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Where do chords start/spot?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Casting Thunder, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. Casting Thunder

    Casting Thunder

    Oct 7, 2012
    Chord charts confuse me to no end. I can understand sheet music and tabs but I just can't wrap my head around charts like this:


    Give me a fret board chart and I can run and down the neck playing all the octaves, but I can't figure out what ya'll mean when you say play blank song in A.
  2. IT means transpose the song from the key it's written in to the key of A.
  3. OK those patterns are the fingering for chords that will be strummed. We don't strum, so forget about using those patterns.

    OK next question. Play the next song in A.

    The chords in the key of A will be:
    A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m, G#m7b5.
    The notes of the A major scale are:
    A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#
    This will help http://www.guitar-chords.org.uk/chords-key-c.html
    The people playing melody will use notes from the A major scale and the people playing harmony (chords) will use the chords of the key of A.

    Which ones? The ones that sound good. LOL Long story. OK the director says; "The next one is Kiss Ole Kate. Let's do it in A, it's a basic I IV V progression, OK ready 1 & 2 & 3 &....."

    People that will be playing the melody play the tune of Kiss Ole Kate using notes from the A major scale. The people playing chords (harmony) will play the I IV V chords, in a progression that matches what the song writter decided was needed under the melody notes. Melody line and chord line share like notes. When the melody moves on to notes not found in the old harmonizing chord, you must bring in another chord that does have some of the melody notes active in the song right now. That is why songs have more than just one chord.

    Rhythm guitar will strum those chords and the bass will play those chord's one note at a time to the beat of the music.

    Ask specific questions, I'm sure you will have a few.

    I live by the major scale box. See if it will help.

  4. clejw


    May 28, 2006
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Yeah, I don't think that chord chart was written by a bassist. It's definately safe to completely ignor it.
  5. What about it is giving you trouble exactly?

    The fingering chart for D major triads is fine. You can practice those fingerings by plucking all the notes at once for a cleaner sound. The 4 note fingerings are going to sound pretty heavy/muddy though. Still it's great to learn which of those forms you can make work for you. Higher up the neck more good sounding possibilities can be found.

    (hops up on soapbox)
    To the other responders who say to ignore it...have you guys tried playing more than one note at a time on bass? Double stops (two notes) and three note chords can sound great and I suggest you check them out.

    At least think about it before giving advice like "ignore it" or "we bassists don't do that"...

    Just my $.02
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Great advice (as always) from MalcolmAmos! Once you learn your major scales and how chords are constructed on each note or "degree" of the scale, then chord charts will start to make much more sense. :)
  7. Good place for the following: You are not going to remember this, suggest you print it off and put it somewhere you can find it.

    What the heck, here is the rest of the story. What notes are in a scale? Most of the time there are 7 in alphabetical order A to G, so for the D scale..... D E F G A B C Now how many of those are to be sharped or flatted? These memory pegs help me. For example:

    See God Destroy All Earth By F#irey C#haos. Order of the scales with sharps.
    Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Birds. Order of the sharps.
    Farmer Brown Eats Apple Dumplings Greasly Cooked. Order of the scales with flats.
    Those are my memory pegs, if you have something else, fine, what ever works for you. ​

    See (C) has no sharps or flats. G has one sharp, the F#. D has two sharps, the F# and the C#. A has three, etc.

    Which ones? First sharp will be F# for Fat.
    The next sharp will be C# for Cats.
    The next sharp will be G# for Go.
    The next sharp will be D# for Down, etc. Now once you have a sharp the next scale in line will keep that sharp and add his.

    OK A has three sharps. Two of them are the F#, C# and the third is the ___.

    OK how many flats does the F major scale have? How about the Bb scale; how many flats does it have?

    Again unless you figure it out yourself - knowing how does not yet belong to you. Go figure it out.

    I glued this on my banjo (my first instrument) no one ever called me out on doing that.
  8. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    Well ... the image is a fretboard and they tell you the name of note with the fret ... they are all ways of playing a Dmaj7 chord and you could move them and have a different chords ... it really is that simple.
  9. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    When we say "this song is in A" what we mean is that it's in the "key" of A. The key of a song is the musical "home base" or "one chord" (or Roman numeral "I chord") to which the song resolves. Usually (but not always) the I chord is the first and/or last chord of the song.

    Most of the time, you'll learn songs just as they sound on the original recording. But sometimes (for example to accommodate a singer with a low or high voice) the band leader will ask you to "transpose" the song to a different key. In that case, you play the same progression/pattern, but simply shift it up or down to the new key. This is a good musical skill to learn, and the secret is to master all 12 major scales.

