Theory questions.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Rick Martin, Aug 23, 2001.

  1. I've got a great teacher and I take a lesson every two weeks. I'm going to ask him this question at my next lesson, but here it goes here first. It seems to me that I'm learning to do two things with my bass lines. First I am learning how to arrpegiate the different chord types. A major chord contains the notes found in the major scale, a minor chord contains the notes found in a minor scale, etc. The other thing I am trying to learn is how to figure out logical chord progressions when I don't have a chart to read from. The chord progression would be the structure of the song and the arrpegios would be the construction of the chords. Am I making sense so far??? I like to play along with recordings, so I need to figure out the key and chord progression by ear. I like blues and boogie woogie and a lot of those seem to be a l,lV,V or l,lV,ll,V progression. I suppose there are other chord progressions that are common to other types of music. Knowing which progression might be likely could help figure out the song by ear. Am I making sense?
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Sort of - so what you're actually asking is what are some common chord sequences in other types of music?

    In Jazz the II -V7-I is quite common and so a tune like "I Got Rythym" is the basis for many Jazz standards and is based on VI-II-V7-I plus a trip round the cycle of fifths in the bridge.

    This is the other thing that will help you determine chord sequences - learn about the cycle of fifths or fourths - there have been quite few threads/posts on this around here.
  3. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Okay, so I'm going to assume you're playing all triads, 7th chords, and extended chords in all 12 keys. And by playing "arpeggios" instead of "chords" you're playing the notes individually, one after another.

    Are you familiar with the various types of minor scales? Pure (aeolian), dorian, melodic, harmonic?

    When you say major chord, are you referring to a major triad (1-3-5), or 7th chords (1-3-5-7)? I ask because the scale is going to be slightly different for a major 7th versus a dominant 7th. Both chords have the 1-3-5, but the dominant 7th has the lowered 7th.

    To an extent, but you haven't truly asked a specific question yet. Are you looking for confirmation that you're thinking along the right lines, or were you asking for an extended explanation of a certain concept?

    Knowing what style of music you're interested in may help. Of course, you never want to limit yourself harmonically by established patterns for that genre, it does help to start very simple, possibly almost copying the chord structure of a song you like, and then starting to change little things here or there until you get an idea of what works for you, and what your ear likes or doesn't like.

    If you're speaking of the blues, most often you're seeing a repeating 12 bar pattern that usually consists of the I-IV-V chords for a particular key.

    An example, in Bb, would be:

    | Bb7 | Bb7 | Bb7 | Bb7 |
    | Eb7 | Eb7 | Bb7 | Bb7 |
    | F7 | Eb7 | Bb7 | Bb7 |

    The last four bars work as a "turn around." This 4-bar harmonic structure works as some level of tension that brings us back to the tonic, or the stronger chord. You can see some harmonic variation in this pattern, like the following:

    | Bb7 | Eb7 | Bb7 | Bb7 |
    | Eb7 | Eb7 | Bb7 | Bb7 |
    | Dm7 | Gm7 | Cm7 | F7 |

    I took the same basic structure, and added some harmonic variation, using only chords found in the key of Bb major. You can simply play around with this type of harmony until you find something that works.

    Is this along the lines of what you're thinking about?
  4. Thanks Bruce and Jazzbo. Both of your responses are great. Some of your info is still over my head, but I'll get there soon enough. I'm thoroughly motivated and I have lots of free time. The first thing I need to do is figure out how you guys quote from a previous post in bold print in your posts.
    Meanwhile I did learn some about the circle of fifths or if you go the other way, the cycle of fourths....right? My teacher told me to look that up and practice major and minor scales through the circle. I learned about the circle right here on TB and do practice those scales, but I still don't really see how to use the circle in a practical application.
    All of the info in both of your responses merits a response, but I figured the circle of fifths was a logical place to start. What do you think?
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Here's one simple example. You mentioned that you knew that many blues progressions use this progression in the last four bars:

    ii7 V7 I I

    In the key of C this would be:

    Dm7 G7 C C

    Traveling around the circle in ascending fourths starting at D is:

    D G C

    There are other common chord progressions that utilize chord motion by fourths. The reason this eluded me for years was I started out playing rock and roll where those sort of progressions are seldom used.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    A lot of bridges or "middle eights" are constructed this way. So if you know where you want to get back to after the bridge, you find this chord in the circle and then work backwards from there, for as many bars as you want in your bridge. So the fact that you are going through the circle draws your ear and makes it seem like a logical sequence - it resolves.

