Chord progressions and playing them on bass

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by basslust, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. basslust

    basslust Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2011
    Can someone give me a few good songs (not necessarily easy songs) to learn to play that will give me good ideas on how to play over chord changes? A lot of the musicians I play with are very improvisational and I would like to be able to get better at creating music with direction (buildup and release of tension). Pretty much everything that I play that I come up with myself has the feel of a riff or a vamp that sounds good but only has so much mileage.

    I'd like to know what the chord progression is in the songs I'm learning, so suggestions of what to learn along with what type of chord progression is in the song would be appreciated.

  2. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Couple of things in play here. If you follow the chords the songwriter decided to use in the song and play notes of those chords (root on one, then as many of the other chord tones as you can get in before the music goes off and leaves you - that one thing will give your bass line structure and closure, and I think that is what you are asking about.

    So we need to know the chords used in the song. Yep, tab and standard notation for that matter do not tell us what chords are being used in the sheet music. A style of music will use the same ole progression over and over. Now to your question. Call up some of your type of songs and see what has been used. Do the same, the chord progression is generic. That is why chord progressions are not protected. It is the melody notes that set one song apart from another, and they are protected. The same ole generic chord progression can be used over and over.

    Google; guitar chords, "name of the song" for some fake chord sheet music on that specific song then study what chord progression was used and what chord tones found their way into the bass line. That fish thing. Long story to say follow the chords, but, if you do you will bring order into your playing.

    Country will be a I-IV-V7-I with the vi and ii thrown in for color.
    Praise will and does use all 7 of the chords in one song. Now that is a great study.
  3. Dbt25677


    Jun 9, 2013
    Don't Forget Me - Red Hot Chili Peppers
    Johnny B Goode - Chuck Berry
  4. Chazinroch


    Feb 2, 2003
    Ontario N.Y.
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  6. mrbell321


    Mar 26, 2012
    N. Colorado
    Look up 12-bar blues. Its several things you should know. First, it's a specific chord progression: V-IV-I. For me, the 12- bar blues showed me what a "key" is and how chord progressions work.
    Second, it's a song form that's easy to follow. Everyone knows it, so it's easy to improv over. For the first 4 bars, you've got plenty of time to come up w/ a good bassline skeleton. Then you can play it over 2 other chords, too.
    Third, it's pretty common. Once you've got an idea of 12-bar blues, you'll hear it everywhere and you can start playing covers of popular songs. has a good section on the 12-bar blues
  7. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    Billy Joel's Piano Man is a great example of a song with a strong harmonic progression, using chord inversions to make a bass line with direction. It would behoove you to study this song.