A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

A I-IV-V Progression and Triads?

That progression thing I mentioned in my “Warm up” post

Ok. So, I warmed up and then practiced the major scale pattern, up the neck on the E string, and then down the neck on the A string. Afterward, I was thinking about something I read a while back called progressions. I think they’re sequences in which notes (or even parts of a song) are played, but these notes are embellished with other notes.

I read something about blues basslines often following something called a I-IV-V progression. I think what this means is that you play the root note (the 1) and something to accent it, followed by the 4th note in the major scale with something to accent it (the 4), followed by the 5th note in the scale (the 5) with its gang.

Before I go further into that –

Tangent – triads

So, starting on the 7th fret of the E string, I played what I think are called triads. That means playing something using the root note (in this case, the 7th fret on the E string) accompanied by the 3rd and 5th notes in its scale. Basically, you hold your hand in a particular shape, so that your middle finger is on the 7th fret of the E (the 1, or root of that triad) and play that. Next you use your index finger to play the 6th fret of the A string (the 3, because its the 3rd note in a major scale that begins where that 7th fret on the E is). Then you use your little finger to play the 9th fret on the A string (the 5, because its the 5th note in that same scale). Finally, you play the index finger again.

This might make a little more sense if you can see it:

In that diagram, i = index, m = middle and p = pinkie finger. That’s how you position your fingers on the fretboard to play the root note (the 1) with your middle finger, the 3rd note (the 3) with your index and the 5th note (the 5) with your pinkie finger.

Just like with the other patterns we looked at, months ago before I stopped practicing, this pattern can be moved all over the fretboard, as long as you have 2 strings to play on, and will let you play the 3rd and 5th notes with your index and pinky fingers of any triad you start with your middle finger.

That progression thing again

Lets break this down into steps:

  1. So, to play what I’m assuming is a progression, what I did was play a triad starting on the 7th fret of the E string.
  2. I then moved my hand, keeping my fingers in the same shape, up a string so that my index finger was on the 7th fret of the A string (which is the 4th note in a major scale that begins if your root note was the 7th fret of the E string) and played a triad there.
  3. Then, I moved my hand, still keeping the same shape, so that my index finger was on the 9th fret of the A string (the 5th note in a major scale that begins where the first 2 did) and played a triad there.
  4. Finally, I moved back to the original position on the E string and played that again.

It sounded like something you’d hear on one of those old western movies, or possibly while watching pictures of horses while the Lone Ranger was playing on TV in the background.

This is what it looks like in tab:

Those same 2 shapes can be used together all over the fretboard to play that pattern in different keys. So, you could start way down the neck and play the same thing lower, or you could move it up the neck, or even up 2 strings, and play it higher. For example:

Is the same pattern, only lower and deeper than the example above. The reverse happens if you play on the D and G strings instead, with your tones going higher.

So why do I think this is a I-IV-V progression?

As long as I have Notepad and Photoshop open anyway, this should help illustrate why:

The scale degree shows the pattern of the major scale in the order that it is played. The image to its right shows the pattern along with which finger to use when playing it. If the 1 (root) on the left image was the 7th fret on the E string, then the 4 would be the fret on the string above it (7th fret on the A string) and the 5 would be the 9th fret on the A string. See? 1-4-5, or I-IV-V. Those are the root notes of the progression (if I’m using any of this terminology correctly).

Playing a triad on each of these scale degrees (the 1, 4 & 5) results in the progression. Of course, I could be mistaken about any or all of this, but my cloudy memory and reasoning have left me with this.

This might be properly called a major progression, since we’re doing it in the major scale. I’ll look that up and confirm it later, when I delve back into the books. Sorry for the length of this write-up. I guess what went through my head in 20 mins of practice earlier today took a lot more effort to get onscreen.

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6 responses

  1. Pingback: Practice: 9/22/2011 – Stand By Me & Triads « Ugly Bass Face

  2. Pingback: Practice: 9/23/2011 – First session with Jay « Ugly Bass Face

  3. Pingback: Practice: 9/27/2011 – Simple exercise « Ugly Bass Face

  4. Pingback: Practice: 10/8/2011 – Major Triads « Ugly Bass Face

  5. Pingback: Scales, Chords & Arpeggios « Ugly Bass Face

  6. Pingback: Coursera – DYM Lesson 2 videos (6) | Ugly Bass Face

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