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Bass Guitar Chords

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If you know your basic scales, you may be wondering where to go from there. After all, scales are the foundations of all music right? If scales are the foundation of music, chords are the first bricks laid upon the mortar. Now, when you teach yourself bass guitar, it should be an awesome experience and a fun one as well. If you are a relatively new bassist, the single most challenging thing to learn is to make your fingers obey the motions you want them to. In this section of bass guitar chords tutorials, we will be touching on several aspects of music harmony and techniques. If you do not have any basic knowledge of music theory or you are not even able to fret single notes properly, go back to the other sections of the website first. The topics covered here are slightly more advanced and you need to have some proper foundations to avoid frustrations. For the rest of you guys, you might also be wondering. What is a bass chord? Why do I need to learn how to play chords on the bass guitar? I would like to address this by saying that most bassists don't typically play alot of chords by themselves during a piece of music. The bass guitar is a "support" instrument and your role is to complete the harmony in a band or ensemble.

In short, your usual duty as a bassist when jamming with other musicians is to play one of the notes that forms the chord harmony in the band. This is where your knowledge in music theory of bass chords comes in. Sometimes, bassists are not told what to specific music notes to play but rather only informed of the chord progressions or key that a piece of music is in. In such scenarios, you are expected to play the bass to complement and support the overall music across the music progression. Of course, you could be given sheet music or bass chord charts to create your own basslines or improvisation across chord progressions. To do all this, you need to have some basic knowledge of bass chord formations and music theory. With a good grasp of the tools and knowledge in your mind and guitar, only then can you play the bass guitar to your full potential.

Major Chords on Bass Guitar


If you want to learn to make your playing sound huge, you will need to learn some chords. The best place to start is with the most basic of all chords; the major chords. Major chords are upbeat chords with large tonal properties. In essence, this means that they sound big. In this article, we will discuss some of the most basic major chords on bass guitar. First off is E Major. E Major is one of the most commonly used chords in modern music. From acoustics to jazz, the E Major chord is favored for its powerful sound and open feel. To play the E Major chord, start off be playing your E string open. Next, fret the second fret of youre a string for the note B. Now fret the second note of your D string for the note E. Finally, fret the first fret of your G string for the note G#. The triad within the E Major chord consists of the notes E, G#, and B. As long as you play these notes together with E as the lowest note, you are playing an E Major chord. Next up is the A Major chord. Just the E Major, the G Major has a chord with a powerful quality. Many musicians tend to use the G Major in acoustic pieces. To play G Major, start off by playing your E string fretted on the third fret for the note G. Next, play your A string on the second fret, for the note B. Now, play the D string as an open note. You can play the open G string as well, but it isnt necessary. As long as you have the basic G Major triad, consisting of the notes G, B, and D, with G as the lowest sounding note, you are playing a G Major chord. Our third chord is the C Major chord. C Major is very different from our previous chords, as it is one of the few major chords that have a minor sounding quality. Many musicians tend to mistake the C Major chord for a minor chord. To play the C Major chord, start off by fretting the third fret of your A string to achieve the note C. Next, fret the second fret of your D string for the note E. Finally, play your G string as an open note. This is the C Major chord. So long as you have the notes C, E, and G, with C as the lowest sounding note, you are playing a C Major chord. If you study these major chords on bass guitar, you may see a similarity between them all. They all are built off of a triad. There is no exception. Some are only the triad, while others have octaves as well. This is because triads are the roots of all chords. If a chord doesnt have a root, a third, and a fifth, it isnt a chord, only a grouping of notes. Keep this in mind, and try experimenting with creating your own bass guitar triads. Keep your intervals in mind, and have fun.

