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chord chart help..............anyone?


JDL

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I was reading up on chord charts, yet they are confusing to me. I know how to read notes, that ties in, right? Is there an easy way to understand a chord chart?

 

Have you had any experience in this? How long have you read chord charts? Do you have to develop a knack for reading it? I have so many questions, don't I? ;) But anyways, I'm in need of information, is there a site that deals with chord charts? Please put info. below*^

 

JDL-chordchartblues

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You will need at least a basic understanding of harmony before you'll know what you're looking. And the ability to create lines on your own to put it all together.

 

The whole practice becomes second nature after a while and, honestly, you'll prefer it to reading fully written out lines after a bit.

 

D.

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First thing, JDL, is to find out if you know what all the chord names mean.

 

C, Cm, C7, CMaj7, Cm7, Co7, C+7, Cm7b5 (also known as half-diminished), C9, C7b9, C7#9, C13, Csus, and a few more.

 

Do these chord names have immediate meaning for you? If not, that's the first thing you have to study. There are lessons in chord arpeggios in many books. Don't read the notes, though. Look at the written chord name, say the note numbers (e.g. 1 3 5 b7 9) and play it on your bass. When you can do any chord name instantly, you are well on your way to reading charts.

 

Ask specific questions, someone will probably chime and help.

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Yup, a chord chart implies what main tones are available, and even what non-chordal notes are the likely choices. So there is a certain amount of harmonic theory one needs to know to take advantage of this "shorthand". Once you have some under your belt it gives a great amount of freedom since the discipline part is already being taken care of.

 

If you run across some symbols you find confusing just give a holler here; there's a few different ways to notate chords and some are not always so clear at first.

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Regarding what I have to help me with this, I have The Bass Player Book . That has the article by Ed Friedland about chord charts. But he didn't really explain what the symbols mean in relation to on the bass. But I will will study that article. This is my knowledge of what Jeremy posted:

C=Cmajor, CM=Cminor, CMaj7=C Major 7th?, Co7=Caugmented 7th, C+7=? and the others I'm pretty sure about.

 

JDL-chordchartbecomingmoreclearertome

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JDL: Regarding what I have to help me with this, I have The Bass Player Book . That has the article by Ed Friedland about chord charts. But he didn't really explain what the symbols mean in relation to on the bass.
Same thing they mean everywhere else, really, just a symbol for three or more notes [stacked]. Though with the prevalence of powerchords in rock-oriented music, it's become fairly common to see E5, G5, etc. Root-fifth-octave. I've employed that notational shorthand for ages.

 

Another popular chord is the E2, A2, etc - instead of thinking of the 2nd step as a 9th step on top of a 6th or 7th or dom7 chord (all with 3rds in them), it is used to replace the third. You end up with a stack that goes root-2nd-5th. On bass if you are not too low you can actually play the whole chord on three strings with a spread: root-5th-2nd (two frets apart per note, for a total spread of four frets (there are other ways as well).

 

This is my knowledge of what Jeremy posted:

C=Cmajor, CM=Cminor, CMaj7=C Major 7th?, Co7=Caugmented 7th, C+7=? and the others I'm pretty sure about.

Some transctribers use small m for minor and large M for major (really don't need it unless it is a M7 or M9), and some (who are a pain IMO) only use an M of either upper or lower case to mean minor, and spell out a major 7 as MAJ7. Some spell out minors as well: MIN or min.

 

Another I used to hate seeing was the use of to mean minor. This got confusing because lots of us use - to mean minus for flatted ninths or fifths: Em7-9, And + (plus) as in the "Hendrix" chord: E7+9.

 

When you just see a 7 it actually means a dominant seventh - a half step shy of a MAJOR seventh, but some write it like this: Gdom7.

