GUITAR EVOLUTION: The Descending Bass-Line...

There are a lot of ways to make chord progressions sound more directed as well as more interesting. Techniques like  using embellishments, articulation and phrasing devices are some of these. But, another way is through the use of chord inversions...

Inverted chords can be used to incorporate descending and ascending bass lines into your songs. It gives the listener the impression that a bass player is playing along with your guitar.

A slash chord chord symbol is used to notate the chord inversions. Slash chords are a type of chord symbol that includes a slash between two letter names like G/B (hence the name “slash chord”).

Slash chords work to specify a bass note other than the root. The bass note is the lowest sounding note in the chord and is shown at the right of the slash. While normally the root note of the chord is the bass note, now the note at the right of the slash is the bass note.

In our stated example earlier of G/B, the chord itself is a "G major chord" with a B note in the bass. It is written as G/B which is pronounced as “G slash B”. The G/B chord is usually played between "C Major" and an "A Minor." Let’s take a look at why that is.

One common place to apply a slash chord is within a I-V-vi chord progression, where the V chord is the slash chord and used as a passing chord.

For example if you play a I-V-vi progression in the key of C you get: C – G – Am.

For the V chord (in this case a G chord) we use the third note of the chord as the lowest note / bass note. The third note of a G chord is “B” (G major chord = G, B, D).

The progression with the slash chord becomes: C – G/B – Am. Playing the chords like this will create a descending bass line, also sometimes called a walk-down. The bass notes of the three chords are C – B – A, which creates the descending bass line.

Example #1).

Acoustic guitarists who perform as soloists, will tend to apply slash chords around added filler lines. This method allows for an impression of having three players... the chord harmony, chord inversion ideas and lead playing. It can be a powerful tool in establishing a solid effect during a performance.

In example two we'll look at taking a progression from the key of "D Major" and adding these chord moves with the slash chords as well as, some filler lines.

The progression will move in the same harmony as was shown in example one, however our new key center will be that of "D Major." Pay particular attention to the filler lines.

Example #2).

– Practice every new slash chord thoroughly

– Make sure every note sounds clean and clear

– Practice the progressions slowly

– Gradually build up speed and make the transitions sound smooth

– Pick a song with no slash chords and convert it to slash chords

– Implement slash chords in your own songs

– Try to use slash chords to spice things up

– Practice the chord progressions given here in the opposite direction

–  Learn how to make an ascending bass line progressions



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