Minor Chords on Bass Guitar


If you want to expand your playing, the best way to do so is by learning chords on the bass guitar. Whether you are a beginner or a player just looking to increase your knowledge, chords can not only help you to improve your skills as a player, but they can help to improve your knowledge of the fret board. In this article, we will discuss some basic minor chords on bass guitar that will allow you to get a jump start on your chord playing. Our first minor chord is E minor. E minor sounds very similar to E Major. The only difference is a single note. To play the E minor chord, start off by playing your E string as an open note. Next, play your A string on the second fret for the note B. Next, play your D string on the second fret for the note E. Finally, play your G string as an open note. Notice that the E minor chord is built off of the triad E, G, and B. As long as you play these three notes together and the E is the lowest sounding note, you will have an E minor chord. Next up is the G minor chord. This is one of the most popular minor chords in minor music, do in part for the same reasons that G Major is one of the most popular chords; it is powerful. The G minor chord is one of the largest sounding of all the minor chords. To play the G minor chord, start off by playing the third fret of your low E string, which will give you the note G. Next, skip over your A string; we wont be using it. Play your D string as an open note. Finally, play your G string on the third fret to achieve the note B. The G minor triad consists of the notes G, B, and D. You can play these notes together any place on the neck. So long as the G is the lowest sounding note, you are still playing the G minor chord. Our last chord is the C minor chord. You may recognize this chord is the C Major chord. They are almost the same exact chord. The only difference is one note. First, start off by playing the third fret on your A string to achieve the note C. Next, play the first fret on your D string for the note Eb (Eb and D# are the same note, only played differently, known as enharmonic notes). Finally, play your G string as an open note. The C minor triad consists of the notes C, Eb, and G. Once you get the hang of these basic minor chords on bass guitar, study them. You may notice that they are all made of the same intervals. Use this information to build your own triads on the bass guitar. Keep in mind that in order to play a traditional chord, regardless of the inversion, the root note should always be the lowest sounding note in order to maintain the chord quality. Good luck, and have fun!

Creating Bass Guitar Triads


In this lesson, we will discuss how to create the most common bass guitar chords; triads. Triads are the roots of every real chord in music. If a chord does not contain a root, a third, and a fifth, in all technicalities, it is not actually a chord. This includes the beloved power chord unfortunately. First off, since we know what a triad is, we need to discover how they are built. Basic major triads consist of a major third, followed by a minor third. A major third consist of four half steps, while a minor third consists of only three half steps. A half step is, like it sounds, a half of a step between each note. A minor third is basically a reversed major third; it consists of a minor third, followed by an interval of a major third. Take for instance the key of C Major. This is the most basic key in all of music, besides its relative minor, which is A minor.

Why is it such a basic scale?


It contains absolutely no accidentals. This means no sharps, and no flats. This makes it the prime key to start off with when learning to create triads. The notes of the C Major scale are C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. If you need to refresh your memory, read our article on bass guitar major scales. Using this information, and the intervals we learned above, lets create a basic tonic (first note in a scale) triad on bass guitar. Our root will be C, seeing as the note C is the first note within the scale C Major. From here, we simply need to travel four half steps, which brings us to E (C#, D, D#, E). This is our third. Next, we need to move a further minor third. Doing this brings us to G (F, F#, G). This is our fifth. You may have noticed that the note E didnt have an accidental. That is because the notes E and B have no half steps between themselves and the next note. Now, lets make a minor triad on our supertonic (second note name of a scale). The second note name of the C Major scale is D. In a major scale, the supertonic will always, unless altered, be minor. Using this information and our above provided intervals, lets create a C Major supertonic triad. Our root will be D. From the root, we will need to move a minor third, which brings us to F (D#, E, F). This is our third. From our third, F, we need to move a further major third, which brings us to the note A (F#, G, G#, A). This means that our tonic triad is C, E, G, and our supertonic triad is D, F, A.

Now that you know how to make the most basic bass guitar triads, the next step is to practice. Use the other scales, and create the rest of the basic chords on bass guitar. Have fun!

