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Playing between chords

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by JonoLFC, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. JonoLFC


    Jun 21, 2012
    Hey i have a pretty simple question. I've never gotten lessons but am teaching myself bass. I wanted to know how do i know what to play between chords to fill the song more. Example: Instead of going from Em to C, what can in play between Em and C instead of holding Em for like 8 seconds and then changing to C? Is there a way to work out what to play in these situations?
    Thanks so much for your time.
  2. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    Scott Devine has some lessons on how to practice arpeggios. Here is part 1.

  3. Depends on what you are playing, here is something to start with, if using low Em use G and B notes to lead to C, they are part of the Em chord and so will fit, and the B being a semitone below leads well to C.
    Try learn small runs like this in all keys so you have them to use, F#m to D it's A, C#, Am to F it's C, E, Bm to G it's D, F#. All these are the same interval apart and based on the same chord tones, I have just listed a few common ones to get you started, be sure to look up the links that get posted for you. enjoy learning
  4. kr0n


    Feb 4, 2009

    Well, anything that sounds good in context. Usually it's chord tones and notes from the scale, sometimes you approach with leading tones.

    Start by learning chord arpeggios and the location of those notes around the fretboard. 5th and 3rd for example. 5th works nearly always and either minor or major 3rd as well.
  5. Walking bass lines - something to tie the chord changes together. Ed Friedland's book Building walking bass lines is one of the better ones out there, in that it gives you several ways of doing this.

    Todd Coolman's The Bottom Line, The Ultimate Bass Line Book is another I would recommend.

    Kris Berg's Bass lines in minutes is another. Kris' book gets right to it and gives you the basics with out any fancy stuff, perhaps a good starter book for this reason.

    Country bass will utilize a chromatic run to the next chord. It's as simple as targeting your next root and then missing it by three frets - then walk to it one fret at a time and be on the next root on the 4th beat in time for the chord change. Easy to do you just have to work out when you leave on your run so you can be on the next chord for the change. Let the lyric word help with this, mark the word you need to leave on. Lyric words occupy one beat (one note) per lyric word, two syllable words get two beats..... let the lyrics help with when you leave.

    R-3-5-X is another way. Let X be the dominant note of the next chord. That dominant note pulls you into the next chord's root.

    Your chromatic run can also be as simple as one note instead of three. All kind of ways to do this.

    Good luck.
  6. JonoLFC


    Jun 21, 2012
    Thanks so much. Any other tips, plz dont be shy :)
    Thanks Carldogs for the examples. Legend.
  7. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Here, stylistic knowledge is of tremendous value.
    Theory can tell you what notes will harmonize,
    but it can't tell you when and with what rhythm
    -which is arguably more important.
    How you move form root to root differs between jazz,
    blues, funk, rock, reggae, country, etc.
    So pick a style, and learn some typical lines for ideas.

    Use theory to reverse engineer them to see how they work.
  8. ics1974


    Apr 13, 2012
    all the above are great. You can also try using pentatonic runs that match up with the cord of the moment.
    using your example on the Em chord you can throw in some Em pentatonic runs then when the chord changes to the C chord you can add in the C major pentatonic to fill in the gaps.
  9. JonoLFC


    Jun 21, 2012
    Thanks so much all of you. What awesome people. Much love.
  10. I think Mambo4 had a real important point- the timing of the movement notes between Em and C is as, if not more, important than the actual notes you pick. The style/genre of music you're playing will help determine what some good options are. Copying other great bassists is legal and worthwhile.
  11. 73maverick


    Apr 30, 2012
    As a fellow beginner, I understand where you're coming from. My best advice is simple: listen to the kind of music you want to play as much as you possibly can, as in all the time!

    Right now I'm starting jazz standards (Autumn Leaves, yay me :bassist: My satellite radio goes on the RealJazz station the minute I get home from work. Even while I'm doing other tasks, the rhythms and melodies get in my head and give me a better "feel" for jazz.

    Also, every week after my Saturday lessons, I make a new playlist of songs I'm working on or want to learn. I commute about 5 hours a week, and it's a great chance to listen critically (reduces road rage too!) When it's time to practice, I already know in my head what it's supposed to sound like, if that makes any sense.

    This week I've got 5 versions "Autumn Leaves" in 3 different keys, "Mack The Knife," a little Amy Winehouse, and "Mr. Magic" (which is based around the circle of fifths, great song!)

    Hope that helps, happy playing!
  12. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    From your example, you would need to decide what key/mode you are in. This will narrow you note selection down, although you always have 12 notes to work with.

    Know the duration of the chords. One beat each? Two beats each? More, less, different. I don't think using a stop watch to determine the duration is the best method. Perhaps a metronome, drum machine, another musician(s).

    Learn what notes make up the chords. From this you will have the 'more important' notes to use to construct a line, pattern, ostinato. In your example: Em (E, G, B), C (C, E, G)

    Look for common notes. This can make for interesting melodic lines, pedals, inversions etc.

    Experiment with rhythm.

    Listen to other bass players.

    There is so much more...

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