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Chord Tones / Only One Position Exercise (L#42)

This new bass lesson is about soloing using only "chord tones".

What are chord tones? Thanks for asking, Thomas G.! You're giving me the opportunity to add this piece of info up here in addition to my response in the comments area ;). A chord tone is just a note that exists within a certain chord. So, for instance, the chord of C major is made from 3 notes – C, E, G – they are called the "chord tones". For Dm7, the chord tones are D, F, G, Bb,

There are many many ways to approach soloing. Do you have to know all your arpeggios, scales, modes, etc., before you can even start soloing --and make it sound great? Of course not. But exploring and practicing them will certainly open up new horizons for you and enrich your musical vocabulary and grammar.

That being said, I think that if there's one thing you should know before you start soloing, it would be your chord tones. You should know them and be able to visualise them on the neck. The simple exercise I'm giving you in this lesson, has proven to be very effective and I highly recommend you practice it regularily!

What we're gonna do is solo over the Autumn Leaves progression using only chord tones AND staying in one position. Hopefully you'll see that you can create a meaningful solo without using a ton of stuff.

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  • jim andrews

    very sweet thanks


    hallo your lessons are very helpful Im from mexico and I been trying to learn how to play the bass on line and you make it to easy to learn thank you so much how can I make a donation to get acces to the PDF files I only have a debit card

    • scott

      Hey Adrian thanks for dropping in! If you want to make a donation but only have a debit card you could always do a direct bank transfer. Just drop me an email and I can give you my details. Thanks again. S

  • varun

    i just noticed this and am wondering, how in the world do you get the camera to zoom out on you?? did you have someone around for this or you can program the camera to do that!? :-O

  • James

    Scott, when you change chords, are you targeting the root each time or is it random? Thanks!

    • scott

      Hey James, I’ve always got what the root is of each chord in my mind at all times even if I’m playing different inversions of whatever chord. Ez, S.

  • thomas grogan

    Hi, just subscribed a day or so ago and enjoying the vids. If you already covered the answer to my question in another vid, I apologize, I havent seen all of your vids yet. My question: what is a “chord tone”?

    • scott

      Hi Thomas… is chord tone is just a note that exists within a certain chord. So for instance the chord of C major is made from 3 notes – C, E, G – they are the chord tones. Here’s another example… Dm7 is made from the notes D, F, G, Bb – those are the chord tones of that chord. Hope that helps man. S ;)

  • Wow! Awesome how you make me to understand and open up the musical application of it all.

    Hihgly appreciate you Scott – South Africa

  • john andrés medina

    Hi scott
    I have a question
    am no sure about the chord tone of Dm7
    I thought it was D – F – A – C
    So I hope you can give a hand !
    Thank you and…
    See you in the shed !

  • Matt

    Hey Scott,
    There seem to be tens if not hundreds of recordings of “Autumn Leaves”, which do you recommend using? Thanks!

    • scott

      Try Miles Davis and Cannon Ball Addelly – it’s awesome! ;)

  • Hugo sum

    thats awesome scott! thx!:)

  • Andresito

    Hey, in the introduction text: isn’t the Dm7 wrong¿? Shouldn’t it be D, F, A, and C¿?
    Anyway, thanks for this great lesson.

    • scott

      Oops.. yep you’re right man – my bad ;)

  • Scott Sutherland

    Hi Scott,

    Nice solo with some good phrasing. You are playing a few tensions though in addition to the chord tones. Just in the opening few bars I can hear a 9th used as a passing tone in the second bar and then another 9th stressed against the Bbmaj7 chord in Bar 3. Minor quibble ; )

  • Martin

    Hola Scott!

    Are u using the chord tones related to each chord or just mixing up all chord tones from the secuence?

    Martin from Buenos Aires

  • Max

    Hah! just “wasted” 20 minutes on recapping the minor chord tones. I got confused by the type-o (Bb).
    But wery nice to realise that my knowledge is allready high enough to notice and react on something that doesnt sound or feel right.
    That was like a good sneaky test…
    Its much thanks to you Scott!

  • matt jenks

    I know “voice leading” involves the best economy of motion. That is, in voice leading, the goal is to play a 2, 5, 1 (anything… using this only as an example) moving the hand as little as possible. If you want a jazz gig, just tell em you’re really into voice leading.

    Anyway, I’m trying to get better with it.

    Does this video count as voice leading?

    • matt jenks

      Or the method you’re doing, doors that count?