figuring notes to writing basslines?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by artistasty, Jul 12, 2003.

  1. artistasty

    artistasty Guest

    Jun 23, 2003
    Hi, I have a question.

    When I write basslines... I begin with chosing a key... and finding the entire key in Ionian...
    f g a a# c d e f -ionian

    then using those notes... find out the Dorian, etc..

    g a a# c d e f g
    a a# c d e f g a

    then by using these notes,
    I found out the I ii iii IV V vi vii VII and the notes that accompany each one...

    Is that correct? or do i use the same mode for each note in the key of F.. say... if i used ionian then i need to use ionian scale for g,a,a#,c,d,e,f?

    Please help... thanks.
  2. Blackbird

    Blackbird Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    You got it.

    Just one thing: in a scale or mode, you don't want to:

    1) repeat note names,

    2) skip note names.

    In your case, a# should be B flat.

    My rule of thumb is to play the corresponding mode to the chord root's degree in the scale unless the chart tells you otherwise. F'rinstace, instead of the iii chord being minor, it might be major. In this case, you don't want to be playing any minor thirds. I'd just treat that chord as an altered chord, unless all subsequent chords conform to the III ionian major scale. Then we're looking at a new key center.
  3. artistasty

    artistasty Guest

    Jun 23, 2003
    cool... and to make it interesting, you can use inversions? so if you were to invert say the ii of the scale...

    f g a Bb c d e

    you would play the next note up from it?

    g Bb d

    so i would play the Bb?

    f Bb g a Bb c d e

  4. Blackbird

    Blackbird Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    You can't invert scales. Actually, you can, but it involves an elaborate system which does not lend itself to tonal music too well.

    Chords, however, are easily inverted. The most common are first and second inversions. Here are some examples using the G7 chord. (GBDF root position)

    1st inversion: Third of the chord is the lowest note (BDFG)*

    2nd inversion: The fifth of the chord is the lowest note (DFGB)

    3rd inversions are very uncommon. I think you get the idea.

    One of the most fun things about playing bass is that you can change a band's harmony completely. If you play a D while your band's playing an F major chord, the actual chord the whole band is playing is a D min 7th chord. Be very economical with your use of inversions. "Bass" is not so much an instrument as it is a function, namely that of outlining the chord progression. Roots will give you the strongest harmonic movement, while thirds, fifths and non chord tones, used creatively, are good stepping stones to go smoothly from one root to another.
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    This is why people get into trouble with modes.

    When writing a bassline, you should begin with the chord progression of the tune. Like Blackbird said, our job is to outline the harmony - that is, our bassline should describe the chord progression. By picking a key, or mode, or anything other than the chord being played, we're not fully doing the job.

    Do some research on functional harmony. Forget the modes for now.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree with Jon - the above is not a good idea - you can't just play any notes from a key or scale, regardless.

    You need to know what chords are being played and what their function is first - then you can decide what scale might be appropriate.
  7. artistasty

    artistasty Guest

    Jun 23, 2003
    ah i see, thanks everyone for leading me to the right direction... I ultimately want to take bass lessons from a teacher but I can't afford it right now in my financial situation. But aside from that, I was wondering because the music i'm interested in is more drum and bass... I want to play dub, r&b, and hip-hop basslines.I'm aware of vernicluar changes and about the chord progression wheel, as well as different methods of the progressions. I was just wondering if there was a way to also "spice" up the line if there was no accompanying instrument... the answer apparently isn't inversions, my fault about that. When you all have the opprotunity to improvise a riff, how do you all go by doing so? Thanks again for all the positive feedback! I appreciate the response and am taking ur suggestoins seriously.