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Adding notes

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by linuxboy, Apr 13, 2005.

  1. linuxboy


    Apr 13, 2005

    Im sorry if the answer to this is already on the message board. Ive looked for a long time, and nothing helps.

    Ive started playing bass recently. Ive learned the places of the notes on the fret board. What I want to now learn is how to add extra notes to a song.

    If I play a song with the chords in front of me, i play the root note of each chord, its VERY boring. I want to learn how to add notes, but ive looked everywhere and I cant find out how to. I assume it has to do with scales. But I cant figure out what I must to add extra notes. Do I get the key of the song? of the scale of the chords? Im completely lost.
    Can anyone help ?
  2. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    It would help a bit to know what kind of music you are playing, but here some info: There are many methods to choosing what notes to play in a bassline, but it boils down to what sounds good. Picking notes from the key of the song is NOT a great idea because most songs change keys. I would recommend using chord tones at first, try to get some instruction, spend some time listening and learning to play some basslines from song you like, try to figure out what they are doing. There is alot more to writing a good bassline than one can put into one paragraph, there are books on the subject. Ultimately the bassline is what seperates good from great, it should be musical and melodic on it's own, yet provide a foundation for what is above it...form AND function! I'm not sure what kind of music you are into but Zeppelin and some earlier Police where a great treasure chest of bassline ideas for me...
  3. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    experiment! if it sounds good, it IS good :)

    but here are some pointers:

    use the notes in the arpeggios of the chords that are being played

    determine the key of the song & use scale tones to move between chords

    use chromatic movement to approach notes

    use octaves

    occasionally double fragments of the melody (can sound great)

    mix any of the above :)
  4. pklima

    pklima Commercial User

    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Karoryfer Samples
  5. jadesmar


    Feb 17, 2003
    Ottawa, ON
    Beware of parallel motion, it could alter the key centre. Or some such.

    Anyhow, 5ths under 3rds and 3rds under 5ths have a nice sound. As do 5ths under 9ths, 9ths under 11ths. Sing a vocal harmony and then learn to play it on the bass.

    Other tips:
    Fill in/fill out the chords. Remain in the key. If the key changes, change with it.

    Call response can be used to good effect if you play off the vocal melody, follow a descending melody with an ascending bass line in key.

    I am not too big on chromatic lines but some people use them to good effect.

    Keep in mind that everything harmony and melody wise is
    generally happening above the bass. This can generate some interesting alterations. E.g. if the chord progression is D-G you can possibly change the feel to B minor by playing Bm7-Em7 without the need to change the guitar line.

    By playing a 3rd under the guitar player, you can change major 7th chords to minor b9 chords, dominant 7ths to minor 9s, minor 7ths to major 9ths etc.

    By playing above, you can create inversions which can be just as interesting.

    Just have fun, work out some chords that sound neat, some in-key linear passages. If you know a guitar player is playing a D major chord, think about what chords can you create, play these chords on a keyboard. Sing some things then learn to play them.

    Hmm.. that's actually pretty essential, let me say that again:
    Sing some things then learn to play them.
  6. linuxboy


    Apr 13, 2005
    I dont know how to experiment... But with the below, I'll try...

    Alright, ill try that. Time to learn arpeggios

    So, if im playing some thing like A then E, (lets say it was in C) I could move from A to E by playing B C D between them?


    How? I try that, i just choose different places to play the notes at different parts of the song


    Will try that :)
  7. Not necessarily. When you use a different root that's still in the original chord, you're not technically changing the chord; you're playing a different inversion of the same one. When you play a B under a Gmaj7, that doesn't inevitably make it some kind of Bm; more often, people would perceive it as a Gmaj7/B.

    IMO, there are a few cases, though, where IMO using a note other than the root as the bass does tend to change the perception of the chord. For example, C6 and Am7 contain the same notes--C E G A. If someone were to play an A under a C6, it would generally be perceived as an Am7.
  8. jadesmar


    Feb 17, 2003
    Ottawa, ON
    Sorry, that was not to be taken out of context of it's preceding paragraph.

    I meant changing the apparent tonic of the guitar player's chord to the 3rd of the chord in question. Or, playing the 6th an octave lower.

    My example was a B under D major to produce Bminor7. I then went on to explain how to build 9ths out of 7th chords using this method.

    ETA: Sing some things and then learn to play them.
  9. OK, except that you got the first two backwards. B under a Dmaj7 would not yield a minorb9 but a plain m9. B under a D7 would not be a m9.
  10. jadesmar


    Feb 17, 2003
    Ottawa, ON
    Yup, I sure did.. thanks for the proofread. :)
  11. linuxboy


    Apr 13, 2005
    All the other stuff, besides cowsgomoos post, is very confusing. Can anyone explain ?
  12. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    that's absolutely the kind of thing I meant... I know it might not be your style of music but the bass line in the chorus of Bryan Adams' 'Run To You' has that kind of idea.. a scalar line weaving up and down and connecting the chords... the chorus of The Darkness' "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" uses that kind of thing too

    for example if you were moving from Am to Dm, you could approach the D by going B-C-C#-D... you could maybe drop down onto the D by approaching it from the other side... i.e E-Eb-D... can sometimes sound bluesy & funky :)

    one easy way to get a bit of character into lines is to stick some notes in an octave above to emphasise the rhythm of the drums or guitar/keyboards etc... eg.. instead of playing straight 8th notes on A, you could stick 'A''s in an octave above every time your drummer hits the snare... i.e The Knack's 'My Sharona' does this...

    it's a good way to add character without actually adding to the harmony... it's a texture thing rather than a harmony thing

    if you're playing a melodic line it can be v effective to shift the whole thing down or up an octave at the end of say a 4 bar phrase.. it can add extra meat if you shift down or really punctuate if you shift up

    for example, if your singer has a little phrase somewhere, it's really classy to throw in a snippet that goes along with it in unison (or even harmonises with it)...

    often works better if you go up the neck for it, and you must use it sparingly because like jadesmar said, you're stepping out of the trad bass role (indicating the basic harmonic & rhythmic structure) and will confuse people if you do it for too long

    best to whip it out and then land right back in the pocket :)

    Scott Thunes in Frank Zappa's band used to throw in a lot of those kinds of things... his job was to drill the band in rehearsals so he had to know all the melodies... (a lot of bass players don't know the melodies of the songs they have to play...)
  13. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA

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