• Chromatic Bass Notes: Do You Know The Difference Between The #1 and The b2?

    in Experienced players,Piano,Theory

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    If you’re interested in learning the difference between the #1 and the b2 bass notes, then this lesson is for you.

    In my earliest years of learning and understanding music theory and based on the information I had then, I always took the #1 and b2 tones as the same. After all, they sounded alike.

    But in this lesson, I’m going to show you (or anyone out there who cares to know) why the #1 and b2 tones are different.

    Let’s get started with a quick review on chromatic bass notes.

    A Quick Review On Chromatic Bass Notes

    The terms diatonic and chromatic are used to describe notes. Notes that belong to a prevalent key are described as diatonic while notes that are foreign to the prevalent key are said to be chromatic.

    So, chromatic bass notes are bass notes that are bass notes that are not in the key.

    In the key of C major:

    ….the following bass notes are diatonic (belonging to the prevalent key):

    D:

    B:

    G:

    …while the following are chromatic (foreign to the prevalent key):

    C#:

    Eb:

    A#:

    Now that we’ve defined chromatic bass notes, let’s outline all the possible chromatic bass notes.

    “So, How Many Chromatic Bass Notes Are There?”

    Although there are ten chromatic bass notes in every key, you can easily see five of them. In the key of C major:

    …the black notes (five of them) are chromatic and this is because they are foreign to the key of C major. However, if we consider how the notes are spelled, we’ll have ten chromatic bass notes.

    Five of the spellings are associated with the sharp symbol (C#, D#, F#, G#, and A#):

    …and the next set of five chromatic bass notes are associated with the flat symbol (Db, Eb, Gb, Ab, and Bb):

    Chromatic Bass Notes And The Number System

    Just like the regular tones of the scale are associated with numbers, chromatic bass notes can also be associated with the number system.

    Here Are The Numbers Associated With Chromatic Bass Notes

    Raising the first tone (which is C):

    …by a half-step produces the C# tone:

    …which is the #1.

    Lowering the second tone (which is D):

    …by a half-step produces the Db tone:

    …which is the b2.

    Here Are Other Chromatic Bass Notes…”

    The D# tone is the #2

    The Eb tone is the b3

    The F# tone is the #4

    The Gb tone is the b5

    The G# tone is the #5

    The Ab tone is the b6

    The A# tone is the #6

    The Bb tone is the b7

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The “Official Guide To Piano Playing.” Click here for more information.

    The Difference Between The #1 and The b2 Bass Notes

    In between C and D:

    …is a chromatic bass note which can either be C#:

    …or Db:

    Although the C# note:

    …and Db note:

    …sound alike when played, they are two different notes in terms of spelling and application.

    Although there are a lot of differences between the #1 and b2 bass notes, we’ll be considering how they resolve.

    The Resolution Of The #1 Note

    The #1 resolves upward by a half-step; playing the role of the leading note.

    Attention: The seventh tone of the major scale is described as the leading note and this is because it is a half-step away from the eighth tone of the scale. So, a half-step below any given note is a leading note.

    The #1 bass note in the key of C major:

    …is C#:

    …and it resolves upward by a half-step (to D):

    Considering the distance between C# and D (which is a half step):

    …the #1 (which is C#) is said to be playing a leading note role.

    The resolution from C#:

    …upwards to D:

    …can be used to accompany the following right hand chords…

    The A major triad:

    …and the D minor seventh chord:

    Altogether, we have the A major/C#:

    …resolving to the D minor seventh chord:

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The “Official Guide To Piano Playing.” Click here for more information.

    The Resolution Of The b2 Note

    The b2 resolves downward by a half-step and functions as a tritone substitute of the 5-chord.

    Attention: A dominant chord can be substituted by another dominant chord that is a tritone (augmented fourth interval or six half-steps) below its root. The b2 is exactly six half steps below the 5-chord and functions as a tritone substitute of the 5-chord.

    The b2 bass note in the key of C major:

    …is Db:

    …and it resolves downward by a half-step (to C):

    Considering the distance between Db and G (which is a tritone or 6 half steps):

    …the b2 (which is Db) is said to be a tritone substitute of the 5-chord.

    The resolution from Db:

    …downwards to C:

    …can be used to accompany the following right hand chords…

    The F major seventh [b5] chord:

    …and the E minor ninth chord:

    Altogether, we have the Db dominant seventh [#9,#5] chord:

    …resolving to the C major ninth chord:

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The “Official Guide To Piano Playing.” Click here for more information.

    Final Words

    The upward resolution of the #1 and downward resolution of the b2 chromatic bass note is one of the key differences between these related chromatic bass notes.

    In a subsequent lesson, we’ll explore other aspects of chromatic bass notes and appropriate right hand chords.

    Keep up the good work.

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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 the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 carolyn

    Thanks for sharing. God bless you

    Reply

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