Common Chord Patterns to Remember


Like all musicians, bass guitarists tend to limit themselves. Whether this is intentional or accidental, it is never an easy habit to break out of. Many bass guitarists limit themselves to simple one note patterns, when bass guitar has an expansive amount of resources available, just like guitar. Today, we are going to discuss common bass chord patterns. These chords are some of the most popular chords in modern music, and today we are going to learn them on the bass guitar. First off, we need to discuss scales. Basic knowledge of scales and scale properties is essential when constructing chords on any instrument, and the bass is absolutely no exception. If you dont yet understand the basic qualities of the Major and minor scales, take your time to learn them. Chords can only be built using the notes within the given key, so it is important that you know your scales. It is also important that you understand the steps of creating basic triads, as most chords are built off of triads. A basic Major triad is built of a Major third with a minor third stacked on top. If we were to make a tonic C Major triad, these two intervals would lead us to the notes C, E, and G. This entire interval is a perfect fifth, which means it is a total of seven half steps from the root. A minor triad is built of a minor third with a Major third on top. Using this equation, a supertonic triad in the key of C Major would consist of the notes D, F, and A. Like the Major triad, our total interval equals a perfect fifth, or seven half steps. The first chord shape we will discuss is the C Major chord. This chord involves an octave, which gives it a full bodied, powerful sound. The C Major chord is built off of a tonic C Major triad, which from above we know consists of the notes C, E, and G. After our G, to complete the chord, we must return to the root an octave above it, giving us a second C. Our C Major chord should look like this: C, E, G, C Next up is the A minor chord. This chord has a more delicate and emotional quality to it. The A minor chord is built off of an A minor tonic triad. This triad consists of the notes A, C, and E. This time, unlike the C Major chord, the A minor triad is our chord. Our A minor chord should look like this: A, C, E

Our final chord is the G Major chord. This chord is fairly similar to the C Major chord in the fact that it involves an octave built off of the tonic. Our G Major triad would consist of the notes G, B, and D. To bring our chord full circle, we would need to simply add the octave of G. The G Major chord should look like this: G, B, D, G Now that you know the most common bass chord patterns, the final step is to practice. The only way to properly memorize these chords is to add them to your music. Try saying the chord names while you play them, as this will better help you to memorize the chord. Have fun!

How to Play Bass Guitar Arpeggios


Guitar isnt the only instrument that has advanced concepts. When used properly, the bass guitar can be just as interesting and dynamic as the electric guitar. One of the most interesting concepts in bass is the arpeggio. Arpeggios are simply chords that are played note by note. The easiest way to create an arpeggio is to use a preexisting chord shape. Before we get into arpeggios, it is important that you first assess your skill level. Be sure that you are familiar with basic chords such as triads, basic Major and minor keys, and basic musical intervals. It is important that you understand chord properties, as well as those of keys. Be sure you have a full understanding of how chords are built, as arpeggios are dependent upon the chords from which they are built. Next you need to understand the difference between harmony and melody. Harmony is when two or more voices ring out in unison, creating a single voice. Melody is a linear pattern in either ascending or descending order. If we were to play an A minor scale, to play it is a melody we would play each note in order from either highest to lowest or lowest to highest. Because the pattern is moving in a single direction, it is a linear pattern. Now that you understand the key concepts behind building an arpeggio, lets put them to use. As with all concepts, the easiest place to start is in the key of C Major. First off, we will need to build a basic C Major chord. The most basic chord is a triad, and in the key of C Major, a tonic triad consists of the notes C, E, and G. When we play a C Major triad, we are creating harmony.

To turn this triad into an arpeggio, we would simply need to play the notes C, E, and G in either ascending or descending order. This may sound fairly simple, and that is because it is; arpeggios are simple, yet impressive when put to proper application. The neat thing about arpeggios is that they can be built off of. Using our C Major triad of C, E, and G, we can create a more dynamic arpeggio using the notes of the C Major scale. This is why it is important that you have a full understanding if basic keys and musical intervals. To build off of our C Major triad arpeggio, we simply need to choose intervals that will accentuate the arpeggio. For instance, if we play our arpeggio from C to G, then jump a fifth to D, then return to G and descend, we add a richer, fuller and more complete sound to our arpeggio. The best way to add dynamics to an arpeggio is through trial and error. Some notes simply will not sound pleasant. Sometimes arpeggios are best left to their basic notes. These are things that can be assessed through experimentation. Now that you know how to create bass guitar arpeggios, the next step is to try creating your own. Keep your mind open to expansion when working with arpeggios, but dont feel it necessary to always add. Sometimes simplicity is best. Check out the slew of other bass guitar lessons that we offer on different sections of the site as well. Enjoy!

