How To Read Chord Symbols For Bass (2/3): Going BEYOND The Roots


In this video, you’re going to learn how
to start mastering chords by knowing exactly what notes are in the chord other than just
the root. Hi I’m Luke from becomeabassist.com and
by the end of this lesson, you’ll be able to look at a chord chart or lyric sheet and
make bass lines with notes that go BEYOND the roots of the chords – you’ll even get
real examples of bass lines that do this exact thing. [Video Intro] Welcome to part 2 of this chord series for
bass where you’re learning all about chords, how they’re made and more importantly, what
you can play over them. In lesson one we talked about the most important
part of being a bass player – finding and nailing the roots of the chords and the one
exception to the rule when it comes to playing chord roots. Super important, so if you don’t know how
to do that yet, be sure to backtrack and check out the first video of the series. Today though, we’re going to go beyond the
root, and to do that, we have to start looking at how chords are put together – the very
architecture of them and how you can use that information to create your own bass lines,
melodies, riffs, licks, fills and all that great stuff. As bass players, we’re the ones who are
outlining the chords one note at a time, so if you know how to do it well, you’ll always
be serving the music and you’ll always be in demand as a bassist, so let’s jump in! Just about every chord that you come across
– even the complicated ones – can be condensed down to 3 notes, also called a triad and there
are 4 main kinds of triads. You’ve got major, minor, augmented and diminished
triads. You’ve probably heard a ton of major and
minor chords in your life – you’ve probably even played a ton of them. Whenever someone talks about a major chord
or a minor chord, most of the time, they’re talking about major and minor triads – they’re
the same thing, just different ways of saying it. Every triad uses 3 notes – a root, which you
already know how to find if you’ve watched video 1 of this series – but they also contain
a third and a 5th. For example, an A major triad looks like this. [Plays chord] This is our root, this note
is our 3rd and this note is our 5th. This trips some people up sometimes. The 2nd note of the chord is called a 3rd? And the 3rd note is called a 5th? What’s going on here? It all comes down to chords and scales. I’ll give you an example. This A major triad works really well with
the A major scale. Makes sense, right? Major triad – major scale. If you look at the notes in a major scale
[plays scale] there’s 7 individual notes. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 and the next note is the same
as the first one. These numbers – 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-1 are where
we name our notes. The first note is the root, the 3rd note of
the scale is the third of our chord and the 5th note of the scale is our 5th of the triad. Hopefully that’s clear for you, but if not,
just leave a comment below and I’ll try and help you out. There are a bunch of different ways to play
this major triad. There’s this one that we’ve been using. [plays triad], but you can also spread it
across 3 strings [plays chord] or even 2 notes on your first string. These are all super helpful shapes to know
because if you know them, you can just plug them in and always know you’re going to
be set – always playing good note choices. There are tons of bass lines and ideas that
use this too. Think about Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog. The line in that song looks like this [plays
bass line] It’s just a major triad! Then it goes to the next chord – same thing
again. [plays triad] In fact, this entire line is
just made up of major triads. [plays line] All major triads and super fun. And by the way, major triads are almost always
just written as the note name with nothing after it. For example, if you just see C, then chances
are, you’re looking to play a C major triad. Just Bb by itself – Bb major triad. By the way, if I’m moving too quick or you
just want help remembering all this stuff, be sure to download my free Chord Cheat Sheets
Pack. It’s everything you need to know about these
chords condensed into a single PDF file. There’s also handy tables you can use to
make sure that the notes you pick for your bass lines are going to work 100% of the time. There’s even a scale catalogue you can use
to instantly know what scales are going to work over nearly any chord. To get the pack, just click the link in the
description, fill out the form on that page and I’ll send it to you 100% free. Let’s move on to minor triads now. Once again, we’ve got plenty of different
ways of playing them. There’s this way across 3 strings [plays
triad], there’s one note on your starting string and 2 on your following one, [plays
triad] and there’s this one where everything’s in position [plays triad] 2 notes on the E-string,
one on the D. I’m sure you’ve heard millions of minor
chords in your lifetime and of course these triads get outlined in bass lines all the
time, but one that stands out to me is the very first thing the bass plays in Bob Marley’s
Could You Be Loved. Check it out. [plays bass line] Straight up minor triad
