Any tips on how to write bass for a chaotic part?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by FirstMateJepeto, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. First off, I'm really unsure if I'm posting in the right category.
    I'm in a death metal band; really old school, riff-based music. It's not at all the music I listen to, but it's very fun to play.
    We have a song with a part that's more chaotic, if not black-metalesque, with our one guitar doing high-pitched minor chords in eights over fast drums, that later becomes a blast beat, and I've been thinking for a while of what I should put there. I liked the idea of putting up a bass solo, with fast, chromatic/dissonant stuff, and maybe some effects.
    I have little to no composing experience, and some theory. I'd appreciate if someone could give me some tips, whether regarding approach, play styles, effects.
    I play a 4-string tuned in C#.
  2. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Cookie cutter composing:

    It's melody, harmony and rhythm. Each is a separate item AND THEN if we follow a few basic rules they merge together in a pleasing way. Which one first is up to you. All three must end up augmenting each other.

    Harmony: Have you (or someone) decided on and placed the chords. The bass plays chord tones of the active chord. Which tone? Roots, thirds, fifth and sevenths usually work. The order and how many depends on the song. Start with roots. We are composing the first draft with a cookie cutter, you can flesh it out later. Get the bones first; if that sounds OK add some flesh.

    Rhythm: Seems you already have a handle on the drum track. Echo what the kick drum is doing.

    If you have not decided on the chords, do that now. Chords are placed under the melody so that the melody and chord share like notes. One shared note per measure is all that is necessary for harmonization to happen. More per measure seem to work better, but, perhaps not on what you describe as being a chaotic part of the song. I'd recommend hooking with the rhythm and pounding out roots. If everything is chaotic someone needs to be in control and keep the beat.

    If someone has placed the chords, hopefully they knew how to do this and if so they have harmonized the melody. All we have to do is play notes of that chord and we too will harmonize with the melody. Read that again. That is the bedrock on what we base our part of the harmony upon, i.e. that is how we compose our bass lines. Bones first flesh later.

    Melody: Your solo; The tune, or head for 24 to 36 measures. Let the melody be your guide. You mentioned riffs, etc. There is bound to be a repetitive riff, that's your head, draw your solo from that. If you are composing the melody, take a cookie cutter chord progression, follow the chords and mess around (flesh out around) the 3rds. For more detail:

    Cookie cutter composing and then let you ear flesh out your first draft. Melody, harmony and rhythm pick one and start there.
    Ukiah Bass likes this.
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    On super riffy stuff I usually start by following the guitar, and then let it naturally evolve. If it's overkill, I'll lay back (8ths or 1/4s intstead of 16ths) and do the same. It also helps for me to just listen, hear things in my head, and then play them.

    With that out of the way, what's with the double underlined stuff? Or do I have anothr virus. My PC is actin real weird this morning... on my screen the words "how to write", "school" and "play" are all double underlined with links attatched. ????
  4. Both of you guys seem to have the same method I usually use. The thing is, I was hoping for advice on what to put on this type of, to quote Joe Nerve, "overkill" section. I already established the chords, but I find it sound better when I just do something else entirely, revolving around the roots and not much else.
  5. joelns


    Mar 10, 2014
    IMO, the more chaotic the part, the better a simple bass line fits in.
    StayLow and Ukiah Bass like this.
  6. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    If you don't want to stay simple, harmonize the line the guitar is playing, or play something that does the opposite of the guitar (when he goes up, you go down, etc.).
  7. 4andnomore


    Nov 14, 2008
    First thing that come to mind for me is lock in with the kick drum or just pedal through (eight notes on the root) and then add the strategically placed "pop" that is an octave up from the root note you are playing. By pop I mean yanking that D or G string up off the fingerboard and letting it snap back. "WHACK!. Kind of like a more angry version of Tina Weymoth (Talking Heads). Maybe kick in a little bass flanger for good measure.

    Of curse if you ask me tomorrow I ail have completely different suggestion. That's the fun of it all, isn't it?
  8. or do something simpler and lower down on the neck, just make sure your tone is cutting thru and the simple line will sound great and people will like it
  9. 4andnomore


    Nov 14, 2008
    Ir just don't play at all. Seriously.