1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Why do I so rarely hear a MAJOR 3rd in a bassline?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Bioflava, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    Bunch of 'em in Sweet Child O' Mine.

    But I get what you're saying. Probably kids learning to shred avoid major 3rds because they sound too happy.

    When R&B and Motown were turning into rock, there was a REALLY common bassline that starts on the root, then hits the major third and walks up to the 5th. Hear it in "Let's Get It On" played slow and about 500 different James Brown tunes played fast. But that's probably not the kind of rock you mean.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
    Bioflava likes this.
  2. Blissful_Lad

    Blissful_Lad Banned

    Feb 22, 2018
    Bioflava likes this.
  3. I must listen to the wrong stuff. And worse, I play them ALL THE TIME. :)
  4. 6Bass101


    Apr 2, 2016
    Fort Mill, SC
    This. I had a bass teacher once tell me that lingering on the major 3rd (in rock) just deflates the chord.
    Bioflava and JRA like this.
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    It's called "the blues."
    Bioflava and JRA like this.
  6. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    ANother Really Cool Major 3rd song- Aces High-Iron Maiden
  7. red_rhino

    red_rhino Gold Supporting Member

    TL;DR (At least, not all 5 pages so far)
    What on Earth are you listening to that you never hear a Major 3rd in the bass line? Even the statement that it is rarely used is an invalid premise.
  8. AC\DC back in black, Cream Crossroads. I'm assuming you're referring to thirds as a single note under a chord.
    Bioflava likes this.
  9. inanimate_carb


    Aug 11, 2016
    Nobody has a gig tonight, huh? :roflmao:
  10. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    Sir Paul often used a maj 3rd. Ex) Hey Jude, C/E
  11. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Do you think that the dimished frequency of MAJOR 3rds is because some bass players write predictably and can’t think outside the box?
  12. Bioflava


    Feb 14, 2016
    Yeah, I should have been clearer in my OP... I meant in a bass line (could be a few notes) that's covering a given chord -- didn't mean a harmonic move by a major-third.
  13. basslicks


    Dec 14, 2015
    Are you saying the third is like a third-wheel?
    Bioflava and instrumentalist like this.
  14. mflaherty


    Oct 9, 2001
    Lots of F#s in this transcription.
    Bioflava likes this.
  15. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    Theoretically it should work with any major chord (as opposed to minor chords). Whether you play it at all, play it as a passing note or with a longer emphasis on it is a question of how it fits with the rest of the song. Bass lines to almost all the old rock and roll songs feature a major third in the bass line. A real common run back then was I, III, V, VI or I, III, IV, V as well as the more chromatic run I, III, IV, Augmented IV, V, where everything from the three through the five are chromatic (half-step) moves.

    All the Chuck Berry stuff uses major 3rds and crazy amounts of blues songs use it, especially the slow blues. The Doors song "Light My Fire" used major 3rd in the I, III, V, III, V, run against minor 7th chords (Am7 and F#m7) as well as just about everything else that Ray Manzarek played with his keyboard bass under his left hand while playing chords and leads with his right hand for the Doors.
    Bioflava likes this.
  16. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    After I post this I'll probably go play a bunch of major thirds...:woot: but I don't understand how it can deflate the chord.
    Bioflava likes this.
  17. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    I swear sometimes you guys look for things to find. Things I didn’t know needed to be found.
    Major thirds are everywhere.

    As you were-
    Semi Actuated likes this.
  18. basslicks


    Dec 14, 2015
  19. 6Bass101


    Apr 2, 2016
    Fort Mill, SC
    I think he meant that it sounds too pretty (some one mentioned this in another post), and just used "deflate" for lack of a better word.
    I mean I still use them anyway.
  20. Bioflava


    Feb 14, 2016
    OK, ok... Consider me educated that 1) lot's of song use major-3rds, but also that (as @SLO Surfer summarizes) 2) they often sound wrong in the rock context b/c they draw too much attention to the tonal center of power chords, are too pretty, or just are inappropriate in a tune that's mostly minor.

    What I'm still struggling to understand from an applied theory standpoint is why, when, for example, I'm playing under a Cmaj7 vamp with a guitarist and a keyboardist, that the maj-3rds just don't sound great. In this context, they should reinforce the tonal center and sound strong, but instead they often get in the way of the piano or guitar.
    SLO Surfer likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.