right at the start of the song. Couldn’t be more obvious. Minor chords are expressed on the page in
a couple of different ways. The super common ones are either the chord
root followed by a lowercase ‘m’ or a minus symbol. So if you see Ab with a minus after it, that
means an Ab minor triad. If you see Ab with a lowercase ‘m’, it
means the same thing. F with a lower case ‘m’ – F minor. G# with a minus sign – G# minor – I’m sure
you get the deal. Just knowing the major and minor triad is
enough to put you in a prime position and will get you through hundreds of thousands
of songs. For example, the majority of the verse bass
line to Stevie Wonder’s Master Blaster is just made up of major and minor triads. Check this out. [plays bass line] C minor triad, Ab major
triad, F major triad and then at the end we get that little bit which isn’t part of
a triad, but you get the idea. By the way – sometimes you don’t even need
all the notes of the chord! So many country bass lines just rely on the
root and the 5th and they let the harmony player take care of the other notes, but it’s
not just country. For a great example of just using roots and
5ths in bass lines comes from Hotel California by Eagles. Check it out. [plays bass line] Bm, F# major, A major, E
major, G major, D major, Em, F# major. Just roots and 5ths of everything. How cool is that? Next we get the two less common types of triads
– the ones with the scary sounding names: the augmented and diminished triads. Don’t worry though – they’re not really
that scary. You just won’t come across these very often,
but it pays to be prepared when you do. Let’s start with the augmented triad. I was trying to think of a good example of
this chord and the only really clear one I can think of is the very first chord of the
Beatles Oh Darling. The introductory chord right before the first
verse is an augmented chord. It sounds like this. [plays triad] As always, there are a few different
ways to play it. Across 3 strings [plays triad], there’s
this way [plays triad] and finally this way [plays triad] One way you could potentially think of this
chord is being a major triad, [plays chord] but the 5th, this note here [plays note] is
take up one fret; one half-step or semitone. Now there aren’t too many bass lines that
specifically spell out an augmented chord – if you know any, put them in the comments
so I can check them out – I’d be curious to hear them. But if you’re talking about how these are
written in charts and things like that, there’s a few different options. The first you’ll commonly see is with a
little plus sign after the root, so C+ can also mean C augmented. The other common way is aug – ‘aug’ – after
the root name. So Caug would be a C augmented triad. Some charts will also sometimes say #5, but
that’s not super common. Same rules apply to every other note. Bb+ means Bb augmented. C#aug is obviously C# augmented triad – I’m
sure Alright – our last triad. It’s the diminished triad. It’s going to look and sound like this. [plays chord] Not the prettiest sound in the
world, right? Pretty dark and ominous. There’s a couple of ways to play it. This one makes the most sense to me [plays
chord] but you could also play it this way [plays chord] or if you really wanted to,
you could play it over 3 strings, [plays chord] but I wouldn’t really recommend this one
– it’s a bit of a pain. Another way to think of the diminished triad
is like a minor chord, but with the 5th taken down one fret. Here’s our A minor chord [plays notes] A-C-E
and an A diminished chord would be this [plays notes] A-C-Eb. Our 5th is one step down. This chord is often used as a kind of passing
chord to get from one chord to another. For a good example of this, check out Oasis’
Don’t Look Back In Anger towards the end of the pre-chorus when you hear the lyrics
‘take that look from off your face’. It’s a classic diminished sound. This one is usually written with a little
circle like this – almost like a degree symbol. So D with the little degree sign is a D diminished
triad. Other times it’s written out as dim. So for example Ddim would be that same D diminished
chord. Now if you want to really get your head around
all this stuff, I highly recommend you download my free Chord Cheat Sheets Pack. In it, you’ll get all of this series’
key takeaways condensed into a quick and easy-to-understand PDF. It’s got all the shapes for the chords in
the series as well as the inner construction of how they’re made and handy little charts
so you can see exactly which notes are in which chords. It’ll make choosing notes for bass lines
as easy as pie. Just click the link in the description and
I’ll send it to you 100% free. To recap though, you learned how to use your
knowledge of chords to go beyond just playing the roots. You learned the 4 main types of triads – the
most common major and minor triads and the less common augmented and diminished triads. You learned how to play them as well as how
they’re written and you got some cool examples along the way. Thanks so much for watching – it’s good
to have you with me. Make sure and download the Chord Cheat Sheets
Pack – I’d love to see you in there as well. I’m Luke from becomeabassist.com and hopefully
I’ll see you in video 3 of this series!

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