    It is also used in lots of "standards" - like "All the Things You are" which starts :

  7. Wow, I gotta lotta questions.
    First I need to know how you guys quote a previous post in bold with the posters name. Once I learn how to do that, it will be much easier to discuss all this. Meanwhile, using my caveman method of referring to a previous post, I ask a simple question.

    Bruce wrote "A lot of bridges or "middle eights" are constructed this way."
    I suppose the bridge is what my six string buddy calls "The B part" of a song. Why do you call it "middle eight"? Is the bridge often eight bars long? (I'm guessing).

    Where do I go to learn how to quote from a previous post?????
  8. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks!

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    You go to the post in question and hit the little button that says "quote"(it kinda looks like a cartoon bubble) and then start typing away.

    Chris A.:rolleyes:
  9. I see said the blind man.
  10. Aaaaarrrrrggggghhh!!!! (screaming in frustration).
    How the heck do I quote just part of a post in my reply. No matter what I try, the entire post gets quoted in my reply. I just want to quote part of a post.
    Thanks for your patient help with this.
  11. In Jazz the II -V7-I is quite common and so a tune like "I Got Rythym" is the basis for many Jazz standards and is based on VI-II-V7-I

    I printed out the pertinent parts of this thread and gave it to my teacher at the beginning of today's lesson. He said, "Lets talk about 'Rythm Changes'. He said that long ago, jazz guys decided the song "I Got Rythm" had cool chord changes and they said, "Lets blow on that". My teacher said there have been countless jazz songs recorded based on these chord changes. He said they're usually done in Bb and he wrote out
    'A' sec. Bb G C F, repeat, Bb Bb Eb E, FGCF
    (he then put some alternatives in parethethesis)
    The Bridge or
    'B' sec. D7...G7...C7...F7...
    He then wrote out that the form is AABA.

    plus a trip round the cycle of fifths in the bridge.

    So, far, so good?
  12. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I hope he didn't write out the chords without major and minor, etc.... if he did, find a new teacher.

    By the way, to quote only part of a post, you've got to quote the whole thing, and then edit out the parts you don't want.
  13. Except for what I'm assuming are meant to be the first four chords and the bridge, what you wrote above doesn't come close to resembling rythm changes.

    Rythm changes has a lot of variations, here's one of the common ones:

    The first 8 bars
    Bb Gm | Cm7 F7 | Dm7 G7 | Cm7 F7 | Fm7 Bb7 | Eb Ab7 | Dm7 G7 | Cm7 F7|

    The second 8 bars
    Bb Gm | Cm7 F7 | Dm7 G7 | Cm7 F7 | Fm7 Bb7 | Dm7 G7 | Cm7 F7 | Bb

    You have the bridge right, then for the final A section the second 8 from above can be used again, or a different variation could be used. Like blues, every chorus of rythm changes is usually a little different.

    In your case, I don't think knowing rythm changes right now should be high on your priority list right now. Instead you should be concerning yourself with how these chords are spelled and how these chords relate to the key. Even though every one would say that that's rythm changes in Bb, in the first 8 bars alone, only half of them are actually in Bb. You should want to understand how and why and to be able to recognize that instantly.
  15. It seems that if I edit the quote, it does not show up in bold print in my post.
  17. That last quote was an experiment in quoting part of a previous post. If I quote a previous post and delete what I don't want, then my post does not contain the quote in bold print. I want to work this out, because this theory stuff is a big subject and this board is a valuable resource for me. I believe my teacher does know his stuff. He's the music teacher at the big middle school here in town and he's the director of the school bands. He also is the director of an adult big band doing forties stuff and he sits in with just about everyone in town.
    I have all the time in the world to learn this stuff and am thoroughly motivated, so I certainly appreciate your help and thank you all for your patience. I do need to work out this quote thing, so I can respond to these posts efficiently.
  18. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    when you quote and edit, make sure that you don't delete the {quote} and {/quote}, or the {b} and {/b} tags. replace the { and } with [ and ].
  19. ie. what notes make up the chord, root, third, fifth, seventh. eg. Bb7= Bb, D, F, Ab
  20. I agree. I'm working on it, but it's a big ass subject.