Rootless chord question

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by AndyMania, Nov 13, 2012.

  1. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    I was watching this awesome Jeff Berlin tutorial where he demonstrated the Bb 12 bar blues using only 3rds and 7ths for every chord. It sounded awesome and it had a different melodic quality to it.

    I tried to emulate it but couldnt figure out how he made it so cool with just 3rds and 7ths. Anyway, I went to mess around with a NO root concept in the key of C using a ii V I progression.

    We know that:

    iim7=D F A C
    V7= G B D F
    Imaj7= C E G B

    WITHOUT the root we have:

    iim7= F A C
    V7= B D F
    Imaj7=E G B

    My question is: without the root, wouldn't the ii V I be
    technically a IV vii iii?????

    It sounds like the 3rd of each chord becomes the new root if we drop the original root............

    Im trying to figure out how to use the other intervals on beat 1 instead of always using the root. I am currently working on Ed Friedland's "Creating Walking Basslines" but he uses the root on beat 1 always. I know later in the book he mentions using 3rds and 5ths on beat 1 but I am impatient and am asking ahead of time.
  2. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2010
    You have to 'HEAR' the original chord. Lead your fingers around the sound not the other way around
  3. dmrogers

    dmrogers Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2005
    Eastman, GA
    ^ +1

    Could you post a link to the vid?
  4. Federighi


    Jun 19, 2011
    Burlingame, CA
    If you want to understand rootless voicings or voice leading etc, I'd recommend some piano lessons. In general, pianists have a much greater understanding of harmony amongst other things.
  5. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada

    this is great stuff's standard intro to jazz type training. The reasoning is that in jazz the most important chord tones are the 3rd and 7th ....they call em "guidetones"

    and you're right ....if know one is playing the root ...a ii V I seems like a IV V I ......a 2 5 1 is simply a bit more subtle sounding 4 5 1 anyway .....
  6. LarryCrabtree


    Sep 19, 2011
    If you want to understand what your are talking about the 2 5 1 that you are showing is correct but usually in Jazz we add the 9th to the top to make a 4 note chord that gives the voicing a little cooler sound. You could try that.
  7. Sloop John D

    Sloop John D

    Jun 29, 2012
    Here's a good music lesson on this topic:

    The general idea is instead of outlining each chord and using the root note on the first downbeat of the bar, you use chord inversions to set up a bassline that's more linear and less jumpy.

    So for any given chord, you would either start off with the root, the 3rd, the 5th, or the 7th (if it's a 7th chord), and then fill in the spaces with notes that move through these roots in a cleaner, more linear fashion.

    The lesson I linked gives some great audio examples that more clearly demonstrate what I've explained above, and the author goes into much more detail. It's a great lesson that demonstrates the very idea you're talking about.
  8. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    when I was going at piano, I picked up a left hand technique of root or reeot 5 and a right hand technique that always included the 3 and 7 -- most of the time starting on the 3 -- and came to the same conclusion. I could think of the right hand as a different set of chords above the left hand roots.

    It turns out 'real' piano players have this down AND a lot of extended chords are thought of in this way and are notated as slash chords because it's a lot simpler.

    I would suggest picking up Garry Willis'

    He talks in there about playing above the root -- suitable for soloing
    but also exercises of playing in one direction using chord tones of the given chords until one runs out of room within a fretboard range and then reversing (going down rather than up). It's possible to practice the same exercise avoiding the root (as the 7 is so close to the root)
    It's not an esp easy book (and I'm sure my explanation is even worse) but I'm finding it very useful.
    Starting out most books are going to emphasize playing the root on beat one to drill that idea home, but progressing from there it's possible to expand to a much more melodic/musical set of ideas by playing other chor tones on the 1. But it's a balancing act to continue to outline the harmony.
    I think the bass player can add a certain ambiguity about the harmony now and then to add interest. By playing a lot of 3's and 7's it's possible to shift the harmony but stay true to outline.
    emphasizing 6ths can add ambiguity in another way -- the old is it a f6: f a c d or dm7: d f a c and a lot of great bas players threw in a lot of 6ths
  9. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    thanks for the responses guys.
    Eddododo: Could you elaborate on that?

