Jazz Guitar
Learn how to play jazz guitar with our eBook bundle
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 24 of 24
  1. #1

    How to use slash chords?

    I know there is a ton of info on the net about slash chords but I like the no BS answers I get on this forum. I don't really understand what the practical uses of them are and why notating a chord as a slash chord is helpful?

    Can anyone give me a few pointers to help me introduce them into my playing please?

    Cheers!

  2. #2
    Hope this helps.

    Slash chord - Wikipedia
    "As for me, all I know is that I know nothing." - Socrates

  3. #3
    For all songs I play with slash chords, it is simply a way to continue playing the same chord
    while simultaneously walking up or down a bass line played over the top of the chord.

    Example Dm/C would be a Dm chord, but played with a C for the bass note.
    measure with micrometer... mark with chalk... cut with axe

  4. #4
    They are an indication of something about the harmony, so really, the most important thing to know when you encounter a slash chord is - who is this meant to inform?

    The two most common indicate that the bottom pitch under the harmony is not the root of the chord, but rather the dominant seventh (F/Eb) or the fifth (F/C).

    The seventh on the bottom is very common is Bossa Nova... for example in Girl from Ipanema it starts with what at first may sound like Fmaj -> G7 but the Bossa style changes those to Fmaj9->G13/F to get a more subtle shift.

    x 8 10 9 8 x -> x 8 9 9 8 x

    In this case, the indication is meant for the guitarist or piano, not for the bass.

    In other cases, the fifth usually, the non-root fifth bottom is meant for the bass, because the bass line is moving through it while the chords "aren't", like Georgia...

    Fmaj7 Georgia, Em7 A7#5 Georgia
    Dm7 The whole Dm7/C day through Bb(13) Bdim
    Just an old F/C sweet Db(#5) song D#5

    So the bass is moving D C Bb B C Db D and the F/C is an indication to resist playing the F under the F chord.

    How do you know if the slash chord is meant for your attention? If you know the song, this is usually clear from the way you remember how it sounds. When looking over a new song, this is one of those things on your check list to confirm... which you may be able to do just by looking at the chord changes, like in Georgia where even if you didn't know the song, you might well see that the roots are "bassed" moving under those chords but a bass hop out of that up to F would awkwardly miss the nice sound of moving through C.

    When in doubt, ask the bass player's intention there.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    No. VA, USA
    Posts
    2,268
    1) To indicate a particular bass line through/under a set of changes -- most posts have hit on this already

    2) To suggest a (more) specific voicing to comping players

    Like, indicating E/G (for G13(b9)) or E-7/Bb (for Bb13(b9)(#11)) ...

    3) To establish or maintain a sequence of harmony (often major or minor triads over a bass line)

    Like, C/B - D/C - Eb/D - F/Eb - Gb/F - Ab/Gb ... (a McLaughlin bit based on triads and bassline moving up a diminished scale)

  6. #6

  7. #7
    slash listens to bad brains?!? sick!
    White belt
    My Youtube

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by M-ster View Post
    1) To indicate a particular bass line through/under a set of changes -- most posts have hit on this already

    2) To suggest a (more) specific voicing to comping players

    Like, indicating E/G (for G13(b9)) or E-7/Bb (for Bb13(b9)(#11)) ...

    3) To establish or maintain a sequence of harmony (often major or minor triads over a bass line)

    Like, C/B - D/C - Eb/D - F/Eb - Gb/F - Ab/Gb ... (a McLaughlin bit based on triads and bassline moving up a diminished scale)
    Shouldn't the Eb/D be Eb/Db? Typo? (old JMcL fan)
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Em7/G:
    And then there are pollie chords, where the bass note is situated on one side of the capo while the chord is played on the other:

    How to use slash chords?-bj-jpg

  10. #10
    I don't think anyone's mentioned that it's also a very easy, quick-to-read way of naming an unusual chord. In jazz especially, though not only in jazz, you could get a chord like Db/C.

    Put it this way, if it wasn't called Db/C what on earth would it be called? I know there's an answer (in fact, several of them) but that's not the point :-)

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    I don't think anyone's mentioned that it's also a very easy, quick-to-read way of naming an unusual chord. In jazz especially, though not only in jazz, you could get a chord like Db/C.

    Put it this way, if it wasn't called Db/C what on earth would it be called? I know there's an answer (in fact, several of them) but that's not the point :-)
    I think M-ster's second point touched on that.

