Practicing/Writing with Guitarist - Advice Wanted

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Stoom, Sep 1, 2019.

  1. Stoom


    Sep 1, 2012
    I've been teaching myself metal bass and sometimes I practice with my drummer friend. I just improvise with familiar scales and patterns, my drummer follows my lead and sometimes we get into a decent groove, other times I get a block and resort to playing songs I've been learning. I enjoy it and learn from it regardless but we never seem to get anything written down.
    On a few occasions a guitarist friend has joined us and it was far worse. The drumming was ok and the guitarist didn't seem to struggle playing along to my bass lines either, I couldn't tell him exactly what I was doing but I could show him and he'd figure it out himself.
    I struggled to play along with the riffs he'd written though, I tried watching and listening to what notes he was playing and working out where to play mine but I found this overwhelming when put on the spot. If what he was playing was written down in front of me that would really help but I need advice on how exactly we should be practicing and writing together.
  2. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    I would suggest you get the harmonic foundation for what you will be playing down first, i.e. decide on the chord progression then you all three will be working from the same set of chords in whatever key you decide upon. For example; "OK let's do a 12 bar blues progression in E, ready 1 and 2 and 3...

    • Guitar plays melody from the E scale notes. If his skill level will let him play melody. Running some licks may not count as melody unless they are tied together. If that is a problem have him run the E blues scale notes or use the E pentatonic scale notes. Not in order, try for melodic phrases.
    • Bass plays harmony, one note at a time, from the chords in the progression. Roots, fives and eights. Just pounding roots works...
    • The drummer sets the rhythm and you all three work from there.
    What chord progression? Keep it simple and use the 12 bar blues progression, in whatever key you'all want.

    My point, you have to decide on some kind of structure to get started. Let the 12 bar blues progression be your foundation in what ever key you decide on. This way you all have a structure to work from.

    12 bar blues progression - Bing video

    Happy trails.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
  3. Stoom


    Sep 1, 2012
    OK thanks. Excuse my ignorance but do all songs have a chord progression? I understand what they are but Im struggling to recognise them in any of the metal songs I've been practicing and I don't take them into account when writing, I stick to E and play notes from the locrian 2 mode. Does changing key count? I dunno
  4. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    OK hang on. Yes all songs have a chord progression of some kind. Let Google find the chords used in the metal song you would like. Use these search words; fake chord, name of the song. Using those search words I pulled up Metallica's Master of Puppets.

    Metallica - Master Of Puppets (Chords)

    Sing, or recite the lyrics along with the video and change chords when the fake chord sheet music goes to a new chord. That is step one.

    When you get that going come back for more.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
  5. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    Record your sessions.
    bfields likes this.
  6. Stoom


    Sep 1, 2012
    OK so taking puppets as our example, what is the chord progression for that song? Is it just all of them?
  7. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    it is "overwhelming" for everyone --- but it gets easier the more you do it. also: when you've done it for years = it's more of a challenge/game than an 'anxious' moment...and if you do it often enough it's 'automatic' and fun! you're training your ears!

    - don't stop!
    - don't give up!
    - 'rome wasn't built in a day'!
    - practice, practice, practice!

    good luck hearing the notes you could/should be playing! :thumbsup:
  8. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    The chord progression in Puppets is way beyond something to start you on. So, I'm going to just scratch the surface and then give you a place to start.

    Chord progressions do two things; 1) move the verse along from rest to tension to climax and then to resolution and back to rest. Then 2) if the notes found in the melody are repeated in the active chord we get harmonization. Harmonization is a good thing and really what music wants to achieve. So the sharing of notes between the treble clef and the bass clef is kinda important. Chords provide movement and harmonization.

    Start here and when you come up for air ask specific questions. It is a long story.

    • The I chord can go anywhere in the progression as the I chord is the tonal center, however, once you start a progression on the rest, tension, climax road and insert the I chord you resolve all the tension you have built up. That may not be a good thing. I-ii-I-IV-I That second I chord stops the movement is that really what you want?

    • The ii chord is a sub-dominant chord and wants to go to a dominant chord. If you let it go this way normally good things happen. ii-V-I

    • The iii chord is the middle chord and normally leads somewhere. The iii likes to drag the vi with it on this journey. More on the vi later.

    • The IV chord, like the ii chord is also a sub-dominant chord and wants to go to a dominant chord. As the ii and IV want the same thing they can sub for each other. Notice one is minor and the other is major.

