A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Hearing the bass drum & chord changes by Scott Grove

I can’t believe it February already. For those of you who watch, happy Super Bowl. For those of you who live in NY, like me, I hope you’re ready for another snowstorm.

Here’s a video I mentioned a few days ago which is geared for beginner bass players. Its about how to identify and play chord progressions. The video is centered on what I believe is the most popular progression – the I-IV-V, and the presenter, Scott Grove, uses country music as his main vehicle for explaining it to us, because he says that country and 50’s style rock-n-roll are simple and easy to follow.

Beginner Bass Guitar Lesson Hearing Bass Drum And Chord Changes Scott Grove

I watched and played along to this 3 nights ago but need to do it again as a refresher. Scott has us play a bassline in C. Because its a I-IV-V progression, it means that the I is C, the IV is F and the V is G. You can actually figure this out by doing the following:

  1. Write out a C major scale
  2. Pick the 1st, 4th and 5th notes in the scale (the I, IV and V, respectively)
  3. Those are the root notes for chords played in that sequence, so I-IV-V in C is C-F-G
Notes in a I-IV-V progression in C

Notes in a I-IV-V progression in C

So, basically, when we play something (chords, a pattern or riff, or whatever) on the “I” part of the progression, our root is C. When we play something on the IV, the root is F and when we play on the V, the root is G. That’s all there is to it.

Just as another example, here are the notes for a I-IV-V progression in the key of G:

Notes in a I-IV-V progression in G

Notes in a I-IV-V progression in G

So, the root notes for this I-IV-V progression are G-C-D.

Ok, the video tells us that those are the notes in the progression, which is the sequence of chords that make up the song. It also says that we basically want to try to play a note when the bass drum is hit. I remember reading advice saying the same thing elsewhere. Initially, that’s all we should do, as beginners, only so that we can learn to follow the chord changes. Once we have an idea of how to do that, I think we can start to come up with riffs or patterns to play in each part of the sequence.

This chord progression stuff seems to tie in with the Cycle of Fourths. I believe that if you choose a note in the Cycle, then the note that comes after it is a fourth away, and the note that comes before the one you picked Is a fifth away. So, looking at the Cycle, the selected note, the note on its right and then the one on its left are the I, IV and V.

I’ll write more about this and also post up a picture of the actual Circle/Cycle later.


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