    If you learn 1 major scale per hour, it will only take you 12 hours to master all of them. I guarantee it will be among the most useful 12 hours of practice you'll ever spend. :)

    It's that simple, hope it clears it up.
  10. Look up "Nashville Number System". It is a method of looking at any chord chart, converting it to numbers and then playing by the numbers instead of the notes. It is a great way to transpose into any key.

    I do this all the time. I have songs that I have to learn for a band I fill in for. I get a chord chart that will be in the key the band wants, but will listen to the original song on my computer. I will find the key, then transpose on the fly to play along with it. It is a great way to get the feel of a song without having a band to play with.

    If I had a better ear, I could just listen and play, but the ear is coming along slow.

    I can usually find the key though in the first 4-5 measures and transposing on the fly is a GREAT ability to have.

  11. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Also when you are practicing your scales, don't just play them straight up and down (nobody wants to hear that) but rather try to play them in musical patterns such as:

    (key of C)

    If you can play those sorts of patterns in all 12 keys over the entire range of the bass using every string, then you'll REALLY know the instrument! :)

    Also SING what you're playing, it helps so much!
  12. Yes to the Nashville Number System. I tried it on rhythm guitar and decided I did not need it as I had my 21 chords down in muscle memory and my memory of what the 6 chord in the key of A - on the fly - was suspect. Plus if they called another key than what my sheet music had I just used a capo.

    However when I started playing the bass, IMO the Nashville Number System along with fake chord sheet music and your major scale box just seemed to be the natural way to go.

    Why? Well to start with every one I play with hands out fake chord sheet music. If the song is to be played in another key, the guitarists grab a capo and keep going. I do not have a capo, would like one for the key of F, but, that is another story --- so have to transpose to the new key on the fly. Not one of my favorite things. So..... Nashville Numbers eliminate that problem.

    The major scale box has intervals listed by number. And if you have your fake chord showing numbers, play the numbers. Doouugh!

    Yes after I get the fake chord from the guys I have to transpose it to Nashville Numbers, takes about three minutes, and it then is good for any key any vocalist may call for.

    I've now been using it long enough to know once on the 6 chord if I want to add some of 6's chord tones -- the three is up a string and back a fret, the five is up a string and over two frets, the eight is right over the five on the next string up, etc, etc, but, most of the time it's just roots with a five or an eight thrown in and that is not rocket science.

    So ---- it will take awhile for Nashville Numbers to work for you, but, I find them much easier to use on the fly. Another great thing once your fake chord has been transposed to Nashville Numbers it's generic and will work for any key. You just move the box to the new root note and play the generic numbers. Yes you do need to know the key, not a step for a stepper.

    One of the WOW's for me. Have fun.
  13. I have that problem too. The gui**** doesn't understand why it is more difficult for the bass player to transpose. I play with one guitar player that has awesome rhythm, but literally knows only 5 chords. G, C, D, Em, Am He plays every song using those chords and just moves the capo.

    Had a guitar player ask me why I couldn't just use a capo, he didn't quite understand that a bass player plays the note, not the chord shape. I have seen bass players capo, but it was to play something where they needed a drone or pedal note and they didn't want to retune. It wasn't to change a key.

    My teacher forced me to write chord numbers on every fake sheet for a while until I don't even have to do it anymore. When I get a sheet of chords, I look through it quickly. Usually the first chord is the 1, but sometimes not. If I see two major chords one whole step apart, I assume that is the 4 and 5 chord, and pretty much have my key. Most times in the music I play the only minor chord will be the 6 chord. I look through to see if there is something odd or different.

    I have had people tell me that the first note was the key. They argued until they were blue in the face, and I gave up. There are a lot of songs that begin on the 4 or the 5 chord.

    Songs like "Revelation Song" will say right at the top that it is in D, but it isn't. The chord progression is:
    D, Am7, C, G

    My first quick thought would be that because of the Am, that it would be in the key of C, but it isn't because the key of C doesn't have a Dmajor. The next hint is that there are two majors adjacent, C and D, so the key is G and the Am is the 2 chord. The progression is 5, 2, 4, 1.

    I have done this enough that in most keys, I can spend 20 seconds looking at the chords and find the key, then I can transpose the numbers in my head.

    Of course there are songs that drift in and out of the key a little and those will throw me for a loop sometimes.

  14. I ran on to this up in Mountain View, Ark. The jamming circles would have at least 3 people that will use a capo and play everything in G.

    Ask them why and you get answers like; "It's just simpler, I play everything in G". Look at the professional vocalists that accompany their vocals with a guitar, lot of them will use a capo and then be fingering key of G chords. I was amazed how many of them do this.
  15. Casting Thunder

    Casting Thunder

    Oct 7, 2012
    Thanks everyone! I got the answer to my question plus loads of info I'll be sure to use down the road, I have dyslexia which takes me for a loop when I look at vertical charts.

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