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Walking lines under slash chords

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by droo, Apr 19, 2006.


  1. droo

    droo

    Nov 1, 2004
    Oxfordshire, UK
    Just curious to know what most of you seasoned jazzers would do when you are walking bass lines for slash chords.
    I know a lot of slash chords can actually be other complex chords in disguise, e.g. Bb/C is basically a C7sus chord, G/C could be a Cmaj9 etc

    But do most people just hang around on the slash (bass) note like a pedal, or walk the scale starting on the slash note, or just disregard it and play the underlying harmony?

    My head is full of theory as I've just read The Jazz Theory Book but I have relatively inexperienced on the bandstand as it were...
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Slash chords have lots of different uses; one common reason for using a slash chord is to suggest a specific voicing or harmonic sound - that said, many of these slash chord harmonies have more than one possible scalar interpretation. Lots of players do just hover around the pedal point, but it's probably better to try and understand the meaning of the slash chord in the context of the harmonic progression. Here's a link to a table I made up showing possible interpretations of each chromatic slash chord. Hope this helps.
     
  3. droo

    droo

    Nov 1, 2004
    Oxfordshire, UK
    Yep that's good. I guess I need to try stuff out!

    Do you recommend any good tunes with lots of slash chords? Or recordings of them where I can hear some in use?

    I recall Tones for Joan's Bones is written with quite a few (in the old Real Book anyway) and then there's stuff like the start of Green Dolphin Street...
     
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    If you're feeling ambitious, try Kenny Kirkland's "Dienda".
     
  5. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Not that my comment has anything to do with slash chords, but that song was my nemisis for a year or so when I used to play with this piano player who loved to play it...fast.

    What is it like 48 bars or something? My heart still sinks to the pit of my stomach when I hear someone mention it.
     
  6. droo

    droo

    Nov 1, 2004
    Oxfordshire, UK
    44 or 48 or something.

    Good tune to play ONCE maybe I think... :D
     
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    In my very limited experience, slash chords are often used to specify a chromatic bass line in the head of a tune. As I said, my experience is limited, and the people I'm playing with are usually in about the same place as me, so I tend to use the written bass line as a signpost in the form even during solos. Otherwise I might ignore the written bass note and just play the changes, or use it as a pedal, especially if I'm playing in two. All depends on what's happening, like how fast the band is playing :rolleyes:
     
  8. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Slash chords can be used in different ways. I go back and forth with the fine guitarist Mark Kleinhaut about this.

    When Kleinhaut writes, for example, C/Ab it is probably shorthand for an Ab Maj7 +5. Kleinhaut frequently may re-shape the chord as an Ab chord. It might not have an Ab on the bottom. It might have an Ab somewhere else in the voicing. Not to speak for Mark, of course.

    When I write C/Ab I'm saying, "C chord with Ab in the bass. You don't have to the Ab on guitar -- I'll handle it. But if you do play it, don't put it way up top please. Think C chord."

    With that in mind, when I see slashes I try to find out what the other players have in mind, by listening, asking or both.

    As Howard points out, slash chords are often used to detail a moving bass line. I thought that this thread is about working with static slash chords.
     
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Ah, gotcha, intersting, I've not come across (that I can remember right now) tunes with more than 1/2 or even 1 bar staying on a slash chord. Examples welcome :)
     
  10. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Rather than violate anybody else's copyright, check out the "B" section to this song of mine called Ship of Change.

    The form is: Play pages 1 and 2 edge-to-edge and then when all solos are done, go on to page 3.
     
  11. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    The middle section of Django alternates bars between F and Bb-/F. MJQ (Percy Heath I presume) played a pedal F, but other versions play around with it a bit more.

    Andy
     

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