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Reading Chord Charts Question...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Crazy Turtle, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. Crazy Turtle

    Crazy Turtle

    Sep 1, 2010
    So I am playing for my church band now and having fun. I play for a youth group so our songs kind of have a pop feel to them. Most of what I play simply calls for me to play root notes. I was wondering though, what should I do if there is a Bsus or G#m chord in my chart what note should I be playing? Thanks a lot!:help:
  2. Rockman


    Mar 2, 2006
    This depends on so many things. First off if it calls for playing the roots, then play roots. Second off you should try to learn what chord symbols mean and how to at least formulate the chords on your bass and in your mind, its a pretty integral part to playing bass. Third off you should be more specific and add context, like do you not know what to play over a specific progression with a Bsus or a G#m chord being used, in which case share the progression and you'll get more help.
  3. Kobaia


    Oct 29, 2005
    Denton TX
    Endorsing Artist: Aguilar Amp Gruv Gear and Mono Cases
    Cb and Ab
  4. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    You can't go wrong with the root. But there are many other option. Knowing what notes are implied by the symbols will help you know what notes you can use in a bass line. For instance, in both your examples playing a major third after the root would probably be unwelcomed.
    There are many threads on this and the Internet is full of information about what notes are in what chords.
    Abersold gives a free book that has a lot of this basic theory information www.jazzbooks.com
  5. svenbass

    svenbass Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2002
    tee hee:D
  6. Pretty well covered so far. I'll just add this. You need to know what the notes (or intervals) are in any chord. Not a steep learning curve. http://www.smithfowler.org/music/Chord_Formulas.htm
    From the above the Bsus, (I assume Bsus2) would be R-2-5 and the G#m would be R-b3-5.
    Here is another site that will help with that. http://www.looknohands.com/chordhouse/guitar/index_rb.html I asked for the B sus2 chord and it gave me this:
    B sus2
    intervals: 1,2,5
    half-steps: 2-5
    notes: B,C#,F#

    And for the G#m.......
    G#m a.k.a. G#minor, G#min, G#-
    intervals: 1,b3,5
    half-steps: 3-4
    notes: G#,B,D#

    Generic bass lines to put to memory:
    Major chord R-3-5-3 why the extra 3? 4/4 time you will need four beats or notes to fill the measure.
    Minor chord R-b3-5-b3
    Dominant 7 chord R-3-5-b7
    Minor 7 R-b3-5-b7
    Major 7 R-3-5-7
    Major scale box with interval numbers shown

    Now the question is how much of that chord is called for, i.e. will just roots be enough or should you use the complete chord tone? That comes with experience. Keep using your roots and when that does not seem enough add some chord tones....... R-5-R-5 or try R-R-5-5 how about R-5-8-5 and work up to the full chord tone R-3-5-b7. Nothing wrong with roots - just roots will play a lot of bass.

    www.studybass.com has a section showing several possible bass lines with audio. http://www.studybass.com/lessons/bass-chord-patterns/one-octave-major-triad/exercises/ Check out # 3.
    http://www.studybass.com/lessons/bass-chord-patterns/one-octave-major-7th/exercises/ Try # 3 here also and activate the tab button. Notice the notes used for those chords .........
    Cmaj7 is C-E-G-B or R-3-5-7
    Ebmaj7 is Eb-G-Bb-D or R-3-5-7
    Abmaj7 is Ab-C-Eb-G or R-3-5-7
    Dbmaj7 is Db-F-Ab-C or R-3-5-7, i.e. they are all maj7 chords so your generic R-3-5-7 will work for them all. Playing from chord charts is really rather simple, once we understand what notes make a chord, i.e. the chord spelling -- and are comfortable composing our own bass lines.

    Good luck.
  7. tjh


    Mar 22, 2006
    actually, unless I see it written as Bsus2, I would much rather 'assume' that 'Bsus' is suspending the 3rd a half step, and actually played as a 4th ... so in the example above, the chord 'Bsus' would be compromised of the B (root or 1), E (sus 3rd + 1/2), and F# (or 5th) ... JMHO
  8. B sus4
    a.k.a. Bsus, B(sus4)
    intervals: 1,4,5
    half-steps: 5-2
    notes: B,E,F#

    Yes that is correct.

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