Root Notes

What is a root note?

A chord is a series of notes that sound good when played together. Among that group of notes will be one that dominates and this note we call the root note. It is usually but not always the lowest note. The root note gives the chord it’s name so: C, E and G make up C Major and the root note is C; A, G and E make up A minor and the root note is A.

Root Notes as a Bass Line

The simplest way to play bass is often to play the root note of a chord sequence. This can however be very effective though the important element will be timing the notes as note selection is a given. For example, given a simple sequence of major Chords: 2 bars of A followed by 2 bars of E followed by 2 bars of D and 2 more bars of A, a bass line can be constructed from the root notes i.e. A, E, D, A. This also means we can keep this very simple as the whole thing can be played on open strings.
So to look more specifically at this sequence of chords, we can show the structure of this piece of music in a basic chord chart:

A / / / ¦ A / / / ¦ E / / / ¦ E / / / ¦ D / / / ¦ D / / / ¦ A / / / ¦ A / / / ¦

Each bar has 4 beats and we are going to play our bass note firstly on only the first beat of the bar, secondly on the first and third beats, then on every beat and finally every half a beat.
We’ll start at a slow 80 beats per second

Here is the backing for you to practice this on your own.

Now here is the same exercise but now we have increased the speed to 110 BPM

And the backing track

Next – Fretted Root Notes