    Db/C is fine, probably best conceptually for comping, maybe soloing, too.

    Db/C is the same pitch class collection as Dbmaj7/C, whether that helps depends on harmonic context.

    Db/C could constructively be called (taking a breath...) C sus4 #5 add b2... yeach, good luck with that unless you are composing. I think there are good reasons to look at chords constructively when composing (and then converting them to slash chord names in the score).
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Posts
    84
    How to use slash chords?-whos-next-jpg

    I'll get my coat.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Drumbler View Post
    Hope this helps.

    Slash chord - Wikipedia
    Thanks I read this already, just wanted some more "from the horses mouth" opinions as well

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    They are an indication of something about the harmony, so really, the most important thing to know when you encounter a slash chord is - who is this meant to inform?

    The two most common indicate that the bottom pitch under the harmony is not the root of the chord, but rather the dominant seventh (F/Eb) or the fifth (F/C).

    The seventh on the bottom is very common is Bossa Nova... for example in Girl from Ipanema it starts with what at first may sound like Fmaj -> G7 but the Bossa style changes those to Fmaj9->G13/F to get a more subtle shift.

    x 8 10 9 8 x -> x 8 9 9 8 x

    In this case, the indication is meant for the guitarist or piano, not for the bass.

    In other cases, the fifth usually, the non-root fifth bottom is meant for the bass, because the bass line is moving through it while the chords "aren't", like Georgia...

    Fmaj7 Georgia, Em7 A7#5 Georgia
    Dm7 The whole Dm7/C day through Bb(13) Bdim
    Just an old F/C sweet Db(#5) song D#5

    So the bass is moving D C Bb B C Db D and the F/C is an indication to resist playing the F under the F chord.

    How do you know if the slash chord is meant for your attention? If you know the song, this is usually clear from the way you remember how it sounds. When looking over a new song, this is one of those things on your check list to confirm... which you may be able to do just by looking at the chord changes, like in Georgia where even if you didn't know the song, you might well see that the roots are "bassed" moving under those chords but a bass hop out of that up to F would awkwardly miss the nice sound of moving through C.

    When in doubt, ask the bass player's intention there.
    Thanks for this thorough answer!

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by M-ster View Post
    1) To indicate a particular bass line through/under a set of changes -- most posts have hit on this already

    2) To suggest a (more) specific voicing to comping players

    Like, indicating E/G (for G13(b9)) or E-7/Bb (for Bb13(b9)(#11)) ...

    3) To establish or maintain a sequence of harmony (often major or minor triads over a bass line)

    Like, C/B - D/C - Eb/D - F/Eb - Gb/F - Ab/Gb ... (a McLaughlin bit based on triads and bassline moving up a diminished scale)
    Great thanks, just what I wanted

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    I don't think anyone's mentioned that it's also a very easy, quick-to-read way of naming an unusual chord. In jazz especially, though not only in jazz, you could get a chord like Db/C.

    Put it this way, if it wasn't called Db/C what on earth would it be called? I know there's an answer (in fact, several of them) but that's not the point :-)
    Thanks Rags always helpful!

  17. #17
    Very often there are harmonic implications for comping and soloing beyond the bass player. So, Cm...Cm/B...Cm/Bb can mean to non bass players things like:
    Cm7...CmMaj7...Cm7 or
    Cm7...Galt...Cm7 or
    C Dorian...Galt...C Dorian

    The descending chromatic lead line is important to all players. Writing it as Cm with a bass line may be the easiest way too convey the importance of pitches like C or Eb as pedal tones etc as well...

    If you want to increase your Google-fu on this topic related to jazz, do searches on tunes which use these devices specifically, and you'll find a lot more material etc.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 11-10-2018 at 07:28 PM.

  18. #18
    Good posts above.

    I usually see it in one of two situations.

    One is that there's a moving bass line and the chord symbol reflects it. Dm Dm/C G7/B Bbmaj7 occurs, for example in Foi Ela by Ari Barroso.

    Sometimes it's to make it clear that the bass note shouldn't change. Berimbau is an example. Dm F/D G/D. Rasheed by Anne Sajdera (on Azul) has C7sus Bm/C C7sus C6/9

    The other case is that the composer wants a certain chord sound. Waters of March starts with a 7th chord with the 7th in the bass. Commonly played as 2x111x. Ab/Gb. That's a very distinctive sound -- and if you played it as Ab7 without the Gb on the bottom, it would sound totally wrong.

