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To Chord Or Not To Chord?

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To Chord Or Not To Chord?

In the minds of musicians the world over it hasn’t quite been determined which sound rankles them more: a three-note bass chord wreaking havoc in the rhythm section or the menacing whir of a dental drill. 

Notwithstanding this anomaly, adventurous bass players awaken daily with one thought and one thought only: the stunning beauty of bass chords has not yet reached its zenith of appreciation in this world. Then, with the deepest sense of purpose, they crack their knuckles and fire up the 4×10!! 

Seriously, though, whereas a clumsy bass chord can definitely knock back the mood in your band, it can also be said that a well-played bass chord can turn heads in an instant and create a remarkable air of sophistication. And the reason for that has to do with the great tonal advantage that the bass has over the more trebly instruments that reside somewhere north of middle C. 

It’s that thick and articulate bassy sound that provides an unmistakably powerful yet silky warm feeling for listeners. 

While it’s true that the more fleet-fingered bassists will sometimes look with envy at guitar players and all of their soloing hijinks, the deeper truth is that it is very difficult to top the wow factor of gut-punching bass and that includes the various beautiful species of easily accessible bass chords. 

Of course when it comes to bass chords, “easy” is a relative term. But for the video lesson this month I have assembled an accessible overview of bass chords for any student. 

The purpose of the video lesson is to provide an explanation of some possible 2, 3, and 4-note chord voicings and to also give some examples of their use.

At the end of the proceedings, I throw down some flashy bass notes with upper-voice harmonics and add in my own recommendations for the plucking technique. 

If an experienced intermediate player were to dig in for a few months of rigorously playing through these voicings, say thirty minutes per day, making sure to hold each one cleanly, the end result would be enough chording facility to make a noticeable dent in the necessary skill set for performance. 

When it comes to 2-note chords (sometimes called diads) there is nothing quite as pleasing as tenths.

That’s normally when you strike a bass note on the E-string and also add the third an octave higher on the G-string. 

Tenths are a very common double-stop, as jazz players call them. The sound is so big and open they should be called “Montana Chords”, and they are a hit every time you use them. It’s a great sound to have in your bag. 

The 3-note chord examples are 1-3-7 major and minor chords on three adjacent strings that you can easily use to loop a simple chord vamp or a 2-5-1 progression. 

Built off of the 7th degree of the major scale is the m7b5 chord.

When you start playing minor 2-5-1 progressions you will use this as a two-chord. The minor 2-5-1 sound can be a great revelation for you blues and rock players out there. To use m7b5-V7b9 in a minor blues to set up the four-chord makes for a super slick resolution. 

The next development in the lesson is a 4-note chord that I call (with some humor) the Infamous Bass Barre Chord on my website. It’s the one that you form as an impressionable young bassist when you are imitating your older brother’s guitar playing, but in this case, it’s a chord that can sound more like a foghorn on your jazz bass! 

A smart idea that I explore for using this rarely played 4-note bass chord is to use it to develop a finger-picking facility that can be a very helpful skill to have for all sorts of rhythmic bass chord work. It’s not the easiest skill to work on but there will be plenty of harmonic interest created and it will add a rock-solid feel to your fingerboard grip – and that’s a promise. 

A special end to this power-packed overview of bass chording is my take on using bass notes with added harmonics struck for the upper voices.

From most perspectives, they have limited use, but when you gain some facility with them they can be extremely enjoyable to play even if it is only in the wee hours in your practice space. 

Although I do give my recommendations for which technique to use for some of these examples I try not to be too rigid in these cases because if there is anything that bass playing has taught us here in the early part of the third millennium it is that eager and talented bassists have come up with a remarkable array of very subtle techniques to strike a bass string. And it is an amazing and humbling experience to see these developments! 

Click to download the lesson materials – any questions, please visit me online at basslessonswithkevin.com

I truly hope that you can take your time with these materials and that you can enjoy the long process of elevating yourself as a bass player and as a musical artist. 

Thanks to everyone for stopping in. 

Want 2 Free Online Bass Lessons? Click Below:

Thanks for stopping in.

-Kevin

Remember… if you have any questions, you can always contact me online at basslessonswithkevin.com | View more of my Bass Musician Magazine Lessons | And check out my Try Before You Buy

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Bass Edu

Approach Notes – Part 6 

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James Rosocha

Approach Notes – Part 6 

As we move into lesson six of approach notes applied to chord tones, it’s important to go back and review the previous approaches. The constant review and application of these concepts will add a layer of chromaticism to both your bass lines and solos. The approaches need to be burned into your long term/ permanent memory for them to come out in your playing. 

This first example approaches a third inversion of a G major 7th arpeggio. 

A single chromatic approach from below and a double chromatic approach from above approaches the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, 5th, single from below and double chromatic from above to the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, and back down. 

The next example approaches the G major arpeggio in root position.

The next example approaches the root of a G major 7th arpeggio as a single chromatic from below and a double chromatic approach from above -before continuing to the third, fifth, seventh, single chromatic from below/ double from above to the root, continue to the third, fifth, and come back down. 

