Starting on the third!

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by coyote1, Jan 21, 2022.

  1. coyote1


    Mar 23, 2012
    It’s finally happening. And it happened by accident. Running the simple standard Fly Me To The Moon, as I get more flexible in what I play the natural flow of my choices is leading to NOT starting a measure on the root! And it sounds good! Likewise with the simple Blue Bossa.

    who knows. Maybe one day I’ll finally learn to play this instrument
  2. LedReign


    Feb 17, 2014
    Seattle, WA
    ahye, eatgr inkingth. nderfulwo proachap dan eaid. isth allyre epske ingsth terestingin.
  3. Mikich


    Oct 12, 2020
    I see what you did “ereth”
    coyote1 likes this.
  4. Off-topic
    What's the bass in your avatar?
  5. coyote1


    Mar 23, 2012
    Takamine TB10. Great instrument, though now that I’m playing upright it has kinda fallen off the radar. A deal to sell it came my way, but the guy who wanted it is in Australia…. we could not complete the shipping. Unfortunate, because it deserves to be played.
  6. Nothing wrong when you land on the third at a chord change. But you should make clear by the following notes that it’s not the root, best by playing the root a bit later too. Specially if you do not have a chord instrument with you.
    If you play an unidirectional line that lands on the third (most often when you go down), it is logical to proceed that way which gives you the root on the 3rd beat. And that is a mental anticipation of the listener too, so it is clear what will come next and that the first note is not the root.
    Maybe not the best way for a singer, but that depends on the experience of the singer (as well as the experience of an instrumentalist).
    zootsaxes and J_Bass like this.
  7. jthisdell


    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    A few years ago I was in a Gypsie Jazz trio and on some of the standards I would go through a round not playing the root but emphasizing the third, the next round emphasizing the fifth. So go through a whole song not ever playing the root. It was a little weird but interesting.
  8. zootsaxes

    zootsaxes Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 6, 2015
    Memphis TN
    I just got finished reading these "Neonomicon" and "Providence" comics by Allen Moore in the HP Lovecraft universe (scariest comics I've ever read, btw)-- this seems like it's taken right out of its pages, lol. More on point, I agree with doublemidi - The third scale degree on beat one is always a nice option, but you have to be clear that you're not stating the relative major/minor, unless you're intentionally trying to make the changes a little more ambiguous. It's been my experience that singers really do hate it, though.
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Landing on the 3rd is a great skill to develop, but it’s also situational. I would be careful about using this device on melodies, since in essence they are designed as two voice counterpoint between melody and bass.

    In the bigger picture, even in solos, that same two voice counterpoint is important. When accompanying a soloist who often lands on the 3rd while outlining the changes, landing on the 3rd in the bass line can thin out the harmonic strength of the counterpoint if overused. As always, the right thing to play is situational in the moment, and while it’s good to develop a lot of tools for the toolbox, they are best used with ears wide open to the big picture result.
    Earl, HateyMcAmp, Cal03 and 7 others like this.
  10. And there is the risk that the melody/improvisation takes the third too. If you can hear in advance that this might happen, better stay with the root that time.

    And I would not play the third on the first beat of the first bar of a tune. Maybe in the choruses, but I would avoid that, and never in the tune as the melody often has the third there too.

    Using the third on there first beat is an option to get away from a strict root notes on the first beat only rule which personally I find boring if done always that way. But you need ear training to know when it can work and when staying away from it. Root notes only is safe, but a bit boring. Anything else is risky and needs a lot of ear training and trial and error.

    If it just sounds suboptimal sometimes and gives you more interesting bass lines it is worth developing that skill. If your musician colleagues look at you unamused, better stay the safe way that time.
  11. coyote1


    Mar 23, 2012
    Damn, I was gonna start using this all the time! Now it’s ruined! lol

    what I’ve figured out as I work with it is a) indeed, use it sparingly, and b) definitely use it to move to the root. Moving from the third to the seventh or the sixth, or to a b9 etc, leaves you and the whole ensemble out in space.
  12. You can go from third to seventh if there are no chordal instruments, like in duos with a melody instrument. Then you play on the bass what the chordal instruments typically do. Might be nice for a chorus or some part of a piece as a spice, but not too much from that either.
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