I-IV-V Progressions on Bass Guitar


If you want to groove, but dont know where to start, look no further. The I-IV-V progression is one of the most common chord progressions in music. In fact, if you have ever listened to pop or to the blues, chances are you have heard this progression at work. Before we get into the meat of the progression though, lets take a look at the basic element of it. First off, what does I-IV-V even mean? The Roman numerals refer to things called scale degrees. A scale degree is simply a fancy term for the number of a note within a given key. Take for example the key of C Major. The first note in the key of C Major is C. This note is the tonic of C Major. The fourth note in the key of C Major is F, which is the subdominant. The fifth note within the key of C Major is G, which is the dominant. The first, fourth, and fifth scale degrees within a Major scale are all Major, and because of this, the I-IV-V progression has an extremely uplifting and powerful feel. If you dont understand chord structures, thats okay. Most every chord in music is built off of a triad, which consists of a root, a fifth, and a third. Triads are the most basic chords in modern music, and because our I-IV-V progression is completely major, we can follow a single rule. Read this article if you are interested in an indepth look on creating bass guitar triads.

A Major triad is built of a Major third (four half steps) with a minor third (three half steps) on top. Using this strategy, lets create our three basic triads for our I-IV-V progression in the key of C Major.

Our tonic triad, we already know, is going to be built off of our tonic, C. Moving a Major third from C, we come to the note E (C#, D, D#, E.) Moving a further minor third will bring us the note G (F, F#, G.) This means our C Major tonic triad consists of the notes C, E, and G. For our subdominant triad, we need to start on the subdominant of C Major, which is F. If we move up a Major third, we are brought to the note A (F#, G, G#, A.) Moving a minor third from A will bring us to C (A#, B, C.) Finally, for our dominant triad, we know we will need to build off of our C Major dominant note, which is G. Moving a Major third from G brings us to the note B (G#, A, A#, B.) Moving a minor third from B will give us the note D (C, C#, D.) This means our basic C Major triad I-IV-V progression will contain the notes C, F, and G, and each notes respective triad will look as follows:

Tonic I
C, E, G

Subdominant IV
F, A, C

Dominant V
G, B, D Using what we just learned, we can now easily play a basic I-IV-V progression on bass. Once you have mastered this simple I-IV-V progression, try deriving your own from each of the major keys!

Seventh Chords - A Triad With Dissonance


Jazz is a unique style, full of twists and turns and hundreds of variations. Even the most unique style has its common aspects, though, and for jazz, these are chords. Namely, they are chords called seventh chords. Seventh chords are closely related to triads. In fact, each seventh chord is a triad with an added seventh. Seventh chords possess a very distinctive sound, a quality achieved by dissonance. Every seventh chords contains a dissonant interval, and in music, this means that every seventh chord begs for resolutions. Because they are such open ended sounding chords, they are a great tool to use within any style of music. Today we are going to discuss how to build seventh chords on your bass guitar. Before we can construct seventh chords, though, we need to learn to build triads on the bass guitar. Triads are a three note chord consisting of a root, a third, and a fifth. A Major triad is built of a Major third, with a minor third stacked on top. For example, if we were to make a C Major tonic triad, we would first have to start on C and move a Major third upwards, which would bring us to E (C#, D, D#, E.) Our E note would be our third. To come to a perfect fifth, we would need to move a further minor third, which would bring us to G (F, F#, G.) This means our C Major tonic triad would consist of the notes C, E, and G. To create a supertonic minor triad, we would first need to move a minor third from D, bringing us to F (D#, E, F.) Our note E would be our third. To get to our perfect fifth, we would need to move up a further Major third (F#, G, G#, A.) This means that our minor triad would consist of the notes D, F, and A. Now since both of our triads have a root (a first), a third, and a fifth, it seems pretty basic that our next interval would bring us to a seventh. A basic Major seventh chord is built by adding a further Major third to the end of a Major triad. A basic minor seventh chord is built by adding a second minor third to the end of a minor triad. This means that, using our C Major tonic triad, we would simply need to move a further Major third to achieve a seventh chord. This interval would bring us to the note B (G#, A, A#, B.) This means our Major seventh chord consist of the notes C, E, G and B. Now for our supertonic triad to become a seventh chord, we would need to add a minor third on top of our triad. This would bring us to the note C (A#, B, C.) This means that our supertonic triad in the key of C Major would consist of the notes D, F, A, and C.

Now that you know how seventh chords are built, try building some of your own. Dont limit yourself to one section of your fret board; try moving the notes to different sections to achieve different pitches. Have fun!

