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Playing 6ths & 7ths

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by megadan, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. I feel stupid having to ask this, but... we all have to learn sometime.

    I'm starting to really get into "playing" jazz - more eclectic stuff, like Bitches Brew and weirder modern stuff like Old time Relijun.

    What I'm wonder is, when you are playing 7ths, for example, as part of your bass line, are you adding them up high? Or using the notes, but lower...

    For example, your guitarist etc is playing a Cmin7. You want to include the 7th. Assuming you're playing C on the A string, are you reaching up to the G, or hitting it along the E string (I'm afraid to say the notes, I might be wrong, but...) at the 6th fret? (I believe A# would be the 7th in a C chord)

    In the same vein, I'm really liking hitting the lower 4th (low F for a C) instead of higher on the D string where I would normally play a 5th. That seems to happen a lot in the stuff I've been listening to. It seems like the old cats really did know there's no money to be made above the 5th fret! It amazes me sometimes when I realize that every single note can be played on just those 2 strings and 4 frets!
  2. I find with 7ths it's generally sounds best voicing the note not only as a scale degree, but also as an interval from the root -- of course, this is a generalistion and there'll be many instances that show otherwise. IMO.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Bitches Brew, huh?

    First off, NO..."A#" is not the dominant 7th in a C7 chord. It's "Bb" ("A#" is enharmonic to "Bb").
    Starting with "C", count on your fingers-
    C-D-E-F-G-A = 6 fingers, right?
    So, a raised "A" ("A#") would be a radised 6th.
    C-D-E-F-G-A-B = 7 fingers.
    A flatted "B" would be a flatted 7th.

    I'm a little confused here...are you asking about the 4th degree in "C" ("F") or the 5th degree in "C" ("G")...in any event, I would say be comfortable hearing numerous ways to outline whatever else is going on around you.

    I think Joe Osborne (session great) once quipped/said that 90% of everything he played was on the "A" & "D" strings, 1st fretto 5th fret...he rarely used the "E" & never could figure out what to do with the "G".
  4. Thanks for that, you're absolutely correct... right now all my theory is pretty much self taught, so I make errors like that sometimes.

    Sorry, yeah, I was talking of the 4th "F", but I was mentioned that IF I were to happen to being playing a 5th instead, I'd be playing it up on a higher string, where as the 4th sounds nice lower instead.
    Those are my favorite strings! :D
  5. So you're saying... yes? :D


    I think I sort of answered my own question here... Obviously the 7th is not just up 2 strings, but it's also just 2 frets behind on the same string... so you just bop back to the 7th and back to the root as a quick hammer on... I've been doing that in my basslines for years without realizing what I was doing!
  6. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    If I'm playing walking line, then the octave I play the 7th in depends entirely on where I come form and where I'm going, and I usually using it as a passing tone to the next triad note.

    I generally think in triads and don't emphasize the upper partials of chords (7th, 9th, 11th, 13th) since other instruments are usually handling that. But if I am using passing tones to get from one choird to the next and I realize I'm close to one of the upper partials, I'll verify that I'm using the right alteration.

    occasionally the chord alterations will also imply some nice chromatic motion (for example Cmaj7-C7-C6 implies B-Bb-A) that can work nicely in a line.
  7. Deacon_Blues


    Feb 11, 2007
    Check the line in my sig. ;) It's supposed to illustrate the bassline in the song "Stratus" by Billy Cobham. In that bassline, the seventh and fifth below the root are used. The line goes like this (sixteenths, not eighths):


    E: I like the tension you get from using the 7th and 6th below the root, but I probably use the higher ones more. It depends completely on the line I'm playing.
  8. EADG mx

    EADG mx

    Jul 4, 2005
    Your job as the bp is to outline the chord. Typically you're going to want to use the 7th above the root as stated, but not always (such as in the case of a pedal tone).

    When doing walking lines it's rare I'll hit the 7th on a strong beat. Typically on the 2 (descending from the root), or on the 4 (as the 7 or b2 of the next chord). 7ths are fair game but will typically be used less than the root, 3rd and 5th. Minor 7ths work better than major for descending lines, IMO.

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