As a guitarist would you always still play the bass notes denote in music if a bass player is present? For example chords like:

D/F#   D/C#   D/G

Would you just strum a D? Or would you always play the F#, C# and G too?

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I would play whatever felt natural at the time whether a bass player was present or not.

Can I ask a genuine question Greg, Phil or anyone........ based on your reply Greg, if you were putting together a song with your worship band, would you discuss with them the dynamics of a chord such letting the bass have the D.

Thank you.

Yes, on acoustic I usually put the bass notes in.  Bass note on acoustic and bass note on bass sound different (and are usually an octave apart).

Unless, of course, it's too difficult.  Never could get my fingers round F/G....

Thanks Greg for your answer.  You have so much knowledge on the structure of chords, terminology etc. etc. whereas I  have to admit that I don't know what an F triad etc. is.  

Greg Newhouse said:

Well, me being an electric guitarist with all the assumptions and baggage that go with, and having not been generally successful at leading, teaching, or suggesting that anyone do anything a certain way musically in the past 30 years, I just do it myself. I have opinions, that's about it. Sometimes they tune on their own now, but most often they're not quite sure what I'm talking about. But they miss me when I'm not there.
 
Lorraine Doswell said:

I would play whatever felt natural at the time whether a bass player was present or not.

Can I ask a genuine question Greg, Phil or anyone........ based on your reply Greg, if you were putting together a song with your worship band, would you discuss with them the dynamics of a chord such letting the bass have the D.

Thank you.

You and I both Lorraine ;-) Sounds like some sort of missile to me...



Lorraine Doswell said:

Thanks Greg for your answer.  You have so much knowledge on the structure of chords, terminology etc. etc. whereas I  have to admit that I don't know what an F triad etc. is.  

I'm not sure, as a guitarist, you need to know all the terminology to make this work (though I guess it helps).  You can figure out a lot just by thinking about the shapes the chords make on the guitar, thinking about which chords "share" notes, and realising that you don't necessarily need to play all the notes.

I think a lot depends, here, on the size of the band, on the style of music you are playing, and on the type of guitar.  In larger bands, you might only want to be adding two or three notes on the guitar to fill things out.  But most often I am in a two or three piece band, playing acoustic, and trying to get as full a sound out of my guitar as possible (using partial capos, and any other tricks I can come up with!).  Likewise, I think on some electric guitars, two or three notes can already sound quite "dense" - any more notes makes the sound muddy.

I think, also, I don't usually strum the whole chord most of the time, but rather separate out low and high strings in the strumming pattern.

When it comes to music theory, the real fun (I think) starts when you do things like adding a C chord on top of a D chord, D F# A C E... to make the D11, D13 etc..

Greg Newhouse said:

Dm7 has four notes: D, F, A, C. Let the bass play the D and F, A, C are left which is F major. The <major, minor, dim, aug> chords have 3 notes, so they are referred to as triads. I assume this is so music theory lecturers don't have to say, "You know, those chords with only three notes which are formed by stacking adjacent thirds." I was indicating that it was the simple chord.

Phil Williams said:

You and I both Lorraine ;-) Sounds like some sort of missile to me...



Lorraine Doswell said:

Thanks Greg for your answer.  You have so much knowledge on the structure of chords, terminology etc. etc. whereas I  have to admit that I don't know what an F triad etc. is.  

Wow, even if I'm playing bass, I consider those notes to be optional.  I prepare the chord charts for our band and make the chords as plain as possible, and then just wait to see what happens.  I tend to play a lot of "2" chords myself, but they're notated as just the plain chord - "A", not "A2".  I'll notate a minor chord, diminished, augmented or maj7 chord, but beyond that, it just happens.  I will mention that we have a pretty small repertoire at any one point in time - maybe 20 songs working and we play 8 or 9 each week - so after a couple weeks, things seem to settle in and people decide where they fit.  If we had hundreds of active songs, I might be a little more specific about "here's what I want us to play..."

One thing I will do is... if the bass player is away, I'll ask the soundboard guy to dial in a little more bottom end on my (acoustic) guitar; if the drummer is away, I may ask for a little more high end so that the strumming rhythm comes through.

Ah, so 'tri' as in 'three', so not as complicated as I first thought.  I may start using that term, that will impress folks : )

Greg Newhouse said:

Dm7 has four notes: D, F, A, C. Let the bass play the D and F, A, C are left which is F major. The <major, minor, dim, aug> chords have 3 notes, so they are referred to as triads. I assume this is so music theory lecturers don't have to say, "You know, those chords with only three notes which are formed by stacking adjacent thirds." I was indicating that it was the simple chord.

Phil Williams said:

You and I both Lorraine ;-) Sounds like some sort of missile to me...



Lorraine Doswell said:

Thanks Greg for your answer.  You have so much knowledge on the structure of chords, terminology etc. etc. whereas I  have to admit that I don't know what an F triad etc. is.  