    Sco's Bossa has Cmaj9 Am9(11) D7/F# Fm7. The composer has a bass line and a chord sound in mind.

    There are some other voicings that come up fairly commonly. You may see major triads with different bass notes. A/Eb, A/Bb, C#/D. Very specific, easy to read (that sequence of from Cafe by Egberto Gismonti).

    In the cases where the composer is trying to make the bassline clear, the guitarist might play the upper part of the chord and let the bassist take care of the bass (although it often sounds good if the guitar does it too). I think the issue is the octave. In some cases having the bass note an octave lower transmits the composer's sound. But, for that Ab/Gb, you have to hear that in the guitar or it just sounds wrong.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    12,322
    They are useful for when the desired bass note is not the root of the chord.

    So anything with a specified bassline, really.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    sanluisobispo CA
    Posts
    43
    so as i see this slash chord represents the the chord to be played in front of the Bass note to be played one octive lower than the chords Octive. Not for the Bass player at all, he has his own sheet for his notes Then I would say that all slash chords are played in the second octive position or higher. That's what I am Getting from all of This.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by JaxJaxon View Post
    so as i see this slash chord represents the the chord to be played in front of the Bass note to be played one octive lower than the chords Octive. Not for the Bass player at all, he has his own sheet for his notes Then I would say that all slash chords are played in the second octive position or higher. That's what I am Getting from all of This.
    Rhythm section players aren't usually reading separate charts. So, bass and guitar are usually looking at the same chords and have to determine what it means for them individually.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    They are useful for when the desired bass note is not the root of the chord.
    Exactly. That's it in a nutshell. Simple as that.

    But, of course, the thread's title is the question how to use them, not what they are. But maybe that is how to use them, simply as a means of clearly identifying a chord whose bass is not the root.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Exactly. That's it in a nutshell. Simple as that.

    But, of course, the thread's title is the question how to use them, not what they are. But maybe that is how to use them, simply as a means of clearly identifying a chord whose bass is not the root.
    This seems straightforward, and correct, but maybe there's a trifle more to say.

    The chord has a name where the bass note is the root. The name may be a complete unwieldy mess, so the slash-based name may be much more efficient in eliciting the composer's intention. I think that, in context, there may be chords for which the unwieldy name might say more about the actual function, but the slash makes it easier. Dm7 Db/G Cmaj7. Or, Dm7 G7b9#11no3rd Cmaj7.

    The slash-chord also alerts the player that the composer wants something specific -- usually in the bass line. But, if not in the bass line, then a very specific voicing of the chord. The slash gives some information about the chord inversion. Not as much as writing it out on a stem, but something.

  24. #24
    I agree with most of what has been said.

    Coincidentally I posted a mini-lesson on slash chords (specifically just major triads over different bass notes) here:

    Conventional(ish) uses for all major triads over bass notes - (besides just bass movement under a triad) | Soundslice

    Description on the page:
    I give an example or two for each of these:

    Db/C
    D/C
    E/C
    F#/C
    A/C
    Bb/C
    B/C

    G/C, and transpositions of that structure, are used throughout for the maj9(no3) sound.

    I excluded F/C and Ab/C as those are just inverted triads.

    I excluded Eb/C as it is just a Cm7.

    That covers all possible major triads over C. I am trying to highlight the most common functions.

    We also will hear triads of bass notes more conventionally to just support a moving bass line e.g. C, C/B, C/Bb, A7, Dm, Dm/C#, Dm/C, G7/B.

    But for this mini lesson I wanted to highlight sounds where the bass note essentially feels like the root, to create some variation of an extended chord.
    Not me, but I also just saw Gustavo Assis Brasil post something similar specifically for Rhythm changes: Rhythm Changes Comping w/ Major Triads over Bass notes (slash chords) - Gustavo Assis-Brasil | Soundslice
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner

Join our Facebook Page

Get in Touch


Jazz Guitar eBooks
How To Get a Jazz Guitar Tone?
Privacy Policy

 

 

Follow us on:

Jazz Guitar Online on FacebookJazz Guitar Online on TwitterJazz Guitar Online on YoutubeJazz Guitar Online RSS Feed