    • The V chord is the dominant chord and it wants to go to the tonic I chord. If you make the V into a V7 chord it wants to resolve RIGHT NOW. I-V-I

    • The vi chord likes to go to a sub-dominant chord. For example iii-vi-ii-V-I.

    • The vii chord is also a dominant chord and wants to resolve to the tonic I chord, however, is in no hurry to do so. We often use the vii as the lead to chord in a turn-a-round, i.e. vii-iii-vi-ii-V-I.

    • The viii chord is the octave chord and wants the same things as the I chord.

    chord progressions what do they accomplish - Bing
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2019
  9. Stoom


    Sep 1, 2012
    We nee
    Thanks, that's really helpful, I understand how the chord progression works with a groove or bass lines such as the 12 bar blues, I get that but when someone says a song is i-v-iv-i for example, am I to assume there are only 3 chords and 1 progression throughout the whole song? That's where I'm getting confused.
  10. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    Yes you can assume there are those three chords in this song.
    Now how they progress through the song I think it is time you started calling up some fake chord sheet music on the song. That will give you how those chords are used in the song.

    Understand fake chord will identify the chords with the name of the chord, i.e. C, F, G. Then we transpose this the I-IV-V. First things first, let Google call up some fake chord sheet music for you using these search words; chords, name of the song.

    Here is a dirt simple one in the key of A, with a I-IV-V A, D, E progression.

    Notice the chords in the song do not follow the I-IV-V progression. We refer to it as a I-IV-V song however you really need the sheet music to see how the chords fall. I know -- if it was easy everybody would be a musician.

    ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK Chords - Bill Haley | E-Chords

    Recite the lyrics and change chords when the sheet music changes.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
  11. bfields


    Apr 9, 2015
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Yep. If you have a dedicated recording device with nice mics, that's great, but if all you have is a phone, that'll work too.

    Then you can take it home and play it repeatedly and experiment.

    You'll get better at figuring out on the spot with practice.
  12. Stoom


    Sep 1, 2012
    The songs chord progression is I-IV-V but the chords in the song don't follow that progression... Wut?
  13. Malcolm35

    Malcolm35 Supporting Member

    I-IV-V in A would be A, D, E.
    The first verse will use the A and E7 the D is omitted in the first verse.

    The refrain is D, A, E7, A --- yes all chords in a I IV V progression, however, not in the I IV V order.

    Songs ends with several "verses" pounding A's.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
  14. Stoom


    Sep 1, 2012
    I think I get it now, BTW I appreciate you explaining all this to me, thanks.
  15. A lot of metal these days is not diatonic so it is not possible to just stay in one key. The pentatonic scale is your friend. Learn it in it's major and minor forms. Ask the guitarist what chords he is playing and that will get you started. Use notes from the major pentatonic over his major chords and the minor pentatonic over minor chords (i.e. E Major pentatonic over an E Major chord, and A minor pentatonic over an A minor chord). In metal sometimes they are playing one-note riffs instead of chords in which case you ask him what scale the notes are from (hopefully he knows, but in metal they often don't so you have to figure it out) and then use that pentatonic scale (i.e. G minor pentatonic if he's playing notes from the G minor scale or a minor mode (if you don't know what modes are then that's your next thing to learn)). Also in metal, they are often playing power chords (sometimes called "5 chords" such as E5 or A5). For power chords you can use notes from either a major or minor pentatonic scale over them. You can try the notes from the major or minor pentatonic scale of that note (E major pentatonic OR E minor pentatonic over an E5 chord). Experiment with mixing Majors and minors in these situations and see which sounds best to you. Experimenting is half the fun.
  16. Stoom


    Sep 1, 2012
    Right, I've misunderstood the use of scales, it's chord patterns and progressions I need to be primarily focused on.

    What did you mean by a lot of metal not being diatonic?
  17. Diatonic means the chord progression contains chords that occur naturally in one key. For example, the chords that occur naturally in the key of C Major are: C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim. The chord progression Am, G, Em, C is all naturally in the key of C Major (or maybe A minor which is the relative minor to C Major), and so it is a diatonic progression. The person writing this progression probably started by deciding to write something in the key of C Major. You can simply play notes from the C Major scale over the entire thing.

    But in metal you might see a progression like: C5, Gb5, F5, D5. There is no scale that has all of those chords naturally occuring in it, so it is not diatonic. In this case the song is not necessarily in any specific key, you have to play notes that sound good over a certain chord, which is where the Pentatonic scale comes in. There are tons of other scales too that might work, but the Pentatonic is a good basic place to start.