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Chords To Bassline

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by newmusicmichael, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. With my regular weekly jam going sideways, I put some feelers out to see about maybe joining a different jam, or band, and ended up talking to this guy whose music I quite like (he sent me links to 6-8 songs he's working on), and meshes quite nicely with the type of music I like (I'd call it downtempo indie rock with blues and psych influences). He agreed after looking at my music blog.

    Anyways, we're gonna get together next week, probably for a coffee first, and then I may join their rehearsal if it goes well. In the meantime, he's sent me the chords to some of their songs.

    Now this is obviously new to me, so far I've only been working with cover tracks, bass tabs all available, though from time to time, especially if the bassline's pretty simple, I'll do a little something extra.

    So my question is, from the chords, would you just start with the notes in the chord, leaning heavily on the root note? Then as I get more comfortable playing around with things and see where it goes???
  2. topo morto

    topo morto

    Mar 22, 2010
    So do you have recordings?

    Totally depends on the style. For many songs that would be fine as a start; for some, so wrong that your teeth and toenails will swap places.
  3. SidMau


    Sep 3, 2012
    Root + fifth are your primary tones, with the thirds added in as flavour, essentially. You can also experiment with some chromatic notes going from one chord to the next. Just kind of get a feel for using chord tones in a melodic sense and keeping the rhythm tight. You can definitely do a lot with just the root, fifth, and octave though. It doesn't need to be too complex.
  4. madurolover


    May 21, 2011
    Tampa Fl
    That's exactly what I do if there is not a tab available. Lately I have been doing more along with the melody than keeping a rhythm using the chord notes
  5. WiflB


    Aug 24, 2013
    Outlining the notes in the chords is very important. If you want to add extra notes to your lines I would recommend studying the modes of the major scale and how they fit over diatonic chords. Theory aside, sometimes it's best to trust your ear when playing over changes.
  6. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Ah... the FUN part - creating your own bass lines.

    Yes, start with the root. Find a simple rhythm pattern to utilize. Get to know know the form. Add more CHORD tones (i.e., Fifth, Third, Seventh). Then find passing tones - may or may not be chotd-tones - to connect the harmonic progression.

    Perhaps a "riff" might work that can be transposed to the different chords.

    Stay within the style.

    Keep an open mind to the "Composers" ideas.

    Have a blast.

    * * *

    The down-side: These are the other guy's songs. You might contribute a bass line, but that doesn't make it an exclusive contribution. In other words, he can move to another bassist and take your bass lines.

    If this is something important to you, get it IN WRITING that you are a co-composer - could even be a smaller percentage, as opposed to an equal split.
  7. Cool. Thanks everyone, I feel a lot more comfortable going in now.
  8. GigJones


    Jun 10, 2009
    When I have the opportunity to compose a bass line, I use chord tones to set the overall groove but rely on the modes to mimic or harmonize with the melody as fills at the breaks.
  9. Shakin-Slim


    Jul 23, 2009
    Tokyo, Japan

    This is all good advice. The chromatic walk up to a chord is invaluable.

    Don't forget to keep it simple.

    I'd also recommend looking at bass line lessons on scottsbasslessons.com.

    Also, try this video by Janek Gwizdala, click on the link in the info section and you can watch all 4 parts of the constructing bass lines tutorial.
  10. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    Link to the video?
  11. Shakin-Slim


    Jul 23, 2009
    Tokyo, Japan

    Only parts 2 and 3 are on the tube. You have to follow the link to get to the other parts.
  12. SidMau


    Sep 3, 2012
    Also, I don't know how much theory you know, but if your comfortable with inversions you could change the bass note. For instance, a progression Cmaj Gmaj Amin Emin, you could play a B note under the G chord so you get an overall diatonic movement from C to A. Cmaj Gmaj/B Amin Emin.

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