• How To Fit Bass Notes In One Octave In The Major Key

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    In this lesson, we’ll be looking at how to fit bass notes in one octave in the major key.

    There are various keyboard sizes; I’m talking about 61-keys, 76-keys, and 88-keys keyboards. If you’re using a 4-octave keyboard like this one:

    …then all your bass notes should fit into the lowest octave (from C to C):

    Our goal in this lesson is to show you how you can fit all the bass notes in the major key in one octave. So that in a 4-octave keyboard:

    …bass notes can be played within this octave (irrespective of the key you’re in):

    …while the rest of the keyboard can be dedicated to melodic and harmonic ideas for the right hand ranging from chords, to riffs, arpeggios, melodic lines (licks, runs, etc.), and more.

    But before we go any further, let’s briefly discuss on the concept of bass notes.

    “What Are Bass Notes?”

    The term bass note is used in music theory to describe the lowest-sounding note in a chord — which is usually the root note.
    Attention: Although the lowest-sounding note of a chord (aka – “bass note”) is usually the root note, there are occasions where the root note is not the bass note or the bass note is not the root note.

    (sub heading) Bass Notes Vs Root Notes

    When the C major triad:

    …is played on the right hand, the lowest-sounding note that accompanies it (on the left hand) can be any of the notes (aka – “chord tones) it’s made up of:
    C:

    E:

    …or G:

    So, we can basically have three options:

    C major triad (with C on the bass):

    C major triad (with E on the bass):

    C major triad (with G on the bass):

    When the C major triad is played with C:

    …the bass note C:

    …is also the root note in this case, while every other bass note like E or G is a bass note (and they obviously aren’t the root of the chord).

    In the C major seventh chord below:

    …the bass note is E:

    …and this is because the lowest-sounding chord tone is E.

    Now that we’ve refreshed our minds on bass notes, let’s proceed into learning how they can be fitted into one octave.

    How To Fit All Bass Notes In One Octave

    Although there are eight notes in every key, there are seven unique bass notes in every major key. Let’s look at these bass notes and how they can be fitted into one octave in the major key.

    Before we proceed, remember that the goal is to make sure that all bass notes fit into the C octave:

    Bass Notes In The Key Of D Major

    The notes of the D major scale:

    …can be fitted into the C-octave:

    …in such a way that it starts from C# (which is the seventh tone):

    …and ends on B (which is the sixth tone):

    Here you are:

    So, a 7-3-6 chord progression would proceed from C#:

    …to F#:

    …then B:

    …in the key of D major.

    Bass Notes In The Key Of Eb Major

    In the key of Eb major:

    …bass notes can be contained within the compass of the C octave:

    Here you are:

    So, a 3-6-2 chord progression in the key of Eb major would proceed from G:

    …to C:

    …then to F:

    …in the key of Eb major.

    “Here Are A Few Other Major Keys…”

    Still within the compass of the C octave:

    …we have bass notes in the key of E major:

    …fitted into the C octave:

    …from C# (the sixth tone):

    …to B (the fifth tone):

    In the key of F major:

    …bass notes can be fitted into the C octave:

    …and this produces the seven unique bass notes from C:

    …to Bb:

    Here you are:

    The same thing is obtainable in the key of F# major:

    …where bass notes can be rearranged from C# to B:

    …to fit into the C octave:

    “Check Out The Bass Notes In Other Major Keys…”

    The bass notes in the key of G major:

    …can be played from C to B:

    …to fit into the C octave:

    In the key of Ab major:

    …bass notes can be played from C to Bb:

    …to fit into the C octave:


    Bass Notes In The Key Of A Major

    The notes of the A major scale:

    …can be fitted into the C-octave:

    …in such a way that it starts from C# (which is the seventh tone):

    …and ends on B (which is the sixth tone):

    Here you are:


    So, a 7-3-6 chord progression would proceed from G#:

    …to C#:

    …then F#:

    …in the key of A major.

    Bass Notes In The Key Of Bb Major

    In the key of Bb major:

    …bass notes can be contained within the compass of the C octave:

    Check it out:

    So, a 5-1-4 chord progression would proceed from F:

    …to Bb:

    …then to Eb:

    …in the key of Bb major.

    Bass Notes In The Key Of B Major

    Within the compass of the C octave:

    …we have bass notes in the key of B major:

    …fitted into the C octave:

    …from C# (the second tone):

    …to B (the first tone):

    Final Words

    We skipped the bass notes in two keys; the key of C major:

    …and the key of Db major:

    …and that’s because I already assume that you are familiar with them.

    Anyway, here are the 7 unique bass notes in the key of C major:

    …and the key of Db major:

    …respectively.

    See you in the next lesson!

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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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    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Carolyn

    Thanks. Have to digest this. Just looking at it doesn’t click . I have to write it out and look over it a few times to under. Thanks God bless you all.

    Reply

    2 Courage

    Wow! This is amazing but how are this base notes used

    Reply

    3 Rene Calle

    Thanks a million, Doc! I never thought about playing bass notes of a scale in one octave. That makes some much sense! I did learn to play Circle of Fifths (backwards in fourths) in one octave. Can you suggest fingering for the scales? For example, if I play the Db scale in one octave, should I play C with my 4th finger, Db with my 3rd, Eb with my second, F with 1, Gb with 3rd or 4th finger… Or does it really matter? -Rene

    Reply

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