• Do You Want To Play Chromatic Bass Lines? Do This!!!

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    In this lesson, I’ll be showing you step-by-step, how to play chromatic bass lines using two approaches.

    The use of chromatic bass lines in gospel and jazz music styles cannot be denied; especially in traditional styles. Therefore, it’s important for every gospel and jazz musician to learn, understand, and master chromatic bass lines and how they are applied.

    For the sake of those who are not familiar with what chromatic bass lines are, let’s start with a brief discussion on chromatic bass lines.

    A Short Note On Chromatic Bass Lines

    The lowest notes accompanying chords (which can be played by low-pitched instruments like the bass guitar) are known as bass lines.

    Beyond being notes, bass lines are rhythmically designed to add a degree of groove to a song. Think about the walking bass lines you hear in traditional praise songs in gospel music.

    Chromatic bass lines are produced when the notes used are foreign to the prevalent key. In the key of C major:

    …the use of the following notes:

    C# or Db

    D# or Eb

    F# or Gb

    G# or Ab

    A# or Bb

    …to create bass lines would produce chromatic bass lines.

    When a bass note (let’s say A):

    …in the key of C major:

    …which is usually approached using G (as a passing note):

    …is now approached using G#:

    …or Bb:

    …this produces a chromatic bass line and this is because neither G# nor Bb are scale tones of the C major scale.

    Although there are so many considerations while creating chromatic bass lines, let’s go ahead and take a look at two ways to approach bass notes in order to create chromatic bass lines.

    Approach #1 – Use Leading Notes

    One of the ways bass notes can be approached to create chromatic bass lines is by the use of the leading note. The leading note is technically the note that is a half-step below any given note.

    For example, the leading note for C:

    …is B:

    …and this is because B is a half-step below C.

    “In the Key of C Major, Here are the Leading Notes for Every Other Bass Note in the Key”

    The Second Tone. For the second tone of the scale (which is D):

    …its leading note is C#:

    …which is a half-step below D.

    The Third Tone. The leading note of the third tone of the scale (which is E):

    …is D#:

    …and it’s a half-step below E.

    The Fourth Tone. The fourth tone of the scale (F):

    …has E:

    …as its leading note. However, the leading note in this case will not create a chromatic bass line because E is a scale tone in the key of C major.

    The Fifth Tone. A half-step below the fifth tone of the scale (which is G):

    …is F#:

    Therefore, F# is the leading note of G.

    The Sixth Tone. For the sixth tone of the scale (which is A):

    …its leading note is G#:

    …which is a half-step below A.

    The Seventh Tone. The leading note of the seventh tone of the scale (which is B):

    …is A#:

    …and it’s a half-step below B.

    Using the leading notes given for each bass  note in the key of C major, you can create chromatic bass lines.

    Approach #2 – Take Advantage Of Tritone Substitution

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    Final Words

    I’m glad you’ve learned the theoretical basis of how chromatic bass lines are created. I recommend that you endeavor to practice and master the use of leading notes and tritone substitution¬† in all the keys.

    See you in the next lesson.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    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.



    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    1 gilbert

    what can you do beside just 4 chop on a chord. is there any ting i could be going on that chord chop chop chop chop chop


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