The next example approaches the first inversion of G major 7th arpeggio. 

A single chromatic from below/ double from above approaches the third, continue to the fifth, seventh, root, single chromatic from below/ double from above to the third, continue up to the fifth and seventh, and back down. 

The third example approaches a second inversion of a G major arpeggio

A single chromatic from below/ double from above approaches the fifth, continue to the 7th, root, 3rd, single from above/ double from below to the 5th, continue to the 7th, root, and back down.

After studying these various approach notes, you will begin to recognize the concepts utilized in your favorite solos. Continue the journey and good luck! 

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Bass Edu

BASS LINES: Triads & Inversions Part I

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Jaime David Vazquez - Lessons For Bass Guitar

Triads & Inversions Part I

Hello bass players and bass fans! In this issue, we are going to study the triads and their inversions.

It is very important for all bassists to understand and master the triads, but it is even more important to understand their different inversions.

In Part I, we are going to learn what the triad is in fundamental position.

The Formula consists of root, third and fifth.

Degrees of the Triad

Major Triad: 1 – 3 – 5
Minor Triad: 1 – b3 – 5
Diminished Triad: 1 – b3 – b5
Augmented Triad: 1 – 3 – #5

Fig.1 – The C, Cm, Cdim & Caug triads
(Fundamental Position)

BASS LINES: Triads & Inversions Part I
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Bass Edu

Premiere! Bass Playthrough With Foetal Juice’s Bassist Lewis Bridges – From the Album, Grotesque

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Premiere! Bass Playthrough With Foetal Juice's Bassist Lewis Bridges - From the Album, Grotesque

Premiere! Bass Playthrough With Foetal Juice’s Bassist Lewis Bridges – From the Album, Grotesque

Bassist Lewis Bridges Shares…

“Gruesome’s sparse intro marks a stark contrast from the intensity of the rest of the album.  The original intention was to keep the bass simple but colourful, however as I worked on it, the lines grew more expressive and the more striking flourishes began to emerge.  The intensity builds into a harmonic minor passage that takes us into the drop — a signature death grind cacophony.  This is where Foetal Juice thrives.  You’re getting a full-on right-hand barrage to in the face to take you into a groove-laden mulch-fest.

I owe my throbbing bass tone to the Darkglass Alpha Omega pedal borrowed from our sound engineer, Chris Fielding (ex-Conan), mixed with the clarity of the tried and true Ampeg SVT CL.

As mentioned earlier, colourful basslines are important, especially in a one-guitar band. Chucking some funny intervals and odd flourishes here and there brings life into the brutality. There’s no point sounding brutal if it’s not gonna be fucking evil too!

Recording this playthrough was hard work. This was not the fault of James Goodwin (Necronautical), who was kindly filming and is ace to work with, but because in true Foetal fashion, we had stinking hangovers — and that jam room was hot!”

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Bass Edu

Bass Lines: The Circle

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jaime Vazquez

Bass Lines: The Circle…

Hello bass players and fans of bass! This month we’re going to study “The Circle.”

The Circle of Fourths can also be called “The Circle of Fifths or just The Circle.

Practicing the scales, chords, and ideas in general via the circle has been a common practice routine for jazz musicians and highly recommended.

It is a disciplined way of working through all twelve keys.

Plus, many bass root movements to jazz and pop songs move through sections of the circle.

Fig. 1 – “The Circle”

See you next month for more full bass attack!

#bassmusicianmag, #basslines, #bmmbasslines, #groovemaniac, #thecircle, #thecircleoffourths, #thecircleoffifths,#scales & #chords.

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Bass Edu

Approach Notes – Part 5

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James Rosocha

Continuing our lesson of Approach Notes, Part 5…

In continuing with the concept of approach notes being applied to chord tones, this lesson approaches the root, third, fifth, and seventh degree of each arpeggio inversion by incorporating a double chromatic approach from above, and a single chromatic approach from below. 

The first examples approach the root of a G major 7th arpeggio as a double chromatic from above and a single chromatic approach from below -before continuing to the third, fifth, seventh, double chromatic from above/ single from below to the root, continue to the third, fifth, and come back down.

The next example approaches the first inversion of G major 7th arpeggio.

A double chromatic from above/ single from below approaches the third, continue to the fifth, seventh, root, double chromatic from above/ single below to the third, continue up to the fifth and seventh, and back down.

The third example approaches a second inversion of a G major arpeggio.

A double chromatic from above/ single from below approaches the fifth, continue to the 7th, root, 3rd, double chromatic from above/ single from below to the 5th, continue to the 7th, root, and back down. 

This final example approaches a third inversion of a G major 7th arpeggio.

A double chromatic from above and below approaches the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, 5th, double chromatic from above and below to the 7th, continue to the root, 3rd, and back down.

Be sure to pace yourself with these lessons to avoid burning out.

Being overly ambitious with your practice schedule can lead to unrealistic expectations. Try learning one approach note concept and one chord type a week. Change your practice routine as necessary and tailor it to your needs as a musician. Good luck!

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