Dismiss Notice
Join The Good Vibe Zone today, and hangout with the nicest bass community in the world :)

Basic Music Theory

Discussion in 'Music Education - Share your knowledge here!' started by BassRunner911, May 26, 2009.

  1. BassRunner911

    BassRunner911 Warwick Endorser

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hey guys. I'm going to be posting some tutorials, tips, etc. on theory. I thought it'd be best to start with the basics.

    Feel free to PM me with theory questions

    I'll start with Chord symbols and upper extensions

    Most chord symbols have 3 parts:
    1. Root Note
    2. Quality
    3. Suggested Upper Extensions

    The root note is the note that as bass players you want to emphasize. For example: in Cmin7(b5), the root note is C

    The quality of the chord says whether the chord is major, minor, diminished, augmented, etc. It helps tell you which scale or mode works best over that chord symbol. For example: in Cmin7(b5), the quality is minor, so the scale should be the minor scale.

    After you figure out the scale, (in this case, C minor) the last part is adding upper extensions or alterations to the chord. In a minor7 chord, the notes are (with regard to major) 1-b3-5-b7. We know that because it says minor (use b3) and 7 (use b7)

    Now what about upper extensions?

    Upper extensions use numerals 9 through 14. For example, in Cmin7(b5), the 9 is D, 13 is A, etc. Just add 7 to the regular scale degree (2+7=9)

    Now how do you know which quality upper extension to use? Why b9 and not +9?

    Here's how:

    Maj7: 9,#11,13
    Min7: 9,11,13
    7alt: b9,9,#11,b13 (+5), 13

    If you have questions on 7alt...PM me...I want to keep this thread basic...ish

    Trust me, it gets more complicated, but if you break it up into basics it's not that bad.

    Bbmin/maj7(b6) might look scary, but it's really just Bb minor, with a major 7, and a b6. Scale is Harmonic minor. Notes are Bb-C-Db-Eb-F-Gb-A-Bb
    (or 1-2-b3-4-5-b6-7-1)
     
  2. michele

    michele

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2018
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    43
    Trophy Points:
    13
    Maybe that (b5) is a typo?
    C minor scale is usually reference to the Aeolian mode and have a perfect 5th... I of C minor or VI of Eb major.
    That chord as you written it, Cmin7(b5), takes the Aeolian b5 scale (VI mode of A melodic minor... r,2,b3,4,b5,b6,b7)
     
  3. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2009
    Messages:
    5,906
    Likes Received:
    2,296
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    the Netherlands
    So... for those who always wonder what that chord they are playing is named I have drawn up a file with the most used shapes.
    All the chords in this chart are easily playable as they do not span more then three frets. Of course I do play chords that span more sometimes but mostly just by adding the pinky one or two frets onward =)
    Do try these at home! I have based everything on the shapes rather then the actual chord type. The note you play on the lowest (E or A) string along with this chart tells you which chord you ended up playing.

    There's three groups of two rows. In each group you see the same shape in their columns vertically, in each group skipping a different string as these are three note chords only. Let's keep it simple. Three note chords are often referred to as TRIADS by the way.

    If you want to sound jazzy without knowing it try playing these chords in order, descending from the 17th fret down to the 12th while going. Fret positions named is where the root note sits.

    Am7 (17th fret, E string), switch to D7 (17th fret, A string)
    Gm7 (15th fret, E string), switch to C7 (15th fret, A string)
    Fmaj7 (13th fret, E string), switch to Bm7 (14th fret, A string)
    Em7 (12th fret, E string), switch to A7 (12th fret, A string)

    Do add the pinky 2 frets onward on the G string at will to loosen things up... It may look daunting at first but these chords are actually really easy to switch between as your ring finger (the stubborn one) sits tight while switching back and forth your index and middle fingers.

    Enjoy!

    [​IMG]

    Edit: I forgot to say that the incomplete chords, where the thirds or fifths are missing are denoted with a (no3) or (no5). You can usually apply these as if the third of fifth is there though. Shapes that are not chords as far as I know (the question marks) might be something but I simply can't name them. Fill me in if someone can please.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018
    tpa and jester like this.
  4. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2009
    Messages:
    5,906
    Likes Received:
    2,296
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    the Netherlands
    Playing these chords and starting to recognize them will get you on your way to better understanding why music theory exists and you will probably start using the shapes given in your bass lines which is the whole idea here. Nobody plays chords on a bass do they? I know what happens when I do during jamsessions, it makes guitarists gaze at you for a second or two and then they commence to play blues or something by Jimi Hendrix again. LOL!

    Of course, I know nothing might you wonder where this came from. (the expert is not me)...
     
  5. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2009
    Messages:
    5,906
    Likes Received:
    2,296
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    the Netherlands
    Learning this stuff as I post. Correct any wrongs I have managed to sneak in there please...
     
  6. jester

    jester ocdemon Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    Messages:
    4,651
    Likes Received:
    1,260
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Athens, GR
    Real Name:
    Yanni
    Great stuff Marco, thanks for making this effort.
     