    Sloop John: Thats a great site. I was wondering, what is a V6 chord? Its mentioned in that Beethoven piece...
  10. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    First-inversion V. Example:

    Key of G, V6 = D/F#
  11. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    Bainbridge you lost me mean F# is in the bass?
  12. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    Here is a Jeff Berlin video. Still not sure what he means by using "only 2 notes."
    I couldnt find the original Bb blues video, but this is similar in concept:

  13. Sloop John D

    Sloop John D

    Jun 29, 2012
    V6 is a chord inversion. Chord inversions are named after the interval of the notes above them. For example, a V chord in root position would be a V5/3, meaning you have the root, then the note a third above, followed by the note a fifth above. The V 6/3 chord is a chord in first inversion, which means you play the 3rd in the bass instead of the root, then the note a 3rd above (which ends up being the 5th) and then the note a 6th above (which ends up being the root). It is customary to shorten a 6/3 chord to 6, so you can just say V6.

    The same website gives a more detailed explanation here:

    As he stated in the other lesson I posted, chord inversions can be a handy way to make the bass line move in a smoother pattern. For example, if you go from I to V and back to I, playing the root notes of each chord causes you to make this big leap up a 5th and then back down a 4th, which doesn't necessarily sound all that clean. But if you play the V with the 3rd in the root instead, then the bass line moves from the tonic down one half-step, and then back up one half-step, making for a smoother sounding transition.

    For example, in the key of C major, going from I to V to I (Or Cmaj, Gmaj, Cmaj), if you play all chords in root position, the bass line moves from C to G to C. If you play the V chord in the first inversion, the 3rd note (B) goes in the bass instead of the G. Now your bass line goes C to B to C. It's a smaller movement and it sounds a bit smoother.

    It's not necessary to play like this all the time, but some musicians do prefer these types of movements, and it's another way of thinking about playing bass which can be helpful for getting new ideas.
  14. Where does the 6 come in to it? Every chord I see in the Beethoven example is a simple triad with the 3rd in the bass i.e. 1st inversion.

    EDIT: Sloop explained it while I was studying it.
  15. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    What Sloop said. Here are other inversion symbols:


    Root position - root in bass - no change. (Ex. I V vii° ii ii° iv IV... Leadsheet symbol is just chord name; E, A, Dm, Bm, C#°)
    First inversion - third in bass - 6 (Ex. I6, i6, ii6, IV6, etc. Leadsheet would be like this: Eb/G, Fm/Ab)
    Second inversion - fifth in bass - 6/4 (Ex. I6/4, V6/4, iii6/4. C/G, Cm/G, A/E, F#°/C)

    Seventh Chords

    Root position - root in bass - 7 (I also prefer to use '∆' for maj7)(I∆, V7, ii7. C7, Bb∆, Em7, G#°7, Eø7)
    First inversion - third in bass - 6/5 (I6/5, V6/5, iv6/5. E7/G#, Dm7/F)
    Second inversion - fifth in bass - 4/3 (III4/3, vi4/3. G∆/D, Eø7/Bb, A7/C#)
    Third inversion - seventh in bass - 4/2 (iv4/2, V4/2. B∆/A#, Em7/D, Gb7/Fb)
  16. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    Also, keep in mind that this system of labeling breaks down very quickly once you start looking at more modern harmony. This stuff was meant to describe tertian harmony circa 1760-something. Of course, anybody that is knowledgeable in figured bass symbols has a wider vocabulary of chord types and voicings that they can quantify with those little numbers. However, it's not a big concern in my experience.
  17. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    Sloopy I had a light bulb moment. I noticed that chords played in root position sound jumpy and not as smooth. This was one of my main issues. I was messing around with inversions and I did notice my grooves had way more life to them. Bainbridge, in regards to seventh chord inversions, what does 4/3 and 4/2 exactly refer too?
  18. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    4/3: the root is a fourth above the bass note, and the seventh is a third above the bass note. Example, in the key of B major:



    4/2: the third of the chord is a fourth above the bass note, and the root is a second above the bass note. Another example, key of B major:



    The numbers aren't meant to specify the exact chord members, but rather "these intervals are above this note".
  19. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    Ahhhh. I get it. Thanks a bunch.
  20. AndyMania


    Jan 3, 2010
    Uhhh hold on....a forth above A# is D#.........
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