• The 12 Days Of Christmas Series — Unlocking Right Hand Chords For Bass Notes In The Key Of C Major

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    In this year’s Christmas series, we’ll be unlocking right hand chords for bass notes in the key of C major.

    The goal of this series is to provide you with corresponding harmony for every bass note in an octave. Take note that the use of the term harmony here refers specifically to chords (for the right hand).

    There are twelve lessons in this series and there are also twelve bass notes in every octave. This means that we’ll be dedicating one lesson for each of the bass notes. Consequently, we’ll cover twelve bass notes in twelve days.

    Welcome aboard!

    “What Is A Bass Note?”

    We’re starting out this series assuming that you don’t know what a bass note is. The term bass is associated with the lowest voice part in a choir.

    “Let’s Take A Look At The Four Voice Parts In A Choir…”

    There are four voice parts that you must have come across if you’ve been in the choir:

    Soprano

    Alto

    Tenor

    Bass

    The bass voice is the lowest part in vocal music. In instrumental music, the lowest note in a chord is known as the bass note. So, for every given chord, the lowest-sounding note is its bass note.

    In the C major chord below:

    …its lowest-sounding note is E:

    Therefore, the bass note in the chord is E.

    “How Many Bass Notes Are There In The Major Key?”

    There are 12 notes in the major key:

    7 diatonic notes

    5 chromatic notes

    Using the key of C major (as a reference):

    There are 7 diatonic bass notes (all white):

    …and 5 chromatic bass notes (all black):

    Submission: Whether a bass note is diatonic or chromatic is NOT determined by their color (white or black). Diatonic bass notes are scale tones of the prevalent key (which is the key of C major) while chromatic bass notes are foreign to the prevalent key.

    Altogether, there are 12 bass notes in the major key. Let’s go ahead and take a closer look at diatonic and chromatic bass notes.

    Diatonic Bass Notes

    In the key of C major, all the scale tones are classified as diatonic bass notes:

    C D E F G A and B

    There are 7 diatonic bass notes in every key (just like we have in the key of C major). Using the number system, diatonic bass notes can be associated with the numbers as follows:

    C is the 1:

    D is the 2:

    E is the 3:

    F is the 4:

    G is the 5:

    A is the 6:

    B is the 7:

    Chromatic Bass Notes

    Bass notes that are foreign to the prevalent key are classified as chromatic bass notes and there are five of them. Chromatic bass notes can either be spelled using sharp symbols (to produce C#, D#, F#, G#, and A#):

    C# is the #1:

    D# is the #2:

    F# is the #4:

    G# is the #5:

    A# is the #6:

    …or flat symbols (to produce Db, Eb, Gb, Ab, and Bb):

    Db is the b2:

    Eb is the b3:

    Gb is the b5:

    Ab is the b6:

    Bb is the b7:

    Corresponding Right Hand Chords For Bass Notes

    We’ll be going beyond knowing these bass notes to learning corresponding basic, intermediate, and advanced right hand chords.

    Below is the order of the lessons in this series:

    1st Day Of Christmas – Right Hand Chords For The C Bass Note

    2nd Day Of Christmas – Right Hand Chords For The C# and Db Bass Note

    3rd Day Of Christmas – Right Hand Chords For The D Bass Note

    4th Day Of Christmas – Right Hand Chords For The D# and Eb Bass Note

    5th Day Of Christmas – Right Hand Chords For The E Bass Note

    6th Day Of Christmas – Right Hand Chords For The F Bass Note

    7th Day Of Christmas – Right Hand Chords For The F# and Gb Bass Note

    8th Day Of Christmas – Right Hand Chords For The G Bass Note

    9th Day Of Christmas – Right Hand Chords For The G# and Ab Bass Note

    10th Day Of Christmas – Right Hand Chords For The A Bass Note

    11th Day Of Christmas – Right Hand Chords For The A# and Bb Bass Note

    12th Day Of Christmas – Right Hand Chords For The B Bass Note

    Final Words

    Great job!

    Thank you for investing your time going through this blog post and see you on the first day of Christmas!

    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.




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    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Raj Srinivas

    Hi Onye,
    A very merry Christmas and a very happy New Tear to you.
    Also, my thanks to you for a very interesting blog; I will preserve your blogs of all 12 days.
    One question on this blog:
    In your beginning explanation of “What Is A Bass Note?”, you have used G C E as the C major chord. I do not understand how the lowest note is E in this chord – to me C appears to be the lowest note, as its pitch is the lowest. Can you pl. explain?
    Thnx.
    Raj

    Reply

    2 Raj Srinivas

    Hi Onye,
    I am just expanding the question I posed last to make a correction.
    Since you have used G C E in ascending order of pitch for the C major chord, I conclude that the lowest note (pitch wise) is G.
    So my question still stands.
    Raj

    Reply

    3 Raj Srinivas

    Hullo Onye again,
    I am keenly following each of your 12 blogs, but I am foxed by a fundamental doubt, which is hindering my understanding of the content in your blogs.
    Let me explain by referring to your following para in your explanation of “What is a Bass note?”.

    ‘The bass voice is the lowest part in vocal music. In instrumental music, the lowest note in a chord is known as the bass note. So, for every given chord, the lowest-sounding note is its bass note.

    In the C major chord below:—————-etc.’
    You have used the 2nd inversion of the C major chord, which is G C E. How does E become the lowest note in this chord?
    As a layman, I will always think of C as the lowest note in this chord.
    Am I missing something fundamentally!
    Pl. clarify.
    Thnx.,
    Raj @ Bangalore

    Reply

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