Using the Auto-Bass Notes
- FingerpickPro has been designed to make possible the All-Chord Midi File system. This is an arrangement of various design elements to enable users to play a fingerpicking pattern or arrangement on any chord in any key using only one midi file.
- Other elements of this system have already been explained with respect to String Keys, Hammer-Ons/Pull-Offs, and Chord Voicings. Now we need to examine a pivotal element, the Auto-Bass Keys.
- In addition to the String Keys, six additional keys have been assigned for playing the root note of the chord, and the fifth note of the chord (and in a few cases a 3rd). Six keys are needed because there are three configurations of Root/Fifth note pairs provided.
Option #1 is represented on the diagram in orange, G3 and G#3.
Option #2 is represented on the diagram in blue, A3 and A#3.
Option #3 is represented on the diagram in green, B3 and C4.
- The root notes are played on the G3, A3 and B3 keys. The fifth notes are played on the G#3, A#3 and C4 keys.
The Rationale for the Auto-Bass Keys
- The system of Auto-Bass Notes has been implemented to make two things possible:
- To enable a picking pattern to be played in which the root note is predetermined to occur in a specific place in the pattern. One of the most common would be to play an arpeggio with the first note always being the root note of the chord. By having the Auto-Bass Notes you can make sure this happens regardless of which chord is being played. So in that instance you would use the Auto-Bass Note instead of the String Key.
- To enable a picking pattern to be played with an alternating bass line. Many picking patterns use an alternating bass, and you can set it up by using the Auto-Bass Notes instead of the String Keys for that part of the pattern.
- Sometimes, in order to maintain an alternating bass pattern it can be preferable to make some exceptions to the root/fifth note arrangements, such as playing a third instead of a fifth.
The Auto-Bass Notes provide Three Options
- This is the simplest to explain. The G3 key plays the lowest available root note in the chord. G#3 plays the lowest available fifth note of the chord. For example, in the C major chord, G3 plays the C note on the 5th string, 3rd fret; G#3 plays the G note on the 6th string, 3rd fret. In the F major chord G3 plays the F note on the 6th string, 1st fret; while G#3 plays the C note on the 5th string, 3rd fret.
- The graphic below shows the root note (orange) and the fifth note (green) for a selection of chords to give you an idea of how the Auto-Bass Notes are assigned for Option #1.
- Where possible Option #2 plays a root/fifth combination on the 4th and 5th strings. For example, in the F major chord A3 plays the F note on the 4th string, 3rd fret; while A#3 plays the C note on the 5th string, 3rd fret. Yet in the case of C major an exception is made. A3 plays the C note on the 5th string, 3rd fret, while A#3 plays the E note on the 4th string, 2nd fret. This is one of the exceptions made to try and provide an alternating bass option a bit higher than Option #1.
- In some cases a higher option is not feasible so Option #1 is repeated. That is, although you use the A3/A#3 keys it will nevertheless play the same notes as if you had selected Option #1, using the G3/G#3 keys. This is done in the case of the G major chord, as illustrated below.
- The graphic below shows the root note (orange) and the fifth note (green) for a selection of chords to give you an idea of how the Auto-Bass Notes are assigned for Option #2. You will notice that for chords G major and Dm the notes are the same as for Option #1. Also note that in C major the third (E) is selected.
- This option is provided to cater for higher chord voicings that make use of the two extra 'string keys' at D3 and F3. So the B3/C4 keys trigger root/fifth notes somewhere on the 4th to the 2nd strings. You just need to experiment to find arrangements that work.
- The graphic below shows the root note (orange) and the fifth note (green) for a selection of chords to give you an idea of how the Auto-Bass Notes are assigned for Option #3. At times other options could have been chosen, but when you are using all-chord midi files and duplicating them, you can always change the notes in any particular instance, and substitute String Key notes for Auto-Bass notes.
- All this might sound a bit complicated at first. It is suggested that you just use Option #1 initially until you start getting the hang of it.
Adjusting for the 'D' and 'G' Chords
- When devising a picking pattern you make decisions about how many strings will be involved. Because of the location of the root and fifth notes in the common chord voicings it can happen that you have to adjust the picking pattern accordingly. This is most likely to come to your attention when using the G and D chords.
- Let's say you are playing in the key of C major and you want to use an alternating bass. The three major chords belonging to that key are C, F and G. The three minor chords are Dm, Em and Am. The C, F, Em and Am chords can be played with an alternating bass on the 6th and 5th strings. This leaves the top four strings available for other use in the picking pattern.
- However, G major has its lowest root/fifth notes on the 6th/4th strings. Dm has its lowest root/fifth notes on the 4th/5th strings. In both these cases it only leaves the top three strings readily available for other use in the picking pattern.
- This needs to be taken into account when devising all-chord midi files. You can avoid this problem if you only use the top three strings in addition to the Option #1 Auto-Bass Notes, but if you did that as a general practice it would be unduly restrictive. The alternative is to make some judicious adjustments in the places where it is needed. This will usually be brought to your attention when you hear consecutive repetitions of the same note where you expected to hear each consecutive note being different. It is up to your musical judgement how to deal with this.
Drop D Tuning, and an Exception for D Chords
- Option #2 for the D chords in all the key instruments uses the Low D note on the 6th string and the open A note on the 5th string. (Note that the chord diagram for Dm in Option #2 above does not take this into account. In fact, that Dm chord Option #2 would play the Low D on the 6th string and the open A on the 5th string. Just keep an eye out for that, as in any given case you might prefer to use Option #1 for all the D chords.)
- When playing in the key of D it makes it easier to play in Drop D tuning. For example, you can simply use Option #2 when playing D chords and Option #1 when playing other chords.
- In other keys it gives you the option of using the low D, even if it would not be available in standard tuning. Otherwise Option #2 would simply be a repeat of Option #1, and it made sense to offer an alternative to those times when you might prefer it.
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