 

It's not an exact science, and some of the practices still around carry baggage from past theoretical belief system assumptions (etc etc etc). You should recognize them if not love their clumsiness, and for your own transcriptions use more streamlined, cleaner, modern approaches that have more logic to them {if anything notated ever totally adheres to logical consistency ; }

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JeremyC: Co7 is a diminished seventh (1 b3 b5 bb7, C Eb Gb Bbb or C Eb Gb A).
...and Cø7 is a half-diminished chord: 1 b3 b5 b7 - C Eb Gb Bb (instead of a double-flatted 7th, as the full diminished Co7 chord has. Many of us just write those ø chords like this: Cm7-5 - as J mentioned - to stave (!) off confusion.

 

C+7 is an augmented seventh (C E G# Bb).
Here is a case where the + could be confusing, unless you know it NEVER applies to the 7th step, only the 5th (otherwise known as the perfect fifth), or the 9th (see Hendrix chord) or 11th (which is an awful lot like a chord that simultaneously has both a perfect and flatted (-) fifth.
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C+7 is an augmented seventh
Another way to write those is Caug7, though sometimes the 7th is assumed (as it is in diminished chords - Cdim or Co are usually assumed to have a diminished 7th as well). So you might see just a Caug or C+ on a chart.

 

Augmented chords more often than not appear on the V chord; ie in the key of C it would be a Gaug7 (or G+7). Good examples include Cream's WRAPPING PAPER, which you can read about in this Somebody Help thread. I don't have it here, but I think the Beatles' Abbey Road cut OH DARLING in the key of A leads into the verse with a V chord, Eaug [E+] (or Eaug7 [E+7]) on the piano, just before he sings, "Oh, darling..."

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What a dreamin' scream! - The Big Lebowski. Bowlin' this far from the gutter with Heyzoos Turturro and El Duderino, hangin' out with Buscemi and Goodman. Those Coens are tasty! And hey - Jimmy Dale Gilmore and Flea too!

 

Now where's that carton of rancid milk?

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Regarding what I have to help me with this, I have The Bass Player Book . That has the article by Ed Friedland about chord charts. But he didn't really explain what the symbols mean in relation to on the bass.
JDL, the chord symbols relate to what notes you play on the bass will sound "correct". For instance, if you see a CMaj7, you would typically play a C on the first beat of the bar. After that, what you do depends on what the next chord is...but however you get to the root of the next chord, the CMaj7 symbol tells you that C, E, G, and B are good choices to help you get there!

 

If you don't know where C, E, G, and B are in more than one place on the neck...that's something to get together as well.

 

Remember, chord symbols just tell you what the harmonic outline of the tune is...when reading a chord chart, you have to be reliant on your knowledge of the style you're playing in to determine the rhythms and note choices to go along with it. It's tough at first...but I find it's a hell of a lot easier than sight reading notes! :D

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Coupla random thoughts.

 

Learn at least one fingering to arpeggiate each of the chord forms.

 

Reading chord charts by recognizing what's called the "quality" of the chord is the first step. Quality means the major, minor, diminished, etc.

 

As stated in the epiphany thread, these chords do not "stand alone." They are related to each other. However, it might be initially confusing that em7 belongs in 3 keys.

 

So here is the lowdown on music theory.

 

Think of a major scale, say, D. D E F# G A B C# D. This scale forms what you might call the D Family. Now a chord is, by definition, a Root, Third, Fifth, Seventh plus extensions (worry about those later)

 

So your D Major 7th chord would be:

 

D F# A C#

R 3 5 7

 

But you can generate such a R-3-5-7 using every note of the D major scale. This is the vital bit.

 

So, starting on E (still using the D major scale) you get:

 

e g b d

R 3 5 7

 

This is Em7, also called the ii(2) Chord because it's the second step of the scale.

 

Continuing, you get the entire family:

 

R 3 5 7

 

D F# A C# DMaj7

E G B D em7

F# A C# E f#m7

G B D F# GMaj7

A C# E G A7

B D F A bm7

C# E G B C#dim7

 

Notice, within the family, there are two Maj7 chords, three min7 chords, one Dominant7 chord and one diminished7 chord. For that reason, when you see a Maj7 or min7 chord standing alone, you can't tell what key (family) the chord belongs in. Only contextually can you know...except with the A7, Dominant7 chord. That chord is found on the Fifth scale step, is called a V chord...(pronounced "five chord.") A dominant seventh chord always implys a key, (with one notable exception...the blues progression.)

 

By extrapolation, you can see one of the most useful and common chord tricks. By using the ii chord and the V chord (em7-A7 in the example above) you can imply a key, (a family, also called a tonality or tonal center) Many styles of music exploit this ii-V phenomenon, stacking random 11-V's next to each other, moving through keys indiscrimately within the same song.

 

Now, I'll leave it to the interested reader to generate their own full set of chord families in each of the 12 keys...if you do that, you will discover the functionality of each chord. There are 84 chords naturally occuring within these 12 major keys. (Notice, the minor keys add extra chords to the mix...but we're not discussing that here.)

 

As stated above, the same chord can function in three keys (min7 chord; Maj7 in two keys) so you can't always know the function without it's context. Even though there are 84 chords, since these are used more than once

 

There are only 8 possible combinations of notes that make up all the chords. It's useful to memorize the 8 raw chord names. From these, when you add a "key signature" (combination of flats or sharps that define a key) you can instantly generate the entire family of chords for any key:

 

a c e g

b d f a

c e g b

d f a c

e g b d

f a c e

g b d f

 

My first college theory teacher made us memorize these 8 patterns...drill, drill, drill. It has been exceedingly useful all these years.

 

There's more, but I've gone overboard already.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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Realize though, that what DBB just posted is not much in use in rock/metal. Pentatonic and powerchord influences have pretty much decimated the analysis of such songs using simplistic diatonic methods, with all the parallel and chromatic movement, most of which does not easily get shoehorned into the old theroy shoes about modulation (changing tonal centers for portions of a song).

 

And speaking of modulation, as soon as you get to what are calles "standards" in jazz, or pop such as the Beatles, that there is often enough modulation going on to make one realize that diatonic analysis has many levels. Jazz has had some parallels, too, with heavy metal, because there is often a lot of substitution based on tritones, parallel movement of 7th chords, etc - as well as the pentatonic influence of the blues.

 

By the time one understands what all these mean, they will have probably already discovered that popular songforms are full of changes that are tougher to analyze than they are to intuit, and that the best thing to do is just to understand how chords are constructed and not get too swept up in theoretical niceties that were formulated mainly to deal with changes that mainly fit only certain styles of more simplistic harmonic styles that are not the center of most music today.

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great thread guys, couple of questions: say i'm walking around on the upright playing quater notes(4 per measure) and i run into a ninth chord; 1,3,5,b7,9. which one do i leave out? is there a rule for this sort of thing? also about that ii-V thing: when i come to the V chord on say a blues shuffle in G and i play a,b,c,c#d,c,b,a is that a ii-V thing or am i just playing the V from a different direction?
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ii-V, depends on what everybody else is playing. Generally, the way you've described it, yes, you are really playing a ii-V.

 

Walking really doesn't need rules about what to leave out. Every case is different. Style of music, where the line is leaving form and where it is going to etc. In one case you may walk from root to ninth (second) to flatted third to third because you are going to the IV chord and have a smooth thing going on. In another you may be playing root-octave-seventh-sixth (or flatted sixth) to go to a five chord. To me, it seems like the logic of a line determines what gets used, and chromatics may be in there, jumps, or simple arpeggiations depending on style and motion goals.

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Originally posted by earljam:

great thread guys, couple of questions: say i'm walking around on the upright playing quater notes(4 per measure) and i run into a ninth chord; 1,3,5,b7,9. which one do i leave out? is there a rule for this sort of thing? also about that ii-V thing: when i come to the V chord on say a blues shuffle in G and i play a,b,c,c#d,c,b,a is that a ii-V thing or am i just playing the V from a different direction?

Earl,

 

Excellent questions! Please allow me to take a stab at them.

 

First, the ninth chord. Let's say it's C9 (C,E,G,Bb,D). You don't have to play ALL of the notes. The interaction between you and the piano player (or the guitarist) will outline the whole chord, or at least its essential parts. It's important for the piano player to leave some notes out, too, to give you and the soloist space to "fill in."

 

Anyway, for C9 you could play nothing but the root and octave. In these examples, I'll use C(8) to represent the octave note.

 

C C C(8) C(8)

or

C C(8) C C

etc.

 

You could play the root an fifth.

 

C C G G

or

C G C C

or

C G C(8) C(8)

or

C G C C(8)

etc.

 

You can add thirds and fifths, but if you do, it helps to select a sequence of notes that leads to the next chord. Let's assume that the next chord is Fmaj7. We'll want to lead to an F on the first beat of the next measure.

 

C Bb G E F

or

C E Bb G F

or

C(8) Bb G E F

or

C C(8) C E F

etc.

 

There are SO many combinations.

 

What about the ninth? There's no reason why you can't use it. Again I'll use D(8) to signify the ninth in the upper octave, and D to signity the note just above the root.

 

C D E G F

or

C Bb D E F

or

C D(8) Bb G F

or

C D(8) Bb E F

or

C(8) D(8) G E F

etc.

 

But don't feel compelled to spell out the full chord. Remember, the pianist is responsible for this job, also. You could use scale tones instead. The scale that typically goes with C9 is C mixolydian, or more simply, the F major scale but starting on C.

 

C D E F G A Bb C(8)

 

Sample lines:

 

C G A E F

or

C G D E F

or

C(8) Bb A G F

etc.

 

Or you could introduce some chromatic notes (i.e. notes not in the chord's scale).

 

C Bb G Gb F

or

C G E Gb F

or

C C# D E F

or

C(8) C#(8) Bb Gb F

etc.

 

Second question: ii-V

 

In the key of G, the ii chord is Am. The ii7 is Am7. Some songs substitute A7 for more chromatic push to the dominant D7.

 

The notes of Am are A,C,E. The notes of A are A,C#,E.

 

So if you play A B C C# D, you're essentially covering both the ii chord, Am (or ii7, Am7) and the II chord, A (or II7, A7). If the band is playing EITHER of these chords, or even A9, or even an altered chord like A7(#5), your line will work in all of these cases.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Originally posted by JDL:

I was reading up on chord charts, yet they are confusing to me. I know how to read notes, that ties in, right? Is there an easy way to understand a chord chart?

 

Have you had any experience in this? How long have you read chord charts? Do you have to develop a knack for reading it? I have so many questions, don't I? ;) But anyways, I'm in need of information, is there a site that deals with chord charts? Please put info. below*^

 

JDL-chordchartblues

JDL,

 

You've received some good information on this thread. I'd like to add one concept that will help you gain a better sense of how it all works.

 

Let's say you see a bunch of chords on a chord sheet.

 

Am7 D7 Gmaj7 Cmaj7 F#m7(b5) B7 Em7 E7 Am7 A7 Dm7 Db7 Cmaj7

 

It starts to look bewildering after a while, right.

 

What I want you to do is learn to separate the root note from the type of chord. For example, if the chord is D7, separate the root note D from the type of chord 7. Next, I want you to think about all 7 chords as being members of the same club. Let's have a club meeting. In the chord progression I posted above, who are all the members of the 7 club?

 

Answer: D7 B7 E7 A7 Db7

 

These guys all like to hang out together, because they're all built the same way, the just happen to start on different root notes. It's like houses on a block that all look the same, are built exactly the same way, but are on different lots and have different addresses. Their addresses (root notes) are different, but otherwise they're identical. Follow me so far?

 

Okay, if you can separate out all of the 7 chords in a song, and if you know EXACTLY how to build a seven chord given a root tone, you can lump all of these guys together, and make the song easier to understand and to play. How about other chord type? Let's find all of the chord types of the song and all of the members of each type.