  7. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2009
    Messages:
    5,906
    Likes Received:
    2,296
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    the Netherlands
    Trying to provide a playful way for people to get interested in chords and step up their game a little bit.
    I will try to add meaningful four note chords (tetrads, usually involving an open droning string on bass) and chords that span more then three frets later on, but we're starting off with easy to understand stuff in an attempt to not put people off right away. After all this IS the "basic" music theory thread and is aimed at those who never got around to checking music theory... :D

    Might add a vid of the example chord progression from a few posts up as well, unless someone beats me to it.
     
  8. Henrythe8

    Henrythe8 Dolphin Hoarder

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2013
    Messages:
    2,339
    Likes Received:
    636
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Valenciennes, North of France
    Shit, you already lost me.
    My level is so low that the only thing I managedso far is to write down the basic scales in a transposable way, with just Whole intervals and Half intervals.
    Major is WWHWWWH
    Minor is WHWWHWW (but it's only working for one out of three minor modes but I don't know the other).
    There also is a blues scale and a pentatonic scale.
    All I know is that one I memorized those formulas, I can has all scales for all notes on my fretboard.
     
  9. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2009
    Messages:
    5,906
    Likes Received:
    2,296
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    the Netherlands
    Forget all that. Try playing two types of these chords, make a sequence of them moving up and down a whole step (two frets). Let the sound of it inspire you, and try moving one or two fingers around while holding the third one in place. Before you know it there will be a melody and rhythm appearing in your head and you're basically composing. Throw it on a beat and it's a song.

    Easy as that. Chord progressions do this to a musical brain.
     
    tpa likes this.
  10. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2018
    Messages:
    601
    Likes Received:
    678
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Upstate NY, USA
    Real Name:
    Steve Gregory
    Some good stuff here DiMarco. If I may, I'd like to elaborate on a few, offer a few minor corrections, and fill in a few of your question marks too.

    1a chord shape 1. I agree that this can be used as a 7sus4 with no fifth. But we can also call it an inversion of a regular sus4 chord. In such a case, the bottom note is the fifth, the root is in the middle, and the fourth is on top.

    1a chord shape 2. Yes, or maj7sus4.

    1a chord shape 3. I've never heard of something being referred to as sus11. I'd call it a sus4. Actually, there are only two notes in this shape, and depending on context I'd be inclined to just call this an inversion of a basic power chord (sometimes called a 5 chord, although it's technically not a chord at all; chords are by strictest definition three or more notes).

    1a chord shape 4. I'd be more inclined to notate this as 7#11 (no 3rd).

    1a chord shape 5. Again, you're not wrong, but maj7#11 chords come up more often IME, and you could think of that shape as the root, #11, and 7 of such a chord.

    1a chord shape 6. Minus signs (-) typically are used for minor chords; this is the interval of a diminished fifth. It's something like a so-called power chord in that there's only two notes here.

    1b shape 4. This is an inversion of a major chord, where the lowest note is the fifth, the root is in the middle, and the third is on top.

    1b shape 5. This really outlines the shape of a diminished 7th chord (no third). This is a weird one, because in a diminished 7th chord, you have a double-flatted seventh, which is the same pitch as a major 6th, but in this context it's called a diminished 7th for some reason. Another way we could analyze this shape is to call it simply a diminished triad, with the fifth on the bottom, root in the middle, and third on top.

    1b shape 6. This is actually another inversion of a major chord. In this case, the third is on the bottom, the fifth is in the middle, and the root note is up on top.

    1b shape 7. Yes, or dim7. It all depends on whether the fifth is flat or not. Since you've omitted the fifth I'm inclined to agree and call it a m6, but I've used this shape functioning as a dim7 a great deal, and it works that way too.

    1b shape 10. This is a minor chord with the fifth on the bottom, root in the middle, and third on top.

    2a shape 6. Yes, or maj7sus4.

    2a shape 9. Sus4.

    2b shape 1. Often called a 6/9 chord (in this case voiced without a third or fifth).

    2b shape 4. Yes, or could be the root, seventh, and ninth of a 9 chord.

    2b shape 6. That one is a real brain buster, but it could be the root, flat 13, and flat 9 of a 7alt chord.

    2b shape 7. I'm going to get creative and call this the third, root, and fifth of a majb5 chord (third on the bottom).

    2b shape 8. Major chord with the third on the bottom.

    2b shape 9. The only thing I can think to call this is a 6/b9. But that's weird.

    2b shape 10. That's actually going to be a 7b9. A regular 9 chord would have that top note up one fret.

    3a shape 5. Maj(b5).

    3a shape 6. Another brain buster. This one has me stumped. I suppose we could call it the 7, 3, and #9 of a 7#9 chord, but now we've dropped the root, and that's just silly.

    3b shape 4. I suppose I'd call this 6 (no 3rd). The bottom note in this case would be the fifth, with the root in the middle.

    3b shape 5. We could probably call this the root, fifth, and ninth of a 9(b5).

    3b shape 10. We might be able to call this the fifth, root, and b13 of a 7b13 chord.
     
    tpa and jester like this.
  11. DiMarco

    DiMarco nutcase Good Vibe Sponsor

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2009
    Messages:
    5,906
    Likes Received:
    2,296
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    the Netherlands
    Thank you so much! I guess when talking inversions I will have to fill in which is the root note (the middle) so one can recognize it more easily.

    I am on a bus right now so can't apply any of your corrections just yet. Will do so later on.

    Thanks again, this is much appreciated.
     
    tpa and Bassist4Eris like this.
Loading...