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Playing with chord progression

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by kaboom133, Jun 16, 2004.

  1. kaboom133


    Oct 19, 2001
    Latrobe PA
    My band plays a song with a D, A, C, G chord progression, and I basically just play right along with the guitar on it, I pretty much play the root of each chord with the third, fifth, and octave thrown in sometimes. It sounds pretty good, but it's kind of lacking, and that brings me to my question. Am I right in thinking that this progression is in G? All the roots of the chords are in A G major scale, and so it should sound right if I kind of groove in G. If I did this, what scale(s) would sound good for it? I know that's a lot of questions, so thanks for any help.

    (can't you just smell my ignorance?)
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    As a bass player you should be outlining the chord progression and not just "noodling" in what you perceive as the home key.

    The key of G major would have the following chords :

    G Major 7
    A Minor 7
    B Minor 7
    C Major 7 #4
    D 7
    E Minor 7
    F# Minor 7 b5

    So your chords aren't necessarily in G unless you know the quality of each chord?
  3. pontz


    Oct 31, 2003
    You could do a lot with that progression, but why try to fix it if it ain't broken. Somtimes simple is best. If the chords are all major, then your song switches keys and is in up to three keys at any given time. Instead of looking for an overriding key to noodle on. I would keep it simple and add fills when appropriate.

    This is all lame advice though, without hearing the song.

    Have fun,

  4. kaboom133


    Oct 19, 2001
    Latrobe PA
    Well, my knowlege of music is lame as well, so I have trouble explaining this, (as well as understanding it). :meh: Also, the guitar part is not complex at all, it's root fifth octave power chords, and because of that, the song is kind of dull, so I was looking for a way to kick the song up, and make it more interesting.

    That's what I'm trying to figure out. That's pretty much all my playing is in this song, noodling. I'm looking for a way to change that.

    Thanks for the help, both of you. :)
    Anything else anyone?
  5. christoph h.

    christoph h.

    Mar 26, 2001
    the above advice is very valid, but i think you should consider an additional, less theory-oriented approach, too.

    the idea of knowing which notes are "correct" is nice, but in the end may not help much with the question of which notes are the "big points".

    maybe you could just listen to the song without playing and just try to find "inside" what you want to play? maybe you could hum or whistle the line?

    of course, transferring the hummed/"imagined" bass line from you brain the the instrument may take a while and some practice, depending on your abilities.
  6. Your piece could be in a few different keys thought I'm possibly leaning towards D minor (same notes as F major just different starting note), because what you've given us starts on D.

    My approach to playing over a progression is finding a way to get from one chord to the next, in particular the root note or appropriate bass note (in your case the root note and the bass are the same). How you do this depends on the song, some I might just sit on the root and play off the drums to create a bit more motion in the rhythm. I might do a quick run through notes that fit into the chord (different for each chord) and some pleasant sounding passing notes. You might even just be able to get away with just a single root note per chord. Completely depends on the song, I wanna get a grasp on how guys like John Turner, Jacquo and the other extended range bassists play their harps and make it fit in a song.

    In my experience the best approach to start with is the first, find the root note and play off the drums. Then you can start introducing some more harmonious (or melodic) variations and they fit a little easier.

    Josh D
  7. kaboom133


    Oct 19, 2001
    Latrobe PA
    Thanks! So many things to try. My guitarist just got mono, so I guess I'll just have to try out some of these things to an old recording of him playing the song. I like the idea of humming along to the song with no bass playing, neat idea.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Don't know who the second one is, but I suspect that John writes a bass line/part and then expects everybody else to fit around that!! ;)
  9. 7flat5


    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
    I am about one step less ignorant than you, but without having heard the melody at all, I'd also try C minor as a general jumping-off place, for a start, it being rock n roll and all. It made so much sense to me when someone pointed out that all those power chords can be either major or minor, and sometimes both in different places. Try a c minor scale over that first d chord, for example, and you get a nice arabian-sounding Phrygian mode thing going which goes through the A diminished to a C minor. Would give it a really dark feel, if that's what you are after instead of a bunch of major thirds.
  10. Ahh, very good point Bruce but, regrettably, doesn't help. I think I'll need a new bass and a new band...

    Whoever the second guy is, I can't find his user name, although I thought it was Jacquo IIX or something similar. Played an Adler with many strings.?.? Maybe...

    Josh D
  11. tim99

    tim99 Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    I am a bass-player in a rock and roll band. The girls all love me cause I hold down the low end. My band. My band. My band.

    This is funny. A guitar player comes up with a power chord riff that he likes the sound of, and we are trying to figure out the actual chord progression. I think not. I think this is not a chord progression at all.

    But, in rock, what you look for is two chords together that could be the 4 and 5 chords, in your "chord string", this could be the C and D as the four and five, so you look for a G, yep, and that makes the A a ii minor, which makes sense, if there is an "extra" chord in addition to the I IV and V, the vi and the ii are the usual suspects. So, you then look at the G and the A, which would make it E, nah. Does not work. Now, play the song on a tape player and slowly play the g scale and see if it works. If so, play the b3 when you are on the A.

    When the tv is playing music in the background, it is in a key. Play a note. Does it fit? If not, move one fret up or down, and either of those notes has to fit. Listen, do you move down a whole step or a half step to stay in the key? Move. Listen again. Move. Ok, after a few weeks of doing this, you sould be able to just move down the fretboard on one string in the key of a song that is playing on tv or the radio. If you look at the whole step half step pattern, you can figure out your key. I do this all the time now without actually thinking what key I am in. I really don't care. I sit in front of the tv, run up and down a string a couple of frets, find a spot, and just play there...

    ...All because I'm the bass-player of my band...

  12. kaboom133


    Oct 19, 2001
    Latrobe PA
    hmmm, that opens a lot up for me. I was always under the impression that root fifth octave power chords were minor. What do you mean though, sometimes both in different places.

    And Tim, that TV thing is a cool idea, I'll try that. Thanks!

    I'm suprised I haven't worn out the tape of the guitar to this song yet, I've been playing it over and over so much in the last few days.
  13. The way I play is that I think of where on the neck I have the roots of the chords in the progression and try to connect them and find a good line to lead from one root to the other.

    The easiest way is to simply use a scalar approach to lead into a new root. If you are playing under a major chord use the major scale, if you are playing under a minor chord use the minor scale and so on.

    Or you can use a modal approach, this however aquires you to know the key of the progression to know wich modes to use.

    Try to combine them both to make it interesting.
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    They are ambiguous - you cannot tell for certain, whether a chord is major or minor unless you have the third present.

    They can certainly "stand in" for either and be heard as either, but that will depend on context - i.e. what chords are around them - so if a song has a definite minor sound, but has a section with these, then you will probably hear them as minor - but if you took them in isolation, then they are ambiguous.
  15. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Theorhetically power chords have no major or minor tonality, but playing a major 3rd or 7th over a power chord doesnt usually sound good, IMO of course.
    The 7th is probably due to the semi-tone between M7th and octave, the 3rd, well, I have no idea why that doesnt work to my ears, possibley because power chords have been used in a rock, usually pent minor setting for the past N decades?

    Generally speaking, I say power chord = minor pentatonic.