 

7: D B E A Db

m7: A E D

maj7: G C

m7(b5): F#

 

If you do this, you'll notice that there are only four types of chords in the song. There are numerous instances of each chord type starting on different roots, but really you only have to know four different chord STRUCTURES in order to know how to play this song.

 

Let's take a look at the 7 chord structure. From the root note, whatever it may be, you need to move up a major third to the third of the chord. A major third is the equivalent of four frets, or one fret back on the next string.

 

On any single string:

 

R-x-x-x-3

 

On any pair of adjacent strings:

3-x-x-x

x-R-x-x

 

or

x-x-3-x

x-x-x-R

 

(I hope that last example prints clearly on the screen.)

 

From the third to the fifth of the 7 chord is a minor third, or the equivalent of three frets.

 

On any single string:

 

R-x-x-x-3-x-x-5

 

On adjacent strings:

 

3-x-x-5

x-R-x-x

 

or

 

5-x-x-x-

x-x-3-x-

x-x-x-R

 

The seventh is a minor third (three frets) above the fifth.

 

On any single string:

 

R-x-x-x-3-x-x-5-x-x-7-x-R

 

On adjacent strings:

 

x-7-x-R

3-x-x-5

x-R-x-x

 

or

 

R-x-x-x-

5-x-x-7

x-x-3-x

x-x-x-R

 

Using any of the above patterns you can build a 7 chord on any root note that you encounter. Now you don't need to worry so much about specific fingerings for B7 and D7 and Ab7 - you can figure them out on the fly. This is not to say that knowing specific fingerings is not useful. It IS, especially when playing in the half position (right next to the nut). But by knowing the structures of the chords and how to apply them, you'll demystify the relationship of specific chords to the fretboard.

 

Here are the structures of the remaining chord types we discussed. I'll leave it to you to figure out how to apply them to the fretboard.

 

7: major third, minor third, minor third

 

m7: minor third, major third, minor third

 

maj7: major third, minor third, major third

 

m7(b5): minor third, minor third, major third

 

Remember that a major third is the musical equivalent of a change of four frets on a single string, and a minor third is equivalent to a change of three frets.

 

Using a chord sheet that you have at your disposal, work through this exercise.

 

(1) Identify each type of chord (7, m7, maj7, etc.)

 

(2) List all instances of each type of chord.

 

(3) Using the general structure for each chord, find at least three places where you can play each chord in the song on the fretboard.

 

(4) Extra credit (but very useful): Identiy the relationships between the ROOTS of the chords. In the chord sample that I posted initially, the root A of Am7 moves down a perfect fifth to the root D of D7, and D moves down another perfect fifth to G. If you can remember the sequence of chord types AND the relationships of the root notes of each chord, you can quickly memorize any chord progression. It all starts with separation of chord root and chord type, so don't dismiss this as a pointless exercise. It's fundamental to understanding harmony.

 

Good luck!!

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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There's a lot of great information here for somebody who wants to get to understand chord construction. One should take this information and learn to identify, when looking a any chord symbol, all the notes of the chord and be able to play all the inversions at every position on the neck. This should keep you busy for a while. Playing in duos and trios over the years I've found great value in being able to imply the chords when the guitar player or keyboardist is soloing.

 

Wally

I have basses to play, places to be and good music to make!
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Originally posted by Dan South:

Let's say you see a bunch of chords on a chord sheet.

 

Am7 D7 Gmaj7 Cmaj7 F#m7(b5) B7 Em7 E7 Am7 A7 Dm7 Db7 Cmaj7

 

It starts to look bewildering after a while, right.

 

Good luck!!

Post of the day to Dan South for the random "Autumn Leaves" reference. (okay, it's not exactly Autumn Leaves, but very similiar.)

 

This post really expounds on my statement..."A dominant seventh chord always implys a key."

