Bass Notes and Perfect Pitch

Question by Mycle Bradley

So far in my quest to become a chord/melody player, I’ve learned to keep the melody notes related to the 1st 3 strings. I’ve learned to vary the types of chords I select to effect tonal variety, 7,9,11,13 and the “aug-minished and dementeds”. I’ve learned which chords in a key should be major and minor.

If I’m working from a lead sheet, it is obvious how to deal with the melody part, but if I’m not given any bass notes, how do I select them to get a nice sonic flow from one to another?

Also in a perhaps related question, is there real hope for us who do not have perfect pitch? It’s really difficult for me to improvise when I don’t know what a particular note or chord is going to sound like until I hit it. Everything tune I can play is a matter of memorization, and at my age that’s becoming harder and harder.

When I listen to myself play it’s rather choppy and when I listen to you and others, it’s so smooth and flowing. It’s obvious also that I need more time to practice, but if I’m just practicing my choppy methods, I need some insight toward becoming more professional.

Thanks for answering my previous question it helped melodizing the extra-key notes/chords.

M-A’s Answer:

Hello Mycle. Here’s a video answer to both your questions. Please feel free to leave comments or further questions using the form at the bottom of this page. Thank you!

Marc-Andre Seguin


Old Comments for Bass Notes and Perfect Pitch

Apr 28, 2012
Which Bass Note?
by: Rick Glenn


I don’t want to be presumptuous so please forgive me if I’m way off base, but I would have told Mycle to start by taking the lead sheet and writing out the notes for the chord(s) given for each particular measure. Then, in combination with the melody notes, write out the drop 2, or drop 3, inversions and let the bass note be whatever it is.

I know it’s not always this mechanical, especially when the melody note isn’t part of the chord written, but it’s a great way to start. The chords are easily playable most of the time and can be moved around the fretboard to make sense.

I’m sure others here can probably explain “more better” then me!

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