• Exposed: A Smart Way To Spice Up A Root Progression

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,General Music,Piano,Theory

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    You arrived at this page because you want to learn about root progressions and how to spice them up.

    Using the concepts you’re about to learn in this lesson, you can take your playing to the next level by varying the bass notes in a chord progression.

    Let’s get started with a review on the concept of root progression.

    A Quick Review On The Concept Of Root Progression

    Every chord, irrespective of certain factors like quality, width, and so on, has a note that it is derived from. That note is called its root note.

    A chord is usually named after its root note. For example, the triad below:

    …is derived from C:

    …therefore its root note is C. Although the C major triad consists of C, E and G, it is called the C major triad and this is because C is the root of the chord.

    The root of the D minor seventh chord:

    …is D:

    The root note of the E major triad:

    …is E:

    The root note of the C# diminished seventh chord:

    …is C#:

    The root note of the G major seventh chord:

    …is G:

    “What Is A Root Progression?”

    A root progression is a product of the movement from one root note to another. Root progressions are basically an outline of the movement of the lowest notes in a chord progression.

    In the key of C major:

    …a chord progression from the C major triad:

    …to the D minor triad:

    …with C:

    …and D:

    …on the bass, produces a C-D root progression. Due to the fact that C and D:

    …are the first and second tones of the C major scale:

    …a C-D root progression is usually represented as a 1-2 root progression.

    Always remember that in root progressions, the focus is on the root notes and not the overall harmony, and that’s why I said earlier that root progressions are an outline of the root notes in a given chord progression.

    A Smart Way To Spice Up A Root Progression

    Let’s take a look at how a root progression can be spiced up using a variety of bass notes.

    Attention: We’ll be using the classic 1-4-5 root progression in this study.

    A 1-4-5 root progression in the key of C major:

    …is consists of the bass notes of a chord movement from chord 1 (which is the C major triad):

    …to chord 4 (which is the F major triad):

    …then to chord 5 (which is the G major triad):

    In a nutshell, a 1-4-5 root movement progresses from the C:

    …to F:

    …then to G:

    Derived Bass Notes

    One of the smart ways to spice up a bass note is to derive bass notes that can substitute the basic root progression and I’ll be showing you step-by-step how this works.

    In a 1-4-5 root progression in the key of C major, bass notes can be derived from the individual chords in the chord progression. For example, the C major triad:

    …which is the chord of the root progression C:

    …can be used to derive bass notes. All three notes of the C major triad:

    C

    E

    G

    …can be used as bass notes.

    So, instead of the regular C:

    …for the C major triad:

    …we can have E:

    …or G:

    …as derived bass notes.

    “Bass Notes Can Be Derived For The Fourth And Fifth Root Note…”

    All three notes of the F major triad:

    F

    A

    C

    …can be used as bass notes.

    So, instead of the regular F:

    …for the F major triad:

    …we can have A:

    …or C:

    …as derived bass notes.

    In the same vein, all three notes of the G major triad:

    G

    B

    D

    …can be used as bass notes.

    So, instead of the regular G:

    …for the G major triad:

    …we can have B:

    …or D:

    …as derived bass notes.

    Application Of The Derived Bass Notes

    Using the concept of derived bass notes, we can spice up the classic 1-4-5 chord progression. However, before we get into the spicier versions, let’s explore the basic version.

    The Classic 1-4-5 Root Progression

    Over the classic 1-4-5 root progression which progresses from C:

    …to F:

    …then to G:

    …we can have the following chords:

    The C major triad:

    …over the 1:

    The F major triad:

    …over the 4:

    The G suspended fourth triad:

    …over the 5:

    This classic 1-4-5 chord progression can be used to accompany a handful of gospel songs.

    “Take A Look At This Regular Example…”

    Lord I [the 1]:

    …lift your name on [the 4]:

    …high [the 5]:

    Lord I [the 1]:

    …love to sing your [the 4]:

    …praises [the 5]:

    Final Words

    Using the concept of derived bass notes, anyone can spice up any given root progression using a variety of bass notes.

    This concept can spice up any progression irrespective of the style or level of the player and that’s why I’m confident that you’ve learned something today.

    I’ll see you in another practical lesson where we’ll apply the concept of derived bass to known gospel songs.

    See you then!!!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 EMMANUEL

    Tnk Dr pokey for this eye opening article. Also, a big tnx to all crew of hearandplay.com, u guyd are the best. To my mentor JG, God bless you greatly. Stay blessed.

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