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Bass Notes

22 July, 2019 - 10:18
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The bass line (Accompaniment) of a piece of music is very important, and the composer/arranger often will want to specify what note should be the lowest-sounding in the chord. At the end of the chord name will be a slash followed by a note name, for example C/E. The note following the slash should be the bass note.

Figure 5.28 Naming the Bass Note
The note following the slash is the bass note of the chord. It can be a note that is already in the chord - making the chord a first or second inversion (pg 176) - or it can be an added note, following the same basic rules as other added notes (including using it to replace other notes in the chord). 

The note named as the bass note can be a note normally found in the chord - for example, C/E or C/G - or it can be an added note - for example C/B or C/A. If the bass note is not named, it is best to use the tonic  as the primary bass note.

Exercise 5.10:

Name the chords. (Hint: Look for suspensions, added notes, extensions, and basses that are not the root. Try to identify the main triad or root first.)

Figure 5.29 Name the chords

Exercise 5.11:

For guitarists, pianists, and other chord players: Get some practical practice. Name some chords you don't have memorized (maybe F6, Am/G, Fsus4, BM7, etc.). Chords with fingerings that you don't know but with a sound that you would recognize work best for this exercise. Decide what notes must be in those chords, find a practical fingering for them, play the notes and see what they sound like.