  11. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    This ^.

    Yes those videos spell it out nicely. Thanks for posting.
  12. ya. thanks lobster going to watch those vids today
  13. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    learn the 7, 9, 11, and 13 extensions, and you automatically will know the entire scale that goes over every chord. Many genres of music (yes, even rock) will sound pretty awesome if you know when to throw in the extensions. It's a matter of being tasteful is all.
  14. Once again, less is more in many situations.
  15. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Here's a bit- knowing the triads of the chords of a song over two octaves will give you the basics. Those are your target notes and if you hit those with authority on the strong beats, it almost doesn't matter what you play on the other beats. OK, playing a b5 can be a big clash, but then again the classic R'n'B move of playing the 3, 4, b5, 5 works really good.

    The point is this- those octaves and triads are your primary landmarks. Nail those and trust your ear and tastes to fill in other notes. So the octaves and triads will take you as far as you want them to.

  16. MStrianese


    Jul 26, 2008
    New York
    Playing in the pocket should always be your first concern. Don't worry too much about spicing it up. Bass is more conspicuous by its absence than presence. If you're missing spots where you should be playing roots or are off time, you're going to be noticed in a more negative light than if you're playing something you may feel mundane.

    There is no such thing as too simple! If it sounds good play it. Fifths are good friends, my brother.
    michael_t likes this.
  17. repoman


    Aug 11, 2011
    Kinderhook NY
    :bassist:*Bump* for the good information present in here...and hopfully some more to come...
  18. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Here is a little something about playing in the pocket that changed how I play the bass.
    Locking with the drum track is as important, perhaps more, than what notes are being played. This video goes into detail how we lock in with the kick drum.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: May 2, 2014
  19. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    You can even use the "bad" notes that are blatantly outside the chord/scale to make good basslines. Even that dreaded flatted fifth "the devil's note".
    All ya gotta do is use them briefly in passing and stop your phrase on a "good" note right next to it.

    I usually do this sort of thing when the guitarist has written an incredibly boring piece of music that he thinks is brilliant. Those "off"-notes are like adding spices to the recipe and can do wonders at making a snoozer something that really moves you. It's all a matter of taste and judgment though. If your guitarist has all the hot sauce and chili pepper in his riff, you are better off to bring the meat and potatoes and stick to the root and fifth.
  20. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    I had a bass teacher tell me "that's where the evil comes from", and he meant it in a positive way. We were looking at sort of a metal riff.