A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Coursera – DYM Lesson 5 videos (2)

Ok. I took a little break today and started a Facebook page for the blog – and, boy, is it ugly. Its probably about time, since the blog is old enough to start preschool now. But, back to business. Video #2 for Lesson 5 of Coursera’s online Developing Your Musicianship class is an interesting combination. Its a review of last week’s material, just like always, but this time, it includes new material right in the review, instead of pushing that off for the next vid.

2. Review and 7-3-5 Chord Voicing (4:41) 

Professor Russell begins with a review of the major 7th chord. He tells us to remember that its basically a triad with a 7th on top. Then, a mere 30 seconds into the review, he changes gears and says, “Now, what we can do is, we can do a different voicing, and that is taking your notes and using the same notes, but putting them under a different formation.” He demonstrates by taking the root of a C major 7th chord and moving it from his right hand, from which he was previously playing all of the notes, and moving it to his left hand, an octave down on the piano. Then he says that instead of playing the E next, he’ll play the B, then the E and then the G.

So, for those of you who are new to this, like I am, this is what he did: He took a C major 7th chord, which is C-E-G-B (1-3-5-7) and then moved the C, or 1, way to the left, to his other hand. He then switched the order of the other notes from E-G-B (3-5-7) to B-E-G, or 7-3-5. What we have then is the C being played essentially in the bass register, and the rest of the chord being played by his right hand, but in a different order.

735 voicing: Cmaj7 voiced as C (in a lower octave) and B-E-G, instead of EGB.

735 voicing: Cmaj7 voiced as C (in a lower octave) and B-E-G, instead of EGB.

I asked about this on Talkbass, because I was a little confused by it at first. My first question was – how is this any different from a chord inversion, and then I also wanted to know about the significance of having the notes from the chord being played over two different octaves. We’re not talking about playing chords from root-to-octave and then continuing into another octave with a chord extension. What we’re talking about is something like playing the root of a chord on the E string of the bass and then playing the rest on the D and G strings, skipping the A.

Here’s the thread:

What it came down to (from what my pea-brain can digest) is that chord inversions are part of a voicing, and spacing the notes apart are also part of what makes up a voicing. So, voicings keep the notes of the chord, but alter their arrangement or order, and they alter the space between the notes. The TB folk also said that it has to do something with what notes are doubled, but I don’t know if this is simply playing a note twice, or if it means something else. I’ll ask when I next log in, because the only stupid question is apparently the one I don’t ask.

Ok, on with the story. So, after explaining that he’s playing C-B-E-G, he lets us know that its also a C major 7 chord. He calls it his 735 voicing. He contrasts it with the usual C-E-G-B (1-3-5-7), which he calls root position. He further clarifies what he’s done by saying, “We’re going to move the 7th down here and put the root in the bass – I like that sound a little better.”

After playing it a few times, he continues with another chord. “Now, if I did that with my F major 7, F-A-C-E, put the root in the bass and then put the 7 down here, so we have 7-3-5 – E-A-C.” He calls this his 735 voicing again and reiterates that its still F major 7. Then he plays the new voicing for both C major 7 and F major 7, and plays them again in root position, to reinforce the sound in our ears. To me, its a slightly softer sound, but a pleasant one. “Just another way to play the chord,” he says, as he plays the 735 voicing, moving back and forth from C to F as the roots, and, I notice, playing the root multiple times in their own little riff as he does so. Maybe that is what’s meant by doubling.

With that all out of the way, he then moves on and says, “Now, you can do the same thing with the dominant 7th chord.” He starts to show us how to do this by playing a C dominant 7 chord in root position (1-3-5-b7). He says, “So, again we take the root out of the right hand, put the flat 7 down here at the bottom – and this is still 735, only we’re going to flat the 7. So its flat 7, 3, 5 – B-flat, E, G.” So, what he did was take a C dominant 7 chord (C-E-G-Bb) and turn it into C an octave lower and Bb-E-G. Its a lower 1 and a b7-3-5 instead of a 3-5-b7.

He then shows how to do this with an F chord. He plays an F major triad, adds a flat 7th, then takes that b7, puts it in front of the 3 and 5 from the chord, moves the root out of his right hand and into his left, an octave down, and ends up with b7-3-5, or Eb-A-C. He again calls this F7, to remind us that even though its voiced differently, its still an F7, or F dominant chord.

Finally, he plays each of the chords he’s shown us – the C major 7 and C dominant 7, and the two of them with the new 735 voicing, a few times, making a little chord progression out of them, so that we can hear the differences one more time.

Of all of the reviews that he’s done, this one was the most informative to me. It was well-presented, and he didn’t leave anything out during his explanation. I did have to go to Talkbass so that the people there could give me more information to further understand what I was seeing, but overall, it was useful information. Its kind of strange for me to think that on Monday, the last lesson will be released, and then a week from then, the class will be over. There’s a lot that I’m going to have to look at in greater detail, but its shaped up as a nice intro course.


2 responses

  1. Pingback: Coursera – Developing Your Musicianship Lesson 5 | Ugly Bass Face

  2. Pingback: Chord voicings & doubling up | Ugly Bass Face

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