A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Practice: 8/24/12 – Major Triads a different way

Tonight, after dinner, I sat in the living room and ran major triad exercises similar to what I did two nights ago (yesterday, I didn’t get to practice – but it did let my hands recover after being so rusty). Sometime during that, I started moving the triads in a box pattern. Like, I’d play them with the root on the the E string, 9th fret, then A string, 9th fret, then I’d move to the 7th fret and repeat. I started doing it over 4 strings using E9, E7, A9, A7, D9, D7 and then added in triads going in reverse (moving from the 5th to the 3rd to the root). It was fun trying to do exercises that sounded melodic.

I began to hop around, descending every other fret – like E9, E7, E5 using triads. Then I started trying just the root and 5th instead of triads. I was playing different rhythms while doing this, repeating grooves and making small variations in them. I like varying note lengths and creating short grooves.

So, while doing this, I found myself doing something on E7, E5 and then A7. After several repetitions, I added in E9 before returning to the regular pattern. I began to wonder what I was doing and why it worked together. After a few seconds, I realized that I was following the other major scale pattern, and using chord tones from it. It was the 2nd, 1st and the 5th. That note I added every now and again was the 3rd.

I tried playing the same thing using my regular major scale/triad pattern, and it sounded right – just not as full. I then realized that the other major scale pattern has a richer sound than what I usually default to. I think I feel safe with the one I usually use because it keeps me in one position. With the 2nd one, I have to move a little because it covers 5 frets on 2 strings. Since I’ve been practicing moving around a little on the strings doing triads, I think my hands (and probably my head) began to feel comfortable with short jumps, and it let me experience triads using a different pattern without really worrying and focusing on what I was doing (I’m usually trying to keep some kind of reference about where I am, so I don’t lose my place, which takes some concentration and doesn’t let me relax).

This was different, and fun. I found that I like the way the scale and chords (triads and even something going as high as the 9th or 11th) sound using this other pattern more than my usual one. Its a fuller sound. I’m going to try to get it into muscle memory so that I can explore with it more… once that’s done, I’m going to see if I can map out similar patterns for the minor triads, and then I’ll look at the other types.

Here are the patterns for the regular major triad and the variation that I tried tonight. Try it out, if you’re so inclined. I remember reading somewhere that knowing how to play the notes in a scale (and by association, its chords) from different positions leads to fretboard fluency, and freedom. I’m starting to understand why. Its literally one small step (a 1/2 step!) towards freedom.


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