 

And gb, although it is true that my basic explanation of traditional (we used to say "18th Century") harmony is diatonic and simplistic, I believe it functions to explain the basic point...most music has at least some familial relationship between 2 or 3 chords. In Jazz, there is often 2 or 4 bar phrases with a given tonality...this, I believe, is pretty important as a player begins to develop walking bass lines.

 

JDL: There are several approaches designed to develop a bass line. I'm espousing a "tonal" approach; you analyze harmony and play that harmony. As gb said, however, traditional harmony sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. In the chord example given above, as you get used to this concept, you can see that the first 4 chords are in G major. In fact, this is a ii-V7-I maj7-IV maj7.

 

Then it gets a little dicey (which is what greenboy was alluding too.) However, it doesn't take too much imagination to see that the next three chords are in the key of e minor (which is harmonically related to G major) Beginning with the f#half diminished chord, we have a ii-V-i...

 

Then we have to deal with that nasty E dominant chord...which is completely borrowed...(Dan, did you write these changes to disprove my statement? :D Well done!!!) In fact, it seems to want to send the song into the key of B, but that's non-existent.

 

Following the train of thought, we see an am-A7, and then a ii-V-I in C major. (You guessed correctly...Dflat is not the V of C...this is a tri-tone or "flatted fifth" substitution.)

 

I see the pattern em-E7, am-A7 might be significant...surely the A7 leads to the dm as any dominant chord would.

 

Now...how do we turn these keys into a bass line? Well, as I walk bass lines, I typically assume that there is some key relationship. I don't necessarily think through changes at the beginning. In most cases, the phrasing of the melody helps me decide how to play the changes.

 

I play a root on the downbeat, and then immediately begin walking into the next chord. Sometimes, when dealing with those nasty "borrowed" chords I'll play an arpeggio. As I go through the changes a few times, I'll begin to experiment with finding relationships.

 

I have a tendency to look at a chord in 2 ways...either a chord that is "leading" somewhere or one that is "being led to." This is a result of that nasty, so-called "classical" training...but it works.

 

Finally, in dealing with the 9 chord...I don't think of it as "leaving out" a note at all. Dan covered a lot of this concept. I'll add: bassists aren't necessarily responsible for all color tones in a chord...they must reinforce the harmony by emphasizing the harmonic underpinnings of a chord.

 

To me, there is a hierarchy of notes the bass player must "get right."

(you want to get them all right, but...)

 

Root, then

5th, then

3rd and 7th,

then color tones and extensions.

 

Suppose you had a chord that was 8 measures long. To reinforce that chord, you could walk up and down 2 octaves of it's scale. Along the way, you'd have to make sure that your chord tones are properly aligned...you get the right fifth, third, seventh.

 

This same principle holds true if the chord is only 4 beats long, or 2.

 

Anyway...I fear I get too far afield. Much of what we are discussing is probably better worked out with a teacher...and I know there are many better references than what is dribbling out of my brain.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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The theory stuff is all really interesting. Deepening my appreciation for that stuff, and being able to use it to my benefit, is one of the things that I love about music 25 years down the line and cooking better than ever.

 

But, my two bits are this: JDL's original post was about confusion/intimidation with "chord charts". Let's not forget that a chart is a map of a tune, a song, some musical art and fun that's meant to be experienced as music. The best way to get familiar with chord charts is to learn lots of tunes using chord charts.

 

Personally, I can't relate to playing bass at all without using the concepts of chords, how they're built, how they typically relate to each other, their special flavours, etc. But some folks are just starting out, some play strictly by ear, some might only read lines (although I don't know anyone like that.) If you don't already play a chording instrument of some kind -- guitar and piano are the most common -- you should try and pick one up. Don't aim for guitar playing perfection, just learn some basic chords and start strumming songs.

 

There is an entire universe of three chord songs, as you all know. Every one of them can be chord-charted, in the sense that you write down on paper all those chords you're strumming: what they're called and the order they come in. There are a few standard notations and usages to learn, again having to do with what the chords are named and the order they come in.

