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Swinging Sufari

Beach Boys

[Midi File]

This happy liitle song systematically  cycles through the keys of
C, Eb, and F with a bass line that can be played entirely with an
Eb major scale.  It is a great ear and finger trainer.

Let's start with the Eb scale itself, and a closed position
fingering:


  7     D ====  A b5  open string
          |  |
          |  |
  1    Eb ____ Bb 5 (first finger)
          |  |
          |  |
          ____
          |  |
          |  |
  2    F  ____  C 6 (second finger)
          |  |
          |  |
          ____
          |  |
          |  |
  3    G  ____  D 7 (third finger)
          |  |
          |  |
  4    Ab ____ Eb 1
          |  |


The core pattern of most simple western folk, pop and rock tunes
is based on the I, IV, V progression.  Why is this?

I think it is based on the beauty of the pentatonic scale.  Everyone
knows the basic pentatonic pattern of

         1 2 3 5 6

What is less known is that the major scale has several other
selections of notes with the same relative interval pattern.
For instance:

         4 5 6 1 2

         5 6 7 2 3

are also pentatonic.  Every major scale has two "secret" related
pentatonic scales hiding at 4 and 5.

If we harmonize a major scale melody with the I chord (1 3 5)
the IV chord (4 6 1), and the V chord (5 7 2), then we have
three pentatonics shown above to improvise with.  Each one sound
nice within the proper chordal context.

Simple western music can then be thought of as a straightforward
extension of pure pentatonic music.  Diatonic music is
locally pentatonic, but adds the complexity of changing
between three different pentatonic keys, the I key, the IV key
and the V key as the chord progression dictates.

So our job as improvisors is to train the fingers and ears to
recognize the context (what is the chord) and to be able to play
from a palatte of the appropriate notes.  We can define a set of
ranked musical skills leading to improvisational freedom:

         1) identify and play the root of each chord

         2) play a simple bass line by alternating between the root
                 and the fifth of each chord

         3) learn to identify major/minor and add in the third of each chord
                 either 3 or b3 as appropriate

         4) learn to connect chords with appropriate scale-wise
                 fragments

         5) play melodies limited to the appropriate pentatonic scale
                 using only diatonic notes of the parent key.

         6) improvise using the scale of each chord, adding
                 non-diatonic notes in a tasteful way.

         7) introduce chromaticisms to heighten tension and resolution



Swinging Sufar uses a simple I/IV/V progression and plays it in
almost every key in which a simple bassline can be played given only
the notes in the above fingering.       It is an easy practice vehicle
for skills 1 and 2.

Here's the basic pattern for the first chorus:

  ||:  I  -  |  IV -  |  I -  |  V  -

       I  -  |  IV -  |  I V  |  I  -  :||

The first chorus is in C major.

The I chord  bass notes are C (1, root) and G (5, fifth of the chord)
The IV chord bass notes are F (4, root) and C (1, fifth of the chord)
The V chord  bass notes are G (5, root) and D (2, fifth of the chord)

All these notes fall nicely under our fingers as shown above.

Here's a simple bass line for the song written in tablature
and 123:

         1=C

           I           IV         I         V
         ---3---3----|----3---3-|-3---3---|----5----5---
         -----5---5--|--3---3---|---5---5-|--5----5-----

            1 5 1 5  |  4 1 4 1 | 1 5 1 5 |  5 2 5 2
              '   '     '   '       '   '    '   '


            I           IV        I  V       I
         ---3---3----|----3---3-|-3-----5-|--3----3-----
         -----5---5--|--3---3---|---5-5---|----5----5---

            1 5 1 5  |  4 1 4 1 | 1 5 5 2 |  1 5 1 5
              '   '     '   '       ' '        '   '

The second chorus is in the key of Eb.  The same chord pattern is played,
and the notes are as follows:

The I chord  bass notes are Eb (1, root) and Bb (5, fifth of the chord)
The IV chord bass notes are Ab  (4, root) and Eb (1, fifth of the chord)
The V chord  bass notes are Bb  (5, root) and F (2, fifth of the chord)


Once again, all these notes fall nicely under our fingers as shown above.


         1=Eb

           I           IV         I          V
         -----1---1--|----6---6-|---1---1-|--1----1-----
         --1----1----|--6---6---|-1---1---|----3----3---

                                                        .       .
            1 5 1 5  |  4 1 4 1 | 1 5 1 5 |  5 2 5 2


           I            IV        I   V      I
         -----1---1--|----6---6-|---1-1---|----1----1---
         --1----1----|--6---6---|-1-----3-|--1----1-----

                                                        .       .
           1 5 1 5  |  4 1 4 1 | 1 5 5 2 |  1 5 1 5

           repeat 3 times

The third chorus is in the key of F.  The same chord pattern is played,
and the notes are as follows:

The I chord  bass notes are F (1, root) and C (5, fifth of the chord)
The IV chord bass notes are Bb  (4, root) and F (1, fifth of the chord)
The V chord  bass notes are C  (5, root) and G (2, fifth of the chord)

Amazingly, all these notes still fall nicely under our fingers as shown above.
        
           1=F

           I            IV        I          V
         -----3---3--|--1---1---|---3---3-|--3----3-----
         --3----3----|----3---3-|-3---3---|----5----5---

           1 5 1 5  |  4 1 4 1 | 1 5 1 5 |  5 2 5 2


           I            IV        I   V      I
         -----3---3--|--1---1---|---3-3---|----3----3---
         --3----3----|----3---3-|-3-----5-|--3----3-----

                 1 5 1 5  |  4 1 4 1 | 1 5 5 2 |  1 5 1 5


          repeat 2 times
          end by repeating last two measures three times.


Of course, we only covered  the simplest possible bass-line here.
Each measure starts on the note corresponding with the chord
itself, and then alternates with the note 7 half steps above the
chord note (the fifth of the chord).

This'll get you started and is a good workout for the ears.  This
simple fingering won't easily let you get the rest of the
commonly used chord notes (sixth, third and flat 7), nor will it
let you walk the appropriate scale from chord to chord.  However,
it is a simplified workout as a start towards improvisation.  If
you always have the root and fifth instantly at hand, they become
the backbone for hanging a melodic line together.  You don't
always have to emphasize them, but they provide an inner security
so that you can unambiguously tell the listener, when you want
to, what tonality you are hearing and implying in your playing.


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Last edited January 23, 2007 6:10 pm by h-66-167-204-147.snvacaid.dynamic.covad.net (diff)
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