All those who have replied...........the points you make are really interesting and got me thinking, and that's exactly what I don't do alot of when playing or learning a song, at least not in the sense we are discussing here. I take fingers off, put them one, don't play all of the strings, pick out certain strings etc. but never really analyse or plan what I am doing.  I just kinda allow the song develop while messing around with chords and fingering.  I am not saying that I couldn't work out what goes where, but most of the time, I don't. Having said all that, I will put the work in and will not be content until I feel a song sounds good and the chords are right for me.  

Daniel Read said:

I'm not sure, as a guitarist, you need to know all the terminology to make this work (though I guess it helps).  You can figure out a lot just by thinking about the shapes the chords make on the guitar, thinking about which chords "share" notes, and realising that you don't necessarily need to play all the notes.

I think a lot depends, here, on the size of the band, on the style of music you are playing, and on the type of guitar.  In larger bands, you might only want to be adding two or three notes on the guitar to fill things out.  But most often I am in a two or three piece band, playing acoustic, and trying to get as full a sound out of my guitar as possible (using partial capos, and any other tricks I can come up with!).  Likewise, I think on some electric guitars, two or three notes can already sound quite "dense" - any more notes makes the sound muddy.

I think, also, I don't usually strum the whole chord most of the time, but rather separate out low and high strings in the strumming pattern.

When it comes to music theory, the real fun (I think) starts when you do things like adding a C chord on top of a D chord, D F# A C E... to make the D11, D13 etc..

Greg Newhouse said:

Dm7 has four notes: D, F, A, C. Let the bass play the D and F, A, C are left which is F major. The <major, minor, dim, aug> chords have 3 notes, so they are referred to as triads. I assume this is so music theory lecturers don't have to say, "You know, those chords with only three notes which are formed by stacking adjacent thirds." I was indicating that it was the simple chord.

Phil Williams said:

You and I both Lorraine ;-) Sounds like some sort of missile to me...



Lorraine Doswell said:

Thanks Greg for your answer.  You have so much knowledge on the structure of chords, terminology etc. etc. whereas I  have to admit that I don't know what an F triad etc. is.  

The bottom line is that you have options. I am primarily a bassist and I have to admit that I tend to treat those indicated bass notes as options rather than essentials - worth a try but not mandatory unless someone else is leading and they specify that they want them. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't and it is a dynamic negotiation with all the other elements of the overall sound.

I sometimes play electric guitar too, and the same rule applies - that the ears get to be the final arbiter of what should or shouldn't be played. There I'm much more likely to play less notes if the rest of the band is going although the nuances can be vital when playing a solo or at least featured section like an introduction.

Greg is spot on though in hinting that less is often so much more. You discover that simple chord shapes can be reused against different overall chords. Since it isn't so easy to break out a guitar and play you some examples, we could work with words instead. Imagine I'm playing a word guitar and I hit the word bath. That's well and good unless the word bassist hits a P at the same time, resulting in the overall sound being Pbath. If I'd played a three letter word instead (ath), it might sound strange on its own but now the bassist can make it come out as either Bath or Path.

It isn't exactly magic but it is the kind of simple trick that can push the overall sound up a notch (and, although the congregation probably won't figure it out, it is a beautiful picture of how we are designed to work together as parts of a whole rather than any one person being sufficient on their own).

Wulf

TBH I usually try to play whatever sounds right for the situation, and use the chords as a guide to help if I can't hear the song progression. I'll often play differently depending who I'm working with too: just a keyboard player & myself then I'll often try to cover a lot of territory around them, with a full band then I'll look for niches in the sound and maybe play power chords with drive or pick just 3 or 4 strings with some chorus for sparkle. Most of the time worship playing is bordering on improv anyway.

I think a good way to decide whether to include bass notes, is to figure out what octave each instrument will play at. To avoid that muddy bass sound you want to keep at least an octave away from the bass ( Guitar low E is an octave higher than Bass low E string) I really love the effect inversions have, (e.g F#/D) and use them a lot. If the bass plays a first inversion and guitar just plays the root in the same range, it will usually sound muddy anyway so sometimes its better the other way, playing the same bass note. If the rest of the band covers up middle and treble ranges with their chord voicings, then I like the bass note to have its space. It's worth to work on this a bit, because it contributes a lot to the sound, and gets the band thinking about what everyone should be doing to complement the other's playing. With the electric, I think it depends on tone as well - some tones can be used stylistically to 'shadow' the bass in a modern parallel third sound.   

Great conversation and comments.  Thank you all for being considerate and mindful of your bass players!

We often feel like the forgotten members of the band. All we really do is try to make what everybody else

is playing sound as good as possible.  My experience is that is if anybody clashes with what I play, or drowns

me out, it is usually the keyboard, rarely guitar!

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