Re: How to play a song with chords only?

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Posted by Deman on May 22, 2000 at 17:54:01:

In Reply to: How to play a song with chords only? posted by Rockie on May 20, 2000 at 07:23:31:

: Recently my friend(a guitarist) ask me to play bass for some songs and I agreed. But when I look at the songs, they provide no melody but chords only. So, how do I play the songs using just the chords and how can I improve on my bass playing beside playing the roots chords? And by the way, what is this style of bass playing (on roots chords and some simple chords movement change)called?

I don't know what you call that style of playing, but I do know a few very simple ways to build a semi-melodic line from just chords. The main way is to use a 1-5-1 configuration of a chord. A chord is built of three notes, the first, third and fifth. By playing the first, fifth and then the first an octave higher, a very easy melodic line can be attained. A absolutley great example of this is the bass in Hotel California by the Eagles. If you don't know the song, I suggest taking a listen, It's a really great example. To play 1-5-1 is actually simpler than it sounds. It is ALWAYS the same form, moved up and down the neck. Guitarists call these "Power Chords." Now to play:
say we have a simple chord progression of G Bb F
The one are the root of the note, so to play just roots we would play:


The fifth of a chord is easily found by moving up two frets and up one string, so to play 1-5, we play:

Most Guitar players (you may want to too) would play the rootst fretted at 3-6-1 instead of 3-1-1 because it is easier to stay on the E string for them.

To add the octave 1, we move up two frets and up two strings (this is also a very useful way to find the octave, up or down of any note) so our 1-5-1 would be:

If we were playing along to a song with say a chord beat of GGGG BbBb FF repeating, we could play this:


This is played to a chord progression that has double the amount of beats on the G as on the Bb and F. Don't worry about getting the rythm right - it's just an example as to how you would use 1-5-1. If you have payed attention you should see the form of these "Power Chords." You can put these on any root note and just play with the rythm and peices of 1-5-1 you use. Play just the fives and octaves, play just ones, switching octaves. The possibilities are endless, and actually, this is a VERY common way to play, especially in rock. Also - If you are following a guitarists playing power chords, now you can follow him with more than just the root of the note, you can play actual melodic lines.
Good luck and Have Fun!!!!!!

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