staying in key

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Coutts_is_god, Jul 2, 2005.

  1. Coutts_is_god

    Coutts_is_god Guest

    Dec 29, 2003
    Windsor, Ont, Canada
    I need some advice or "General instruction" to staying in key. I'm really having trouble staying in key when my guitar player plays chords and when we play that common blues guitar thing. what comes to mind right now is the beginning of American women by Guess who is an example.

    Thank you
    Jimmy B
  2. If you know your scales, major or minor, learn them ALL over the neck.

    If you're feeling lazy though, someone on the board has stated that if you hit an "unwanted chromatic", just ascend or descend by a half step to go back into the key.
  3. Coutts_is_god

    Coutts_is_god Guest

    Dec 29, 2003
    Windsor, Ont, Canada
    How do I know what key to play in when he is playing cords?
  4. Suckbird

    Suckbird Banned

    May 4, 2004
    IN the same key as he play the chord?

    Example, if he plays a Eminor chord then you're simply going to stay in the key of Eminor?
  5. Coutts_is_god

    Coutts_is_god Guest

    Dec 29, 2003
    Windsor, Ont, Canada
    What if he plays a Suspended chord?
  6. AlexL


    Jul 20, 2004
    First off, suspended chords ARE in "key" they just substitute the 3rd in the chord with the 4th; and the 4th is still a note in the key signature.

    There are a number of methods to figure out the key signature that a song is in. I won't go in to all of them, but you can do a search here and you should find some tips. Once you know the key, you must know the scale that corresponds to that key. And you should learn to play it anywhere on the neck.

    Lastly, you will find that most popular songs do not adhere to one particular key signature; if you are in the key of A major, the C# chord should be a minor, but if it fits the song, it can be a major. Songs will also borrow a chord from a different key; for example, if a song is in the Key of A Major, it may borrow a chord from the key of A minor.

    Also, as a bassist, your choice of notes does not need to adhere to the current key signature. Again, if you are in the key of A major, and the guitarist is playing an A major chord, I will often play a G natural over it, which actually makes the chord an A7, where a G# would more accurately fit the key signature (making it an A maj7).

    I suggest finding a GOOD instructor who can introduce you to music theory.

    - E.
  7. Are you improvising or playing set pieces? If set pieces, play the root note of whatever chord he's playing. Until you work out some harmony stuff, at least.
  8. Coutts_is_god

    Coutts_is_god Guest

    Dec 29, 2003
    Windsor, Ont, Canada
    If he is playing major chords could I do the the turn around and play the harmonic minor of that major?
    He is playing a G chord I could play a E minor scale over that.

    See we were both in the same music class. He just happend to pay more attion then I did:D
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You could. Would it sound right? Only you and he can answer that question. The good thing is that nobody dies if it sounds bad.
  10. Bassists get somewhat of a "free pass" when it comes to strictly adhering to chord changes. While it is crucial to outline the progressions (and let me stress this!) accurately, it isn't as detrimental to the sound as other instruments experimenting with alternate outlines.

    I hope this makes sense. I'm not referring to outlining a given chord with its tritone or other obvious no-no's. :bag:
    In essence, bassists have more sonic options.
  11. Coutts_is_god

    Coutts_is_god Guest

    Dec 29, 2003
    Windsor, Ont, Canada
    Thanks for all of your help.
    I over thought everything. See there is only 3 of us in the band(guitar bass drums) At some points I don't know what to do because the drums and guitar is holding down the rythem. Even with such a small number of people your place in the band still gets overlapped with your own ego driven playing. Sometimes the dynamics don't come clear enough and I feel that this is my fault. Then I tend to over compensate when I feel out of place and that drives me to get out of key. That leads to them telling me I'm out of key then me aruging with them and every one getting more and more frustrated with each other. I guess this is what life is. Knowing what your role is in everyday life should be what your role in the band is. Then again if you can change your role in your band you can change your role in everyday life.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This is very bad advice - just because a guitarist or other harmony instrument plays an E Minor chord does not necessarily mean you are in the key of E Minor - it's just as likely that this is a chord from a Major key - e.g. the II and you are in D Major!

    But the main thing to bear in mind, is that you can not just choose random notes from a notional key and expect it sound like a good bass line!! :meh:

    You have to be driving the music forward and playing lines that outline any chord changes and actually make sense!!

    I could easily pick notes that are theoretically "correct" for the key - but sound terrible in context - i.e. "out" or just poor choices.....