 

And there are a zillion intro guitar books that start you off with a few of these basic chords and get you into songs/exercises right off the bat using chord charts. My first guitar lesson tune was "Tom Dooley" in the key of C, and it was presented to me in the form of a chord chart. I used the one-finger chords that I was just learning. Today I still use chord charts (BTW, also called fake charts, fake because they're not full scores with written parts for every voice) all the time, although the one-finger chords are long gone. My chord vocabulary and knowledge of chord grammar have grown over time, that's all.

 

So, there's nothing mysterious about a chord chart, it's only a map of a tune. To get comfy with them, use them in tunes and exercises. There are tons of fake books -- collections of tunes written as chord charts with melody -- available; get one or two. Start with easy stuff, 12-bar blues in different keys, maybe with some turnaround stuff thrown in. Use a metronome or some other kind of regular time-keeping device (notice I didn't say drummer); extremely important.

 

As a bass-player, you don't have to concern yourself about what to do with all those fancy-ass sharp ninths and whatnot, not right off the bat. Just start off playing the root note, throw in some root-five if you want to stretch yourself, and read your way through those tunes. Eventually, with enough practice, you'll be able to walk your way through some pretty scary shit the first time through. That earns you respect with the musical compadres.

 

The thing is, the music should always come first, then the theory. Theory is the dictionary and the grammar book, tunes are the conversations and the literature. Strum that guitar and sing the melodies while you're at it. Your bass-playing will have a context then, and you can gradually move your chord chart work from Dick and Jane level to wherever you want to go.

 

You can't go very far in popular music bass playing without learning the properties and language of chords. Don't worry, though, you've got a lifetime to deepen your appreciation, it never stops. You gotta play chords and hear chords and hear your bass playing against the chords -- you can't just read about them.

 

Hey, with my two bits you get your money's worth!

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Also, be sure you know what to do with those "bass notes" that are sometimes written under the chord notation. Others will be able to give more thorough discussion of this, but I'll just say to watch for something like this: "D/F#" and know what to do. Here, the chord is D, but the notes of the chord are to be so arranged that the F# is in the bass range (e.g. a keyboardist might play a D chord in the right hand & play an F# note in the left, instead of the root D). What NOT to do is to suppose that the bass' chord is not D, but F#! F# is made of F#, C#, & A#, which will sound pretty ill against the D & A everyone else is playing! Here your chord will still be D, but you treat the F# as your bass "root." (In this kind of case, I'll often center the line around F#, but freely add in other notes from the D chord, perhaps with passing notes, etc.) This is a pretty simple-minded explanation, but hopefully it'll be of some help.
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Dave,

 

No, the progression was not meant to disprove anything that you stated previously. ;)

 

I was just trying to come up with typical devices found in standards and popular music - circle of fifths, transient tonics, substitution dominants. But the main purpose was to demonstrate how a bunch of chords - that might seem randomly presented to the novice player - could be categorized to make them easier to walk through or improvise over.

 

Cool analysis, by the way!!

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Originally posted by JDL:

Ah, yes. What I was told when playing for my church, was to play the root note. So, should bassists ignore the other signs besides the note? Because if it was Cmin.7, then I would just play C. So is this right?

JDL,

 

You did the right thing if you were requested to play the root. C is indeed the root of Cm7. You could also play the octave, which is a C higher in pitch than the low C. They are harmonically equivalent, but be careful not to creep into the range of the vocalists and other instruments too often.

 

A basic approach to bass lines - applicable in many genres - would add the fifth note of the chord sometimes, in this case a G. Think about country bass lines.

 

C G C G C G C G

 

This is really

 

root fifth root fifth root fifth etc.

 

Or salsa and similar Afro-Cuban styles

 

C G C(8) G C etc.

