This month we’re going to wrap up our talk about chords and chord theory. This time we’re going to explore the construction of chords from the melody note; a great tool for learning to play solo arrangements of songs on your bass.
My favorite song to demonstrate this one is an arrangement of “Knives Out” by Radiohead. Now I personally play 6 strings, but my good friend Steve Rosati plays it on a 4 string just fine. So no complaining!
So here are the chords and melody we’re going to work with.
So our first actual chord is a C min 7. Our melody note is Eb, which happens to be the 3rd of the chord. So below this third we have to place the root, C, 5th, G, and b7th, Bb. Your voicing’s here can vary to your imaginations desires. I personally under value the 5th if the root is already going to be voiced, which is a popular view on the subject. So omitting the 5th we’re left with the root and 7th. I personally would voice the 7th first one 4th down from the minor 3rd instead of voicing the root then trying to voice the 7th. So now that the minor 7th and minor 3rd are voiced time for the root. I voice the root down from the b7th putting all the notes in one fret on 3 different strings.
The next chord is a Bb maj 6 chord. I’d also have a tendency to view this as a G min 7 chord also. G min 7 being a G Bb D and F. Bb maj 6 being Bb D F and G. So you can see why this two chords are so interchangeable. If we look at this as a G min 7 then the 5th is in the melody. And if the 5th is in the melody we need to voice the root, 3rd, and min 7th. Ok we’ve got that D, I find grabbing the G next the easiest, then the Bb to round out the chord type, which also sounds out the chord tones for the Bb using the 6th and 3rd of the chord.
The lone anticipation C I would just play as an individual note, and move on to the Ab maj 7.
The Ab maj 7 chord we’re going to build the same way we have in the past.
1: Identify the chord
2: Identify the melody note
3: Giving priority to the root, 3rd then 7th, fill in the chord tones not used.
Following those basic rules you should be able to tackle any chord melody you run into. I also suggest Todd Johnson and Jim Stinnett’s “Fishing for Grips” book and DVD.