A beginner bassist's foray into the unknown

Chord Tones vs Scales vs Chromatic Notes

Mark Smith from TalkingBass.net put up a great video a few days ago that goes over a bunch of theory in 30 mins. You probably need to have a basic understanding of what chords and scales are to really understand it. Knowing scale degrees will also help you keep oriented, but its a fantastic lesson, overall – so even if you don’t know much theory, watch it to get exposed to the ideas and terminology. He demonstrates how to apply chord tones, arpeggios, scales and other notes into actual basslines and goes over the differences between them and how they’re used.

He speaks about chord tones/arpeggios as the spine of the scales that they’re from, and about the importance of those notes over non-chord tones. The non-chord tones are essentially tension notes, and the chord tones are release notes. He says we should make use of non-chord tones with purpose, instead of looking at all of the notes from a scale as being equal. In addition, he delves into what he calls “melodic devices” such as approach notes, chromatic notes, passing notes, and neighbor notes as well as other concepts like consonance & dissonance, chord progressions.

During all of the above, he gives examples of building basslines with just the root note, the root and octave, adding in the 5th, and adding in the 3rd. Then he brings in examples which illustrate passing notes, neighbor notes and approach notes, playing from both above and below the target chord tones.

On the Talkbass forums, mambo4 commented on the video and said, “Mark, I think you just covered 90% of the theory bass players need to know in one lesson.” That about sums it up. 😉

Chord Tones, Scales and Chromatics for Bass

Also, here’s something related, with complimentary videos from two other sources – Guthrie Govan, a guitarist, and Victor Wooten, who probably needs no introduction on a bass-centric site.

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One response

  1. Pingback: HLBM 07: Notes on the E-String | Ugly Bass Face

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