Even though the bass guitar has been capable of producing more than one note at a time since its inception, the instrument has been primarily utilized in a monophonic capacity while functioning in its traditional role within the rhythm section of a band. As the popularity of solo bass performance has continued to increase among contemporary bassists so too has chordal playing and techniques. Before delving too deeply in the study of chordal repertoire on bass guitar, you must first begin by reviewing a few basic voice leading concepts.
The study of voice leading is an essential step in the development of a musician because an analysis of transcriptions proves that the most melodic bass lines, solos, and chordal playing consist of good voice leading. The voicing of a chord is the manner in which the notes are distributed among the various parts. When providing chordal accompaniment, musicians constantly make decisions regarding which notes to include, leave out, and potentially double. Then, it must be determined how to move individual voices or notes of a chord through a series of chords or chord progressions. Typically, musicians seek to connect chords in a smooth fashion by using common tones that are shared among successive chords and moving voices as little as possible between chords. By definition, the techniques of connecting chords are referred to as voice leading because the melodic voice or musical line is led from one chord to the next.
Ever since the 17th century, certain principles of voice leading have been commonly followed in Western music. Between any two voices, there are four types of motion available. Contrary motion occurs when the voices move in the opposite direction. When successive chords do not share a common tone such as a C major triad moving to a D major triad, conventional voice leading technique states that the voices should move in contrary motion. With oblique motion, one voice remains stationary while the other voice moves toward or away from it. Similar motion is when the voices move in the same direction but by different intervals. In parallel motion, the voices move in the same direction by the same interval. The numerical value of the interval between the two voices is maintained, but its quality may change such as a major sixth might become a minor sixth. Parallel motion produces a more contemporary sound which is often heard in pop music.
By borrowing finger picking technique from guitar players, three and four notes can be sounded on bass guitar simultaneously as block chords or in an arpeggiated fashion. To play chords on bass guitar, the thumb, index, and middle fingers pull the strings away from the instrument's body using a motion opposite to that of the rest stroke. If applicable, the ring and pinky fingers can be incorporated to sound four or five-note chords, but most chords played on bass guitar are constructed using three-note voicings. In theory, more than four notes can be played simultaneously on any bass with five or more strings, but rarely will you hear that in real musical application due to the low range of bass guitar and the concept of low interval limit. When chords are played in the lowest registers of instruments such as bass guitar, acoustic upright, and piano, they tend to sound muddy. Also, with the introduction of more notes into a chord, regardless of the range spanned, the individual notes become harder to distinguish. The clarity of chords can be enhanced by picking the strings closer to the bridge.
To demonstrate traditional voice leading techniques, we will play three-note chords on a 4-string bass over the chords of a standard 12-bar blues and the ii-V-I chord progression. Since the most commonly played basses are 4-string instruments tuned E-A-D-G and 5-string basses tuned B-E-A-D-G, all of the examples have been written to fit within that range. If you play a 5-string or 6-string bass tuned with a high C-string or have a piccolo bass tuned to the register of a guitar, there are many more chordal opportunities possible due to the increased range. ... Subscribe Today & Read More!
Following a step-by-step methodology with instructor Cliff Engel, you will acquire the essential skills and vocabulary which are necessary to connect your ears to the fingerboard, develop ideas, interact with other musicians on a deeper level, and expand the traditional role of the bassist. With these live video bass lessons, you will expand your fretboard familiarity and knowledge of chord/scale theory, improve your sight reading and ear training, and also increase your technical proficiency on the instrument. You will be presented with the fundamental tools that are required to improvise great bass lines and solos on any chord type, chord progression, or song form in any style of music.
These lessons are structured for bassists of all levels from beginner to advanced who are passionate about becoming a more proficient bass player and are seeking an indispensable resource for the contemporary study and analysis of techniques, theory, and principles on bass guitar. Why waste transit time and money while moving to and from private lessons when you can study one-on-one with a live instructor directly from the comfort of your own home? Many people who are current or former students of the IIB online bass courses enroll in live video bass lessons to help compliment and reinforce the concepts introduced in the courses. ... Enroll Today!
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