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Playing chord tones always, or...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by btrag, Dec 19, 2005.


  1. btrag

    btrag

    Mar 7, 2005
    Chicago
    In my band, many of the songs we play change keys, and use borrowed chords. In an effort to "play it safe" when creating basslines for these songs, can I always be assured that I am playing the right notes if I play chord tones? Is this a fail-safe method, with no exceptions?

    Evenually I should know when the song changes key, and the appropriate scales to use over chords, but in the interm, I don't want to drag the band down playing bum notes.

    Another reason is, I know all of the tones that form every chord variation, and, of course, I know how to locate these notes on the fingerboard.
     
  2. AGCurry

    AGCurry

    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    If you always play only chord tones, you will be correct but boring.

    Sixths, seconds, and sevenths are my friends.
     
  3. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Might be safer to say "you'd stand a greater chance of being boring", plenty of cool bassists rarely get beyond chord tones *ahem* fortunately! :)
     
  4. AGCurry

    AGCurry

    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    Well, perhaps I should have clarified. Notes which are not chord tones are extremely useful on weak beats, as they lead to chord tones and provide melody (tension and release) in your bass lines. Probably the most common example is the 6 leading to the 5. It's a shorter interval than the 3 to 5, so the tension is greater.
     
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    and your point is?
     
  6. btrag

    btrag

    Mar 7, 2005
    Chicago
    He plays a lot of diminished and 7th chords, so, even if I'm only playing chord tones, I'm still playing 7ths and flatted fifths. So, this wouldn't be boring per-se.

    How about borrowed chords?---Will playing chord tones *ALWAYS* be musically correct?
     
  7. AGCurry

    AGCurry

    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    I thought it was fairly obvious. Notes which are not in the chord have their places.
     
  8. Snarf

    Snarf

    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    I would try to stay away from a major 7th, since that can clash with the root. Staying away from 5ths in dominant chords with b9 or b13 is a good idea too. That's all I can really think of at the moment.

    An important thing for us to know, though: what style of music is this?
     
  9. BassChuck

    BassChuck

    Nov 15, 2005
    Cincinnati
    Well, Dizzy said that you can "play any note against any chord, as long as you do it fast enough". And so it is.

    However, if you want to keep a bass gig, best to keep to chord tones at least on the strong beats in a measure. Roots are always a smart choice for the downbeat of a measure. If you play notes that are not chord tones, congratulations. BUT you (and your gig/band) are greatly served by making sure that non-chord tones are there for a reason. For instance... playing an F# under the bands F chord is a sure way to insure a musical conversation with more concerned members of the ensemble. BUT, a well placed F# between the F and G chord can make the world seem so much more smoother. And every now and then slipping in a sly Db between the G and coming home to C can be a very hip sound.... of course you could be accused of being a 'jazzer' (ah, the joys and arrows of the tri-tone subsitution).

    I have a jazz background, but now I'm enjoying a gig with an oldies R+B band. All the stuff mentioned in the previous paragraph I can get away with just fine.. no sweat. But Lord help me if I use a ii instead of a IV... and that's a Chord Tone! (kinda)

    Oh well... if it was easy, everyone would be playing music. Wouldn't that be a great world?
     
  10. btrag

    btrag

    Mar 7, 2005
    Chicago
    It is piano-driven singer/songwriter pop. Slower tempos. Think Ben Folds.
     
  11. Snarf

    Snarf

    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    Roots and fifths, occasional approach notes. But mostly roots. Anything else is just going to clash, IME.
     
  12. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Heh, I got your point! :) Someone else posted something that didnt appear to have any point other than "I got out of bed the wrong side this morning" after your post, then obviously deleted it.