Diatonic Chords on Bass Guitar


Increasing your musical knowledge can better your playing in more way than one. Firstly, it can help you to truly understand just why what you are doing sounds the way it does. Knowing this helps you to write better, as you gain a better understanding of why certain notes work together, and better yet, why certain notes dont work together. Secondly, it can help you to compose better. Understanding the relationships between scales, progressions, and chords will allow you to write music that is more cohesive. In this article, we will talk about one of the most common musical termsand musical relationship in generalthat will help you to understand just a little bit more about what you are playing and why it sounds this good; diatonic chords on bass guitar. So first off, what are diatonic chords? Diatonic chords are chords that, inside of a scale, have notes that relate entirely to the scale. In basic terms, this means that the triad of the given chord must contain only the notes that are in the scale itself. Take Bb Major for example; Bb Major is a rather simple scale. It consists of the notes Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, and A. Knowing this, and what was mentioned before, we see that, unless the scale degrees triad matches those given notes, it isnt diatonic. So for example, our first diatonic chord would be Bb, D, F, as the tonic of Bb Major coincides with the notes in the scale itself. This would give us the Bb Major chord, or the Bb Major triad. It would also mean that the tonic triad of the Bb Major scale is a diatonic chord.

So how would we put this information to practical usage?


If you are playing a progression, it is good to know what chords will properly fit. If you are playing over a moving progression, knowing the diatonic chords will make it easier to play notes that fit into each chord being played. For instance, if the progression is in Bb Major, as used above, and the progression moves from Bb (first scale degree, or tonic chord) to Eb (fourth scale degree, or subdominant chord) to F ( fifth scale degree, or dominant chord), and then back to Bb, you can use the diatonic chords to match all three chords.

Playing the notes of the Bb tonic triad, you can play over both the tonic and the dominant chord. Playing the notes of the C supertonic triad (second scale degree chord) which contains the notes C, Eb, and G, would allow you to play over the subdominant triad chord. This means that, in the context of Bb Major, you would only need to know two chords to play over a three chord progression. In the end, the best way to use diatonic chords in bass guitar playing is through practice. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the scales, then try and pick out the proper chords. Have fun, and good luck with it!

Diminished Arpeggios on Bass Guitar


There are a number of techniques and idioms that people tend to associate with guitars and do not realize that they apply to string instruments or playing music in general. Arpeggios are employable by almost any instrument, but sometimes people tend to associate it with guitars. Let us talk a little about arpeggios on the bass guitar and let us discuss what makes an arpeggio diminished.

An Introduction to Arpeggios
The word arpeggio comes from the Italian verb arpeggiare which means to play on a harp. Harpists never play chords with all notes ringing simultaneously: they play chords broken down into individual notes, played one by one and this is what arpeggios are. To put it together: an arpeggio is a musical technique where the notes of a chord are played in sequence, one after another, instead of being played simultaneously. A nicely executed arpeggio contains only notes belonging to a single chord, and these notes have to be played individually. Even though the chord in question might be a simple tonic triad containing only the first, third and fifth notes of the scale, here we are going to take a look at how a diminished chord can be arpeggiated. The example below shows how very simple chords can be arpeggiated. Both lines feature rather common chords: first the chord is struck, then after a rest the example showcases how the given chords can be arpeggiated in the simplest possible way.

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What is a Diminished Triad?


There are two interpretations regarding to what the term diminished chord might refer to. The first of these interpretations refers to diminished triad chords. Basically, a diminished triad is a simple chord consisting of two minor thirds set above the root note. In most situations, a diminished triad might be considered dissonant and unstable maybe that is the reason why jazz players like to use it so much. When speaking of diminished chords we might also refer to diminished seventh chords, which are basically diminished triads with the addition of an interval of a diminished seventh above the root. A diminished seventh chord can be treated as four notes stacked in intervals of a minor third. In the majority of older books the notation Gdim or G used to refer to diminished seventh chords, however, lately the notations have become a lot more precise and Gdim or G refers to a diminished triad chord while diminished seventh chords are denoted by (in the case of the G key) Gdim7 or G7.

How to Play the Diminished Arpeggios?


Now that we have gone through the basics of what an arpeggio is and how it should be played and we have also understood what a diminished chord is, understanding how to play a diminished arpeggio is really just puzzle work. You guessed it: a diminished arpeggio is the spreading of a diminished chord usually a diminished seventh chord. That is, the notes separated by minor thirds are played in sequence,

one by one. The example below shows two diminished seventh chords and a possible arpeggiation of these.