 

It all depends on the style and the particular feel that you're going for. If you play only roots in a straight jazz setting, the audience is going to be disappointed. If you play walking lines in a country song, that's probably not good, either in most cases. Be sensitive to the music. That's the mark of an experienced and tasteful player.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Originally posted by Kcbass:

How do you play a C7 on a bass anyway. Kcbass

If you want to play it as a chord, I would suggest:

 

G-string: 15th fret (Bb)

D-string: 14th fret (E)

A-string: 15th fret ©

 

Normally, bassists play one note of a chord at a time, i.e. an arpeggio. There are SO many possible combinations that you'll never run out of ways to play a C7. :)

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Well, playing a C7 on the bass is not that hard, even if you want to chord it. However, even if you stick to the root ©, knowing that the other notes in the chord are G, E, and Bb could come in handy for fleshing out a line, building a turnaround, finding passing & approach notes, etc. Usually on the bass you play a chord by playing "in" it.

 

JDL, yes, if you're going to play straight roots, then Cm7 is just C (just like Cmaj, Cmaj7, C7, Co7, C+, etc. etc.!). Knowing that much (& what the chords mean on the left & right, or top & bottom, sides of a slash) will get you started. But pretty soon you'll find yourself wanting something more, & what it takes is a basic understanding of chord structure, so that's a pretty good place to start setting your learning goals.

 

For instance, suppose your chart calls for Cm7, then F7, then Bb (a standard "ii-V-I" progression), and you're looking for a simple approach note to pass from Cm7 to F7, and let's say you're trying to keep it "melodic" sounding (i.e. not bending the ear). What are you going to pick? Well, F# is there, but in this context it's going to bend the ear; a more "melodic" choice would be G, for instance, which is in the Cm7 chord (and also in the F7 scale); Eb would also do nicely, as it's in both chords. (And if you were moving from Cmaj7 to Fmaj7, the E would be an excellent approach note, as it's in both of *those* chords. And so on.) Of course, you can use non-chord notes, but the point is that if you do, you need to know what you're doing. Obviously things get much, much more complex than this, but my guess is that what you need most right now is to figure out what to play for a given chord, and how to get from one chord to the next without *always* having to hop from one root to the next.

 

I'd recommend first learning the basic major scale pattern, because chord patterns get identified in terms of what interval of the scale they take as their root. For instance, if you're in C major, D is the second interval of the scale; the chord built on D in a song in C is therefore called the "ii," and is a minor (or minor 7) chord. (The iii is Em7, the IV is Fmaj7, & so on.) You'll then begin to see certain kinds of regular patterns showing up again & again (e.g. the V leading back to the I a lot), and if you understand how each of those different chord types is formed, you'll be able to start moving more freely between them. This sounds a lot tougher than it really is. Once you start learning chord basics, & get a lot of practice on charts, it starts coming together.

 

It's also excellent practice, imho, to learn to play simple major & minor triads (3-note chords: root, third or minor third, fifth) on your bass, & play them to your charts, as this can really accelerate your learning. It also teaches you the fingerboard.

 

Hey kcbass--Des Moines, eh? I'm from that area (King & Pierce) originally; lived not too far down the road from you at one point, in Federal Way. :wave:

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Originally posted by earljam:

...say i'm walking around on the upright playing quater notes(4 per measure) and i run into a ninth chord; 1,3,5,b7,9. which one do i leave out? is there a rule for this sort of thing?

Originally posted by Dan South:

... Let's say it's C9 (C,E,G,Bb,D). You don't have to play ALL of the notes. The interaction between you and the piano player (or the guitarist) will outline the whole chord, or at least its essential parts. It's important for the piano player to leave some notes out, too, to give you and the soloist space to "fill in."

 

Anyway, for C9 you could play nothing but the root and octave. In these examples, I'll use C(8) to represent the octave note.

 

C C C(8) C(8)

or

C C(8) C C

etc...

 

Wow. when I saw the question, that was exactly what I was thinking. A guitarist or piano player playing simply will play the 3rd-7th tritone, and the 9th. Good spot to just bounce on the root.

 

Cool thread. There's a lot of info here, be careful :) . Listen to Paul Chambers, he was the Bach of walking bass.

 

LaFaro was Motzart.

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