Use Chords Effectively!

Sooooo........ you finally know all of these cool sounding chords, but a question remains: How do you use chords?

Well, I've found that they can be quite useful in a lot of situations. Some of my favorite uses for chords are:

1. Songwriting.

By far, my favorite way to use chords is to write new material. I'm going to be honest: I'm not very good at keyboard or guitar. I don't have a lot of time to practice either of them or learn a lot about them.

However, I still want to compose and I feel the need to be able to create with more of an overall sense of completion with the parts that I create.

Being able to play and use chords has given me that ability. I can now compose with the full sounds and completion that I once only thought of.

2. Doubling or learning guitar or keyboard parts.

Being able to double what the guitar player plays, especially during a jam, has, more than once, gotten me stares and evil glares when they figure out that they are off. Besides being able to show that you know whats going on with the song, you can also play solo versions of keyboard music or other tunes very easily.

I've had a lot of fun playing classical music on the bass and Jazz standards too. Maybe you can find a few songs you like and translate them to the language of solo bass?

3. To fill out parts in a duet or a trio.

When you're playing in a duet or a trio (For me, mostly Bass, Drums and Sax), being able to fill out chords is a great ability to have. I've had a lot of success with just throwing the 3rd and the 7th on top of a quick walking line during a slow blues tune.

4. Tapping out chord parts.

Being able to play and use chords has made it so that the parts that I tap can be more than the bass part an octave above or just the melody. Being able to tap the upper parts of a chord have made it so that my tapping parts are more complementary to the song as a whole rather than just an octave higher part of what the guitar is playing.

5. Finding new sounds.

If you're tired of the way that you sound or play, learning chords and playing them over older lines might re-spark something in your creative juices. Give it a try if you're feeling tired of some of your old music.

6. Learning songs.

Sometimes, you'll come across songs that have very complex chord arrangements or weird chords everywhere. If you can play those chords much like a guitar player would, you might not have as much trouble coming up with a good bass part.

Also, learning the chord progressions like this provides a better sense of how the internal harmonies work within the song structure itself, which is very important for the bass player.

7. Helping to learn scales and arpeggios.

As I've gone over before, learning how chords and scales intertwine is one thing that is very important to know. What better way to get acquainted with them than to play them together?

8. Learning the Fretboard.

If you're having trouble learning where the notes are on the bass, learning your chords will allow you to bring everything into focus when it comes to playing all over the neck.

You'll be able to see where the shapes of various patterns and chords and scales are on the neck a lot quicker.

Give it a try!

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