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Verry Basic Questions

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Dano59, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. Dano59

    Dano59 Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2009
    Charleston Illinois
    I am just getting started and have been reading a lot and have a couple questions that seam to get talked around a lot if you know what I mean.

    1, Let's say a song is in A, in a 1-4-5 progression that would make it A-D-E.
    Am I right that the root people talk about playing is the A or D or E when the song is in that key?

    2. If that is the case...
    Does that mean you "could" just play that root note with proper rythem and timming and sound ok?

    3. Can you play just about any note in the scale of the root to add musical quality to the song?

    4. Is that what walking bass lines are made up of, notes in the scaleb of the root?

    5. When people talk about playing the root and 5 or another says they play the 3 a lot with the root, are they talking about the 5th or 3rd note of the scale pattern?

    Thanks in advance for the help.

    God bless
  2. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    1. Yep, if the chords are A, D, and E, the root of those chords are A, D, and E. The root is the note that gives the chord its name.

    2. You could just play the roots with the right time ("rhythm") and sound OK. Sometimes that's ALL that's needed, sometimes it'll sound kinda lame, but even then it's a great place to start.

    3. Well of course you can. It all depends on what "musical quality" you're after. Here's the only rule of music theory that is NEVER violated... "If it sounds right, it is right; if it sounds wrong it is wrong!". Now the problem is that the definition of "right" and "wrong" can vary a lot. It varies across cultures, ages, etc. But the "rules" of music theory are there to tell us how things have commonly sounded "right", at least in the tradition of Western European musics. Again, however, it's a good place to start.

    4. Walking basslines often take notes outside of the scale beacuse that causes tension. Most music is about creating tension and realease. Playing a C# on the last beat of an Amin chord just before the chord changes to D7 is out of the key. But it leads the ear right into that D7 chord so it works. However, hammering that same C# under an Amin7 for four beats can be kind of awkward (or downright "wrong" depending on context and who is defining "wrong"!)

    5. Yep, you've got it! The fifth is the fifth note of the scale, third is the third, etc. Root is the one.

  3. Dano59

    Dano59 Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2009
    Charleston Illinois
    Thanks JTE.
    Sometimes we need just verification that what we think we have read is what it is.
    Isn't knowlage great!!
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Check out the link in my sig. Lots of great info there.
  5. jamesdudley


    Mar 20, 2009
    Hey, sorry but even though my profile says I have a lot of big name basses I do not actually know how to play too well :crying, so I am kinda of in the same boat. I am ok with tabs but after that I am lost.

    I do know that recently I have been really trying to improve my skills, came across this website which seems to help me, may help you too.
  6. kenlacam


    Nov 8, 2005
    akron, ohio
    Spellcheck is great, too. (knowledge)
  7. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006

    Technically correct. But an important way of thinking for a bass player , IMHO, is to think of these tones ad the 3rd and 5th of the chord rather than the scale.

    of course, technically they are the same : the 3rd and 5th of a C major chord are the same as the 3rd and the 5th of a C major scale, by definition. But since the traditional job of the bassist is to support the harmony (chords) of the song, I find it advantageous to think about what I'm playing from the perspective of what the chord of the moment is, rather than the scale.
  8. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Get thee to an instructor - and make sure he's a guy who knows a little theory. Learning about how chords are constructed is pretty darn key to being a useful bassist.
  9. Pretty well covered.

    The 1 is the root of the cord. A basic major cord is made up on 1,3,5 or Do,Mi,So. The basic minor cord is 1,-3,5. Diminished cord is 1,-3,-5.
    Then in an extended cord you add either 7,9,11,13.
    Look at the major scale as 1,2,3,4,5,6,7. Playing every second note over two octaves and you get 1,3,5,7,9,11,13. But realize the 9 of the second octave equals 2 of the first octave, the 11=4 and the 13=6.
    Different types of music use different degrees of the scale more than others.
    Rock & Metal rely on the 1 or the root, often played to death.
    Country likes the 1 & 5.
    Blues music relies on outlining the basic cords so you play more 1,3,5,7
    Jazz likes the extended cords using 1,3,5,7,9,11,13

    Get to a keyboard cause it reads like a road map and it's easier to understand how cords work. Try to learn cords well so you will know what note you're playing and why you're playing it.
  10. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Given the original question in the first post, I went with that. Why? Because there are three notes in a chord, and some people confuse that with scale degree. The first note of a major chord is the "one" of the scale and the chord. Now the problem is that there are only three notes in the chord so the second note of the chord is the third degree of the scale. And there's been enough confusion from people getting their scale and chord knowledge from unreliable sources to cause this confusion.

    But you're right- It's vital to understand what the third of the chord is. Especially regarding the difference between the major triad and the minor triad.

    So, BigOldHarry's advice is paramount. I think many bass players are hamstrung though by finding a "bass teacher" instead of a MUSIC teacher. Learn this stuff- if you have a local community college or if you're still in high-school, take an elementary music theory class or two. And taking a basic introduction to piano will help you a lot!! I can't play piano at all, but I can figure out lots of harmony theory because of those lessons I took.


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