Global Bass Online July 2001
Generally, a passing tone is considered to be a scale
tone between two chord tones. However, it could also be a semitone between two
scale tones that are a wholetone apart. And, in a strict classical sense,
passing tones are meant to be on “weak” beats. Whatever the definitions,
passing tones are an excellent means of connecting notes.
All examples/experiments below have the A minor and D
minor triads as their basis. The rhythm is the same for Ex 1-8. It is a two-bar
phrase compatible with the chord changes. Watch out! ... these examples are in
3/4 time signature. Your two-bar count-in should therefore be 123, 223.
starts with the predetermined rhythm using the chord tones from Am and Dm.
Bass Grooves”, April 2001.)
introduces the passing tone (PT) B between chord tones A (root) and C (3rd) and
the passing tone E between chord tones D and F. Note how the line already takes
on a different shape/sound.
has the passing tone between the 3rd and 5th of each chord.
has passing tones between all chord tones.
introduces a chromatic passing tone (CPT) in the first bar of each chord. Note
how the line takes on a major tonality. I have indicated this by placing
suggested chords in parentheses. This would then make the second note of each
bar a leading tone (LT) to the major 3rd (which was originally intended
to be a CPT).
has the fourth note of bars 1 and 3 both passing and leading.
has passing tones alternating with leading tones.
strongly suggests a major tonality, with the originally intended passing tones
becoming leading tones.
adds an eighth note to the original rhythm, using scalar and chromatic passing
- You work it out.
When you play Ex 1-10 non-stop you will hear the
experimental, developmental process taking place. For example, when
experimenting with passing tones, they may become leading tones and therefore
alter the chord qualities (as Ex 5 & 8 demonstrate).
Be aware of this as you experiment with your own ideas. There are still many more combinations possible. Try mixing up individual bars of any of the examples. Try a b9 (Bb) on the Am chord to create a phrygian tonality. (What’s that?! you ask. Check out “The Modes” by Lucas Pickford, December 2000.)
are some possible results of such experimentation:
more melodic bass lines
developing intensity in your accompaniment of extended
becoming more aware of harmonic implications
enjoying the fruits of your labor
others enjoying the fruits of your labor
getting gigs ... and so on
Until next time. Keep creating....and Bass of Luck!
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