Alternative Bass Notes of a Chord

Altering the bass note of a chord to a note different than the root note can create quite new harmonic impressions than the original chord. If you change the bass note to a different chord tone like the third or fifth of the chord, the harmonic function of the chord will not be altered but the chord will change its colour. Chord progressions with many thirds of the chords in the bass appear for example a lot in Howard Shore’s LORD OF THE RINGS scores.

If you change the bass note to a higher tension note or a non-scale tone, chances are quite high that the chord will alter its harmonic quality becoming a more complex chord based on the bass note you chose (for example Fm over the bass note of G will in most cases not keep its harmonic function of being a minor triad but will rather become a G7(sus4b9) chord which is a dominant chord). Experimenting with that can open up a whole new field of sounds. A good way to approach this would be to play a simple chord with all 12 different possible bass notes and see what kind of sounds you get out of that. Essentially, depending on context, it is musically possible to combine every chord with every bass note.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *