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basslines using inverted arpeggios

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by The Mock Turtle Regulator, Apr 13, 2003.

  1. a while ago I heard a song by an unsigned band in which the bassline consisted of ascending 3note arpeggios, in eighth notes.
    the line seemed melodic , but it felt wrong, as if the low end was missing. it seemed more like a keyboard or guitar line, and needed the root beneath it.

    the verse line was this-

    (each arpeggio ascends twice)

    G arpeggiating the second inversion(fifth on the bottom) /C arpeggiating the first inversion(third on the bottom)/ then straight arpeggios for Em and D before a turnaround that doesn't need considering.

    are there any tracks in the rock-pop genre that use basslines like this?
  2. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    I have an instructional video by Beaver Felton where he does a very interesting line using, I believe, an inverted Amin7. It's very interesting how he does it. If I can remember correctly he first play a G7 then voice leads into the Amin.
  3. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Oh, and I checked out some your solo stuff, which sounds pretty cool. I really like MTR. It sounds like you are tapping the bassline with your left hand and playing the melody/chords with your right in some parts.
  4. thanks- yeah, MTR is mostly 2handed tapping, also some Stanley Clarke- style open string droning + doublestops.
    I wrote that over a year ago by ear, and am only now beginning to understand the compositional theory behind it:oops:

    I'm considering how much a bassist can get away with avoiding the root, either on the moment of the chord change as in an inverted arpeggio, or at all, in a song in a band context.
    songs I'm listening to at the moment for this are the Beatles "Lucy in the sky with diamonds", and "Glittering prize" by Simple minds, in which the bass plays a melody and the keyboard is left to define the roots, until the bass comes back to the roots later in the verse.
    I'm finding that the bass avoiding the root gives a "floating" feel.
    this can be too much sometimes as when New Order play live, and in songs like "regret", there's no low frequency defining the root for much of the song, and the songs seems ungrounded.
  5. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Ahh, yes, gotta love the ole "Open string drone with melody underneath" technique. :D

    I find that when you start diving into more advanced techniques and approaches on bass, it's up to the rest of the band to learn how to counter what you are playing. (something I think a lot of musicians can't do sucessfully, or maybe they are just stubborn) I studied theory with a guitarist who told me "When playing, I know longer think in terms of just what I'm playing on my guitar. I'm thinking of what all of the instruments are doing and how they are working together". I think that's an excellent way of approaching things. I think you can sit and listen to a band in a live context and tell wheter the musicians are working as individual's or listening to each other and playing as a whole. I can't help but listen to a band that is very skillful with dynamics, improvising, trading 2s/4s, ect. and think that they must really be listening to what's going on around them. I think it pertains greatly to your approach of avoiding the root on the first downbeat. That would probaly throw a lot of musicians in you were playing in a band situation.

    I find that not playing the root on the first downbeat really helps the bass line sound more melodic. (But playing melodic and solid at the same time provides a new challenge,) Also, you must make sure that the inversion actually fits in context of what you are playing, and what you are hoping to accomplish harmonically and melodically. It's not always going to work. Or you could always "find" a way to make it work. How you said that the cat playing the ascending arrpegios in the song made it sound "Out" without the root. The bassist could have used that oppurtunity to do some two handed tapping. He/She could have tapped the root with the left hand, and tapped the melody/arrpegio with the right hand. (Of course, it's easy for me to say that since I haven't heard what context this was being done in. It might sound like dog @#$% no matter how you try it) I've always seen polyphonic tapping as a great tool, because it allows us bassist to "Think more like a Piano player".

    And speaking of "thinking like a piano player"........

    Interval choice is also important. Piano players are always playing chord inversions. While it does give the chords a slightly different sound, the main reason is to make all of the chord resolutions sound smoother. Going back to the Beaver Felton video: If I can remember correctly he first plays an acending G7. He then played the decending Amin. He made it sound so smooth and "in" because of his interval choice. After playing the final note of the G7, the closest note that was in the A min was the 5th. It's only a half step down from the last note he played in the G. Half steps are always smooth sounding intervals. (especially considering that these two chords were diatonic to each other anyways) Also, actual interval choice is important too. Probaly the most famous bass line (or at least, most famous I can think of) that uses an inversion is the intro to My Girl by the Temptations. (Unless it's technicaly written with a 3 beat rest on the first measure and the inverted note is actually a pickup note, but I'm trying to count the song in my head right now and don't think that's the case) Of course, the note being using in place of the root is a 5th. Probaly the most stable interval. (with exception of the tonic of course) In a lot of cases, you could probaly play a 5th and the untrained ear will think it is the tonic.